The Chess Drum's
65th Square

Page 2 Jamaica at Olympiad 2002 (Ian Wilkinson)

Pre-Tournament Briefing

Although there were one hundred and forty-one (141) teams registered to play in the men's competition, only one hundred and thirty-four (134) showed. Ninety (90) teams were registered to play in the women's competition.

Before the Olympiad began there was a meeting of the captains for all the teams. This meeting was chaired by the Chief Arbiter, the affable Dutchman
Geurt Gijssen (pronounced "hurt hi-sin"). Also present was Boris Kutin, the director of the Olympiad and president of the technical commission which had the responsibility of ensuring that there were no technical glitches. At this meeting the rules of play, time controls, roles of the captains etc. were discussed. It was refreshing to see the organizers trying their best to accommodate the wishes of the teams.

All is quiet in the Olympiad Playing Hall. Copyright  Ian Wilkinson, 2002.

The Procedure before the Matches

Before each round, each team had to submit its "team composition", that is, the persons who would be playing that round. The men played on four boards and the women on three. One point was awarded for a win, half a point for a draw and zero for a loss. The time control was game in 90 minutes with 30 seconds increment per move.

By the rules of the competition, players on lower boards could move up but the converse did not apply. For example, someone registered to play on board three could be elevated to play on board two but a board one player could not be moved down to play on board two. A few teams, interestingly, had their titled or highest ranked player on their lowest board!

For the first two or three rounds the matches began at 2:00 pm. This was later changed to 2:30 pm after a second meeting of all the captains, again chaired by the Chief Arbiter. Similarly, after the first few rounds each team kapetan had to submit his team's composition for the next round by 9:00 am on the playing day. The full list of persons playing would then be published by about 11:00 am, allowing only a couple of hours for preparation against confirmed or specific opponents.

Team Captains submitting lineup cards. Chief Arbiter Geurt Gijssen is seated (near left). Copyright  Ian Wilkinson, 2002.

Team Captains submitting lineup cards. Chief Arbiter Geurt Gijssen is seated (near left).

Just before the commencement of the games, the sports hall was a buzz of activity with a sea of bodies. The men's teams played in the Southern part of the venue and the women in the Northern section. The matches would start after the chief arbiter in his Dutch-accented English would welcome everyone and then almost gleefully say "arbiters start your clocks" after which about one hundred (100) sodniki (arbiters) would hurry to press the "start" button on the various time pieces.

After the round had ended, about 7:00 p.m. each day, a list of the formal results and the pairings for the next round would be posted at strategic points (e.g., the press centre) and/or mailed to the respective hotels or venues housing the teams. It was sometimes amusing to see adults eagerly awaiting the pairings like children awaiting gifts at Christmas time.

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Photo Credits

Playing Hall (Ian Wilkinson); Team Captains (Ian Wilkinson)