Zurab Azmaiparashvili: “I am proud that such an Olympiad is held in Baku”

The President of the European Chess Union and the former captain of the Azerbaijan national team, Zurab Azmaiparashvili, who is in Baku to observe the 42nd Chess Olympiad, has answered questions from representatives of the media.

- Three rounds of the 42nd Chess Olympiad have already been played. How would you assess the level of organization of this event?

- This is the 13th Olympiad for me in different capacities. I have participated in Olympiad as a player, as FIDE Vice President and as an official of the Georgian Chess Federation. As President of the European Chess Union, this is my first Olympiad. I am very pleased that this competition is held in Baku, which is such a dear city to me. Our countries have very warm relations. I am not talking only about being neighbors. I have good recollections about Azerbaijan. When I was the captain of the Azerbaijan team, it became champion of Europe for the first time in 2009. Unfortunately, we could not replicate that success in the world championship.

I have always been impressed with the level of attention being paid to chess in Azerbaijan. It is thanks to state support that Azerbaijani chess has reached this level. It is no easy task to play host to the Olympiad. In terms of its reputation, the Chess Olympiad is the world's third biggest event.

I can only say positive things about organization. I was always sure that the Baku Chess Olympiad would go down in history. This Chess Olympiad is not one of the best, it is the best Olympiad ever. What I am seeing here has exceeded my expectations.

As you know, the next Olympiad will be held in Georgia. I sent out a team to study Azerbaijan's experience. They are also impressed. In fact, they are saying that it is impossible to emulate it. This level of organization will certainly add to my headache. I am proud that such an Olympiad is being held in Baku.

- Which result in the first three rounds surprised you the most?

- I have only been surprised by the Georgian team so far. Our women's team unexpectedly lost to Philippines in the second round. The Olympiad is a long marathon. There are eight more rounds to do and there may be more surprises.

- How would you evaluate the performance of the Azerbaijan men's team?

- The focus in Azerbaijan is on the performance of the men's first team. So far so good. Some of the games in the match against Hungary could have finished differently. But eventually Azerbaijan won 3-1.

- How does the current team compare to the team of which you were the captain?

- It was young in my time. Now it has gained a lot of experience. They have tasted the joy of victory and the bitterness of defeat. It is well motivated now and is trying to achieve the best result on home soil.

- In the run-up to the Olympiad, Azerbaijan and Georgia played a friendly match. What do you think about how it went?

- It was a very good camp in Gabala. The friendly match ended in a victory for the Azerbaijan team. But I did not expect the score of 57-43. I had thought that the Azerbaijan team would win by a greater margin. This could have been because Teymur Rajabov could not participate in the camp fully.

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