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Medal Maniacs

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The Olympiad is finally over. It was an impressive showing by the favorites and by the US men. Actually it's not that surprising. They were only the 10th seed, but that's because they don't have a 2700, and only one player over 2620. But they do have six 2600's, meaning that against any team other than Ukraine or Russia, the USA is as strong or stronger when reserves are in action. The depth and balance of the US men's team has long been their strength. It would be nice to have a +6 first board, but being able to rest your guys is important in these marathon events. Having the very experienced Postovsky as a captain couldn't have hurt.

I'm delighted for the US women's team and their silver medal. China sprinted out to such a lead that the gold was out of reach, although the US has the symbolic victory of beating the Chinese in their match. I'm disappointed for Jen Shahade, however. The current US women's champ played just two games, both early on and with black, and caught a cold in the middle of the event. It's hard to imagine a better result for the team, but not using a reserve as strong as Shahade is a little strange. (She finished ahead of Krush and Zatonskih in the US Ch.) It also casts the epic wrangling about the fourth spot in a cold light. Remember that an entire US women's championship was organized just to end the controversy around the fourth spot. To stay in the moment, congratulations to both US teams, particularly the women for their first medal ever.


It's great that the US teams did so well at the Olympiad. Still, it's a crime that Nakamura was not part of the US men's team. Most other countries took their young talent. Who do we hold accountable in the USCF for this neglect of our best up and coming player?

The US Menīs Team actually won the Gold medal in Group A. The Womenīs Team won the Silver overall. However, GM Polgar won a total of 4 medals in this Olympiad (2 Gold and 2 Silver) for best individual performance (2622), best overall score, 2nd best percentage on board 1 (75% in all 14 games) and 2nd in team standing.

Hi Mig - How about doing a piece on the Gestapo tactics of the Spanish police and what they did to Zurab Azmaiparashvili?

or Spain on Zurab vs. Paul Bennett & Susan on Anna?

The US men's team benefited from the unfairness of the Olympiad format. They got beaten by the top teams early on, went down and beat some lowly rated teams and ended up high overall. The US men's team (along with the Cuban team) was the luckiest of those in the top 10. Unlike other top 10 teams like Russia, Ukraine, Israel, and India (who played all or almost all of the other top 10 teams), US and Cuba played more lower rated teams and got most of their points beating them.

Somehow, Mig has prefered to focus on the balance of the side and not this aspect.



That is not exactly true. The top 6 finishers were also the top 6 performers (in the same order). That is, the USA had the 4th best team TPR. Cuba with a 7th place finish was the 8th best performer.

The 'unfairness' you speak of applies to the Netherlands and Spain who each only played two top 10 teams. The two teams that performed better were Georgia and France who each faced 6 top 10 finishers.


That's not the case. If you look at the total points of opponents the numbers are:
Ukr, Arm: 459
US: 454
Israel: 465
India: 461.5
Cuba: 457

Israel and India are way higher (and can be considered unlucky) and even Cuba is higher than US. They didn't play Bulgaria, Cuba, Netherlands etc. and beat up teams like Norway, Iran, Singapore. The played the top teams like Russia, Ukraine, Israel and Armenia towards the end when they were playing safe (look at the number of short draws). As Mig says, having depth also helped as their players were rotated well and fresh in the last few rounds when they played the top teams.



It IS the case. You are not refuting the TPR results I have given. All you have given is total points scored by opposition.

I don't know why you are even mentioning the teams that beat the USA and Cuba. How does finishing behind these teams make anyone lucky?

The only team that has a valid claim in the comparison is India. Why not Israel? Let's look.

Opponents in the final top 10:
Israel 6 (not almost all), USA 6, Cuba 5

Results vs final top 6:
Israel 8, USA 9

How about the opposition? (by seed)

1,2,3,5, 8,11,12,16,23,27,30, 36,42,84 Cuba
1,2,3,5,10,14,18,20,22,26,29, 45,48,66 Israel
1,2,3,4, 5, 7,14,28,30,31,35, 52,57,73 USA

So your argument (about luck) includes which teams? Only 1, India.

India did lose to Israel AND 'lucky' Cuba (no Anand). Most damaging though was the small win over Uruguay (no Anand).


I guess I misunderstood your earlier post.

I agree India was unlucky. Losing to Cuba was the biggest blow. There were numerous blunders by the lower boards and it seems Anand didn't want to risk his rating by playing against lower rated teams like Cuba (again if lower boards hadn't blundered ...). Anand did well to beat Moro and the lower boards didn't deliver. Same with Poland.

One problem with the format is that a team that has done well early on gets to play most of the top teams by the mid way stage. Thus a loss or win, they will still be playing marginally lower rated teams in the last few rounds. Thus a loss to Cuba cost them points and didn't help much in pairings. As you mentioned, they were the only ones to have played all the other top 10 teams.


Bill Simmons,

I'm not sure we can hold any one person accountable for Nakamura's exclusion from the team. There is an "objective" formula that is used to determine the team, and that is that.

I recently conducted an interview with Nakamura that should be appearing at ChessCafe in a few weeks, and in the interview Nakamura explains his take on the situation in his own words.

Maybe in the future things can be changed.

There is no doubt however, that Nakamura will be on the 2006 team.

Howard Goldowsky

Lucky, unlucky, that's the nature of the Swiss system. Everyone knows the "Swiss Gambit." Getting Norway in the final round was quite lucky for the US, if you want to call it that. But you still have to win games. The US drew matches with Israel, Ukraine, and Armenia and lost to Russia by a point. That's -1 against the four strongest teams. That's the same as India did. Worrying about who got Singapore or Cuba is a waste of time because it's the nature of the system and every round is a lottery.

Since it went to a Swiss, the Olympiad has been about wiping out weaker teams and getting a big score in the final round, at least where the silver and bronze are concerned. But as we can see from the seedings, the top teams still come out on top.

TPR is certainly more relevant than the Buchholz scores. You should get more credit for beating a highly-rated team than a team that may have benefited from the same flawed Swiss system. A Buchholz differential of 10 or more is significant. Smaller than that is a matter of one or two pairings.

Russia score +1 against teams seeded 18, 20, and 32. "Normal" would have been at least +4, enough to catch Ukraine.

India lost to Russia 1.5-2.5 but it should have been 3:1 in favour of India. Harikrishana made blunder and missed simple back rank tatics against Dreev Alexey eventually lost the game. Ganguly fell to a 118 move torture from Zvjaginsev Vadim (Q vs Q + hP) and lost match which could be drawn. It this 1.5 points and the 1.5 they missed with Uruguay cost them the medal.

Boards 3 and 4 did well in earlier rounds but in last few rounds they just fell away esp Harkrishna he scored (0.5/4) in last 4 games. Anand did agree to some quick draws but you can't complain much about a guy with Rp of 2824(second best). Ganguly did very well in earlier rounds. India did not loose a single game in top 2 boards.
did any other team performed like that ?

Is there any prize for best game in olympiad ? I feel that Sasikaran's game in 13th round was great. It might win that prize. It might be even best game of this year very nice Queen Sacrifice. I think its better than Anand-Moro game.

Mig -

It's been a lot of fun, reading the "Russian fan's viewpoint", as presented by Vlassov at the new Chesspro.ru website. (I'm currently translating it - anybody's welcome to have a look) As near as I can gather, from what I've translated up to Round 10 or so, it appears the Russians blame their (relatively) poor men's team performance on Zvjagintsev's SELECTION - it appears obvious (at least to Nikolai V) that, say, Rublevsky would've done a whole lot better in his place. And his performance WAS abysmal.

But also - Khalifman looked like he was basically phoning in his performance. True, he didn't play that many games - but those he did, he almost didn't seem to be trying. Sort of like 'Anand Lite'.

And of course, it didn't help that Svidler wasn't available for the front half of the tournament. And poor Morozevich! He tried to pick up the slack, by being Super Moro (again), but couldn't win every game, no matter how he tried.

Boris Postovsky wasn't MENTIONED - clear evidence of how much he was missed this time. But I suspect the Russians will have their act far more together for Turin '06.


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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on October 30, 2004 6:37 AM.

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