US-Baku Tour

Monday September 5th-Thursday September 15th

Baku Itinerary

Non-stop travel between New York (JFK) and Baku on Azerbaijan Airlines (Boeing 787)
Departure: September 5th, 11:30am
Return: September 15th, landing 9:30am
Azerbaijan visa fee included in package price
Translation and Troubleshooting Services in Baku: 24/7 assistance for all tour members

Agents of tour administrator Chaska Tours available 24/7 to provide backoffice assistance
4-star Hotel accomodations in the heart of Baku -- breakfasts included -- individual rooms (dbl. occupancy available, with a price discount)
Entry to all rounds of Olympiad play from Round 5 -- play commences at 3pm in all rounds -- plus awards presentation and closing ceremonies
Two meal and mingle sessions with the men's and women's Olympiad teams (in negotiation)
Observation of the FIDE Congress's General Assembly
Banquet and mingle session with prominent English-language chess commentators and journalists
Friendly match for group members against an equivalent-strength group at Azerbaijan's most prestigious chess club
Olympiad immersion at a relaxed pace
Tour Price: $2,520*
($2,370* each if double occupancy)
*3% discount if paying by wire transfer!
Price includes air travel, visa, hotel, Olympiad events, two excursions, breakfasts and other banquet meals listed in itinerary, transport between Baku airport and hotel

Tour Leader: David Kerans
A chess journalist ( e.g., for video ) and academic historian of Russia and the USSR, Kerans is fluent in Russian language (which is spoken everywhere in Baku)
Bonus: Professor Frank Brady, author of Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness , and FIDE International Arbiter, will be on the tour.            
"Azerbaijan’s capital is the architectural love child of Paris and Dubai…albeit with plenty of Soviet genes floating half-hidden in the background. Few cities in the world are changing as quickly and nowhere else in Eurasia do East and West blend as seamlessly or as chaotically. At it's heart, the Unesco-listed Old City (İçəri Şəhər) lies within an exotically crenelated arc of fortress wall. Around this are gracefully illuminated stone mansions and pedestrianised tree-lined streets filled with exclusive boutiques. In the last decade, countless towers have mushroomed, dwarfing or replacing tatty old Soviet apartment blocks. Some of the finest new builds are jaw-dropping masterpieces. Meanwhile romantic couples canoodle their way around wooded parks and hold hands on the Caspian-front bulvar (promenade), where greens and opal blues make a mockery of Baku’s desert-ringed location."
--Lonely Planet, "Baku: introduction"

Getting there
  1. Azerbaijan Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner
  2. new, fully outfitted cabin
  3. Baku's Crystal Hall
  4. FIDE team inspecting the Crystal Hall playing venue
Azerbaijan Airlines has dedicated a new Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner it received last year to the New York-Baku route.

The cabin is loaded with updates.

Being there

Olympiad tournament site,
Baku's Crystal Hall

FIDE delegation inspecting the venue, late 2015.

Olympiad Viewing

FIDE is expecting teams from 178 nations to attend the Olympiad, making it the biggest championship event in chess history.

The organizing committee completed almost all preparatory work more than three months in advance, so the event should run very smoothly.

Spectators will be able to watch from a specially constructed viewing stand or attend the live commentary sessions, to be conducted in several languages.

See here for a thorough photo essay previewing the spectator experience in detail.

Official Olympiad mascot,
"Chess mate"
View of Baku from the Crystal Hall

Crystal Hall foyer

Press center for live broadcasting and interviews
The English-language commentators for the live analysis broadcasts have not yet been announced

Olympiad exhibition hall
A variety of stands will be offering attractions, and fans can participate in casual chess tournaments in this area.

Playing Hall Experience

The organizers are constructing a special stand to give spectators a good view of the top matches each day, plus a clear view of demonstration screens.

The rows of tables on the playing floor will be four meters apart, and the lighting will be excellent.

Finally, a corps of volunteers will be on hand at all times to assist visitors.

Playing there

The Azerbaijan Republic Chess Center,
site of a friendly match between our tour group and Center members of equivalent strength

GMs Shakhryar Mamedyarov, Nigel Short, and Rasul Ibragimov
(arguably Azerbaijan's top trainer) 

Relaxing there:

Baku has plenty of attractive pedestrian zones, high quality cafes, memorable views, etc.

Staying there:
the Sapphire Inn ,
one of Baku's top-rated 4-star hotels, conveniently located downtown
-- breakfasts included --


Individual deviations are permitted at any time, and two supplemental afternoon tours (to be announced) will be available for a modest price.
Mon. September 5: departure from New York (JFK), 11:30am take-off

Tues. September 6: Baku Crystal Hall, Olympiad Rd.5

Wed. September 7: Olympiad off-day, Baku city tour and Fire Temple

Thur. September 8: Olympiad Rd.6, evening banquet with Baku notables

Fri. September 9: Olympiad Rd.7, friendly match vs. an equally matched team from the Azerbaijan Republic Chess Center 

Sat. September 10: lunch with men's Olympiad team*, Olympiad Rd.8

Sun. September 11: simultaneous exhibition vs. a titled Azeri player TBD, Olympiad Rd.9, plus observation of FIDE Congress's General Assembly

Mon. September 12: lunch with women's Olympiad team*, Olympiad Rd.10

Tue. September 13: Olympiad off-day, excursion to Gobustan National Park

Wed. September 14: Olympiad Rd.11, closing ceremonies

Thur. September 15: return flight Baku-New York (JFK)
*NOTE: meetings with Olympiad teams are not yet confirmed 

Travellers desiring different flight routes should contact Chaska Tours to make custom arrangements

Baku --
maiden tower