Greengard's ChessNinja.com

Let the Games Begin

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The Olympics are underway in Athens, Greece. Chess is, as ever, absent, in line with an Olympic commission suggestion to prohibit mind sports a few years ago. Ilyumzhinov scored a coup in 2000 by wrangling an exhibition match at the Sydney Olympics. Anand and Shirov drew two rapid games played at the Olympic Village. Chess has made it to the Olympics in one way, however, thanks to the Cubans. According to one report on the Olympic village in Athens: "The largest banner in the village is the one of Fidel Castro hanging on the Cuban dorm. It covers almost the full side of a building. Castro is playing chess in the poster." There's a tiny pic here. There's also one of Che Guevara at a chessboard. According to a Mexican newspaper the Castro photo is of him playing in the record-setting Havana simultaneous in 2002. The Olympic Committee has told the Cubans to take down the banners.

You'd hope that with chess definitively out of the Games, FIDE (and a few national federations) would dump the idiotic drug-testing they still have written into the rules of official events, although I'm not sure they are actually testing anymore. Were players tested in the Libya KO?

USCF executive director Bill Goichberg commented on the subject for an article in the Pittsburgh Trib today.

"I think maybe the best thing would be if there was a separate mind sports Olympics."

Of course there is exactly such a thing. The 8th Mind Sports Olympiad starts on August 19th in Manchester! The idea sprang from the fertile mind of David Levy, who is still the organizer. Bill may have had something under the actual Olympic banner in mind.


How could you say that chess is "definitively out of the Games"? Chess is a medal sport now at some of the Continental level events, and it seems to be gaining ground slowly but surely.

Also, virtually all of the drug testing in chess comes about at the National level, because those countries are being supported by National Olympic Committees to over $2 Million a year, not because of some Summer/Winter Olympic pipe dream.

Che Guevara was in attendance at the 1966 Chess Olympiad in Havana. In Fred Wilson's A Picture History of Chess, there is a photograph of Che observing the Evans-Taimanov game.

Correction: I'm told that Che could not have been at the Olympiad because he was in Bolivia working with revolutionaries. Far be it from me to question Fred Wilson, but the picture seems to be from the Capablanca Memorial, two years earlier.

Definitely the best Daily Dirt for ages. I think the idea of a Mind Sports Olympics - properly under the Olympic Games banner - is a fantastic idea, and would probably have a chance of being televised too. In fact, the whole idea is very Greek, isn't it? I'm thinking about making my way down to Manchester, if I can be bothered and have enough money. That'll be a no then.

Hey John. I'm more concerned about FIDE and if they are still testing, and if they are, why? Chess is definitely out of the games until it isn't. The IOC has ruled it out explicitly. Obviously that could change. The Asian Games have included chess for quite a while now. I think the IOC's biggest worry about adding chess (or bridge) is that it would open the mind-sport floodgates at a time they are trying to get rid of sports, not add new ones.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 13, 2004 10:30 PM.

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