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Sport in Russia

The biggest country in the world offers a striking variety of landscapes and weather conditions. Here you can find arctic zones, covered with ice and snow all-year round, huge virgin pine forests, inaccessible rugged mountains, endless plains and sandy beaches with lush subtropical vegetation. This diversity creates opportunities for almost all known sports activities – from swimming and watersports at the seaside through hiking and cycling along the roads that reach the horizon to skiing in all seasons in Siberia and the Caucasus Mountains. Cruising is also very attractive to tourists in Russia, as it allows them to explore some of the most beautiful and important cities and cultural sites in the world.

Hiking 
Hiking is an enjoyable activity for both nature lovers and athletes, giving a unique chance to get close to nature and explore the vast country in an incomparable way. Russia has an abundance of hiking trails and paths that will satisfy every taste. Mount Elbrus is one of Russia’s favorite hiking trails, rising to more than 5,500 metres above sea level. The trail has two cable lifts and special permission has been needed since 2004. Due to the difficulty of the terrain, the hike is possible only if tourists are organised by a hiking club that provides an experienced and knowledgeable guide. The Kamchatka Peninsula is another breathtaking destination for hiking trips with Kronotsky Nature Reserve, the Geyser Valley and the active volcano Karymsky being the main points of interest. Other remarkable hiking routes in Russia include the mounts Iremel and Taganai in Southern Ural, the Khibiny Mountains located 150 kilometres north of the Polar Circle and numberless paths in the Siberian taiga.

Cycling 
Russia provides a wide range of cycling opportunities for tourists of all tastes and physical conditions. The enormous country has a network of cycling trails, but more common is travelling on two wheels using the roads with less traffic in the countryside - especially east of Ural. Two of the Eurovelo international cycle routes pass through Russian territory. The Capitals Route starts in Moscow and leaves Russia near the town of Smolensk, heading for Galway in Ireland. The Baltic Sea Cycle Route is a closed circuit along the coast of the Baltic Sea and passes through St Petersburg and its surroundings. There are some attractive tours that deserve attention, like the 650 kilometre-long Golden Ring to the northeast of Moscow and the tour of Karelia. Apart from biking pleasure, they provide encounters with Russian culture, history and architecture.

Swimming 
Russia has an extremely long coastline, but only a negligible part of it is suitable for swimming or other watersports. The Black Sea coast in the southwestern end of the country has been the leading seaside holiday destination from the time of the USSR, when the elite of the country used it as a place for summer relaxation. Today, the region, with its centre Sochi, is far from its old fame and glamour, but is still the major Russian seaside resort. Swimming conditions are very good with high water temperatures and the saltines being twice lower than in the ocean. Countless swimming opportunities are available in the interior in the country – clean lakes and rivers with sandy beaches and copious public swimming pools and aqua parks in larger cities. Typically, the main Russian activity is ice diving – one of the most extreme activities known. It can be practised in the White Sea, which is always covered with at least a one metre crust of ice. Specialised diving clubs organise the dives and provide everything necessary.

Cruising 
Russia is among the most attractive cruising destinations worldwide. Hundreds of different itineraries are available along the Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Volga River and the dense network of canals and waterways, especially in the European part of the country. A truly unforgettable experience is the 13-day cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg aboard the luxurious cruise ship “The White Nights” along the Imperial Russian Waterways. The Peter Tchaikovsky Cruise from Moscow to Perm is a great adventure for music experts. Cruises from Moscow to Rostov and around Kamchatka and the Kuril Islands are also worth experiencing.

Rafting 
Rafting trips in Russia will give you the chance to explore the landscape along some of the most beautiful waterways to be found in this country. The trips are typically hosted in remote wilderness areas with limited access, including Karelia, the Altai Mountains, parts of Siberia, and the Lake Baikal region. Most of them are suitable for both keen beginners and skilled rafters. Rafting tours are organised by local adventure travel agencies, which often combine rafting with other extreme activities, such as canoeing and canyoning, to provide tourists a never-ending adrenaline rush.

Skiing 
Russia has great potential for a skiing holidays. The country boasts more than 100 ski areas of various type and quality. In response to the increasing demand, a few first-class ski centres with modern facilities have been built. Mount Elbrus offers the highest peak and year-around skiing. The peaks can be reached by cable car or helicopter, making easy access to amazing heights. Cheget is another very popular ski resort. Located in the Caucasus Mountains it has five runs that challenge even the most experienced skiers. The Volen Sport Park is also a great place for skiing and is only 60 kilometers from Moscow. There are six slopes catering to different needs, as well as elevators and equipment hire. Southern Ural and the Baikal Lake region offer perfect off-piste and cross-country skiing.

Golf 
Golf is a relatively new leisure activity in Russia, but is rapidly gaining popularity. The country has many suitable locations for this game – endless plains and fields, green forests and crystal-clear lakes create an attractive setting for playing golf. There are numerous golf courses where keen golfers can pursue their passion while enjoying the fascinating Russian nature. The most famous clubs that provide excellent courses, equipment, lessons and accommodation are the Moscow City Golf Club, the Le Meridian Moscow Country Club and the Moscow Golf Club in Krylatskoe. Professional golf tournaments are held here, like the Russian Open, as a part of the European Tour.

Chess

My name’s Sola. I like doing many things but one thing that I really like doing is playing chess. 
Chess is an indoor and competitive game played between two players. It is being played in tournaments, online or at home. The origin of chess is traced to India of the 6th century during the Gupta Empire. The military had four divisions known as "infantry", "cavalry", "elephant" and "chariot". These names are represented in the chess game as: pawn, knight, bishop and the rook respectively. In the 9th century, the game was introduced to Western Europe and Russia.

The chess board is made up of 64 squares (eight rows and eight columns) and the colors of the squares alternate (dark and light squares). The pieces which are comprised of a king, a queen, two rooks, two bishops, two knights, and eight pawns are in sets black and white. To start the game, white moves first. The pieces are moved one at a time to an occupied square by an opponent's piece, thereby removing it from play or to a square that is not occupied. However, two pieces are moved simultaneously when castling.

Each chess piece has its own style of moving. The pawn moves one or two steps forward to an unoccupied square but one forward diagonal step to an occupied square. The Knight moves in "L" pattern. The bishop moves diagonally. The rook moves horizontally or vertically with as many steps as possible. The queen moves in all directions covering as many squares as possible. And the king moves one step at a time in all directions.

The king is permitted to make a move called castling. The king makes two squares towards the rook of the same color and the rook moves onto the square over which the king crossed. The following are the prerequisites to castling: 
- The king and the rook must be on the same color 
- The king and the rook involved in the castling may not have been previously moved 
- There must be no pieces between the king and the rook 
- The king may not currently be in check

Pawns could be promoted to any of the following: a queen, rook, bishop, or knight of the same color when it advances to the eighth rank. Most chess players choose to promote the pawn to a queen. Also, a pawn can capture another pawn that is on an adjacent file next to it via en passant. En passant is when a pawn moves two squares ahead and if the opponent’s pawn is on an adjacent file next to the destination of the pawn.

The king is being checked when it is exposed to an attack from one of the opponent’s piece. The best response to a check is to get rid of the piece checking the king by capturing it. Another method is to create interference by bringing in a piece to shield the king from the attack. The last method is to move the king. However, a move that would put the king in check is not allowed in the game.

To win the game, the opponent must be checkmated. Checkmate is when king is in check has there is no way to escape. There are occasions that the chess games do not end with a checkmate. Other way the game ends are: draw by agreement, stalemate, threefold repetition of a position, and the fifty-move rule.

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Галина Ивановна Бохан.