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Chess Olympiad

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.

Birth of the Olympiad

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.

Growth of Chess Olympiads
There were 16 participating nations in the 1st Chess Olympiad, 1927.
By the 41st Olympiad, 2014, there were 172 participating nations.

Recognized sport

Bobby Fischer's score card from his round 3 game against Miguel Najdorf in the 1970 Chess Olympiad.

Chess is recognized as a sport by the International Olympic Committee (IOC); since June 1999 FIDE has been recognized by the International Sports Federation.

Drug Testing

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.

Competition

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.

The 2010 Olympiad was held in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. The 2012 Olympiad was held in Istanbul, Turkey and the 2014 Olympiad is in Tromsø, Norway.

Cultural activities

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.

Olympiads and top results in the open section

Year Event Host Gold Silver Bronze
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.

Total team ranking

Symbol of the 6th Chess Olympiad in Warsaw 1935 by Jerzy Steifer

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
1 Soviet Union 18 1 0 19
2 Russia 6 3 1 10
3 United States 5 5 9 19
4 Hungary 3 7 2 12
5 Armenia 3 0 3 6
6 Ukraine 2 1 3 6
7 Yugoslavia 1 6 5 12
8 Poland 1 2 3 6
9 Germany* 1 1 3 5
10 China 1 1 0 2
11 England 0 3 3 6
12 Argentina 0 3 2 5
13 Czechoslovakia 0 2 1 3
14 Netherlands 0 1 1 2
14 Sweden 0 1 1 2
14 Israel 0 1 1 2
17 Bosnia and Herzegovina 0 1 0 1
17 Denmark 0 1 0 1
17 Uzbekistan 0 1 0 1
20 Bulgaria 0 0 1 1
20 Estonia 0 0 1 1
20 India 0 0 1 1

* Includes the results of West Germany.

Total team ranking including non-official

Symbol of the 6th Chess Olympiad in Warsaw 1935 by Jerzy Steifer

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
1 Soviet Union 18 1 0 19
2 Russia 6 3 1 10
3 United States 5 5 9 19
4 Hungary 5 8 2 15
5 Armenia 3 0 3 6
6 Ukraine 2 1 3 6
7 Yugoslavia 1 7 5 13
8 Poland 1 3 3 6
9 Germany* 1 1 3 5
10 China 1 1 0 2

Best individual results in the open section

The best individual results in order of overall percentage are:

Rank
Player       Country       Ol. Gms.   +     =     -    %    Medals     Number
of medals
  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
Notes

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