Chess Olympiad

The Chess Olympiad is a biennial chess tournament in which teams representing nations of the world compete. FIDE organises the tournament and selects the host nation. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, FIDE held a one-off Online Chess Olympiad with a rapid time control that affected players' online ratings.

Chess Olympiad
35th Chess Olympiad in Bled in October 2002
GenreSports Event
Inaugurated1924 (1924)
Organised byFIDE

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.[1] 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.[2]

FIDE organised the first Official Olympiad in 1927 which took place in London.[1] The Olympiads were occasionally held annually and at irregular intervals until World War II; since 1950 they have been held regularly every two years.[1]

Growth of Chess Olympiads
There were 16 participating nations in the 1st Chess Olympiad, 1927.
By the 41st Olympiad, 2014, there were 172 participating nations.
Bobby Fischer's score card from his round 3 game against Miguel Najdorf in the 1970 Chess Olympiad

Drug testing

As a sporting federation recognized by the IOC, and particularly as a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) conventions,[3] FIDE adheres to their rules, including a requirement for doping tests,[4][5] which they are obligated to take at the events such as the Olympiad. The tests were first introduced in 2002 under significant controversy,[6] 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.[7] 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".[7] Players such as Artur Yusupov,[8] Jan Timman[9] and Robert Hübner[10] 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.[11] However, in the 36th Chess Olympiad in 2004, two players refused to provide urine samples and had their scores cancelled.[12][13] 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.[14]

In 2010, a FIDE official commented that due to the work of the FIDE Medical Commission, the tests were now considered routine.[15] In November 2015, FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov announced they are working with WADA to define and identify doping in chess.[16]


Each FIDE recognized chess association can enter a team into the Olympiad.[1] 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[17]).[1] Initially each team played all other teams but as the event grew over the years this became impossible.[1] At first team seeding took place before the competition.[1] Later certain drawbacks were recognized with seeding and in 1976 a Swiss tournament system was adopted.[1]

The trophy for the winning team in the open section is the Hamilton-Russell Cup,[1] 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.


19241st unofficial Chess Olympiad
The Chess Olympiad (individual)
Paris, France Czechoslovakia 31 Hungary 30  Switzerland 29
19262nd unofficial Chess Olympiad
The Team Tournament
(part of FIDE summit)
Budapest, Hungary Hungary 9 Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes 8 Romania 5
19271st Chess Olympiad London, United Kingdom Hungary 40 Denmark 38½ England 36½
19282nd Chess Olympiad The Hague, Netherlands Hungary 44 United States 39½ Poland 37
19303rd Chess Olympiad Hamburg, Germany Poland 48½ Hungary 47 Germany 44½
19314th Chess Olympiad Prague, Czechoslovakia United States 48 Poland 47 Czechoslovakia 46½
19335th Chess Olympiad Folkestone, United Kingdom United States 39 Czechoslovakia 37½ Sweden 34
19356th Chess Olympiad Warsaw, Poland United States 54 Sweden 52½ Poland 52
19363rd unofficial Chess Olympiad
non-FIDE unofficial Chess Olympiad
Munich, Germany Hungary 110½ Poland 108 Germany 106½
19377th Chess Olympiad Stockholm, Sweden United States 54½ Hungary 48½ Poland 47
19398th Chess Olympiad Buenos Aires, Argentina Germany 36 Poland 35½ Estonia 33½
19509th Chess Olympiad Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia Yugoslavia 45½ Argentina 43½ West Germany 40½
195210th Chess Olympiad Helsinki, Finland Soviet Union 21 Argentina 19½ Yugoslavia 19
195411th Chess Olympiad Amsterdam, Netherlands Soviet Union 34 Argentina 27 Yugoslavia 26½
195612th Chess Olympiad Moscow, Soviet Union Soviet Union 31 Yugoslavia 26½ Hungary 26½
195813th Chess Olympiad Munich, West Germany Soviet Union 34½ Yugoslavia 29 Argentina 25½
196014th Chess Olympiad Leipzig, East Germany Soviet Union 34 United States 29 Yugoslavia 27
196215th Chess Olympiad Varna, Bulgaria Soviet Union 31½ Yugoslavia 28 Argentina 26
196416th Chess Olympiad Tel Aviv, Israel Soviet Union 36½ Yugoslavia 32 West Germany 30½
196617th Chess Olympiad Havana, Cuba Soviet Union 39½ United States 34½ Hungary 33½
196818th Chess Olympiad Lugano, Switzerland Soviet Union 39½ Yugoslavia 31 Bulgaria 30
197019th Chess Olympiad Siegen, West Germany Soviet Union 27½ Hungary 26½ Yugoslavia 26
197220th Chess Olympiad Skopje, Yugoslavia Soviet Union 42 Hungary 40½ Yugoslavia 38
197421st Chess Olympiad Nice, France Soviet Union 46 Yugoslavia 37½ United States 36½
197622nd Chess Olympiad * Haifa, Israel United States 37 Netherlands 36½ England 35½
1976Against Chess Olympiad Tripoli, Libya El Salvador 38½ Tunisia 36 Pakistan 34½
197823rd Chess Olympiad Buenos Aires, Argentina Hungary 37 Soviet Union 36 United States 35
198024th Chess Olympiad Valletta, Malta Soviet Union 39 Hungary 39 Yugoslavia 35
198225th Chess Olympiad Lucerne, Switzerland Soviet Union 42½ Czechoslovakia 36 United States 35
198426th Chess Olympiad Thessaloniki, Greece Soviet Union 41 England 37 United States 35
198627th Chess Olympiad Dubai, United Arab Emirates Soviet Union 40 England 39 United States 38
198828th Chess Olympiad Thessaloniki, Greece Soviet Union 40½ England 34½ Netherlands 34½
199029th Chess Olympiad Novi Sad, Yugoslavia Soviet Union 39 United States 35½ England 35½
199230th Chess Olympiad Manila, Philippines Russia 39 Uzbekistan 35 Armenia 34½
199431st Chess Olympiad Moscow, Russia Russia 37½ Bosnia and Herzegovina 35 Russia "B" 34½
199632nd Chess Olympiad Yerevan, Armenia Russia 38½ Ukraine 35 United States 34
199833rd Chess Olympiad Elista, Russia Russia 35½ United States 34½ Ukraine 32½
200034th Chess Olympiad Istanbul, Turkey Russia 38 Germany 37 Ukraine 35½
200235th Chess Olympiad Bled, Slovenia Russia 38½ Hungary 37½ Armenia 35
200436th Chess Olympiad Calvià, Spain Ukraine 39½ Russia 36½ Armenia 36½
200637th Chess Olympiad Turin, Italy Armenia 36 China 34 United States 33
200838th Chess Olympiad Dresden, Germany Armenia 19 Israel 18 United States 17
201039th Chess Olympiad Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia Ukraine 19 Russia 18 Israel 17
201240th Chess Olympiad Istanbul, Turkey Armenia 19 Russia 19 Ukraine 18
201441st Chess Olympiad Tromsø, Norway China 19 Hungary 17 India 17
201642nd Chess Olympiad Baku, Azerbaijan United States 20 Ukraine 20 Russia 18
201843rd Chess Olympiad Batumi, Georgia China 18 United States 18 Russia 18
202244th Chess Olympiad Moscow, Russia
202445th Chess Olympiad Budapest, Hungary

* In 1976, the  Soviet Union, other communist countries and Arabic countries did not compete for political reasons.
The 2022 event was originally planned to be held in Minsk, Belarus, but it was rescheduled to Moscow, which originally was host of the 2020 Olympiad, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. FIDE also organized an online olympiad.

Starting from 2008, the first criterion for determining ranking is match point instead of board point. Team scores 2 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a loss (that is, a 4-0 win or 2.5-1.5 win will get the same match point).

Total team ranking

Symbol of the 6th Chess Olympiad in Warsaw 1935 by Jerzy Steifer

The table contains the Open 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.

1 Soviet Union181019
2 United States66820
3 Russia63312
4 Hungary37212
5 Armenia3036
6 Ukraine2237
7 China2103
8 Yugoslavia16613
9 Poland1236
10 Germany1135
11 England0336
12 Argentina0325
13 Czechoslovakia0213
14 Israel0112
17 Bosnia and Herzegovina0101
20 Bulgaria0011
Totals (22 nations)434343129

Best individual results in the open section

The best individual results in order of overall percentage are:

Player      Country      Ol.Gms.  +    =     %   Medals    Number
of medals
  1 Mikhail Tal Soviet Union8101 65 34  281.25 – 2 – 07
  2 Anatoly Karpov Soviet Union668 43 23  280.13 – 2 – 05
  3 Tigran Petrosian Soviet Union10129 78 50  179.86 – 0 – 06
  4 Isaac Kashdan USA579 52 22  579.72 – 1 – 25
  5 Vasily Smyslov Soviet Union9113 69 42  279.64 – 2 – 28
  6 David Bronstein Soviet Union449 30 18  179.63 – 1 – 04
  7 Garry Kasparov Soviet Union (4) /  Russia (4)882 50 29  378.73 – 1 – 26
  8 Alexander Alekhine France572 43 27  278.52 – 2 – 04
  9 Milan Matulović Yugoslavia678 46 28  476.91 – 2 – 03
10 Paul Keres Estonia (3) /  Soviet Union (7)10141 85 44 1275.95 – 1 – 17
11 Efim Geller Soviet Union776 46 23  775.63 – 3 – 06
12 James Tarjan USA551 32 13  675.52 – 1 – 03
13 Bobby Fischer USA465 40 18  775.40 – 2 – 13
14 Mikhail Botvinnik Soviet Union673 39 31  374.72 – 1 – 25
15 Sergey Karjakin Ukraine (3) /  Russia (5)847 24 22  174.72 – 0 – 13
16 Salo Flohr Czechoslovakia782 46 28  873.22 – 1 – 14
Fischer and Tal at the 1960 Olympiad
  • Only players participating in at least four Olympiads are included in this table.
  • Medals indicated are only individual ones (not team), in the order gold - silver - bronze.
  • Garry 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.
  • Paul Keres played his first three Olympiads for Estonia, the rest for the Soviet Union.
  • Sergey Karjakin played his first three Olympiads for Ukraine, the rest for Russia

See also

  • Women's Chess Olympiad
  • World Team Chess Championship
  • European Team Chess Championship
  • World Chess Championship
  • Women's World Chess Championship
  • Russia (USSR) vs Rest of the World
  • European Chess Club Cup
  • World Mind Sports Games
  • Mind Sports Organisation
  • Correspondence Chess Olympiad


  1. Brace, Edward R. (1977), An Illustrated Dictionary of Chess, Hamlyn Publishing Group, p. 64, ISBN 1-55521-394-4
  2. FIDE History by Bill Wall. Retrieved 2 May 2008.
  3. "Code Signatories". World Anti-Doping Agency. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  4. Complete FIDE Anti-Doping Documents FIDE official website. Retrieved 2 May 2008.
  5. AM. "Chess WADA – Anti-Doping Policy, Nutrition and Health". Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  6. Open letter from 50 players on drug testing (Web Archive)
  7. "Controversy over FIDE doping check". 27 October 2002. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  8. "Controversy over FIDE doping check". 27 October 2002. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  9. "Indian men beat U.S." The Hindu. 4 November 2002. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  10. Grossekathöfer, Maik (11 December 2008). "Outrage Over Ivanchuk: The Great Chess Doping Scandal". Retrieved 16 October 2017 via Spiegel Online.
  11. "Top Chess Blogs -". Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  12. "Decision of the FIDE Doping Hearing Panel (Miller)" (PDF). Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  13. "Decision of the FIDE Doping Hearing Panel (Press)" (PDF). Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  14. "Decision of the FIDE Doping Hearing Panel". Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  15. Minutes of 2010 FIDE General Assembly (page 24)
  16. "ФИДЕ и ВАДА будут совместно выявлять допинг в шахматах". 24 November 2015. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  17. FIDE submits regulation changes for Chess Olympiad
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