"We Do Not Suspect Anyone"

Время публикации: 12.09.2015 05:02 | Последнее обновление: 12.09.2015 20:32

September 9th, 2015. Day of arrival

The weather was warm when I was boarding my flight in Tbilisi. When I arrived at Baku, it was hot - that's my first impression. Soon, it will be even hotter! The tournament that is about to open here in Baku is the Dream tournament - not only for Magnus Carlsen, who has proposed to fight for the World Championship title in a knockout like this, but also for those who have been looking forward to see battles between elite GMs and the "ordinary mortals". We have already watched quite a few closed round-robin events, we will watch more and more, but the most interesting thing is to see how the world stars perform against ambitious "almost-stars".

Meanwhile, there are more than enough stars here. Are Carlsen and Anand absent? Well, it just means that the number of favourites will be fewer by two. Try to count the favourites first! The list is open and different for anyone.

Photo credit: Lana Afandiyeva

You won't get lost here in Baku. As soon as you receive your luggage, you see smiling faces of nice young ladies who are ready to help you get to the organizers desk. Then the organizers explain every detail to you and seat you in a taxi, either with or without the World Cup logo. You might be even allowed to drive - in case you are FIDE President! 

Photo credit: Goran Urosevic

There are two hotels for all of us - the players, guests, service personnel, journalists, etc. The main one is Fairmont Hotel, which also serves as the playing venue. The other hotel is Holiday Inn (where yours truly has got a room); its only drawback is being far from the venue, but everything else is nearly perfect.

Throughout the last dozen years, Baku has been building up diligently. The skyscrapers and towers keep growing up like mushrooms after a rain. Whevever I come here, I see more and more of them, while the number of lifting cranes doesn't diminish. Due to the size of the buildings, one can barely take pictures of them.

After leaving your hotel, you feel like in New York or Chicago in process of construction.

This view will be much more beautiful when it comes to the Olympiad...

But the embankment sees a different, normal view.

The flame of chess battles will blaze in one of Flame Towers far ahead. The walking way towards them is quite long, although in fact they are closer than they seem.

This boulevard remembers many stories (off the record) narrated to me by Genna Sosonko during our walks here a year ago. While the pavement remembers everything, I've already forgot some of them. Genna is also going to come here, although a bit later, when it comes to the real Dream tournament. I will ask him to brush it up for me...

September 10th. The opening day.

The Fairmont hotel. The first necessary stop for all the participants is the accreditation desk. Those waiting for the desired ID cards are Baskaran Adhiban, his coach Elizbar Ubilava, Aleksander Bakh (one of the arbiters). One can also see the silhouettes of Hou Yifan, Boris Grachev, and Wesley So accompanied by Lotis Key.

"We do not suspect anyone", said Israel Gelfer, Chairman of FIDE Anti-Cheating Committee, during the technical meeting. "We are just taking precautions. Even though there will be metal detectors at the entrance, we would recommend that you don't bring your mobile phones to the playing hall".

This warning by the FIDE official was the most innocuous. After it, he recommended the players not to bring their own pens and watches, explaining that if one has those things in the playing hall it might raise suspicions and be qualified as an attempt of cheating. Besides, every player leaving the playing hall during rounds might be examined, while there will be also random security checks on five random players after each round. Some random games will be transmitted with 15 minites delay, without the players knowing if their games are transmitted real-time or not.

Today, the word "watch" is among the most popular words in the chess part of Baku.

"What if I need a watch for my personal needs, such as medicine intake?"
"What if my own pen brings me luck?"
"What if different players have different conditions? Some of them are accommodated in a distant hotel and require watches simply to appear for the rounds in time..."

These questions were sounding in the hall both officially and in private. However, the most interesting question was asked by Peter Leko.

"What about offering a draw?" - wondered the Hungarian plainly. To his surprise, he heard a storm of applause in response.

At first Faiq Hasanov, chief arbiter of the World Cup, didn't even understand what the problem was. "There are no restrictions, no 30-move or 40-move rule", he shrugged his shoulders. "You can offer a draw whenever you want".

Even though I was standing far behind Leko, I could feel how satisfied he was with that.

Someone else observed (correctly - in my opinion) that the anti-cheating precautions had to be included in the player contracts instead of bewildering the participants a day before the start. After all, some of the 128 players might have found the conditions unreasonable and stayed home...

On the other hand, one has to give credit to the Anti-Cheating Committee: it has quickly come up with the security measures after the avalanche of related incidents that had happened earlier in 2015.

Anyhow, there is no way back. All the agreements have been signed, everyone has come, everything is ready for the takeoff. It remains only to mind the watches.

Levon Aronian, Gabriel Sargissyan

Sergey Zhigalko, Igor Kovalenko

The Chinese team

Michael Adams has been paired against Mariya Muzychuk. Will he manage?

The Russian players: Alexander Motylev, Ernesto Inarkiev, Ian Nepomniachtchi, Evgeny Najer

Gata Kamsky and his new public image

Vassily Ivanchuk

Alexander Onischuk

Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu

Nona Gaprindashvili

This red carpet runner leads to the opening ceremony

David Navara

Elman Rustamov, President of Azerbaijan chess federation. Without his greeting speech, no solemn opening ceremony of a chess tournament in the country is conducted.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov assisted in determining the colour for Topalov and all other players with odd numbers. The chess king pulled out from the pitcher by FIDE President was white

(Translated from Russian by Andrey Deviatkin)



FIDE contracts are always a

FIDE contracts are always a bit of a strange read. For instance, 1.3 says that all participants must stay at the approved hotel(s), without naming what these are. (And yes, players have to pay their own accommodation, see 3.3.8 of the Regulations).

Anyway, the most relevant clause about watches/pens in the contract is 4.1, which says that the regulations for the World Cup apply. In these Regulations, we read 3.10.2:

a) The players are not permitted to bring into the playing area technical and other equipment extraneous to play, including mobile phones, which may in any way disturb or upset the opponent. The Chief Arbiter shall decide what constitutes extraneous equipment liable to offend the opponent.

I am not sure how watches and pens could "disturb or upset the opponent", but would agree that watches and pens could be considered "extraneous to play".

It remains to be seen if

It remains to be seen if bottles of water, sunglasses, caps or shoes will be also considered "extraneous" once. Yet, the cheating problem is serious as shown by many incidents earlier in 2015, and doing something is better than doing nothing.
Meanwhile, I wonder why mobile phone jammers are strictly prohibited in so many countries (in some countries, one can be even imprisoned for using them). It might have been a good solution, at least in some cases.

In most countries where they

In most countries where they are prohibited, one can be jailed for using SJ. In US, the federal government fined foreign manufacturer that marketed it to US consumers at an enormous sum of almost $35 million. This issue is considered super-super serious. The reasons of prohibition of SJ in the past is very simple - they interfere with the work of first responders (police, medics, firefighters). In addition, with so many people having implanted or wearable medical devices, the SJ would block the transmission of medical information. Finally, you cant stop the work of SJ at the playing hall walls, so any adjourning rooms/areas would be affected and organizers would be responsible for any "damage" caused to non-chess people. So in summary, the SJ can be used only in countries where they are not prohibited and only in stand alone buildings devoted to the chess tournament and only after wide public information that SJ would be used so that people with medical devices know it could affect them. Frankly, while such usage could be made (under conditions above), I personally would refuse to play/attend such events as there have been no studies what effect such devices may have on people's health when subjected to SJ for 4-6 hours non-stop for a week or more.

Thanks. I'd like to add that

Thanks. I'd like to add that it's also unstudied what effect the ubiquity of mobile phones has on us... and my common sense tells me that it isn't very healthy too, anyway.

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