Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tromso Olympiad - first look at the teams

The 2014 Tromso Olympiad is set to begin in just a few days in Tromso, Norway. There was a small problem when the organizers ran out of money but eventually the Norwegian government came up with the money to hold it's first chess olympiad.

There is still some minor scare as intelligence reports that terrorists are targeting Norway. Norwegian security forces are not taking this lightly and police presence have been increased at strategic points. Police street patrols which are normally not armed are now equipped with firearms. Hopefully all this is just empty threats but as chessplayers we know that the threat is worse than its execution.

Looking at the team list there is another surprise. Russia and Ukraine are seeded first and second respectively. The surprise is the third seeding which goes to France! This is due to their having three players rated over 2700 and they are Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2766), Etienne Bacrot (2720) and Laurent Fressinet (2708). Armenia is seeded "only" fourth. So will France be in the running for medals? Very hard to believe as the Armenians have always done very well in olympiads and also they won the last one in Istanbul!

The United States is fifth seed by a single rating point. They have two 2700s players in Gata Kamsky and Hikaru Nakamura. One of the big news in recent weeks was Wesley So switch from Philippines to the United States . Although Wesley rated at 2744 would certainly have moved the US up the seeding list, he is not eligible yet to play for the US in this olympiad. Apparently he will be the coach instead!

The Russians are back for revenge after missing out on the gold in Istanbul. Their 2700s powerhouse team includes GMs Vladimir Kramnik, Alexander Grischuk, Sergey Karjakin, Peter Svidler and Ian Nepomniachtchi.

Ukraine's line-up is quite predictable. They have GMs Alexander Moiseenko, Ruslan Ponomariov, Vassily Ivanchuk, Pavel Eljanov and Anton Korobov.

Armenia is depending on its best player GM Levon Aronian rated 2805. The rest are  Sergei  Movsesian, Vladimir Akopian, Gabriel Sargissian and Tigran Kotanjian. One wonders if this team can repeat their win two years ago.

Malaysia is seed 105th and the team list is here. The seeding is low enough that it will be hard not to live up to.

As mentioned above, Philippines is missing its top player. It is fielding four grandmasters including Julio Catalino Sadorra, Oliver Barbosa,  John Paul Gomez and Eugene Torre. This could be a record for Torre , already aged 62 years old, as the player with the most number of olympiad appearances. Another surprise is the inclusing of FM Paulo Bersamina. Philippines has no shortage of grandmasters and international masters so this could be a signal from the NCFP , in light of Wesley So' so called "defection", that its chess masters toe the line or risk being dropped. There could be another change in their line-up as GM Barbosa is reportedly unable to obtain a visa (he is currently competing in the US).

Our neighbour, Singapore is again depending on its Chinese imports. Their line-up is GM Zhang Zhong, IM Goh Wei Ming, WIM Gong Qianyun, FM Ting Jinyao and  Lee Qing Aun. Zhang Zhong practically lifted the Singapore team in the last olympiad when Goh Wei Ming had to return early due to a bereavement in the family. This time they could very well do better. Let's hope that Malaysia can keep up as in Istanbul.

Vietnam has sent a no-nonsense team of their best players.The team comprises a mix of grandmaster and international masters.GM Le Quang Liem leads the team of GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son, IM Nguyen Duc Hoa , NguyenVan Huy and Nguyen Minh Huy.

Indonesia is led by GM Susanto Megaranto and IM Firman Syah Farid but the rest of the team are virtually unknowns.


Anonymous said...

I think zhang zone's wife is liruofan

Jimmy Liew said...

Yes of course. Thanks for the correction. I always thought Li Ruofan would be in the team and automatically wrote that on seeing a Chinese name!

Peter Long said...

Hi Jimmy, I bumped into the Philippine team in Doha, two new facts: 1. Torre already broke the record in Istanbul, he is extending it in Tromso! 2. Barbosa has opted out too, his last minute replacement is hopefully Barcenilla. On Indonesia, because I am pretty in tune with what happens there, this is actually currently their best team. Some are just too young for us to know!

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