News & Reports Aug 1, 2014 | 11:43 PMby Tromso Olympiad 2014

Tromsø 2014 starts with lavish opening ceremony

Norwegian Finance Minister Siv Jensen was guest of honour at the opening ceremony

The 41st Chess Olympiad is officially open! Norway's Finance Minister Siv Jensen introduced the start of the games with a wink to national pride: "With Magnus Carlsen world chess champion it is only fitting that the Chess Olympiad is held in Norway and Tromsø."

The opening ceremony was the first time that most of the chess players, coaches and officials taking part in the 2014 Olympiad had gathered together in the same venue, with a huge range of people from all around the world making the short trip to the event in Tromsø's Skarphallen. Here are just some of those who attended the ceremony:

A long way from home - the Jamaican women's team

Le Quang Liem leads the Vietnamese contingent

Russian women's team players Olga Girya, Alexandra Kosteniuk and Valentina Gunina seem in good spirits

Garry Kasparov is in Tromsø on serious business

FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov attended alongside his rival for the role of president four years previously, Anatoly Karpov

Another unlikely couple - official live commentary duo Jan Gustafsson and Lawrence Trent

Some were reluctant to leave the buses - here husband and wife duo Daniel Fridman (Germany) and Anna Zatonskih (USA)

Team Carlsen - Magnus Carlsen, his chief second Jon Ludvig Hammer and manager Espen Agdestein

Team Carlsen II - Magnus' parents and sister are on hand to provide moral support, accompanied by Norwegian politician Bård Vegar Solhjell

Not everyone attended the venue by bus...

Traditional fiddle music from Hekla Stålstrenga began an hour of varied musical numbers - from Sami 'joik' by Inger Biret Gaup, a number from 'Chess' by West End star and Tromsø native Lisa Stokke, the Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra and finally new Norwegian pop favourites Violet Road. In between, Tromsø mayor Jens Johan Hjort smoothly introduced event videos and guest speakers.

Lisa Stokke sings a song from the musical Chess

Carlsen ready to rumble

Ilyumzhinov noted that wars used to stop for the Olympics in Ancient Greece

FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov welcomed the gathering to the 41st Chess Olympiad and praised the natural beauty of the event's setting. All 174 participant nations were introduced in a flag ceremony, and there was an enthusiastic international welcome for the arrival of the Norwegian team on stage, led by world champion Magnus Carlsen.

You can replay the flag ceremony below:

Who says chess players can't jump? The Estonian team get into the spirit of the occasion!

Carlsen told the crowd: 

It is very special to be on home ground - and this is a unique opportunity! I have great faith in our team, and am sure that we can give anyone we meet a real fight.


No monkey business

Carlsen was also designated to make the official drawing of colours for the open and women's events. Both times he pulled out a black king to give the odd-numbered teams black on first board in the first round.

Magnus, alongside the Mayor of Tromsø, Jens Johan Hjort, picks out a black king

He then amused the crowd: "Let's pull the other piece out as well to make sure there's no monkey business going on", and produced a white king to ensure that everything was above board.

The song from Chess was accompanied by a spectacular lights show

The view from the crowd - you couldn't mistake the chess theme to the show!

The evening's entertainment was produced by Gyro and streamed live online by national broadcaster NRK, with an edited version shown on their main TV channel later Friday night. Let the games begin!


Photos by official photographers Georgios Souleidis and Daniel Skog - more here


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