2004 Chess Olympiad: Historic Overtones in Today's Matches

Besides some very good matchups in today's round of the 36th Olympiad, there are some very interesting overtones in today's matches, most notably Iraq vs. Palestine. These two nations have become the central figures in Arab nationalism in the Middle East and it would be interesting to see how they play out the scene.  Will we see  draws on all four boards as a sign of solidarity?

Poland-France, those two nations are often mentioned in the same paragraph regarding World War II history. China-Cuba also have an interesting history given that they are two of the few remaining holdovers from the socialist bloc. Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan are strategic partners in Central Asia sharing a long border.

These matches don't carry any significance beyond their history as players are normally not involved in national politics… but sometimes there are tense moments. In 1939, the Olympiad happened at the start World War II during the time that Germany invaded Poland. The tournament was never completed and the
Germany-Poland match was declared a draw!! Do the teams shake hands in times of hostility? Are there deep embraces in times of solidarity? Of course there are no set rules for "chess diplomacy," but the subject is interesting.

Any tournament featuring national representation carries some emotional patriotism. Like the World Cup tournament held every four years, the Olympiad bring together nations who have a lot of pride in their nation's colors. They hold the banner high and one notices the donning of national colors and flags placed at the boards. 
Ian Wilkinson's new book, "Magnificence in Bled: The 35th Chess Olympiad," captures some of the spirit of nationalism (from an authentically Jamaican perspective) and perhaps there could come a day of chess diplomacy to solve international matters should they arise.

Posted by The Chess Drum: 23 October 2004