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Dec 17

2000 Olympiad and World Youth in Europe

Olympiad and World Youth in Europe

The end of the European summer has become the traditional time for the major world chess events, including the World Junior, World Youth, and every second year, the Olympiad. So with the blessing of an understanding employer, I headed off for six weeks to accompany Colm Hartigan and Puchen Wang at the World Youth event before joining the Olympiad team and attending the FIDE congress.

World Youth Event

The World Youth event is held in Oropesa del Mer, on the Mediterranean coast of Spain about 250km south of Barcelona. Oropesa is a strategically located small village with ruins and links to Roman and Middle Ages settlements. In the last five years it has become a tourist development area with rows of apartment blocks, hotels, and nautical based amusements, all in various stages of construction. In summer the area is crowded out with British holiday makers, in October during the off season, it hosts 800 young chess players accompanied by another 400 parents, coaches, and other family members. Accommodation is provided for one player in each section plus a delegation chief, meaning the hotel makes a profit on the event by charging peak season rates to the additional supporters.

The event is run as ten separate events of 11 rounds, each tournament having about 80 competitors. These separate events are Under 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18 age groups for girls and boys. Puchen was competing in the Under 10’s for the second year whilst Colm played in the Under 16’s. One game was played each day commencing at 3:30pm in a large room into which the players were locked in with no spectators allowed. Apparently problems in previous years with over-zealous coaches/parents and young children has lead to this situation, and it does give the adults a few hours break from the hyper-active kids.

Puchen finished up in 5th place on tiebreak with 8/11, doubtless the best result in a FIDE junior event by a New Zealander since Murray Chandler’s exploits. His excellent ability to take advantage of opportunities created in murky or dubious positions helped him gain several points.

Colm scored 4/11 in a field where over 80% of the players had FIDE ratings, and fought hard in every game. He certainly performed at a higher level than his NZ rating would suggest.

A spectacular closing ceremony and firework display had to be cancelled on the last day due to torrential rains that lead to three deaths in the flooding, and soon after we departed, washed away the access bridge to Oropesa.

I found the whole event a real eye-opener in terms of the talent on display, the reactions of the coaches, and even the reactions of some people back in New Zealand to Puchen’s excellent result. Almost all of the competitors in Spain were not there due to their Chess Federation, or well-organised junior schemes, but pockets of parents who support, encourage and foster their kids. Most of the top players had private coaches, and parents who take them to major events all over Europe. Several of the kids do not attend school, even at age 10. Why, I can’t understand, as chess is not like tennis or golf with potential huge paydays, but I guess that to an eastern European even chess money provides a better living than the alternatives. Unfortunately, there were also the usual groups who seemed to be exploiting the talents of the youngsters for their own purposes.

Olympiad

After escaping from the major Spanish flood on the last day of the World Youth, I moved onto Frankfurt and met up with the rest of the team travelling to the Olympiad. The 34th Olympiad was hosted by Istanbul, Turkey; a move back west after the last three events being in the old Soviet empire. The open event saw New Zealand represented by a team of Russell Dive, Ben Martin, Anthony Ker, Robert Smith, Peter Green and Scott Wastney; whilst Vivian Smith, Eleonora Mikhailik and Helen Courtney made up the team in the Women’s section. Victor Portougal and myself were the team officials.

The first thing that struck me was the efficient and friendly nature of the Turkish organisation. The usual hours of registration, sorting out accommodation, meal tickets etc were non-existent. The 126 men and 86 women teams were comfortably housed in 42 hotels within the Taksim district, about 15 minutes walk from the playing venue. New Zealand was housed in the same hotel as Australia, Papua New Guinea, Norway, Cyprus and Israel.

At the start of the event it was announced that the threatened drug testing would not occur due to the expense, leading to a stampede to the coffee stand.

Unfortunately, the excellent first impression got dented by a poor opening ceremony, followed by a shambles at the start of the first round which saw the players waiting around for 50 minutes due to computer problems. Even worse struck in round two when the games started, the players made a few moves, and after 5 minutes the round stopped again and the players were asked to reset the pieces and clocks! A twenty minute delay followed, and the games restarted with the same moves being required to be played. And the reason for this? – the internet! This Olympiad was being broadcast live with all 381 games each day being displayed in real-time utilising a large network of electronic chessboards and clocks. However, technology problems and players adjusting pieces at the start of the game lead to some interesting games appearing in the bulletin. One memorable game recorded in bulletin two between two 2600+ grandmasters went 1.d4 b6 2.c4 c5 3.dxc5 d6 4.cxd6 exd6 5.Qxd6 Nc6 6.Qxc6+ and black resigned!. Luckily, normality was restored by round three, and the rest of the event ran very smoothly.

The closing ceremony was impressive with a musical sequence to represent the long history of Turkey and its empire.

In the chess, the open team made its usual slow start; built up some momentum during the middle rounds, before ending with two disappointing results in the crucial last two rounds. The final score of 26 was two points shy of our initial target.

Russell Dive held well with the white pieces on the top board, whilst having his Alekhine Defence severely tested as black. His performance rating of 2402 closely matched his 2414 rating. Ben Martin and Anthony Ker never seemed to click and their performance ratings of 2252 and 2224 are around 100 points below their ratings. Robert Smith started with 0/3, but found some excellent form to gain 4.5 points from his next seven games for a 2265 performance. Peter Green was his usual solid self with a 2286 performance. Scott Wastney recovered from his first game where he fell asleep in a winning position at move 39 and lost on time to score a respectable 6/9 and a 2284 performance. The teams final placing was 87th from an initial seeding of 69th. The overall winner was again Russia ahead of surprise package Germany.

 

New Zealand

CHN 

LUX 

ZIM 

BOL 

PAR 

PLE 

TURB 

PAK 

CHI 

AZE 

MYA 

TUN 

BEL 

CYP 

Total
Dive, Russell

1/2

0

1

1/2

1

0

0

1/2

1

0

1/2

5.0/11

Martin, Benjamin

0

1/2

0

1/2

1

1/2

0

0

1/2

3.0/9

Ker, Anthony

0

1

0

1

1/2

1/2

0

0

3.0/8

Smith, Robert

0

0

0

1/2

1

1

1/2

1/2

1/2

1/2

4.5/10

Green, Peter

1/2

1

0

1

1/2

1/2

1/2

1/2

0

4.5/9

Wastney, Scott

0

1

1

1

1

1/2

0

1

1/2

6.0/9

Total

0.5

1.0

3.0

1.0

2.0

4.0

2.0

3.0

2.0

1.5

1.0

2.5

0.5

2.0

26.0

The women’s team found themselves having to play all fourteen rounds when Edith Otene failed to get on the air flight from New Zealand. The final score of 18.5 points was half a point more than the previous three events, a good result. Vivian Smith did a good job handling the difficult board one for a 2008 performance. Eleonora Mikhailik rather struggled on board two, but did gain a couple of wins towards the end. Helen Courtney had a field day on board three by playing good solid chess for a 2058 performance and a guaranteed FIDE rating for scoring over 50%. The team final placing was 74th from an initial seeding of 73rd. China was again the winner from Georgia.

 

New Zealand

AUS 

FRM 

JPN 

IRL 

CRC 

SIN 

RSA 

MAS 

IRI 

ANG 

ISL 

ISV 

ESA 

MAC 

Total
Vivian Smith

0

0

0

1

1/2

1

0

1

1/2

1/2

0

1

0

1/2

6.0/14

Eleonora Mikhailik

0

0

1/2

1/2

0

0

1

0

0

1/2

0

1

0

1

4.5/14

Helen Courtney

0

1/2

1/2

1

1/2

1

1

0

0

1

0

1

1/2

1

8.0/14

Total

0

0.5

1.0

2.5

1.0

2.0

2.0

1.0

0.5

2

0.0

3

0.5

2.5

18.5

 

On the political front FIDE made some important decisions that will impact on New Zealand to some extent. The recognition of chess by the International Olympic Committee continues to see the need for a more professional approach from both FIDE and National Federations due to the impact of drug testing. This is a development that cannot be ignored, and requires specialist medical and legal advice. From next year FIDE expects that the National Championships will be drug tested, with ten percent of the players and the winner being tested. At three hundred US dollars per test, this will present a financial challenge. The biggest battle could be to get the NZ Olympic Committee to accept chess, in spite of the lead from the IOC.

The zonal regulations were altered to only allow one International Master and two FIDE Master titles to be gained per event. Also, the seven-year time expiry on title norms was removed which will be good news for some NZ players. However, they must get at least one more title result to claim the title.

The 2001 zonal will be in Australia, and the 2002 zonal back in New Zealand. The world championship format is also being altered yet again into a World Grand Prix circuit, but details are yet to be finalised. The 2002 Olympiad is in Bled, with China and Spain bidding for 2004.

Finally, they decided to increase the FIDE rating list all the way down to a rating of 1001, to be done by converting National ratings and allowing various local events to be submitted for rating.

The team would like to thank all those who generously gave to the Olympiad appeal, whilst I would thank the team members for their company and friendly helpful spirit during the event.