Monday, December 13, 2010

The 39th Chess Olympiad

THE 39th Chess Olympiad started last Sept. 21 and will end on Oct. 3 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. It is an 11-round Swiss System team event for men and women and each team has four players with one reserve.

Time control is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, plus 30 minutes play to finish with an increment of 30 seconds/move.

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The numbers are astounding.There are 148 teams (735 players) in the men’s division and 114 teams (262 players) in the women’s division. Russia has fielded a controversial five teams in the men’s section and three in the women’s. The statistics are remarkable--772 titled players or 247 GMs, 63 WGMs, 160 IMs, 87 WIMs, 81 FMs, and 80 WFMs.

Thirty-five are over 2700 ELO and 117 are above 2600. There are a total of 220 players
above 2500 in the Men’s section.

The top seed is the first team of Russia followed by Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Russia B.
The defending champion is Armenia, which won in the last two Olympiads in Turin 2006 and Dresden 2008.
There are 22 teams with a rating average of 2600+, and all are possible medal winners.

In the women’s section, the top seed again is the team of Russia. They are the only team so far with an average ELO of 2500+. China is second with 2494, while Ukraine is third with 2493.

Georgia is the defending women’s champion.

To review, there are 312 titled players in the women section—14 GMs, 63 WGMs, and 37 IMs. 10 players are above 2500 and 37 are above 2400 ELO.

Absent is world champion Viswanathan Anand, who should have been playing for India but is now a Spanish citizen.

Special mention are the current world no.1 Magnus Carlsen of Norway, the volatile Veselin Topalov, playing for Bulgaria and Judit Polgar, the no.1 woman player who has only played 11 tournament games in the last 18 months. She will play board three for Hungary.

Composing the Philippines men team are GMs Wesley So, John Paul Gomez, Darwin Laylo , Eugene Torre and IM Richard Bitoon. The women’s squad is composed of WFMs Cheradee Camacho, Catherine Pereña, Shercila Cua, Jedara Docena and Rulp Ylem Jose.

Also to be decided in the Olympiad is the election of a new set of Fide officers, which is hotly contested by the incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and former world champion Anatoly Karpov, both of Russia.

Initial feedback though shows that 93 federations, including the Philippines, have committed to support Kirsan.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov’s lineup includes Georgios Makropoulos of Greece for deputy president, Lewis Ncube of Zambia for vice president, Beatriz Marinello of Chile and Brazil, for vice president, Ignatius Leong of Singapore for general secretary, and Nigel Freeman of Bermuda for treasurer.

The ticket of Anatoly Karpov includes Richard Conn Jr. of the United States, for deputy president, Aguinaldo Jaime of Angola for vice president, Alisa Maric of Serbia for vice president, Abd Hamid Majid of Malaysia for general secretary, and Viktor Kapustin of Ukraine for treasurer.

GAMES. As expected the Philippines men’s and women’s teams scored identical 4-0 wins over lowly-rated Korea and Netherlands Antilles,respectively, in the first round.
In the second round, No. 16 Spain edged the No. 37 RP, 2.5-1.5 as John Paul Gomez lost to Ivan Salgado Lopez in Board 2 while the rest were drawn.

The women likewise went down against Romania, 0.5-3.5.

The men were set to play Scotland last night, while the ladies were set to face Qatar.
Vietnam, seeded 27th, registered the biggest upset of the tournament thus far with a spectacular 2.5-1.5 win against No. 3 Azerbaijan while the Topalov-led Bulgarian team, seeded eighth, No. 28 Croatia.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 25, 2010.

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