NICK BARNETT CHESS
THE RISE (and rise!) of China is the theme of the last few years on the world Chess stage.
Its genesis was in 1974 at a meeting which aimed to raise the technical level of chess in Asia in order to reach the highest levels. The plan came to be known in Asian chess circles as the “Big Dragon Project” and the man behind it was Dato Tan Chin Nam, a wealthy Malaysian businessman. He was instrumental in gaining China entrance into FIDE in 1976 and has since backed Asian and Chinese chess in particular financially. The plan was for the Chinese to reach world-class status by the end of the century and China’s win on the 5th October at the 185-nation chess Olympiad in Batumi was the sweet result!
It might have been otherwise: leading scores after 11 rounds were China, USA and Russia all at 18/22 match points, Poland and England at 17. A nail-biting set of of tie-breaks clinched the victory. Even though Hou Yifan did not play, China also won the women’s Olympiad ahead of Ukraine and Georgia.
China’s result was achieved despite Wei Yi scored only 50%. Ding Liren, the top board and world No 4, played the entire Olympiad on crutches as he had still not fully recovered from breaking his hip in a cycle accident during the Stavanger tournament at the end of May. Despite this handicap he totalled 5.5/8 and is now on an unbeaten run of 88 consecutive games. Yu Yangyi, scored 7/11, and Bu Xiangzhi with 7.5/10. In the final gold medal round against the Americans, China played it cannily, keeping all four positions level and confident in their superior tie-break. Where to from here?
After months of electioneering, Arkady Dvorkovich finally defeated the previous FIDE head Georgios Makropoulos by 103 votes to 78. After withdrawing as a candidate Nigel Short endorsed Dvorkovich and was subsequently appointed as Vice President.
Dvorkovich a former deputy prime minister, earned his badges as the chief organiser of this summer’s Fifa World Cup, and in 2014 organised the Carlsen v Vishy Anand chess world title match in Sochi.
Dvorkovich promised a larger budget, more outside sponsors, and a transparent and efficient administration. His critics will be ready to pounce, but many will hope that he can significantly improve Fide’s current low standing.
We came back with heads held high, having improved our Olympiad ranking from a starting place of 84 to 70. In the Open section Calvin Klaasen improved his rating from 2262 to 2407 and in the Women’s section Jesse February advanced from 1933 to 2040. Denise Bouah also had a good tournament, starting at 1780 and ending at 1906. For comment or news please write to thechessnik@ gmail.com