Mahir Mammadov: “Azerbaijan will continue hosting chess tournaments”

“We have reached the equator of the Olympiad. It is a rest day tomorrow and then real Olympiad will start. I do hope that the fans of chess and the media are pleased with the way the competition unfolds,” the press service of the Baku Chess Olympiad has quoted the director of the 42nd Chess Olympiad Operating Committee and Vice President of the Azerbaijan Chess Federation, Mr. Mahir Mammadov, as saying.

Mahir Mammadov held a press conference for local and foreign journalists at the media center of the Baku Crystal Hall.

He said extensive work had been done to prepare for the Olympiad. “When we were awarded the right to host this Olympiad, we set ourselves the goal of doing it at the highest possible level. Our goal was to make the Olympiad a celebration of chess. Preparations were very intense. It would be immodest of me to say what makes the Baku Olympiad different from others, but I think an objective assessment of the Olympiad will be given after it has been completed. We are doing our best to create favorable conditions for all Olympiad participants,” Mahir Mammadov said.

Saying that he was unable to see the games of Azerbaijani chess players being too busy attending to organizational matters as director of the Operating Committee, Mahir Mammadov noted, “I can’t say I have seen anyone’s performance quite well. I simply monitor the atmosphere in the teams and have very superficial information about what openings and combinations are played. It is certainly delightful that our men’s team is among leaders, while other women have lost only one point so far.”

Mahir Mammadov also touched upon the issues emerging during the Olympiad. “Whenever there is a problem, we try to address it immediately. No matter how well you may be prepared for a competition, unforeseen situations are unavoidable. Serious attention is being paid to stopping outside interference in chess games. There is strict control over access to the building. It was announced before the games that captains could leave the building only once. However, the captain of the Greek team violated this rule, which is why security did not want to let him back into the playing hall,” Mammadov said.

The Azerbaijan men’s and women’s teams wear uniforms different from other teams. This idea came from a member of the Operating Committee. “It wasn’t my idea. This suggestion was made by a member of the Operating Committee. We wanted to wear special uniforms in a number of previous competitions, but the proposed options were rejected because they were not fashionable enough. The present outfit looks nice,” he said.

Noting that the activity of SOCAR-Azerbaijan chess club had been temporarily suspended due to the Olympiad, Mahir Mammadov said foreign guests would continue arriving in Baku in the coming days to attend the FIDE Congress. “We expect the arrival of high-profile visitors. I would not like to name them, but one of the key events on the agenda is the presentation of the venue of the next Olympiad,” Mahir Mammadov added.

The director of the Chess Olympiad Operating Committee said the Olympiad had ushered a holiday of chess in Baku. “Our initial goal was to attract visitors and create a holiday atmosphere. We have coped with this mission. One can sense the holiday atmosphere in the city. There is a wonderful exhibition and entertainment area at Crystal Hall. There is a lot to see on the subject of chess. I would like to invite everyone to the hospitality zone,” he said.

Although it is a rest day tomorrow, no official activities for chess players are envisaged. Explaining the reasons for that, Mahir Mammadov said, “There is a Bermuda Party for our visitors tonight. The beauty and infrastructure of Baku are at the disposal of all our guests. We did not organize a special program. First of all, the number of guests is too big. On the one hand, we are pleased with that, but, on the other, it is difficult to think of something for such a large group of people. We have organized the Olympiad around the boulevard. I would recommend that visitors see the Old City,” Mammadov noted.

In conclusion, Mahir Mammadov said Azerbaijan would continue its efforts to organize prestigious chess tournaments. “Azerbaijan will not abandon its efforts to host chess tournaments. We will carry on with our usual tournaments. The Vugar Hashimov Memorial has been held in Shamkir for three years now.

We will continue to organize this tournament. We are receiving suggestions to host a Chess Olympiad for children and FIDE Grand Prix events. We will start discussing these suggestions as soon as the Olympiad is over,” Mammadov concluded.