The Chess Olympiad in Tromso (Norway) did not start well for the Mauritius Team as before the event got ahead ,two players Deevarajan Chinasamy and Patrick Li Ying got their flights delayed in London and missed their connecting flight to Tromso in Oslo. They had to fork the hefty fees of USD 560- to buy new tickets from SAS airlines, having an olympiad at a place  that  has so few international  flight connections is a big problem as american No 1 GM Hikaru Nakamura is experiencing the same problem. All flights from London to Tromso via Oslo are fully booked and Nakamura has missed the first two rounds.

Tromso is situated in spectacular surroundings ,right into a Fjord with the stunning background of snow-peaked arctic mountains. The air is fresh , the food at Radisson Blu is very good especially the sea food menu.Our hotel the Sydspissen is owned by the Norwegian army ,it is just like a chalet overlooking the fjord and the breakfast hall has great views of the natural scenery of Tromso.We have as neighbours teams like Zambia,Cyprus,Solomon Islands,Ivory Coast, Malawi,Nepal, Papua New Guinea and the daily shuttle to the playing hall takes about 15 minutes. There is a small COOP supermarket nearby and we were all shocked by the high cost of living in Norway.

Koster and Goorsahye who arrived one day earlier had to fork nearly 100 Euros for a dinner, Chinasamy bought 2 small spring rolls for Rs 100- each, coke can  at the supermarket was Rs 125- the only article that we found of similar price to Mauritius was a Pringles tube at Rs 100, transport is Rs 175 one way fare to town ,VAT is at 25 pct and we inquired to reception how can ordinary people live there with such high prices and were told that a receptionist could earn 15,000 NOK (around Rs 75,0000)  monthly. Norwegians are nice and welcoming people and speak very good english as they start learning the language since 8 years old.

The odd thing about Tromso is that we arrived at the airport at around midnight and there was still daylight ,we have only around 3/4 hours of night and to be honest we did not know when it was time to  go  to bed as we have lost sense of the time.This may in part explain the catastrophic start of the Mauritius team to this olympiad as after 2 rounds we have suffered two defeats against Canada and Nicaragua without scoring a single point.It is quite a long time that Mauritius was not blanked 4-0 in successive rounds as we had an experienced team with 3 titled players above 2000 on top of having a Grandmaster coach Spyridon Skembris.

This result may look bad on the coach but we can vouch that he is doing a fantastic job ,analysing and preparing the team and results will surely follow later. Against Canada a team boasting 3 GM and an average rating of 2550 we had no chance although Li Ying missed good drawing chances with 31... c4 instead of Bd2 and Koster had even chances to win.Roy was outplayed tactically by the strong GM Kovalyov who uncorked a spectacular attack starting with a bishop sacrifice on f2.Goorsahye took a poisoned pawn on the H file and his GM opponent unleashed a terrific attack there.

In Round 2 we had great hopes of a result against Nicaragua as in the last olympiad we lost narrowly 2.5-1.5 pts to them but with a rejuvenated team Nicaragua ,albeit some luck, crushed us 4-0, Roy Phillips had chances to win an exchange and the game and Patrick Li Ying had a totally winning position in the opening after great preparation from coach Skembris in a grunfeld line  and several chances to win the endgame but both misplayed their games ending up losing to one-move blunder. Chinasamy utilised his usual accelerated dragon defence but was busted after only 6 moves following mising playing the theoretical d6 move as after 7. e5 he was positionally lost. Goorsahye had a decent position on the black side of a Ruy Lopez but fell to a royal fork. Today  we play Chinese Taipei and a positive result is expected.