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Dresden Olympiad Starts Thursday

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152 federations are represented in Dresden. 156 teams in the open and 119 in the women's section. Plus the second German team -- a standard host luxury -- and the teams of the IBCA, ISCA ICSC, and IPCA. (Blind, deaf, and dumb physically disabled, respectively.) A record number of teams and players. There are several changes to the format of the Olympiad this year, several of them horrible no matter how well-intentioned. But overall it should be another great festival of chess, camaraderie, and nationalistic fervor.

The official Dresden website was limping along for a while but at least a few basic facts were available. After a face-lift, with just a few days to go, good luck finding anything. If you go to "Olympiad & News" and then "Participating Federations" (so far, so good), you get a page with pics of all the German players. There's a link at the top, inside the page, to "all participating federations and teams." Okay, a little convoluted, but at least it's a logical path. But wait, it's a blank page! Sneaky. Even odder, if you click on "Press & Media" and then "Outlook 2008" you get a frame with the excellent chess results site's Olympiad material, with all the teams, players, and captains! Or you can just click here. Maybe the results will be listed under "Excel 2007." Most of their databased content seems busted right now, so maybe it will all come back at once when they get it fixed.

The schedule is here. Opening ceremony Wednesday night. Round one begins on Thursday. All rounds begin at 1500 local time (9am EST) except the 11th and final round, which begins at 1000 local, 4am EST. Tuesday the 18th and Monday the 24th are the off days. The ChessBase preview item on the Olympiad, mentions the controversial decision to automatically forfeit anyone who isn't at their board at starting time, instead of the usual one hour leeway. But according to my conversation with Peter Svidler and Jan Gustafsson on Chess.FM during the WCh, this insane rule has been revised. Don't recall what the new rule is, maybe 15 minutes? (With so many players from so many countries staying in so many different hotels you would have had dozens and dozens of forfeits in the first few rounds.) I don't have confirmation on that forfeit rule, however, so if you're a player and you're not sure, be prompt! There is also a ban on draw offers before move 30.

The main change this year is cutting the Open teams down to five players (four boards, one reserve) and adding a board to the Women's event so that's also five players. This way the strong players will be more tired and play worse, but in compensation we'll get a few hundred more games between unrated women. Good job, Dresden. If you want to make a stand for equal rights, abolish the Women's event entirely. No, I'm not really in favor of that. Now don't get me wrong. I'm all for Title IX and making sure women have equal access and protection against discrimination in sports. But as is made clear by the women playing in the Open section -- in 2006 I believe there were seven -- access isn't the issue. It's a culture thing. And I'm fine with affirmative action in general. We need to find ways to encourage more women to take up and stay with the sport, absolutely. But doing it this way, swapping 2500-players for 2000-players even up and bringing in dozens of players who are practically beginners, it looks silly.

Okay, enough on that. We won't really notice it once things get going and I'm sure ChessBase will be delighted to have dozens more just-happy-to-be-here young women to photograph for their in-depth chess coverage.

The favorites in the main event are, as usual, the Russians. Kramnik is back on board one in an attempt to recover from 2006, when he led the top seeds to a miserable sixth-place finish in Turin. Kramnik himself actually had the best performance rating of the event, but Svidler was off and Rublevsky a disaster. This time they have the highest-rated team ever, a 2756 average, with Kramnik, Morozevich, Svidler, Grischuk, and Jakovenko. The loss of the second reserve board cost Alekseev a spot. But I'm sure there's a spunky reserve Women's player from, say, Korea who just learned to play on the flight to Dresden who appreciates the change.

Then there's Ukraine, again without Ponomariov. Led by Ivanchuk and Karjakin, they also failed to medal in 2006. China is the third seed this time with Wang Yue on board one. They took home silver in 2006. Surprise Turin bronze medalists USA are there with Kamsky, Nakamura, Onischuk, Shulman, and Akobian. They're the 10th seed. And what about the reigning gold medalists, Armenia? They are the 9th seed this year, again led by Aronian and Akopian. Their incumbent 3rd board, Karen Asrian, died suddenly this year on June 9 (my birthday, so hard to forget) at age 28. Tigran L Petrosian is on the team to replace him and one of my favorite players, veteran Smbat Lputian, was cut.

Azerbaijan is another heavyweight, with two top-10 players leading the way in Radjabov and Mamedyarov. Peter Leko and Judit Polgar are playing for Hungary for the first time since the team won silver in 2002. Hungary had a great result in 2006 without them. Eternally under-performing England has Adams and Short again, this time with young David Howell on board three, replacing Speelman, who has socks older than Howell. Topalov is playing for Bulgaria for the first time since 2000. Anand, sadly, is sitting it out after playing in the last two Olympiads. A little surprised to see young Negi not on the team either. Koneru could make the Indian Open team, anyone know why she's not playing? Shirov is there for Spain, Gelfand for Israel, and Carlsen is playing for Norway. He should have a good shot at an individual medal since his relatively weak teammates will probably force him to play weaker opponents than the other top guys will face. And don't sleep on the home team, at least the first one. Naiditsch, Khenkin, Gustafsson, and Fridman are a formidable group.

I don't see the regulations on the official site but dug them up from some old PDFs they left lying around. The time control is 40/90'+30', g/30'+ 30". The other big change this year is going to team scoring instead of board scoring, which should guarantee less action and drama than usual on the boards. I suppose it does allow for more match upsets, but who cares about those if they come at the cost of increasing the draw percentage? Ugh. And of course it's all been cut down to 11 rounds instead of 13, or 14, of past years.

So who's your dark horse? Pick a team outside of the top ten you think could make a medal run. It doesn't happen very often. I'll say Spain and Georgia might sneak up on a few people. Will be fun to see Kramnik take out his frustrations (and preparation) on everyone. And who knows, maybe someone will get punched at the Bermuda party. And of course, Go Brooklyn, Go USA! I'll be putting up daily round-review podcasts for ICC Chess.FM and Macauley Peterson is there doing all sorts of creative things, as usual. Don't forget to waste hours of time at the fantastic Olimpbase website.


I agree with you Mig that the idea of having 5 players for each men and women is not good. While it may make sense for the top 20 participants, it does not for the rest of 140 participants.

I hope future Olympiads are not put under pressure to follow this "equality" rule. They should also abolish rest days. With reserve players, each team can rest their players in their own strategy.

I would like to see an arbiter tell GM Kramnik that he lost his game because its: 3:02pm. Yeah sure. That rule will be removed at once.

The ban on the draw offer is nice.


FIDE's capacity to think up stupid new rules, and their utter lack of accountablity, never ceases to amaze me. It's a good general rule to go by that anything Short suggests should not be implemented, and they'd have done well to follow that here.

Who are these idiots? These daft ideas can't all be Makropoulos's, can they?

I suspect it's some power-crazed arbiter, continuing the bid of these people to run the asylum.

If Kramnik was 2 minutes late, the opponent would sign and submit his scoresheet to take the point. All the arbiters in FIDE could not and would not try to do anything about it. Next time, Kramnik would be 10 minutes early.

''I would like to see an arbiter tell GM Kramnik that he lost his game because its: 3:02pm''.
I think we should worry more about GMs Korchnoi and Azmaiparashvili.

The Olympiad maybe the one place where the draw offer should not be abolished; my reason for this: it’s a team sport. You are playing on your own board as you are playing on the other 3.

My screen resolution is fine, yet the right hand column (such as the tag cloud) always appear over the main body text, preventing me from reading parts of it. It doesn't seem to matter how I change the resolution or how often I hit refresh. Am I the only one having this problem?

Believe it or not, there is a bookmaker offering an "Aronian Special".
The bet is:
Who will Levon Aronian be punched by during the Bermuda Party?
Three possibilities: 1) A Lady will do it; 2) A Man will do it; 3) Nobody will do it.
The odds on 3) are dismal...

Btw Illumzhinov has gotten into a car accident today. A lady has hit his Mercedes with her Ford Focus.
He is in hospital now.

In keeping with the theme of the previous post, I bet Cuba will outperform their seeding. I know Bruzon hasn't played well lately, but I bet he still has something left.


I see opportunities here, all I have to do is bet on 2), fly to Dresden, find Levon and land a punch.

Oh well, could be lucrative if you're already there...

(lucrative and painful that is)


Dominguez just won that blitz and Bruzon is, well, world junior champ. Who are their remaining players? If they have a solid 2600 and a good youngster they can upset almost any team ;)

Humpy isn't playing because she played the European team championship or something. I think some dispute with the federation.

Nice blog ! but I won't ever understand why so much people, including Chessbase (liked the comment about them btw, they do take nice pictures though :) ), forget to mention or notice the French team and French events as a whole, when Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is not far older than Carlsen or Karjakin and is playing on board 2, not even mentionning Bacrot who used to be one of the youngest GMs in the world...

My predictions...


Always fun. I got the gold medallists right the last two Olympiad tournament.

The four-women teams basically take everyone out of the medal running except a few populous countries with depth (Russia, Ukraine, China) and perennial women's power Georgia. Any hope of an upset by anyone else drops to about ZERO. (With three boards, countries like Yugoslavia or Poland could conceivably medal... not anymore.)

Don't much like the team match rule. The reality is that chess is NOT a team sport. The medal contenders contain many professionals, and it's really unfair to have to take a team draw or go all out for a win.

Hmm, the German page on the website lists 154 teams in the open, with 3 German teams (the 3rd to make evens?). Maybe this is old info. For extra credit, as there are 156 FIDE federations, name one that is not represented.


I think the China mens team will do really well and could come first. Their players have improved so much over the last few years.

Does anyone know why Sutovsky is not playing for Israel team? Well, this rating went down recently, but still I guess he should be board 2 or 3.

Looks like a possibility of Kamsky vs. Topalov on board 1 in the Olympiad, if the 2 teams are matched up...! Somehow I don't expect a draw there!

Does anybody know the match point to victory point conversion format? Is it a flat 1,0.5,0 for win, draw, loss? That penalises a big victory and the losing team in a narrow defeat though it does even out lunatic last round pairings where one medal contender goes 4-0 while another gets 2.5.
Or are they using a modified bridge-style Victory Point scale where a narrow win converts to 11-9, 15-5 is a big win, 18-2 is bigger and a shutout is 20-0? The concept probably works better since it still leaves incentive to play out games in a match which is already decided, while cutting down on the pairing luck.

From what I remember, back when the regulations were actually available, it's just the usual chess method of match scoring. Win, draw, loss with board points as tiebreak.

one remark. The Deaf team is ICSC not ISCA
Is stands for International Committee for Silent Chess.

one remark. The Deaf team is ICSC not ISCA
Is stands for International Committee for Silent Chess.

Oops. Went with international silent chess association and forgot to check.

And we heard you the first time ;)

Stop the separate women's!! I'm all for it, and I've played in a couple of them....

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on November 11, 2008 9:34 PM.

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