Tromso Olympiad 2014 – The Free Day

The free day actually started yesterday at the (in)famous Bermuda Party. It’s the single most-awaited event for the vast majority of the participants and it never fails to deliver. The party was held in a large discotheque and inside it was dark, hot and noisy. The darkness prevented any possible incriminating pictures, so you’ll have to believe my word that it was good fun. Pretty much everybody attended, Magnus Carlsen included, with the notable exception of the Russian players, of course. The party is a rare opportunity to meet and chat with friends you only get to see at Olympiads and I at least had a great time.

This morning I decided to visit the Arctic Cathedral. I took the local bus across the bridge (more on the bridge later on) and this is what I saw:

I got inside and just like in Reykjavik I noticed that the Norsemen take religion and religious decorations more symbolically than anywhere else I have been. The interior is simple yet solemn and I get the same sense of inner peace like in the big cathedrals in Europe.

And they don’t seem to be particularly superstitious:

The skyline of this part of the planet continues to amaze me. Once I got out of the cathedral it was again very special.

While waiting for the bus to take me back I took another photo of the cathedral.

The afternoon was no less exicting. I got a chance to join the boat trip organised by Team Kasparov. It was in fact a fishing trip with the boat stopping at several locations and giving a chance to the guests to try their fishing abilities.

The fish were cooked on board and then served to the guests. Not that there was any lack of quality food and drinks, it was a cockatail-type of cruise with people chatting and basically having a good time. There was even a magician who performed some amazing tricks for us!

I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Africa Msimang, the President of the Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa, descendant of Nelson Mandela and one of the organisers of the potential Olympiad in South Africa in 2018. A very intelligent woman and inspiring collocutor whose enthusiasm was contagious. I wish them the best of luck in getting the Olympiad in 2018  – judging by Ms. Msimang, it will be an unforgettable experience.

The man himself, Garry Kasparov was also on board and we had an interesting discussion on the current world affairs. He’s still radiant with energy even though here he was more relaxed in a less formal atmosphere.

The heavy rain that started before our departure stopped and the sky cleared up. Again there was something very special in the air, something I cannot define.

Under the bridge leading to the Cathedral

The whole trip took more than two and a half hours and it was a time well-spent in a company of very exciting people.

It was a good day, but tomorrow it’s business again. We’re paired against Argentina, a very strong team captained by the legendary Ulf Andersson. Another stern test awaits us – we will need all our strength (and good fortune) to emerge victorious.

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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