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


Press conference day six

Dresden, 19/11/2008

Fresh Faces and Old Warriors Leading Teams. Grandmasters of different generations taking over on first board


The world's youngest grandmaster, 15-year-old Wesley So of the Philippines, is getting it done in Dresden. Of course, so is GM Mikhail Gurevich of Turkey, who has returned to play for him homeland as he nears 50.

"I am very happy to be the youngest grandmaster in the world," said So, explaining that chess only became popular in 2006 with the election of chess-backers in his country's government. So is just entering the fold of top-level competition. Even though he has never played in an invitational tournament (his first will be the Corus "C" group next year), he is clearly not intimidated here. So has not lost a game, and in his first ever matches against 2700s, he beat Chinese GM Ni Hua and drew GM Alexei Shirov (against whom he played the Sicilian Rossolimo for the first time in his life).

GM Susan Polgar referenced So's countryman GM Eugenio Torre when she said, "I hope you follow in his footsteps." Torre's imprint is large – in 1976 he became Asia's first grandmaster and he has represented the Philippines in a staggering 19 consecutive Olympiads (though this is the first year he has been absent since he began his streak in 1970).

For Gurevich, who once nearly eclipsed 2700, the Olympiad is a homecoming of sorts. Though he has called Brussels, Belgium his home for close to two decades, he was invited back to play for his native country as it experiences a chess renaissance. "I am happy to do it," he said of his return. "What we have in Turkey now reminds me of what was going on in the Soviet Union in the 1920s after the revolution."

Gurevich said many chess schools and trainers are flooding all regions of Turkey. "Interest in chess in this country is absolutely enormous," he said. "There are so many young people – they teach chess in the schools…[Chess] is part of the human culture, the world culture. We have this big country. I hope in a couple of years, with my help, we'll be competing with Russia and China on the very top level."

FM Mike Klein