Josh Friedel, Alexandra Kosteniuk, and David Smerdon
Josh Friedel about the way to Khanty Mansiysk
Traveling to a desolate village in the middle of Siberia may sound like a hassle, but in fact it is… well OK it sucks. The first leg of my journey went easily enough. I travelled from Zurich to Moscow via Vienna. After arriving in Moscow is where the fun began. A couple days previous, I was notified that my flight from Moscow to Khanty-Mansiysk was cancelled. Luckily, I managed to book a new flight. Unfortunately, this flight was from a different airport in Moscow (there are three), so I had four hours to go from Domodedovo Airport to Vnukovo airport. Sound like enough time? The bus between airports I thought existed turned out hadn’t been running for two years, but this was unsurprising, as that would have been too easy. Cabs in Russia are a known hazard, so I took a train to the city, went on the metro for four stops, then waited for another train to take me to Vnukovo. I managed not to get lost during this process, which was in my mind nothing short of miraculous, but sadly I was still going to be too late! The woman at the train station told me the next airport train didn’t leave for almost an hour, so I’d only arrive thirty minutes prior to my flight, which wasn’t enough. Of course, I think that’s what she said, with my limited Russian and her speaking quickly she might have said the next train to the sheep factory didn’t leave for an hour. Still, I decided to try my luck at Vnukovo airport, maybe they would let me on.
Nyet. Not only that, the next day’s flights to Khanty-Mansiysk were completely booked. I was already drafting an email in my mind. “Dear Organizer- Sorry, made it to Moscow, but I can’t make it the rest of the way. – Amerikanetz” Then I had a thought. Luckily, at that point I found a guy who spoke a little English, and in a broken mixture of English and Russian I suggested that perhaps they could reroute me through Tyumen, a small city close to Khanty-Mansiysk. They searched, and sure enough, they were able to book me on a flight through Tyumen arriving in Khanty-Mansiysk the next night. After that it was a piece of cake. I just had to find a hotel in Moscow, figure out some weird thing with the luggage, wait several hours in the Tyumen Airport (which as Alex Onischuk aptly put it, is more like a bus stop), do the weird luggage thing again only it is different this time, squeeze in a plane the size of a Ford Pinto, and hope that the organizer arranged for my transportation from the airport in Khanty-Mansiysk. Somehow all this was managed, and I arrived in my hotel by 11.
Read the full entry and Josh Friedel’s official site
Smedron about the Khanty Mansiysk experience
After an extended delay, we are finally coming to you live from Khanty-Mansiysk, host city of the World Chess Cup. The trip here, despite being intra continental, has been arduous. An extra day in London was used to the full, and Manuel eventually picked Fi and I up from right outside Big Ben, next to Westminster Abbey and just beside a statue of Winston ‘Pug’ Churchill.
Usually, such an impractical pick-up would attract the attention of the London bobbies, but fortunately there was a massive protest going on at the same spot, which distracted from our rendezvous. Apparently, England wants its own parliament (having the chief seat of the British parliament is not enough). Tough talk from a nation that refused to recognise Irish, Scottish and Welsh anything for x amount of years (and let us not recall India, Hong Kong or even the US).
But I digress. The amended itinerary meant we only had half a day in Ekaterinburg before the domestic flight. We made good use of it, however, and to be honest, despite the cold shift, it really is a beautiful city. Around one and a half million people inhabit this large Russian city. It’s quite picturesque, with many statues, churches, parkes etc, and the famous ‘Temple of the Blood’, a cathedral marking the execution spot for the last Tsars.
The domestic trip was quite an experience. As you might expect, there wasn’t much written in Roman letters in the domestic airport, but I’m getting quite good at pronouncing words written in Russian text (though knowing what they mean is another matter). We also found a fantastic lady from Utair, our carrier, who was very enthusiastic about the chance to practice her English with us. While the plane was tiny and the usually anal safety procedures weren’t exactly followed (seatbelts, mobile phones, and upright seats optional), we made it safely and relatively painlessly.
On board our plane was Sergei Movsesian, a 2700 player I met a while ago in the Czech Republic (where he now resides). His English is flawless, so the bus ride to the hotel was a good chance to get the inside scoop on the town. But the big star-gazing moment came in the hotel itself, when Fi and I shared a tiny lift ride with none other than former world champion Anatoly Karpov (non-chessplayers: think Andre Agassi, but with more hair). When we got to our room and I told Fi who it had been, she was surprisingly excited – “We met a famous chess Russian!”. The celebrity spotting continues, as breakfast saw us jostling for eggs with Tiviakov, sharing the coffee pot with Ivanchuk, and getting translation assistance with the Ukranians Efimenko and Elijanov. (You’ll have to forgive my spelling – the internet is sparse here, so I’m pre-blogging ‘offline’ without spellcheck or google).
The hotel is pretty basic, but very warm (it was -11 degrees when we arrived) and has one English channel, where we can get our fill of Britney Spears and Robbie Williams music videos. Outside is amazingly beautiful, with perfect white carpets as far as we can see from the hotel window. Right now, we’re about to go exploring and hopefully get to the accreditation site in preparation for the opening ceremony tonight. It’s nice to finally have our feet on the (cold) ground at our destination, and start getting on with the reason we are both here: snowball fights.
More at the Official blog of David Smerdon
Kosteniuk in Khanty Mansiysk
Now I’m back since the World Blitz Chess Championship that took place on November 16-18, 2009 in Moscow has come to its end.
Magnus Carlsen won this event with a fantastic result – 31 out of 42! That’s 3 points ahead of Viswanathan Anand who took the silver medal of the championship!
In the last 4 days I played 59 blitz-games! Since just before the world blitz championship, on November 15, I took part in another strong GM’s tournament in Moscow. So I had a very long blitz marathon.
I did have some spectacular wins over very strong GM, for example two days ago I beat the world #1 rated Magnus Carlsen (who later went on to win the tournament). I am especially happy about yesterday’s (17th of November) where out of 14 blitz games in the super strong world blitz championship I took 7 out of 14, beating Grandmasters Anand (who is the current Men’s World Champion, Aronian, Judith Polgar, Tkachiev, Grischuk and Morozevich! In total I scored a respectable 12.5 points, which corresponds to 10 wins and 5 draws, against players on average 200 ELO points above me. It was a great experience, and I am so happy to have been able to play and beat such world renowned players. I will soon prepare for you some of my best games with comments and some in video.
Already tomorrow I will be flying to Khanty-Mansiysk where I will take place in the World Cup and will face in the first round GM Shakhriar Mamedyarov.
I’m in Khanty-Mansiysk right now. It’s my first trip to this town and I’m already pretty impressed with what I saw today. During the opening ceremony that took place today the Governor of the Ugra Region – Alexander Filipenko told that this Cup is the general repetition before the Chess Olympiad 2010 which will take place here from September 19 till October 4, 2010.
Read more at the official blog of Kosteniuk
Smedron about the tiebreaks
Well folks, I write to you on our last night in Khanty-Mansiysk. My dream run has come to an end, after I lost the final rapid game to go down in the tie-break 2.5-1.5. Painfully, the loss was due to a brain explosion right at the death, while the ‘obvious’ move would have seen a probable draw and progression into the blitz play-offs. And wouldn’t that have been something – blitz tiebreaks against the former world blitz champion!
Unfortunately, it was not to be, and so Fi and I are packing our suitcases in preparation for the 6am bus to the airport tomorrow. Our exodus is, naturally, a bit depressing, but I can’t really complain too much. I got the chance to clash wits with one of the world’s best, and I managed not to embarrass myself too much (though anyone who watched the final rapid game will surely be asking, “Why didn’t you play …Rd5, Dave? Why?!?).
We have tonnes of great photos from the tournament and from the town itself, and I’ll try and upload a couple from our next destination (Which is significantly more internet-friendly). After a brief stop-over again in Ekaterinburg, we’re heading to Helsinki for a couple of days being ‘normal’ tourists. Should Finnish grandmaster Nyback lose round two to Svidler, we’ll be catching up with him and his fiance in Helsinki. Of course, part of me hopes not to see him, which means he’s managed to upset the great Russian (and, bizarrely, cricket fanatic), but most likely we’ll get to meet up in Helsinki and swap world cup war stories.
More at the Official blog of David Smerdon