Monday, 30 July 2012

Memorable Olympiad Moments

Olympiad Moments

Manila 1992 

was my first Olympiad. As the freshly baked Australian Champion I was given a berth despite me low rating. It was a less than spectacular debut.
The Phillippines had a change of President in 1992 and both the former Corazon Aquino and the incoming, Fidel Ramos graced us with their presence.

 The “Brilliancy prize” was an eye-opener
to the world of FIDE and politics. Kasparov and Gufeld lobbied the judges to choose one of Kasparov's games. Timman wrote about the incident as did others. Ian Rogers got silver. Can you guess Ian's next move?

Yerevan 1996

Tanks in the street. 

More politics. Armenia had an election, the ruling party won, the opposition cried “foul”. We met a UN observer at the “Chicken Coop”, a restaurant that was open late, who was getting drunk while cursing the whole charade. So not only FIDE elections are a joke I thought to myself! This was the first time I had heard that delegated were bought. The semi-official price was $500. One delegate complained that he had not been bribed as his vote was no longer needed.

My own score was as bad as it gets. After winning my first game against an unrated lad from Botswana, I lost my next five games.

The stuff of legend. 

On the chessboard Steven made the biggest impression on me. Already in round one he had lost a piece in no time as White, swapped off into an ending...and won easily. But it was his round five game that inpired a poem, unfortunately lost in the mist of time. Can you guess what Steven played in this position? He won the game

Solomon, Steven – Williams, Leighton

Istanbul 2000

I remember little about the Olympiad in Istanbul. Germany won Silver which was a bit of a sensation but most of my memories are not chess related. Istanbul is a wonderful, ancient city with many wonders and a few dangers. Two are

1. Shoe-shiners 

Everywhere you go you will be met by aggressive shoe-shiners. Either wear thongs/sandals or make sure you shine your shoes before you leave the Hotel. Otherwise you could have an experience like GM Joe Gallagher. Joe got intimidated into getting his clean shoes shined and then got virtually mugged. His shine cost him about $50.

2. Hotel-phone charges.

Whatever you do, do not use your Hotel-phone for anything. Not for a really quick call to give your number, not for receiving outside calls, nothing. Don't pick it up under any circumstances. Lots of countries reported laughable rippoffs including our own Leonid Sandler. His ex-soviet negotiation skills mitigated the rip somewhat.

Bled 2002

Condom sponsorship

A sponsor! Finally! Checkmate Condoms sponsorship was secured by our Women's team Captain, Jason Lyons. We all got t-shirts to wear like the one worn by Laura Moylan, pictured in this photo with Evylyn Koshnitsky.

 All thought it was fun and for once the players got all their travel expenses refunded. Next Olympiad we were offered the same sponsorship but a decisionmaker (don't remember who) thought that it was not appropriate to have chess associated with safe sex. So now we are back to begging the chess community for donations.... speaking of which...... ahem.....

Turin 2006

Gormally incident at the Bermuda Party

Who will forget Turin! Armenia, led by rising star Levon Aronian, won the Olympiad convincingly, I had my only good result but what a result. 7/8 with a 2649 performance rating, the best ever by an Australian according to Peter Parr. This is my favourite game. An original opening idea followed by unusually good technique from me.

 All this was of little interest to the press of course. But when English GM Danny Gormally punched GM Levon Aronian at the Bermuda party because he was dancing with our own WIM Arianne Caoili, all the world wanted to know every detail and where there was none to be found.....

Just google “Gormallygate” if you feel like reading some entertaining rubbish.

Thanks for indulging me in my stroll down Olympiad Memory Lane. I will be bringing you daily updates from Istanbul 2012 right here :)

Have a nice day  <3


  1. With all due respects to Ian, I think he was lucky to even win silver. Opponent played horridly (look at that bishop on h7).

  2. Maxim Devereaux2 August 2012 at 06:40

    Well, it does look like Black played horribly, true... in addition to the Bh7, I'm not sure what those rooks are doing either.

    But I do wonder about the sequence of moves leading up to the diagram position, and how White managed to sac a rook and minor piece: on the previous move Rdc3 (clearing the diagonal with tempo) B(d4)xc3 would seem to be indicated, allowing White to now finish off with the delightful Qa6!!

    Looks like Black can struggle on for a few more moves with Rc8 Nb6+ Kb8 Nxc8+ Kc7 Rxc3 Qxc3 Qxa7+ Kxc8 bc Rd8 Qxf7 Bg8, but it's quite hopeless.

    Look forward to seeing you again in Istanbul, Alex :-) I'll be there as a hanger-on with the Norwegian team, steering well clear of shoe-shiners (though that should be easier this time, what with it being nowhere near the city proper) :-/

  3. Maxim, by the way, what happened to the Norwegian team :)

  4. @ Maxim: I believe the bishop came from a5. Game is easy to find.
    @ Jimmy: Did you see Kasparov's Gold performance? I must be too weak to see the brilliancy. At least Ian's game had a flashy finish

  5. Maxim Devereaux3 August 2012 at 10:30

    Not sure what you mean by "what happened to...". It's weaker than normal, granted (none of the GMs playing, let alone Magnus, but I'm not able to elucidate on the whys and wherefores. Contrary to what has been reported some places, there *is* a Norwegian team... not sure how it was ever propagated that they wouldn't be participating :-/

  6. @maxim: I mean what happened to Norway's GMs? None are in the team.

    @doubleroo: I checked out Kasparov's game previously. Cant say it is the most brilliant but at least his opponent played reasonably well. Ian's game was the more "flashy" (if you will), but only possible because of opp's really bad play; for god's sake, burying your own bishop on h7???. It kind of reminds me of helpmates :)

  7. Since black would have been better in the Rogers game if he had played Rb8 before Qc7, maybe putting the bishop on h7 wasn't such a bad idea - real hypermodern chess.