President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev opened the first round of Chess Olympiad by making the honorary move 1.d4 in the game Shakhriyar Mamedyarov – Rodwell Makoto of the match Azerbaijan-Zimbabwe at the Crystal Hall in Baku Azerbaijan.
The sad news was that 8 African federations were missing from the pairing. There was no confirmation whether these teams would make it to Baku in time for round 2.
On top board Russian easily overcame Nigeria to win 4-0 while the big news for Africa was Sudan holding much stronger Bulgaria to a 2-2 draw.
On Board 2 GM Momchil Nikolov of Bulgaria lost to FM Abubaker Tagelsir of Sudan while on Board 4 IM Martin Petrov of Bulgaria went down against 2183 rated Abdelazeez Mohamed Abdalla of Sudan.
This was a fine performance from a fairly new federation.
Our good neighbours Tanzania lost 3.5 to 0.5 against Monaco.
The other highlight was the fight on board 1 between Deng Cypriano Rehan (1899) of South Sudan and IM Helgi Dam Ziska 2546 of Faroe Islands. South Sudan would have caused a major upset had Cypriano won his game.
Somalia also faced baptism by fire when they went down 4-0 to Ecuador a team that featured 1 GM and 3 IM’s.
Burundi lost 4-0 to Dominican Republic when Zambia whitewashed Gambia 4-0.
South Africa crushed Swaziland 4-0.
We have a few photos of Team Kyrgyzstan as well.
I spent part of the morning in Old City and took some photos as well.
With lots of little shops one can find a surprising number of things as shown below!
The exhibition hall was busy with various stalls from different suppliers and I was lucky to bump into Women’s World Champion Hou Yifan of China.
We hope to bring you daily reports from the Baku 2016 Olympiad with special focus on Africa over the next few days.