Norway, chess, death and the media



While most of us chess players will remember the 2014 TROMSO CHESS OLYMPIAD for the outstanding success of the Chinese National Team, to the rest of the non-chess playing world the Tromso olympiad made news ONLY because of the death of two players:



Infact, you can find tens of thousands of news items about these Tromso deaths simply by GOOGLING.





How many news items about the chess-content of Tromso will you find? ANSWER: a couple of dozen (maybe, but probably a bit optimistic).  In a time when main stream media does NOT want to hear about chess, we chess players seem to have to settle for mere tabloid sensationalism. Death–it may appear–is good news for chess.


But NOT in Norway. Certainly not for the chess organizers in Norway. For Tromso, the two deaths were an embarrassment: it drilled home the painful point that they got ABSOLUTELY ZILTCH in return it got for the 14-million euros (and change) that it cost to host the chess Olympiad. Nobody in the world wanted to talk about art, culture and sport in Tromso…


To the Stavanger super-tournament of last month…



This time around the Norwegian chess community was not going to allow MERE death to rob them of being the centre of attention that they so much craved for!  ‘Death? What death?’ you ask!?  You don’t KNOW, do you?


You don’t know about the death that took place during the super-tournament because the Norwegian organizers did NOT want you to know about it!  They did NOT want the outside world to know about it!  They did NOT want a repetition of Tromso…


They learned their painful lesson in Tromso…but YOU do remember this, don’t you:





”GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave boosted his confidence even further with a first-round win over GM Levon Aronian. The winner of the blitz got a promising position right out of the opening, a Ragozin. Aronian said he spent a lot of time on this variation, but it was simply too long ago that he last looked at it.

With a nice intermediate move (20.exd5!), anticipated by Kasparov on Norwegian TV, MVL won a pawn. Aronian gave up another one, hoping that White’s doubled g-pawn couldn’t get dangerous without weakening the white king, but White’s advantage turned out to be decisive.

“I went to sleep before midnight, which for me probably didn’t happen for five years or so,” was how Vachier-Lagrave explained his good start.

If the day wasn’t dramatic enough, half an hour before midnight the hotel’s fire alarm went off. Chess players and other hotel guests had to leave the hotel, and stayed outside for about half a hour. As it turned out, one of the guests needed medical assistance.”


That ‘GUEST’ who needed medical attention was none other than 68-yearold Gaguik Oganessian, Executive Director of the Armenian Chess Federation.


Gaguik Oganessian was staying at the Scandic Hotel in Stavanger (where the tournament was being held) as a journalist covering the event.  When the alarm bell rang, Oganessian was already asleep and was quickly forced to leave the hotel, leaving him disoriented.  He suffered a heart attack, fell into a coma for a number of days, and died on the 27th of June. Gaguik Oganessian was a GIANT in Armenia.



Later today, in Erevan, hundreds of chess players from all over Armenia will converge on Tigran Petrosian’s CHESS HOUSE to say goodbye…







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