There’s a noise coming from the roof like someone is bowling on corrugated iron. It can’t be that, based on the architecturally concave ceiling that would render the bowler and ball dangerously exposed, but it’s getting louder. A bang, followed then by a rumble and a momentary flash of quiet. Maybe it is someone bowling after all.
You can easily imagine one hell of a noise coming from inside the Kyiv Palace of Sports in full swing, a 70m long cavernous arena used for gymnastics and music concerts. Gymnastics fans sure like to show their appreciation to their supple heroes and as host venue to the Eurovision Song Contest back in 2005 this place would have shaken sideways to the melodic and not so melodic scribbling of some of Europe’s less gifted songwriters.
But the noise the current rain storm is making takes some beating. “Is that rain?” asks one player to another, like a nervous private in an old black and white war film asking his sergeant if the distant guns he can hear are theirs. “If it’s not, we’re in trouble…”
But so far the engineering talents of Hrechyna and Zavarov who put this place up in 1960 stand firm against the test of time.
A quick peek through the curtains outside the tournament area confirms it, a biblical storm washing away all but the double parked cars but conveniently filling the empty lake in front of the Sports Palace.
You’d think this kind of storm would cool the place down, but as the rain eased the tournament room feels muggier, like someone somewhere left the shower on, and a voice inside your head says it might not be a bad idea to take on fluids.
Not that the players notice. Only spectators massing in the stands fan themselves with tourist maps and swig from bottles of water. Players busy themselves with all sorts of activities to fill the gap between hands. Raoul Refos has dismantled his sunglasses and is cleaning the frames with the edge of a gum placket; Arnaud Mattern tries to put in a food order without using the waitresses native Ukrainian; one player drinks a beer, one a shot of coffee, one bites his nails.
Among the most relaxed is Shah Alem, leaning back in his chair to talk to rail buddies, leaning forward again to play the odd hand backed by a stack of more than 70,000. Then there is Russian PokerStars qualifier Michael Naletov, the calmest of them all, 106,000 to the good and our current chip leader.
The thunder is back as we play on in level five.
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CULTURAL OBSERVATION OF THE LEVEL
Ukraine has the fizziest bottled water in the world.
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POKERSTARS BLOG FEATURE SEAT UPDATE OF THE LEVEL
Steady progress for Mark Kitov who sits with a little less than average.
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STATISTIC OF THE LEVEL
The current chip average is 31,983