Report from Tromsø: Mission accomplished

August 16, 2014

As there were not important issues for the GA Meetings, Maung and I, along with most delegates opted not to go to the Meeting. Also, some delegates already left for home. Maung wanted to buy some souvenirs for his doctor daughters and the packing of his luggage. I then had a chance to visit the tournament hall on the final day.

It was quite unfortunate that Auychai suddenly had fever and serious back pain and therefore could not play. He was OK yesterday when Sahapol submitted the players’ list via the internet to the Organizer. We found out that he was not fit to play only in the morning and as such we could not change the players’ list after the deadline of 10.00 pm. Lebanon were a strong team, there is no doubt about that. If we could beat them, the Men Team stood some remote chance of being among the first three of Category D Group, not to mention that our ranking of 113th would be much improved too.

The girls were confident and were in good spirits to go for the all-out win in order to secure the champion of their Category E Group. Two years ago, the Women Team from Thailand finished third in the category. Also at stake was the first ever WFM title for Natakritta should she win. Tension must be high for her, but we thought that even 3-1 win we could snatch the champion title from our nearest and best friends from Chinese Taipei. They too knew about this and were so determined to compete with us with a fair chance as their opponent were not so strong a team.

Blunders and miscalculations cost our Men Team to lose 4-0. Most of them are still young. Although they failed to be the champion of their group, three of them gained titles – two FMs and one CM. A feat that is worth commendation for their excellent efforts. In the end, their ranking improved two places up to 111th.

With Boards 1 -3 of the Thai Women Team easily disposed of their opponents, 4th Board Natakritta had had some trouble due to miscalculations and were on the verge of defeat which would have cost her the WFM title. Miraculously, her opponent made some planning blunder and she had mate in one in the end. An emphatic win of 4-0 helped confirmed that Thailand’s Women Section Team is the Champion of Category E. Also, their ranking improved to 90th, much higher than that of two years ago when they were ranked 111th.

As players were obviously tired and we had to attend the closing ceremony, there were no game analyses by Vladimir of the last round. We let them rest and made their own post analyses on the computer. After dinner at 5 pm., twelve of us boarded a bus arranged by the Organizer to the Closing Ceremony. Auychai was recovering from his fever but was still suffering from chronic back pain and had to take further rest at his Viking Hotel.

The Closing Ceremony was simple. Shows were just a local band of a Norwegian woman singer who sang 3 beautiful songs. Kirsan of course was on stage to thank the Organizer and all players/delegates and the FIDE flag was later handed over to the Baku representative for 2016 Chess Olympiad.

The awarding of medals for each Category were given to the winner only. First and second runner-ups got nothing. It started with Category E Women Section winner: Thailand, which drew a round of applause from the full-house audiences. Sahapol led the team to the stage and they each were given a medal by the Norwegian special guest. That was the historic moment for Thailand chess. We came here not expecting this nor titles, just hoping that our young players may gain much-needed experience at this level. Yet historic achievements were attained beyond our expectations. We are proud of all players’ efforts and dedications. We will continue providing training supports to them so that chess in Thailand could be improved further in the years to come. All female players gave the red roses which they got from the medal awarding to Vladimir to show their gratitude. Vladimir of course was overwhelmed.

After the Closing Ceremony, Vladimir followed me to the players’ quarters and said good-bye to all of them. He would fly back to France tomorrow in late afternoon. He told me he had some commitments to do within the next few months or so, tournament plays included. To me, he has done a great job. He was very proud of our players’ achievements, though he did not say that openly. One of our players asked me if we would see him again because she felt attached to already and would love to have him as our coach again. I had no answer to her.

On my walk back to the hotel where I stayed, I ran into Nigel Short and he congratulated me for Thailand’s Women Team having won the Category E Champion. He said that some years ago when he came to play in Thailand, we did not have that many women chess players. Suddenly, Thailand this year won a championship medal at this Chess Olympiad. He was surprised and very pleased and hoped that chess in Thailand would develop much further in the future.

I quietly took pictures of the harbor at night amid cold weather in front of my Clarion Collection Aurora Hotel for one last time. Two weeks here were amazingly exciting, fun, and educational. Not a single moment of me getting bored (except the price tags of goods here). Good bye Tromso. This beautiful city and its nice and friendly locals will surely remain in our hearts forever – for many records were broken and missions were nicely accomplished right here at this Artic City.

Thank you all for following my report to the very end.

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