The use of the name "Chess Olympiad" for FIDE's team championship is of historical origin and implies no connection with the Olympic Games.
Birth of the Olympiad
The first Olympiad was unofficial. For the 1924 Olympics an attempt was made to include chess in the Olympic Games but this failed because of problems with distinguishing between amateur and professional players. While the 1924 Summer Olympics was taking place in Paris, the 1st unofficial Chess Olympiad also took place in Paris. FIDE was formed on Sunday, July 20, 1924, the closing day of the 1st unofficial Chess Olympiad.
FIDE organised the first Official Olympiad in 1927 which took place in London. The Olympiads were occasionally held annually and at irregular intervals until World War II; since 1950 they have been held regularly every two years.
As a sporting federation recognized by the IOC, and particularly as a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) conventions, FIDE adheres to their rules, including a requirement for doping tests, which they are obligated to take at the events such as the Olympiad. The tests were first introduced in 2002 under significant controversy, with the widespread belief that it was impossible to dope in chess. Research carried out by the Dutch chess federation failed to find a single performance-enhancing substance for chess. According to Dr Helmut Pfleger, who has been conducting experiments in the field for around twenty years, "Both mentally stimulating and mentally calming medication have too many negative side effects". Players such as Artur Yusupov, Jan Timman and Robert Hübner either refused to play for their national team or to participate in events such as the Chess Olympiad where drug tests were administered. All 802 tests administered at the 2002 Olympiad came back negative. However, in the 36th Chess Olympiad in 2004, two players refused to provide urine samples and had their scores cancelled. Four years later, Vassily Ivanchuk was not penalized for skipping a drug test at the 38th Chess Olympiad in 2008, with a procedural error being indicated instead.
In 2010, a FIDE official commented that due to the work of the FIDE Medical Commission, the tests were now considered routine. In November 2015, FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov announced they are working with WADA to define and identify doping in chess.
Each FIDE recognized chess association can enter a team into the Olympiad. Each team is made of up to five players, four regular players and one reserve (prior to the tournament in Dresden 2008 there were two reserves). Initially each team played all other teams but as the event grew over the years this became impossible. At first team seeding took place before the competition. Later certain drawbacks were recognized with seeding and in 1976 a Swiss tournament system was adopted.
The trophy for the winning team in the open section is the Hamilton-Russell Cup, which was offered by the English magnate Frederick Hamilton-Russell as a prize for the 1st Olympiad (London 1927). The cup is kept by the winning team until the next event, when it is consigned to the next winner. The trophy for the winning women's team is known as the Vera Menchik Cup in honor of the first Women's World Chess Champion.
In addition to competition, each Olympiad also gives opportunities for associated cultural activities. For instance, at the 2004 Olympiad there were chess films screened on the beaches of Calvià every weeknight during the Olympiad, and chess-oriented art was displayed at an International Chess Fair, with prizes for top works awarded by a jury. In a New in Chess article 2012/7, Nigel Short opined that "Olympiads are all about sex", in particular comparing the prostitutes of Moscow 1994 to the women of Manila 1992. His conclusion is that Manila 1992 "is considered to have been one of the best Olympiads in recent decades", in no short part due to the "sheer volume of totty." This bookends the view from Graham Hillyard's 2010 piece, where English Chess Federation representative CJ de Mooi is depicted as bemoaning Anatoly Karpov's failure to introduce him to any suitably attractive young Russian men. Two players died during the 2014 Olympiad and Norwegian reporter Tarjei Svensen noted that heavy drinking was typical before rest days, particularly at the famous "Bermuda party" regularly hosted by FIDE Treasurer Nigel Freeman. This was the most read article at both the El País and Guardian news websites, a fact that was later cited as confirming the strong grassroots interest with chess.
Results (open section)
* In 1976, the Soviet Union and other communist countries did not compete for political reasons.
Total team ranking
The table contains the men's teams ranked by the medals won at the Chess Olympiad, not including the unofficial events, ranked by the number of first place medals, ties broken by second-place medals, etc.
|Rank||Country||1st place||2nd place||3rd place||Total|
|17||Bosnia and Herzegovina||0||1||0||1|
* Includes the results of West Germany.
Top-10 (including non-official tournaments)
The table contains the men's teams ranked by the medals won at the Chess Olympiad, including the unofficial events, ranked by the number of first place medals, ties broken by second-place medals, etc.
|Rank||Country||1st place||2nd place||3rd place||Total|
Best individual results in the open section
The best individual results in order of overall percentage are:
|1||Tal, MikhailMikhail Tal||Soviet Union||8||101||65||34||2||81.2||5 – 2 – 0||7|
|2||Karpov, AnatolyAnatoly Karpov||Soviet Union||6||68||43||23||2||80.1||3 – 2 – 0||5|
|3||Petrosian, TigranTigran Petrosian||Soviet Union||10||129||78||50||1||79.8||6 – 0 – 0||6|
|4||Kashdan, IsaacIsaac Kashdan||USA||5||79||52||22||5||79.7||2 – 1 – 2||5|
|5||Smyslov, VasilyVasily Smyslov||Soviet Union||9||113||69||42||2||79.6||4 – 2 – 2||8|
|6||Bronstein, DavidDavid Bronstein||Soviet Union||4||49||30||18||1||79.6||3 – 1 – 0||4|
|7||Kasparov, GarryGarry Kasparov||Soviet Union / Russia (1)||8||82||50||29||3||78.7||7 – 2 – 2||11|
|8||Alekhine, AlexanderAlexander Alekhine||France||5||72||43||27||2||78.5||2 – 2 – 0||4|
|9||Matulović, MilanMilan Matulović||Yugoslavia||6||78||46||28||4||76.9||1 – 2 – 0||3|
|10||Keres, PaulPaul Keres||Estonia / Soviet Union (2)||10||141||85||44||12||75.9||5 – 1 – 1||7|
|11||Geller, EfimEfim Geller||Soviet Union||7||76||46||23||7||75.6||3 – 3 – 0||6|
|12||Tarjan, JamesJames Tarjan||USA||5||51||32||13||6||75.5||2 – 1 – 0||3|
|13||Fischer, BobbyBobby Fischer||USA||4||65||40||18||7||75.4||0 – 2 – 1||3|
|14||Botvinnik, MikhailMikhail Botvinnik||Soviet Union||6||73||39||31||3||74.7||2 – 1 – 2||5|
|15||Karjakin, SergeySergey Karjakin||Ukraine / Russia (3)||5||47||24||22||1||74.7||2 – 0 – 1||3|
|16||Flohr, SaloSalo Flohr||Czechoslovakia||7||82||46||28||8||73.2||2 – 1 – 1||4|
- Only players participating to at least four Olympiads are included in this table.
- Medals indicated are only individual ones (not team), in the order gold - silver - bronze.
- (1) Kasparov played his first four Olympiads for the Soviet Union, the rest for Russia. His four gold medals are one for best-rating performance (first introduced at Thessaloniki 1984) and three for best score on first board.
- (2) Keres played his first three Olympiads for Estonia, the rest for the Soviet Union.
- (3) Karjakin played his first three Olympiads for Ukraine, the rest for Russia
- Brace, Edward R. (1977), An Illustrated Dictionary of Chess, Hamlyn Publishing Group, p. 64, ISBN 1-55521-394-4
- FIDE History by Bill Wall. Retrieved 2 May 2008.
- Recognized Sports of the International Olympic Committee International Olympic Committee official website. Retrieved 2 May 2008.
- International Federation (IF) for chess. International Olympic Committee official website. Retrieved 2 May 2008.
- FIDE - Uniting the Chess World FIDE Official website. Retrieved 2 May 2008.
- ARISF Members Association of Recognized IOC International Sports Federation. Retrieved 2 May 2008.
- WADA code signatories
- Complete FIDE Anti-Doping Documents FIDE official website. Retrieved 2 May 2008.
- 2013 Anti-Doping Policy
- Open letter from 50 players on drug testing (Web Archive)
- Controversy over FIDE doping check (2002)
- Olympiad report 2002, noting the reason for Timman's absence
- The Great Chess Doping Scandal
- Drug Testing and Chess
- Decision of the FIDE Doping Hearing Panel (Miller)
- Decision of the FIDE Doping Hearing Panel (Press)
- Decision of the FIDE Doping Hearing Panel (Ivanchuk)
- Minutes of 2010 FIDE General Assembly (page 24)
- FIDE and WADA will work together to identify doping in chess (Russian)
- FIDE submits regulation changes for Chess Olympiad Fide.com
- ""Body and mind games" New In Chess, July 2012 (2012/7), 67--70".
- Let's Talk About Nigel
- ""A Tale of Two Swamps" New In Chess, July 2010 (2010/7), 54ff".
- Two players die at world chess event in Norway
- Nigel Freeman Career History (hosting of Bermuda Party)
- Death Does Not Become Us