2008 Olympics begins… where’s chess?

Olympic Opening Ceremonies

The “Bird’s Nest” in Beijing hosted the Opening Ceremonies.
Photo by EPA.

The quadrennial sports festival known as the Olympic Games has begun with the opening ceremony. The highly-anticipated and widely-watched event will command the attention of billions of viewers over the next 17 days and will result in billions of revenue for the world economy. I traveled to China in March. The euphoria was in the air and images of Olympic rings were commonplace in Beijing… especially the airport.

Olympic Commemorative Store

Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

Popular website chessvibes.com has run an interesting thread on whether chess should be an Olympic sport. There was the issue of Olympic drug testing and chess did not escape scrutiny. In 1999, chess was admitted as a member of the International Olympic committee, but has never been featured as an Olympic sport.

Most would scoff at the change that chess would be considered as an Olympic sport although sports like equestrian, archery and shooting are on the board. There seem to be a misunderstanding about what chess is… or maybe what the Olympics are. Should the Olympics include “brain” sports as well? Should the Olympiad be incorporated in the summer Olympics? What would be the argument for/against having chess as an Olympic sport? Time magazine just ran a piece titled, “Should Chess Be an Olympic Sport?”

Peter Rajcsanyi, public-relations director of FIDE made the argument made that “In the Olympic Games, until the Second World War, there were competitions that rewarded the mental efforts of people in the same manner they rewarded physical efforts.”

Russia vs. China (GM Vladimir Kramnik vs. GM Bu Xiangzhi)

2006 Olympiad: Russia vs. China
(GM Vladimir Kramnik vs. GM Bu Xiangzhi)
Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

However one feels about the chess/sport/Olympic debate, everyone can appreciate what the Olympics means as a stage for the highest levels of patriotism. The chess version of the Olympics will take place in Dresden in late November and it remains the marquee team event. Until then we will have to settle for the entertaining spectacle that the Beijing Olympics offers.

Note: While this is a blog on chess, we will use this opportunity (once every four years) to air all views, comments and predictions about the 2008 Olympic Games. Enjoy the festivities!

Daaim Shabazz

Daaim Shabazz is the founder of The Chess Drum, while serving as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds a B.S. Computer Science from Chicago State University, an MBA in Marketing and a Ph.D. in International Affairs & Development, both from Clark Atlanta University. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

37 Comments

  1. Opening Ceremony was absolutely stunning! U.S. President George Bush appeared to be overwhelmed when they panned the camera on him a few times. His expression was not of joy, but it was as if he were mourning. I’m sure he felt the power of China as he looked at the marvelous spectacle displayed by the Chinese organizers. The performance showed precision, creativity, discipline and passion, but there was a statement being made.

    The drummers were very impressive! 🙂 The Tai Chi artists were fabulous. My favorite segment is the parade of nations into the stadium. I didn’t like some of the ignorant and inaccurate comments made about some of the nations.

    The drummers rocked the stadium!

    Check out the magnificent pictures here!

  2. Will the U.S. basketball team make a successful run? I’ve watched a few warm-up games and the U.S. looked bad against Russia (+21) and Australia (+11). The U.S. still has the best talent in the world, but the national team is only a few years old and they have players rotating in and out. This is not good for chemistry. Spain looks strong and I would say is the best competition, but the U.S. will win. I’m really excited for Angola! They recently beat strong a Serbian team in the Stankovic Cup and is the perennial African champ. They also beat Russia and China in the tournament.

    Yao Ming (China), Kobe Bryant (USA), Manu Ginobili (Argentina)

  3. The conflict between Russia and Georgia is quite unfortunate and vicious. In the air-pistol shooting (yes… it is a sport and not chess), Russia and Georgia silver and bronze medal winners embraced in what must have been a tense interaction during the competition. I would hope that the same sportsmanship is seen in the Dresden Chess Olympiad. Earlier this year, Azerbaijan’s Teimour Radjabov had to clarify some comments perceived as hostile to neighbor Armenia. Both nations were embroiled in a territorial conflict.

    Nodar LORTKIPANIDZE of Georgia at 2008 World Junior Championship

    Nodar LORTKIPANIDZE of Georgia at 2008 World Junior Championship.

    I remember taking a picture at the request of the Iraqi chess players at the 2002 Calvia Chess Olympiad and they stated that they were for the U.S. pressure on their own country. It was disappointing to hear this and a year later the U.S. would rain bombs down on Baghdad in a brutal “shock and awe” campaign. The were also in Torino, but I’m not sure whether their views had changed or remained.

    Politics and sports seem to be inextricably bound. The talk about Darfur and Tibet rages… although I believe it is unfair to believe China should intervene in domestic affairs of the Sudan when Western nations said nothing about apartheid for decades.

  4. Chess is a recognized sport by the International Olympic Committee. Today more than 285 million people play chess with other chess players from all over the world, via the internet. It is estimated 605 million people worldwide know how to play chess. Of these 7.5 million are registered players, covering 160 countries worldwide. Making chess one of the most popular sports around the world.

    And then we have poor stuff like horse jumping! I think chess should easily be an Olympic sport, it has great international Potential.

    I think the Olympic Committee for London’s 2012 games should have (blitz or rapid) chess on.

    Maybe the new (Chess boxing sport) could attract the Olympic Committee its a real sport im not joking look it up on the internet.

    Many viewers would love to see a blitz chess game by the greatest mind’s in the world. Chess is a mental challenge on the brain enough to exhaust it and cause fatal errors on the board

  5. Chess is a sport, but not an athletic one, and many will say that is why it shouldn’t be in the Olympics. Yet, ironically, there are athletic performances in the Olympics, which are not really sports – like gymnastics & synchronized swimming. Ask yourself, if gymnastics is a sport, shouldn’t trapeze be one also? Or ballet? Both are extremely athletic, and both can be judged, like gymnastics. But neither involves the direct interaction of competitors, like track & field, swimming, boxing, volleyball, and of course – chess.

  6. Good points!

    So… why is equestrian an Olympic sport… or archery… or trap shooting? 😕 None of them fit either of your definitely of being athletic or confrontational.

  7. There is a controversy over whether the Chinese female gymnasts are underage. This would give a gymnast a tremendous advantage in terms of balance, flexibility and lack of fear. Looking at the Chinese gymnasts, they do appear young, but I don’t believe the underage argument and I believe it is sour grapes from the American delegation… especially skeptic Bela Karolyi, famous Romanian coach.

    The diminutive Deng Linlin is 4-foot-6, 68-pounds and Jiang Yuyuan is measured at 4-7 and 70 pounds. The doll-like He Kexin was the target of much whispering because was said to be as young as 13. This would raise suspicion until you looked at other gymnasts. Japan’s Koko Tsurumi is 4-7 and 75 pounds and Russia’s Ksenia Semenova is 4-6 and 77 pounds. America’s Shawn Johnson is 16-years old and is 4-foot-9 and 90 pounds of muscle, but even she looks younger than 16. The U.S. average gymnast is 5-foot and 107 pounds. Japan’s team averaged 4’10” and 82.5 pounds. China is 4-9 and 77 pounds.

    People will believe what they want. Chinese (and Japanese) look at lot younger than Americans and that is a fact. If you don’t subsist on hormone-fed animals, fast/junk food and all types of chemicals in your diet you can look much younger… especially if you are put on a special diet early. China’s diet is much healthier and their philosophical tradition has a balance of physical, mind and spirit that Americans don’t possess. Believe me… when you travel to China, you’ll see a difference in the people.

    Most of us born in America can attest that 16-year old girls in America 50 years ago were not built like the 16-year olds of today. Look at the old movies from the 50s before food was contaminated with steroids, preservatives and chemicals. Many American 16-year old girls today are either overweight, have curves like grown women and if they are athletic, may have muscles like men. There is no doubt in my mind that the chemically-laden food plays a huge role in this disparity. This arguments I have heard of underage Chinese gymnasts are flawed.

    There is another suspicion… that Chinese officials are giving them supplements to delay puberty so they can retain an ideal gymnast body. If that is true, then time will tell.

  8. The USA basketball team is crushing everyone in its group and just beat Spain (European Champion) by almost 40 points. It was supposed to be a close game… Ricky Rubio, Rudy Fernandez, Carlos Navarro, Pau and Marc Gasol. The NBA stars recently destroyed Russia and Lithuiania by 30-35 points. I think the U.S. woke up from their arrogance and are now respecting their European rivals.

    A few years ago there was talk about European players being more fundamentally sound than NBA players. Anyone who knows anything about basketball will know that’s definitely not true. The most fundamentally, athletically sound players are in the NBA. When European players come to the NBA, they claim that the pace is much quicker, the players are much stronger, more physical and more athletic. Many cannot adjust and end up returning. Dirk Nowitzki is really the only European player to become top-10 player in the NBA.

    Certainly Europeans play a different game, more team-oriented game and they benefit from having established national teams for decades. European professional players are definitely skilled, but do not emphasize upper body strength for rebounding, pressure man-to-man defense and prefer a more finesse game with a lot of three-pointers and pick-and-rolls through set plays.

    I believe that once the U.S. finally got a national basketball program instead of throwing together a bunch of All-Stars for two weeks, then they could show the talent gap is still 30-35 points. Detroit Pistons showed that teamwork can beat a collection of stars when they crushed the LA Lakers with four Hall-of-Famers. The NBA learned from this (and their 2004 bronze medal embarassment) and finally got a national team.

    (Note: Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire look good in the football (soccer) competition.

  9. Jamaica’s Usain Bolt runs a 9.69 to win the 100m!! What’s scary is that he let up 15 meters from the finish line. Ato Boldon, former Olympian from Trinidad and Tobago, said he could have run a 9.59 had he sprinted the full distance!!!

    Usain Bolt running a blistering 9.69 at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.
    Photo by Associated Press/Oliver Multhaup.

    That accomplishment will help usher in a generation of sprinters on the island. Asafa Powell, who came in 5th, talked about the success of Jamaican sprinters. Hail Jamaica!

  10. Back to chess… while I will reserve my official prediction until weeks before the Chess Olympiad, I like the chances of China, Azerbaijan and Russia to contend for the medals. The U.S. and Israel will be in the top 10 as well the Ukranians. I’m not sure how the Armenians will recover from the loss of Karen Asrian. For the women, China again with Vietnam rising and of course Russia and the Ukraine.

  11. Michael Phelps is getting all the attention after his remarkable feat. He certainly is among the greatest Olympians up with Jesse Owens, Mark Spitz and Carl Lewis. His record eight gold medals may never be broken. Especially considering most sports do not give athletes so many opportunities to get medals… swimming is one of the few (or maybe the only) where you can compete for so many medals.

    Michael Phelps

    I read that Phelps at 6’4″ (1.83m) has a torso made for a person 6’8″ and legs made for a person 6’0″, so has short powerful legs. ALSO, Phelps has double-jointed knees and ankles (for exaggerated kicking), large hands and feet (for optimal push), long muscles (for explosive strokes) and a strong upperbody (to channel power). His body was tailor-made for swimming.

    Usain Bolt is another freak. At 6’5″ he covers the 100 meters in less than 50 strides. In the final, he ran as graceful as a gazelle. If you saw how easy he ran a 9.92 in the preliminaries, you would understand the profundity of his statement,

    “The human body is changing.”

  12. The scary thing about Usain is that he let up at the end of the race — that is unbelievable, to actually be so far ahead in the Olympic 100 meter sprint final, against the fastest humans in the world, that you could let up and start your celebration, while still breaking the world record. Unreal!

  13. RJT,

    I think something must be wrong with the stopwatch. 😕 I still can’t believe it… 9.69. Everyone (including me) complains about the Chinese air. It seems to me that all the track records are falling, so maybe they solved that problem. The Romanian who won the marathon crushed the field. Something in the air maybe… besides CO2! The water must also be in good shape since all those swimming records fell.

  14. Bolt has done it, nothing wrong with the stop watch, more than one stop watch was used, are you telling me that the other 7 stop watches had problems also? Obviously the gap has been accounted for by the record breaking speed. The man we have been waiting for has arrived, Powell has failed many times where it matters most, but the Bolt is there to do it for Jamaica. Strolling to the finishing line is a way of giving himself an allowance to break it once more in the near future. Michael Johnson’s 200m record is under threat also.

  15. Nope… that was a joke. Of course nothing was wrong. It was so amazing… the ease at which he crushed the field. If anyone here has run the 100m, they can certainly attest to how amazing that was. Bolt can run a 9.50. I remember just a few Olympics ago, a good score was sub-10.

    All that said, Bolt’s coach should really get on him about early celebrations. It’s unnecessary and I would not tolerate it. I saw Michael Johnson do that once in the preliminaries and almost got eliminated when he pulled up too early. He went on to set the 200m record. Michael Johnson’s 19.32/200m is definitely under threat.

    Just like the Russian’s dominance in chess is over, the USA’s dominance in track is over.

  16. Bolt is amazing, I still cant believe what I saw, the effortless ease at which he was strolling to the line while others where struggling to find a medal postion, sheer pace at its best, the olympic finals reduced to a school club competition, thats where one can find such a gap not in the 100m finals. Surely he belong to a different species, not human beings.
    Sure I agree he should stop patting his heart before the finishing line. Surely he was overwhelmed by excitement.

  17. When asked about the secret to Jamaica’s 1-2-3 finish, gold medallist Shelley-Ann Fraser said it was “Reggae Power”. I’m sure that had a something to do with it, but I would wager that the natural Jamaican food/cuisine played a role too! There is a reason people in the Caribbean have kicked McDonald’s off their islands.

    Tyson Gay shows shock after failing to make the 100m final at Beijing Olympics.

    Tyson Gay shows shock after failing to make the 100m final at Beijing Olympics.
    Photo by Doug Mills/The New York Times.

    I do believe the steroid scandals have hurt U.S. Track & Field. I’m not saying that the U.S. track athletes in Beijing were not top-level athletes… U.S. stars Tyson Gay and Lauryn Williams are humble, world class and clean. However, the scandals may have had an adverse effect on morale and how the sponsors and public view these athletes. Marion Jones’ admission was a devastating blow. I learned about her when as a 15-year old, she broke several high school records. If I were an elite athlete, I’d stay clear of anyone with a briefcase offering a shortcut to success. It never works.

    Where were the Nigerians in the sprints???

  18. I’d love to see chess in the Olympics. It would be a great advertisement for what is truly the perfect sport for the information age. But one big concern, however, is that elite chess often lacks the full fire of competitive excellence that we have seen so many examples of during the Beijing Olympics.

    Take for example the last round of the 2006 Chess Olympiad in Turin Italy. Hungary had a legitimate shot at a medal, but they were paired against the leading Armenian team. Hungary acquiesced to 4 really quick “GM draws”, which was great for Armenia, since it clinched them the Gold medal. Where did Hungary finish? Only half a point out of a tie with Israel and the US for the Bronze, which the US took on tie break.

    What kind of fighting spirit is that?? Why not go for it?? Try for the upset, or at least make ’em work for it. Hungary had a chance to make something special happen for themselves. But they didn’t even try. Who cares if you “tied” Armenia in the match. It’s a sham result. No one will remember that they finished fifth. I would be embarrassed to have chess represented in such a fashion, along side true competitors, who have the real Olympic spirit.

  19. RJT,

    You’re right. I don’t know a solution if you put it that way. The Olympiad chess players have fighting spirit, but there are some “friendly” matches played to quick draws. You will not see that in the Beijing Olympics. You’ve just pointed out the main flaw in chess. I heard they used Anand and Shirov during the 2000 Sydney Olympics as an exhbition to the Olympic Committee. Didn’t they draw the games? The point here is whether the audience can appreciate the effort put into the sport… win, lose or draw.

    Today, I watched Poland draw with France in handball (30-30 score), but they played hard. Poland had to score in the last 10 seconds in order to draw. A draw allowed France to clinch the group, but the France coach didn’t arrange it beforehand with the Polish coach. In your example Hungary may have had an unspoken agreement with Armenia, but I wonder if Hungary had already worked the numbers and figured they couldn’t win the bronze. All this is beside your point. The issue is the Olympic fighting spirit whether Hungary had a chance or not.

    Something to ponder.

  20. Here is a very, very interesting video I found on Reuters. This video on women’s basketball in Mali reminds me of the meager beginnings of chess players. There is only one basketball court in the entire country. Fatoumata Bagayoko, one of Mali’s top basketball players, is featured. They are competing in the Olympics. Inspiring!

  21. Daaim – Yes, its the same old story. Since agreed draws are allowed, even short ones, players leverage them to achieve whatever goals are important to them. I can’t blame players for using the rules as allowed.

    But we need to step back and recognize that chess suffers by comparison against almost all other serious sports. How do you explain a 12 move draw that had nothing to do with the position on the board? The players just decided to make “peace”. Could you imagine if midway through game 3 of the NBA playoffs, Kobe said to Paul Pierce ..”Hey man, do you want to call it a tie?” And Paul said, sure, and the two teams shook hands and left the arena. I bet you would see those billion dollar TV contracts, and the resultant lucrative player salaries and endorsement deals dry up pretty quickly.

  22. Using an oft-stated cliche, Usain Bolt proves lightening does strike twice in the same place. Watching him break the World Record in the 200 meters confirmed what he said after breaking the 100 meters… “The human body is changing.” I believe his performance will redefine sprinting and more tall runners will take up the sport. In the meantime, Jamaica will continue to dominate the sprints. They are racking up medals and there will be a big party when they arrive at Norman Manley Airport. I’m sure they have already start the island-wide celebration.

    Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man!

    The U.S. Track and Field Federation should fire the entire staff and start fresh. When you have two missed handoffs in the relays, that means technique is failing. U.S. Track will not have the benefit of learning a lesson like the U.S. Basketball team in Athens. The NBA is deep in talent and has almost unlimited resources. In track and field, many of the top Caribbean athletes train in America and attend university there.

    Bolt trains in Jamaica in modest facilities, but work ethic has paid off. When pseudo-scientists said African descendants are made for sprints and not long-distance, they did not forsee Kenya and Ethiopia long distance runners. The key is work ethic and the athletes from developing countries are hungry and do not take success for granted. They are fighting to get better economic opportunities as well.

  23. The International Olympic Committee is launching an inquiry into the ages of some of the Chinese competitors. There has been much speculation for over a month. A previous case indicated that a North Korean gymnast missing her two front teeth as if her permanent teeth had not grown in yet.

    He Kexin dominating the parallel bars at Beijing Olympics.

    He Kexin performing the uneven parallel bars at Beijing Olympics.

    The focus will be on He Kexin who is reported to be as young as 14. As I have stated above, the arguments many announcers are making is that they “look too young” or “they are tiny” is not grounds for any solid evidence. However, if they find that records have been falsified, then Chinese Gynmastics Federation should face the consequences. The U.S. is leading the pressure on the IOC to conduct the investigation. Marta Karolyi has openly questioned the girls’ ages. She also questioned the scorers when He Kexin beat Nastia Lukin in the uneven bars even (though they were tied). It looks like sour grapes.

    Olympic authorities are pointing to websites as proof, but they will run into problems here.

  24. Nigeria will play Argentina tonight for the Olympic gold medal in soccer. I have not seen either team play in these games, but Nigeria crushed Belgium and Argentina beat Brazil.

    Go Nigeria!

  25. What is wrong with the Chinese age? is there an age restriction in the olympic? Im not quite aware of age limits, do you have an idea Daam?
    Usain Bolt is there to crush history and rewrite it. MJ said Bolt was not yet ready to erase his record but the lanky sprinter was out there to wipe it. But the lanky sprinter was very serious in the 200m unlike the 100m.
    The super eagles ( Nigeria) will face the sttuborn Argentina, but should the eagles fly high Argentina will be trouble. It can go either way.

  26. Abel,

    The minimum age limit of athletes is 16. There was a controversy leading up to the games, but no official investigation was done. They only asked Chinese officials to verify the age of the gymnasts. However, the U.S. has applied pressure on the IOC since they were beat out by China in a number of exercises. I don’t believe this would be a big issue if China had been shut out of the medals. The Karolyi duo (Bela and Marta) have been very outspoken on this issue and we know how much influence they have in gymnastics.


    …it shows that stronger nations do not take defeat lightly.


    It reminds me in the British Chess Championship. For decades members of the British Commonwealth were allowed to play, but it was only when India started to dominate that there were these complaints that non-British citizens should not be allowed to compete. Nigel Short gave the example that he could not play in another national championship (I believe he said Botswana), but of course British had the Commonwealth arrangement.

    Odion Aikhoje (Nigeria), Amon Simutowe (Zambia), Robert Gwaze (Zimbabwe) and many other Asian, African and Caribbean players have played in this tournament. As long as they were not placing in the top positions, it was fine. Malcolm Pein gave addition reasons here. This is not an identical analogy to the Olympic case because India was not accused of doing anything wrong, but it shows that stronger nations do not take defeat lightly.


    In all of these cases, the previous dominate power saw their hegemony slip and started a campaign to reassert their authority.


    Another example… Russia has lobbied to have the Chess Olympiad use match points instead of board points because they stated that certain teams could crush lesser opponents and run up their score. In 2004, Russia won 11 matches, many by slim margins over powerful teams. Other teams crushed weaker opponents. Even worse, they did not win a medal in the 2006 Olympiad and came in at a disappointing 6th. It was the first time Russia/Soviet Union did not medal since they began participating back in 1952. All medals were gold except for two silvers (1978 and 2004), but in 2006, it would all change. This year in Dresden’s Olympiad, they will use match points.

    In all of these cases, the previous dominate power saw their hegemony slip and started a campaign to reassert their authority. Let’s hope that China is able to prove themselves. If not, the entire Olympic Games in Beijing would be shrouded in a disastrous controversy. It has been a wonderful Olympics… the best I’ve seen.

  27. Update! The latest news is found on this page at espn.com. There are some very interesting statements in defense of the Chinese gymnasts including the fact that several documents were offered as proof including the passport, identification card and family residence permit. Chinese coach Lu Shanzan stated,

    “Surely it’s not possible that these documents are still not sufficient proof of her birth date?” Lu asked. “The passports were issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry. The identity card was issued by China’s Ministry of Public Security. If these valid documents are not enough to clarify this problem, then what will you believe?”

    From the article…

    The U.S. Olympic Committee said it sent a letter to the IOC and the FIG on Friday, asking that the matter be resolved.

    “We certainly believe that it’s important for the IOC and the international federation to review the issue and hopefully lay it to rest because the questions surrounding the age of some of the athletes have been out there for quite a while and it’s unfair to them and unfair to the other athletes to continue to linger,” USOC chief executive Jim Scherr said.

    https://sports.espn.go.com/oly/summer08/gymnastics/news/story?id=3547713

  28. Who is the best athlete in the Olympic Games?

    Michael Phelps? Usain Bolt? He Kexin? Lebron James?

    No… the best athlete is Brian Clay. Clay won the gold medal in the decathalon which is the ultimate display in strength, endurance and stamina. A decathlete has to complete 10 track events: 100m, 200m, 400m, 110m hurdles, 1500m, long jump, high jump, discus throw, shot put and pole vault. Absolutely incredible!!

    ESPN article stated, “Clay, the son of a Japanese-American mother and an African-American father, lives in California now but is from Honolulu. He competed at Azusa Pacific in Southern California, considered one of the top NAIA track programs.” He said half-jokingly, “Put me on the Wheaties box.” This is the famous cereal that has immortalized athletes and is an American tradition.

  29. It’s been exciting to see Jamaica become to sprinting what Armenia is to chess .. a small population country that roars with a big voice at the elite world class level. Usain Bolt might have unique physical gifts that help him as a sprinter, but we all know that without hard work, the right motivation, and an excellent coaching and support system, great potential might never be realized. Add to his performance the dominating achievements of his compatriots and you have a fascinating example of what belief backed by focus can accomplish.

  30. The Olympics is almost over. Looking back at this fantastic spectacle and anticipating the Closing Ceremonies, how would chess (as an Olympic sport) fit? I watched some fencing, field hockey, handball, volleyball, water polo and even BMX! While I didn’t stay glued to the matches, it was all exciting with plenty of action. Where would chess have fit? Check out this exciting edited video from an Anand-Kasparov match.

    Of course, the presentation would be more appropriate, but it’s still hard for me to picture a chess broadcast in the Olympic format. It is not because such a chess broadcast can’t be exciting because Maurice Ashley and Danny King are excellent chess commentators. I just believe chess would have to convey a type of excitement for someone who is watching for the first time. Even the equestrian has elements of excitement because its fast-paced and it easy to know what’s going on. When I watched fencing, I didn’t understand the techniques, but I understood they were trying to strike the other opponent with the foil and get a point. It was exciting too!

    In chess, it is not obvious what the players are doing at the board. There are no points and it is heavily nuanced. Also… there is no crowd participation or cheering in chess. This sounds trite, but that is a big part of the Olympic spirit. People wouldn’t wait 4-5 hours (or even an 1/2-hour) for a chance to cheer. I’m not seeing chess as a part of the Olympics unless they do something incredibly creative. Chess having its own Olympiad is the best thing.

  31. RJT,

    You are so right. Jamaicans have to do more with less and of course, their work ethic is legendary. Who can forget the “In Living Color” comedy skits showing Jamaicans with 10 jobs. 🙂 They work hard and that’s why Usain Bolt is the Olympic champion and Jamaicans dominated.

  32. Daaim – As we have discussed, I think that chess can be presented more successfully to the general public, but I have to agree with you that it would be a difficult fit for the Olympics. On the plus side, having chess as part of the Olympics would at least expose a lot of people to the fact that competitive chess even exists, and that a diversity of people and countries the world over play the game at a serious level.

    But clearly the Olympics is an in-person spectator event … and that is just not chess! How often do even ardent chess enthusiasts like ourselves actually go to spectate in person at a tournament that we are not playing in? An I mean really spectate, not just to say hello to our chess buddies. Plus, if you wanted to incorporate into the main Olympic Games a full size chess Olympiad like we have now, it is likely that a chess venue would not even be in the main city/locale where the Games are being held. For example, consider the site of the 2006 chess Olympiad, Turin Italy. Would chess have still been given the Oval if it was part of the Winter Games? Of course not, that venue was created for skating. The alternative would be to have a limited participation chess competition, like they do for some of the team Olympic sports, so that chess could fit into a small venue. As in sports like basketball, there would be a pre-Olympic qualifying process, and only a select number of countries would get to send a chess team to the Olympics. In my opinion, that would actually be a step backwards for chess.

  33. Bela and Marta were whining. China presented all the documents they were asked and the case should be closed. China won the gold medal count and in 2012, they will also win the medal count.

  34. i see the world has finally sees the wonder that jamaica can do for years the US runners have been abusing the drug testing system but in this year of the champions they were out done by far. No matter waht the excuse is the Jamaicans are the best in the world.
    Anybody after watching the games who is not proud to be a Jamaican something wrong wid dem. All i can say big up jamaica we are the best

  35. spice,

    In all fairness, you forgot the U.S. wins in the 400 (men), 400 relay (men & women) and hurdles events. Jamaicans are on top now in the short sprints… sweeping the 100, 200 and the relays. They got the women’s 400 too.

    Jamaica, a country of 2.7 million, has a lot to be proud of. Big ups to the land of wood and wata!

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