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Elder Gods of Olympus

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The US Men's Olympiad team has been announced. There are new faces on the team, although they are only new for the US. Onischuk is the highest-rated player and is also the youngest, turning 29 tomorrow. Novikov and Goldin are making their Olympiad debuts for the US, although both are 40-year-old veterans. Gulko, Kaidanov, and Shabalov round out the Soviet, I mean American, squad. According to John Donaldson's Mechanic's newsletter, even the USA team captain will be a Soviet veteran; Boris Postovsky led many Soviet teams in his long career and will now do the same for the US. (It's possible he may have even led a few of his current charges back when they were juniors.)

Two years ago it was already trite to suggest that the US team was getting too long in the tooth to compete under the rigors of the faster time controls and fewer off days of the Olympiad. The US won silver with a veteran team in 1998, but has shown more wear and tear in the last two events. From top to bottom the US team is one of the highest rated in the field. You still have to wonder why top young American stars Nakamura and Akobian aren't on the squad.

Not literally; we KNOW why. The selection formula goes back to April, 2003, so their strong performances in recent months don't have much impact. They focus on the US rating. Using the latest FIDE list would put Nakamura on the team as #6 since Seirawan has largely retired and Kamsky hasn't been active. Young American players have very few chances to gain international experience. While the "ratings only" system avoids controversy (witness the brouhaha over the women's team), it seems a shame. John Henderson suggests that the team's plane take a detour on the way to Calvia and play in the world senior championship!


Qualifying the winner of the US Championship is supposed to take into consideration the "hot" player, but this tournament was almost a year ago.

Off the wall: Let each USCF member vote for the sixth man. One member, one vote. Sounds silly, but we're trying to make chess more popular, aren't we? In this case Nakamura would have probably won hands down.

April 2003?? What fools are deciding this? US ratings instead of FIDE ratings? Is this an international tournament or a USA one? This is ridicolous.

I am outraged by this! Onischuk? ONISCHUK?! How could they possibly pick a guy that young? Did Benko turn them down for a spot?

A few points here:

- Shabba DIDN'T get a spot because of being US Champion. He lost that place so they could kick Anna Hahn out, but in his case it was a moot point since he would have qualified by rating.

- April 2003, yep. It's designed to get the best player over a 2 year period. Then again, Gulko hasn't even played a single game since September 2003. His last PUBLIC game was in July 2003.

- Out of the 10 we're sending, 1 was born in this country. The other 9 in the Soviet Union. Oops.

- Hikaru Nakamura qualifies for EVERY country's Olympiad team, with two exceptions: USA and Russia. He even makes the Ukranian team (over Karjakin!).

- The USCF promotes its rating over FIDE's. It's the only national federation which does this. It sucks, yes, but what can you do.

We'll have to check the Israeli teams. A few years ago they had nine or ten Soviets too. I don't mind the immigrants at all, although I think they should live here and play here for a few years. Otherwise it's a major buzzkill for homegrown talent, who see strong players suddenly jump in ahead of them. Same goes for the US Ch.

Obviously you have to have SOME transparent system announced well in advance. Giving board six to the top-rated under-21 (heck, under-25!) who doesn't otherwise qualify would be a simple way to give international experience to new blood and it really wouldn't weaken the team. Energy goes a long way in these gruelling events.

Kaidanov, Gulko and Novikov simple sat on their rating to get spots on the Olympic Team. They're not as good as their 2700 USCF numbers might indicate. They may not be chessplayers anymore, yet comes the Olympiad they're back!
They should have stepped down and clear the way for real players like Nakamura and Akobian. I told them to do this two years ago, right after the Bled disaster, but in their greed they refuse to face the truth.

Greed? Isn't the pay something like $3K?

Selecting players for this years Olympiad as far back as April 2003 shows us another example of how slow the US Chess Federation works.

Hikaru Nakamura not being on the U.S. team is indicative of the state of U.S. Chess. It's a disgrace!! He is undoubtedly top three in the U.S. right now. However, I would've felt sorry for Nakamura on that team. Who would he have to talk to?

This team has no chemistry and is not imposing. Despite the players being respectable GMs, who will the opposing players FEAR apart from Shabalov? Does anyone think the Azerbaijanis will fear that lineup?

Maybe this will wake people up. Especially if the the U.S. does not improve on their 41st place standing from Bled. Yep... 41st.

The Russian jokes will continue...

"What do you think of the Russian Olympiad team?"

"Which one?"

"- April 2003, yep. It's designed to get the best player over a 2 year period."

Were you being cynical? Because that didn't make any sense.

A few points here......

- Out of the 10 we're sending, 1 was born in this country. The other 9 in the Soviet Union. Oops.

Posted by John C. Fernandez at September 3, 2004 02:53 PM

I thought Polgar was born in Hungary? Am I wrong?

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on September 2, 2004 11:44 PM.

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