Chicago bids for 2016 Olympiad

Chicago is a long way from Dresden, Germany, but David and Sheila Heiser made the trip to begin stating a case for hosting the 2016 Olympiad in the beautiful city of Chicago. The founders of a hugely-successful Renaissance Knights Chess organization, David went to Dresden with his wife to lobby for the bid.

The Chess Drum’s Daaim Shabazz met David at a FIDE General Assembly session and received a briefing. Surprisingly, there has never been an Olympiad hosted in the United States. The city is also bidding for the 2016 Olympics and has just passed a review with flying colors from the Olympic Committee.

On their promotional website, they explain some of the history of Chicago’s chess events.

Besides being the birthplace of Bobby Fischer, Chicago has a long history with hosting chess tournaments. Chicago hosted the 1983 World Youth Team Championship, the Pan American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship in 1968, 1970, 1978 and 1999, and the US Open 14 times between in 1903 and 2006. In addition to the many tournaments and events held each year, the annual Chicago Open is one of the most attended chess tournaments in the United States.

Of course, Chicago is one of the most celebrated cities when it comes to professional sports and is known for its picturesque skyline, world-class restaurants, shopping, museums and parks. Abutting Lake Michigan, there are plenty of venues that could successful house the Olympiad. A city of excitement and tremendous diversity, Chicago has the some of the finest educational institutions in the world and is one of the biggest tourist and convention cities in the world.

The summer months are filled with festivals, parades and free concerts in beautiful Millennium Park. Navy Pier is also a popular venue. The last international event held in Chicago was the 1983 World Youth Team championship at the University of Chicago. The city also has the famous North Avenue beach along Lake Michigan where chess players usually play blitz. A city of great history and character, Chicago chess community hopes to make formal presentation at the next Olympiad in Russia.


  1. Although I live in Florida, I’m very supportive of the Olympiad being held in my hometown of Chicago. Chicago is a first-rate city and would definitely get the support from the mayor’s office.

    Just a few memories from last international event in Chicago… the 1983 World Youth tournament. I particularly remember meeting players from Botswana, Bahamas and Jamaica. I played one of the Jamaican players in a set of blitz games. Got checkmated the first game, drew the second and then won about four or five games in a row. Can’t remember the player. I played Juliette Storr of the Bahamas (now a professor at Penn State) a couple of games and showed Bahamian Anthony Moss some lines in the Najdorf. I had planned to take the Bahamians to a college party at Loyola, but couldn’t contact them. This will obviously before cell phones. 🙂

    I also met the late Oscar Mayisela of Botswana who brought a team of boys to the competition. I gave him some gifts and we exchanged letters for years. I found out from a Botswana player at the Calvia Olympiad in 2004 that he had died some years back. He had told me in his last letter that he was struggling with his health. It was the first time I had seen international players from so many places including China, UAE and Iceland. A UAE player introduced me to a tiny player from the UAE named Saeed Saeed (now a successful entrepreneur in Dubai) who was a young teen and already an International Master. This was before the age of teen GMs.

    John Nunn was there as well and the Britishers were seen reveling in the lobby and playing monopoly. I also saw a young and intense Artur Jussupow for the first time. An obscure player won the blitz competition. His name… Jaan Ehlvest. Both he and Jussupow were playing for the Soviet Union. Eric Schiller was one of the main organizers for the event.

    Those outside of the U.S., Chicago is a wonderful city and has a large migrant community. The northside has a checkering of ethnic groups that seem to be autonomous cities. It’ll be great.

  2. Well, if there were visa problems in Dresden, just wait for Chicago. Even at the World Championship in Las Vegas in 1999, top players who had been in the US before struggled to get visas.

  3. I’m afraid you may be right. I would hope that FIDE will do better this time and not merely send an e-mail for the invitation. They need to send official documents or do what all respectable agencies do (i.e., Olympic Committee). Chicago is definitely a convention city (unlike Dresden) and they are used to very large international events. With Chicago also bidding for the Olympics in 2016, it’s a good bet that they’ll deal with the visa issues up front. Hopefully they will leverage their relationships with the State Department. However, the U.S. is not the easiest place for visas… especially now.

  4. Visas are a concern but can be overcome with prior planning and having the State Department involved early on. My experience working for the State Department will be useful here, as will obtaining the support of key officials. I have already obtained a written letter of support from Senator Durbin and I am in communication with Senator Kirk to obtain his support.

    As this is an international athletic competition, and IOC recognizes chess as a sport, the State Department has a special classification for athletes and persons accompanying the athlete to assist in an athletic performance for a specific event.

    Athlete, professional

    Receives no salary or income from a U.S.-based company/entity, other than prize money for participation in a tournament or sporting event. Try-outs for a professional team, but cannot remain in US playing on US team.
    Athletes or team members who seek to enter the United States as members of a foreign based team in order to compete with another sports team shall be admitted provided:

    (1) The foreign athlete and the foreign sports team have their principal place of business or activity in a foreign country;

    (2) The income of the foreign based team and the salary of its players are principally accrued in a foreign country; and

    (3) The foreign-based sports team is a member of an international sports league or the sporting activities involved have an international dimension.

    Also, the US Visa process has provisions for foreign nationals to attend a conference (FIDE General Assembly) in the US

  5. Brother Shabazz your a Chi-town boy ! me too! haha interesting coincidence perhaps? Mr. Heiser it would be great if you could get that event to Chicago , that way we can show out for President Obama before his last term , what a blessing America have in him!!! The whole world knows it too! haha

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button