Freedom With Shut Windows

Время публикации: 24.02.2015 09:57 | Последнее обновление: 07.04.2015 16:32

(Edited & translated from Russian by Andrey Deviatkin)

What can you see in this picture?

If your eyes, as well as mine, are now focused on the distant view, you can see the square with a monument. The events that happened there in November 2003 are still remembered very well by the Georgian people. Those events still provoke hot discussions whenever recalled (which happens often) in Russia and the other countries used to be parts of the USSR. For the war that began in Georgia some years later, and the ongoing turmoil in Ukraine, and many other political events taken place from 2003 to 2015 in the former Soviet Union territory, maybe seemingly minor in comparison but still significant, cannot be separated from the Rose Revolution that had been centered exactly in this square which is called the Freedom Square.

It was looking totally different those days. There were no cars, it all was overcrowded - as well as the Rustaveli Avenue, the central street of Tbilisi leading down to the square.

The fact that you see a cyclist in the photo doesn't mean that there are plenty of them in the city. It's a rare sight, and bicycle is very far from being a popular kind of transport in Tbilisi. The same definitely cannot be said about taxi which you will often see in the pictures below.

The subway station is also called The Freedom Square.

This building is the former Parliament of Georgia. It is located in the same district, on the Rustaveli Avenue. It has also seen crowds standing for months in front of it, but that happened another time and for another reason: the protesters were demanding Mikheil Saakashvili's resignation. Yes, exactly like that: at first for him, then against him. Now there is already no Parliament in Tbilisi since it has moved to the city of Kutaisi in 2012.

In fact, Georgia was entirely different before Saakashvili. Everything indicating that Georgia is more or less a civilized country, every sign of civilization that can be now observed by the foreign visitors, including chess players, arose here in Georgia during Saakashvili's presidency and as a result of it. I'm not idolizing the ex-President, who, by the way, has resigned on time, by losing elections to another candidate, which is very rare for the former Soviet countries. I can certainly see the things which Saakashvili hasn't done (having been either unable to or unwilling to), which could have made his reforms much more sound. Without estimating his personality and his work as President of Georgia, I'd like only to mention the fact: all the numerous transformations in the 2000's bringing Georgia closer to civilized society, will be assosiated in Georgian history with Saakashvili.

There is another fact I can tell you: there are still people in the country thinking that life was better before Saakashvili. It happens. In Russia, many people keep thinking that life under Brezhnev was better than under Gorbachev, and (of course!) it was even better under Stalin.

Across the street, there is a park.

Among other monuments, it contains the one to Anatoly Sobchak, a Russian politician and the honorary Tbilisi citizen.

'He also was a chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on the Investigation of the Events of April 9, 1989 in Tbilisi. The Commission condemned the military, which was blamed for many deaths when dispersing demonstrators. The Commission's report made it more difficult to use military force against civil demonstrations in the Soviet Union and Russia' - Wikipedia

The monument was erected on occasion of the 15th anniversary of those events. 'From the Georgian people with gratitude', the inscription says.

The park is also notable for many kissing couples. Not of the same sex though, I will add. Tbilisi is certainly a free city, but not as free as Amsterdam.

Now let's return to the square.

The Marriott hotel next to the statue of Saint George (that once, after the USSR had gone, replaced the statue of Lenin) was also built during Saakashvili presidency.

Are you already insisting that I should bring the story to the logical conclusion? That's right. The Marriott hotel is the venue of the third stage of the FIDE Grand Prix 2014/15.

The first identification sign inside, near the reception, is the emblem of SOCAR Georgia. Let's go this way. 

We are on the second (or first?) floor. The way to the playing hall lies across the... smoking room which you see in the picture. Only one or two players use it, as far as I could notice.

This is the playing hall - 'meeting room 2' - where the 7th round is underway.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and the arbiter, Faik Hasanov of Azerbaijan, who was born in Tbilisi.

The Russian derby: Tomashevsky vs Svidler.

Alexander Grischuk is far from his best shape. If one wonders why, that's my answer: the windows in the hotel rooms won't open, like earlier in Baku.

My first visit to the playing hall brought bad luck to Anish Giri. In the 7th round, he lost his first game in the tournament and is now 8 points away from the 2800 mark in the live ratings conquered by him at the start.

The victory over Giri allowed Dmitry Jakovenko to go up to the 2nd place (which he is keeping now, after 8 rounds).

Refreshment for the players.

There are no spectators in the playing hall. Moreover, it's not technically possible for usual spectators to enter. Regrettably, it has become the trademark style of the FIDE organizers long ago. I don't understand why they can provide good conditions for players, while at the same time forgetting about ordinary chess fans who wish to watch the players during games. Every rule has an exception, which in this case is the Baku stage. Still, Baku is the only pleasant exception, and it's a pity.

The press center is located in a small room next to the playing hall. GM Tornike Sanikidze and WGM Keti Tsatsalashvili do live commentary, while the players come here to describe their games after the finish. By the Sunday evening, the press center was full. 

FIDE press officer, Anastasia Karlovich, has got a new hairstyle.

From time to time, she has to ask the audience to be quieter.

Basically, the local reporters are excited by the single game.

WIM Sophiko Nikoladze, who often provides pictures for our website, is where Nona Gaprindashvili is supposed to be. Zurab Azmaiparashvili, who is famous enough to be introduced, is seated at her right.

Where is the legendary women's champion, then?

Here she is, following the games, suggesting moves and commenting. In Gaprindashvili's opinion, quality of the games is high enough, although it could be higher. 'Tomashevsky's lead is absolutely justified: he makes no blunders while using his opponents' errors'.

The Russian derby ended in a draw.

A spectator, who is asking the grandmasters for an autograph, can hardly remain unnoticed.

Giri and Jakovenko: the endgame was more crafty than it could seem to Black.

Mamedyarov has just defeated Grischuk, as a result of White's opening blunder. The tournament is very much like a swing for both.

The 7th round is over, everything has been prepared for the next playing day. Quite predictably, the game between two friends and compartiots would be drawn.


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