In what promises to be a record-breaking year, the Mallorca Olympiad begins on October 14th and hopes to attract more than 150 countries and over 1500 of the world's finest players. The biennial event will last two weeks as all teams will vie for both team and individual medals. Each Olympiad there are always surprise performances and new stars rising on the chess horizon.

In 2002,  Costa Rica's 14-year old Alejandro Ramirez drew Russia's Alexander Morozevich and would later become Central America's first Grandmaster. IM Robert Gwaze of Zimbabwe would go a perfect 9-0 to win the gold medal on board #1 ahead of chess luminaries such as Garry Kasparov. This year there are the usual pre-tournament stories, but one of the biggest is the presence of Viswanathan Anand of India. His participation will put India in discussion as possible medal winners. The biggest pre-tournament disappointment may be the absence of U.S. wunderkind, Hikaru Nakamura. The U.S. will attempt to rebound from its abysmal 41st place showing without one of the world's premier talents.

Russia will not have the services of the "Killer K's," but still boast a formidable lineup. Other teams to watch will be the Ukraine, India, Armenia, France, Israel, China and Azerbaijan.  What is certain is that there will be exciting chess played in Mallorca as team events have an added element of strategy, preparation, and tension… times when the entire fate of the team depends of one player's technique! For the smaller chess nations in Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America, it is a time to test the waters while also having a chance to make a big splash in the world chess scene.

Dr. Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum

"Drum Predictions for the 36th Olympiad," 14 October 2004.

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