Armenians repeat their success
Little Knight meets big rook
The technical Olympiad spirit


Press Conference Day Two

Dresden, 14/11/2008

Chinese Trio Lets Their Play Do the Talking; Olympiad Drawing Huge Crowds Online

GM Susan Polgar's invitations to the day two press conference included three rising stars of the Chinese chess system, a young starlet from the Caribbean, and a computer technician with some amazing statistics to share.

Polgar originally expected just two of China's brightest to attend. She was flanked to her left by 14-year-old Women's World Championship runner-up GM Hou Yifan and to her right by GM Wang Hao. "I'm very happy to have two Chinese stars here today," she opened, just as a spectator yelled, "three!" and GM Wang Yue mounted the stage. "I'm very, very thrilled that all three of you are here with me," Polgar corrected herself.

Yue began by describing his game. "I have good opposition but it was a draw," he said. "His position was very dangerous." China's other Wang - GM Wang Hao - also drew, but their other two boards won to beat Belarus 3-1. "Of course [Dresden] is beautiful but the tournament is very difficult. Team win, its OK," Yue said. After Polgar asked if his goal was to make 2800, and thus become the first Chinese player to do so, Yue chuckled and said "50," as in "2750," was his next hurdle. As for the team, China is modeling their goals after their fellow olympians earlier this summer. "The Chinese team only wants to be champion." A unified Chinese team is a clear threat to the Ukrainians and Russians. About the only thing they disagree on was their country's most popular pastime. While both Yue and...

...Hao agree chess ranks third place in popularity, Yue claims Chinese chess is number one but Hao argues for Go.

Yifan gave insight into her training regimen, which includes 3-4 hours of studying per day and too many tournaments for her to remember. She misses a lot of school just to accommodate her busy travel schedule. Yifan said she loved the country of France when she visited and "I like the fresh air of Dresden." Indeed, one step outside the playing hall is the crisp autumn air skimming off the River Elbe. Polgar instigated Yifan to admit wanting to pass sister Judit in rating one day, but the Chinese woman would not bite. Polgar said she thinks Yifan's rise to Women's World Champion is "only a matter of time." Yifan narrowly lost her championship GM Alexandra Kosteniuk for the title earlier this year in Nalchik, Russia, but most are certain she will have many more chances going forward.

The tiny island group Trinidad and Tobago boasts one of the youngest members competing in Dresden, and 11-year-old Javanna Smith is relishing the moment. Despite flashbulbs and jostling reporters, Smith, rated 2001 FIDE, kept her cool and smiled throughout the press conference. She answered with mostly one-word replies, but the laconic Smith said her win today made her feel "good" even though she could not recall which country she had just played (her team beat neighbor Aruba 3.5-1.5; Smith won in only 18 moves). She said a lot of girls play at her school and seemed surprised Polgar would ask about it at all. Naturally, Polgar was pleased to hear chess was thriving in Smith's native country.

Dr. Michael Breidung, IT Director of the Olympiad, must have felt like a wallflower in the presence of so much chess talent, but his facts and figures amazed reporters nonetheless. Breidung reported that 50 personnel are running 300 processors to provide all the games of the Olympiad live on the Internet. He explained the process: a player moves, the board sends data to FIDE technicians, they prepare the PGN files, the information is sent to the processors at town hall, then to Dresden Technical University, then to the Internet. All told, the delay is only ten seconds, thus making the scope and transmission of the Chess Olympiad faster and more complete than its athletic counterpart.
German efficiency is of course pointless without and audience. Fans have taken notice of the streamlined system. In the first hour of round one, Breidung reported one million visitors and by day's end there were 30 million file transfers. For round two, he said there were double that amount.

FM Mike Klein