The Players Getting to Know Ugra
Four rounds of the tournament are in the books, and this means the players can now enjoy a long-awaited rest day, which many of them decided to spend outside the hotel “Olympiyskaya”.
Severe frost that established its presence in Khanty-Mansiysk for a few days is now gone, giving the players a chance to explore the city. The group consisted of Natalia Pogonina, Valentina Gunina, Natalia Zhukova, Nino Batsiashvili, Lela Javakhishvili, Chief Arbiter Anatharam Rathinam (India) and the Chesscast people, who take care of the online broadcasting of the event. The tour started from the hotel, where the group boarded a comfortable bus with a tour guide. Archeopark, which is already considered one of the main attraction of the Ugra capital, became their first stop. The girls got acquainted with animals of Ice Age and made many selfies with them.
After an energetic walk the group came to the embankment of Irtysh river, which features the River boat station and a monument commemorating Great Siberian Expeditions, set up in honor of great explorers of Siberia and Far East Vitus Bering, Daniel Gottlieb Messerschmidt, Gerhard Friedrich Mueller, and Dmitry Ovtsyn. The chess players also inspected Assol – the sculpture of a girl waving to ships.
Then the delegation went to a sightseeing platform to enjoy exciting sights of Samarovo – the historical city center. Valentina Gunina visited Khanty-Mansiysk four times already, but she never got a chance to see the place: “Previously we lived far from the center, in the Ugra Valley, so we walked around the hotel and had only one tour to the mammoths. Today’s tour is ideal to get to know the city and its main attractions. My mom and I learned a lot. It is a great idea to actually have some rest on a rest day and learn something about the city you play in”.
After that the bus took off to the world famous Center of Winter Sports named after A. V. Filipenko, which hosts major biathlon competitions on a regular basis.
Grandmaster Natalia Zhukova is also visiting Khanty-Mansiysk for the fourth time. In 2010 she played here at the Chess Olympiad, in 2012 participated in the World Championship, and two years later took part in Blitz and Rapid Championship. “I guess my next visit will take place in 2018, as I seemingly come here exclusively on even years”, smiles Natalia. “During chess tournaments we usually have little to no time to look around, especially at the Olympiad. I really like the city center, especially the part with the birch alley. It is very beautiful! Generally I prefer playing in cities with embankments and parks, where one can walk after a hard game. Between tournaments I have different distractions, like spending time with my daughter or with my friends – all this helps to move attention away from chess. We are quite a sporting family and enjoy an active lifestyle. For instance, we often go to basketball games of the Euroleague. My daughter plays basketball, and right now she competes in Togliatti with her team.”
The Church of Resurrection of Christ became the final stop. Most players were very eager to visit it. Nino Batsiashvili, Lela Javakhishvili, Valentina Gunina with her mother and Anatharam Rathinam used the opportunity to come inside and light some candles.
The Georgian player Nino Batsiashvili comes to Khanty-Mansiysk for the first time. “The tour was very exciting, which I frankly did not expect. I really liked the animal park. The mammoths are just so cool! And the church is very interesting as well, especially the interior. I feel a bit freezing, although the air is not nearly as cold as -36 Celsius, like it was on the day of arrival. I got multiple warnings from friends but still did not realize how cold it actually is until I came here”, said Nino.
On the way back to the Olimpliyskaya Hotel the guide told about other points of interest as the bus was passing them by. Hopefully the rest day allowed the players to recuperate and cheer up. Tomorrow they will play another round of chess, which will bring the following match-ups: Khademalsharieh-Javakhishvili, Batsiashvili-Skripchenko, Pogonina-Gunina, Zhukova-Kosteniu