Saturday, July 7, 2007

Planes, Trains and Automobiles: 22 GMs arrive

In the days leading up to the 2007 Canadian Open Chess Championship, its 22 grandmasters from 15 countries arrived in dribs and drabs. It was all the organizers could do to have volunteers meet many of them at the airport and train station.

GM Nigel Short was the first of the 2007 Canadian Open's grandmasters to arrive in Ottawa, touching down on July 4. The organizers have very much enjoyed meeting him. He and his daughter are charming, and have spent some time sight-seeing in Ottawa. I was told they were interested in visiting the Cisco Systems Bluesfest. They went for a walk in Gatineau Park on Friday, and GM Short attended the closing reception of the 2007 Canadian Youth Chess Championship, at the residence of the Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey. GM Short had also made an appearance at the CYCC.

GM Sergey Tiviakov arrived the next day from the Netherlands, and said he was very happy to pay his first visit to Canada. A friendly, fluent English speaker and keen world traveler, GM Tiviakov played tourist on Friday, going for a good walk past Parliament Hill, the National Gallery of Canada and other attractions. He was happy to see the changing of the guard and he commented that he like the architecture of the buildings he saw.

GMs Sandipan Chanda and Abhijit Kunte of India were in good spirits when they arrived. Both had come from Philadelphia, having played at the World Open. GM Sandipan was one of a batch of GMs who had tied there for first, with 6.5/9. I asked whether the stop in Philadelphia had helped them get used to the time difference between EST and India. GM Chanda said was getting into the groove, but that he had been sleepy a lot in Philadelphia.

GM Mark Bluvshtein took the train Friday morning from Toronto, traveling coincidentally with FM Mike Dougherty. A few hours later, GM Bluvshtein was giving his kick-off simul for the 2007 Canadian Open. His final score after about 3.5 hours: 15 wins and three draws, I was told. Ottawa's Karoly Szalay was one of players who nicked him for a draw.

Three of the four Russian GMs playing in the event had a long voyage. They arrived in Ottawa late Friday night, having flown from Moscow to Amsterdam to Montreal, where they got on a Voyageur bus to Ottawa. We're hoping that they'll feel somewhat rested after a night at the Ottawa Marriott, before they sit down for Round One.

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