The Chess Olympiad is a biennial chess tournament in which teams from all over the world compete. FIDE organises the tournament and selects the host nation.
The use of the name "Chess Olympiad" for FIDE's team championship is of historical origin and implies no connection with the Olympic Games.
The first Olympiad was unofficial. For the 1924 Olympics an attempt was made to include chess in the Olympic Games but this failed because of problems with distinguishing between amateur and professional players. While the 1924 Summer Olympics was taking place in Paris, the 1st unofficial Chess Olympiad also took place in Paris. FIDE was formed on Sunday, July 20, 1924, the closing day of the 1st unofficial Chess Olympiad.
FIDE organised the first Official Olympiad in 1927 which took place in London. The Olympiads were occasionally held annually and at irregular intervals until World War II; since 1950 they have been held regularly every two years.
There were 16 participating nations in the 1st Chess Olympiad, 1927.
By the 41st Olympiad, 2014, there were 172 participating nations.
Chess is recognized as a sport by the International Olympic Committee (IOC); since June 1999 FIDE has been recognized by the International Sports Federation.
As a sporting federation recognized by the IOC, and particularly as a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) conventions, FIDE adheres to their rules, including a requirement for doping tests, which they are obligated to take at the events such as the Olympiad. The tests were first introduced in 2002 under significant controversy, with players such as Artur Yusupov, Jan Timman and Robert Hübner either refusing to play for their national team or to participate in events such as the Chess Olympiad where drug tests were administered. All 802 tests administered at the 2002 Olympiad came back negative. However, in the 36th Chess Olympiad in 2004, two players refused to provide urine samples and had their scores cancelled. Four years later, Vassily Ivanchuk was not penalized for skipping a drug test at the 38th Chess Olympiad in 2008, with a procedural error being indicated instead.
In 2010, a FIDE official commented that due to the work of the FIDE Medical Commission, the tests were now considered routine. In November 2015, FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov announced they are working with WADA to define and identify doping in chess.
Each FIDE recognized chess association can enter a team into the Olympiad. Each team is made of up to five players, four regular players and one reserve (prior to the tournament in Dresden 2008 there were two reserves). Initially each team played all other teams but as the event grew over the years this became impossible. At first team seeding took place before the competition. Later certain drawbacks were recognized with seeding and in 1976 a Swiss tournament system was adopted.
The trophy for the winning team in the open section is the Hamilton-Russell Cup, which was offered by the English magnate Frederick Hamilton-Russell as a prize for the 1st Olympiad (London 1927). The cup is kept by the winning team until the next event, when it is consigned to the next winner. The trophy for the winning women's team is known as the Vera Menchik Cup in honor of the first Women's World Chess Champion.
In addition to competition, each Olympiad also gives opportunities for associated cultural activities. For instance, at the 2004 Olympiad there were chess films screened on the beaches of Calvià every weeknight during the Olympiad, and chess-oriented art was displayed at an International Chess Fair, with prizes for top works awarded by a jury. In a New in Chess article 2012/7, Nigel Short opined that "Olympiads are all about sex", in particular comparing the prostitutes of Moscow 1994 to the women of Manila 1992. His conclusion is that Manila 1992 "is considered to have been one of the best Olympiads in recent decades", in no short part due to the "sheer volume of totty." This bookends the view from Graham Hillyard's 2010 piece, where English Chess Federation representative CJ de Mooi is depicted as bemoaning Anatoly Karpov's failure to introduce him to any suitably attractive young Russian men. Two players died during the 2014 Olympiad and Norwegian reporter Tarjei Svensen noted that heavy drinking was typical before rest days, particularly at the famous "Bermuda party" regularly hosted by FIDE Treasurer Nigel Freeman. This was the most read article at both the El País and Guardian news websites, a fact that was later cited as confirming the strong grassroots interest with chess.
|1924||1st unofficial Chess Olympiad
The Chess Olympiad (individual)
|Paris, France||Czechoslovakia 31||Hungary 30||Switzerland 29|
|1926||2nd unofficial Chess Olympiad
The Team Tournament
(part of FIDE summit)
|Budapest, Hungary||Hungary 9||Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes 8||Romania 5|
|1927||1st Chess Olympiad||London, United Kingdom||Hungary 40||Denmark 38½||England 36½|
|1928||2nd Chess Olympiad||The Hague, Netherlands||Hungary 44||United States 39½||Poland 37|
|1930||3rd Chess Olympiad||Hamburg, Germany||Poland 48½||Hungary 47||Germany 44½|
|1931||4th Chess Olympiad||Prague, Czechoslovakia||United States 48||Poland 47||Czechoslovakia 46½|
|1933||5th Chess Olympiad||Folkestone, United Kingdom||United States 39||Czechoslovakia 37½||Sweden 34|
|1935||6th Chess Olympiad||Warsaw, Poland||United States 54||Sweden 52½||Poland 52|
|1936||3rd unofficial Chess Olympiad
non-FIDE unofficial Chess Olympiad
|Munich, Germany||Hungary 110½||Poland 108||Germany 106½|
|1937||7th Chess Olympiad||Stockholm, Sweden||United States 54½||Hungary 48½||Poland 47|
|1939||8th Chess Olympiad||Buenos Aires, Argentina||Germany 36||Poland 35½||Estonia 33½|
|1950||9th Chess Olympiad||Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia||Yugoslavia 45½||Argentina 43½||West Germany 40½|
|1952||10th Chess Olympiad||Helsinki, Finland||Soviet Union 21||Argentina 19½||Yugoslavia 19|
|1954||11th Chess Olympiad||Amsterdam, Netherlands||Soviet Union 34||Argentina 27||Yugoslavia 26½|
|1956||12th Chess Olympiad||Moscow, Soviet Union||Soviet Union 31||Yugoslavia 26½||Hungary 26½|
|1958||13th Chess Olympiad||Munich, West Germany||Soviet Union 34½||Yugoslavia 29||Argentina 25½|
|1960||14th Chess Olympiad||Leipzig, East Germany||Soviet Union 34||United States 29||Yugoslavia 27|
|1962||15th Chess Olympiad||Varna, Bulgaria||Soviet Union 31½||Yugoslavia 28||Argentina 26|
|1964||16th Chess Olympiad||Tel Aviv, Israel||Soviet Union 36½||Yugoslavia 32||West Germany 30½|
|1966||17th Chess Olympiad||Havana, Cuba||Soviet Union 39½||United States 34½||Hungary 33½|
|1968||18th Chess Olympiad||Lugano, Switzerland||Soviet Union 39½||Yugoslavia 31||Bulgaria 30|
|1970||19th Chess Olympiad||Siegen, West Germany||Soviet Union 27½||Hungary 26½||Yugoslavia 26|
|1972||20th Chess Olympiad||Skopje, Yugoslavia||Soviet Union 42||Hungary 40½||Yugoslavia 38|
|1974||21st Chess Olympiad||Nice, France||Soviet Union 46||Yugoslavia 37½||United States 36½|
|1976||22nd Chess Olympiad *||Haifa, Israel||United States 37||Netherlands 36½||England 35½|
|1976||Against Chess Olympiad||Tripoli, Libya||El Salvador 38½||Tunisia 36||Pakistan 34½|
|1978||23rd Chess Olympiad||Buenos Aires, Argentina||Hungary 37||Soviet Union 36||United States 35|
|1980||24th Chess Olympiad||Valletta, Malta||Soviet Union 39||Hungary 39||United States 35|
|1982||25th Chess Olympiad||Lucerne, Switzerland||Soviet Union 42½||Czechoslovakia 36||United States 35|
|1984||26th Chess Olympiad||Thessaloniki, Greece||Soviet Union 41||England 37||United States 35|
|1986||27th Chess Olympiad||Dubai, United Arab Emirates||Soviet Union 40||England 39||United States 38|
|1988||28th Chess Olympiad||Thessaloniki, Greece||Soviet Union 40½||England 34½||Netherlands 34½|
|1990||29th Chess Olympiad||Novi Sad, Yugoslavia||Soviet Union 39||United States 35½||England 35½|
|1992||30th Chess Olympiad||Manila, Philippines||Russia 39||Uzbekistan 35||Armenia 34½|
|1994||31st Chess Olympiad||Moscow, Russia||Russia 37½||Bosnia and Herzegovina 35||Russia "B" 34½|
|1996||32nd Chess Olympiad||Yerevan, Armenia||Russia 38½||Ukraine 35||United States 34|
|1998||33rd Chess Olympiad||Elista, Russia||Russia 35½||United States 34½||Ukraine 32½|
|2000||34th Chess Olympiad||Istanbul, Turkey||Russia 38||Germany 37||Ukraine 35½|
|2002||35th Chess Olympiad||Bled, Slovenia||Russia 38½||Hungary 37½||Armenia 35|
|2004||36th Chess Olympiad||Calvià, Spain||Ukraine 39½||Russia 36½||Armenia 36½|
|2006||37th Chess Olympiad||Turin, Italy||Armenia 36||China 34||United States 33|
|2008||38th Chess Olympiad||Dresden, Germany||Armenia 19||Israel 18||United States 17|
|2010||39th Chess Olympiad||Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia||Ukraine 19||Russia 18||Israel 17|
|2012||40th Chess Olympiad||Istanbul, Turkey||Armenia 19||Russia 19||Ukraine 18|
|2014||41st Chess Olympiad||Tromsø, Norway||China 19||Hungary 17||India 17|
|2016||42nd Chess Olympiad||Baku, Azerbaijan|
|2018||43rd Chess Olympiad||Batumi, Georgia|
* In 1976 the Soviet Union and other communist countries did not compete for political reasons.
The table contains the men's teams ranked by the medals won at the Chess Olympiad, not including the unofficial events, ranked by the number of first place medals, ties broken by second-place medals, etc.
|Rank||Country||1st place||2nd place||3rd place||Total|
|17||Bosnia and Herzegovina||0||1||0||1|
* Includes the results of West Germany.
The table contains the men's teams ranked by the medals won at the Chess Olympiad, including the unofficial events, ranked by the number of first place medals, ties broken by second-place medals, etc.
|Rank||Country||1st place||2nd place||3rd place||Total|
The best individual results in order of overall percentage are:
|1||Mikhail Tal||Soviet Union||8||101||65||34||2||81.2||5 - 2 - 0||7|
|2||Anatoly Karpov||Soviet Union||6||68||43||23||2||80.1||3 - 2 - 0||5|
|3||Tigran Petrosian||Soviet Union||10||129||78||50||1||79,8||6 - 0 - 0||6|
|4||Isaac Kashdan||USA||5||79||52||22||5||79.7||2 - 1 - 2||5|
|5||Vasily Smyslov||Soviet Union||9||113||69||42||2||79.6||4 - 2 - 2||8|
|6||David Bronstein||Soviet Union||4||49||30||18||1||79.6||3 - 1 - 0||4|
|7||Garry Kasparov||Soviet Union / Russia (1)||8||82||50||29||3||78.7||7 - 2 - 2||11|
|8||Alexander Alekhine||France||5||72||43||27||2||78.5||2 - 2 - 0||4|
|9||Milan Matulović||Yugoslavia||6||78||46||28||4||76.9||1 - 2 - 0||3|
|10||Paul Keres||Estonia / Soviet Union (2)||10||141||85||44||12||75.9||5 - 1 - 1||7|
|11||Efim Geller||Soviet Union||7||76||46||23||7||75.6||3 - 3 - 0||6|
|12||James Tarjan||USA||5||51||32||13||6||75.5||2 - 1 - 0||3|
|13||Bobby Fischer||USA||4||65||40||18||7||75.4||0 - 2 - 1||3|
|14||Mikhail Botvinnik||Soviet Union||6||73||39||31||3||74.7||2 - 1 - 2||5|
|15||Sergey Karjakin||Ukraine / Russia (3)||5||47||24||22||1||74.7||2 - 0 - 1||3|
|16||Salo Flohr||Czechoslovakia||7||82||46||28||8||73.2||2 - 1 - 1||4|