In preparation for the largest tournament in Chess History which is synonymous to Olympics, every country, looks forward to sending their best players to represent them in the Olympics made for chess called Olympiad. This is an opportunity to play against the best of the best and to recognize new talents not to mention scoring of norms (Grandmaster Norm, International Master Norm, FIDE Master Norm and Candidate Master norms) and outright title for most that have the rating criteria.
The Chess Olympiad is one of the major events in the world of sports, attracting more than 150 countries and around 3000 athletes and officials. The first two Olympiads were organized unofficially in 1924 and 1925. It was in 1924 when the first attempt to include chess in the Olympic Games was made. Unfortunately, it was unsuccessful because of the troubles in distinguishing amateurs from professional chess players. The ending of the first unofficial Chess Olympiad became a milestone in chess history as the World Chess Federation (FIDE-Federation Internationale des Eches) was created during its closing day –July 20th, 1924 in Paris. This historical day became not only a birthday of Fide but also the International chess day. More of the history of Olympiad can be found here
Though Russia is the power house of chess and Ranked 1st it can be likened to be the Brazil in Football, coming second is China while United States of America sits at 3rd position. United States of America are the defending champions with the likes of super GM Hikaru Nakamura, super GM Wesley So who are amongst the top 10 in the world and the new Captain America GM Sam Shankland.
The power house of African chess is Egypt who is first in Africa but 46th in the World. Next in line is Morocco who is 2nd in Africa overtaking ranked 69th in the world after overtaking Algeria who is now 3rd in Africa and 70th in the World. Nigerian is ranked 7th in Africa and 87th in the world. Source: ratings.fide.com/topfed.phtml
All countries use different criteria in choosing the best to represent their respective countries. In countries where there are fewer grandmasters, all grandmasters are selected to represent the country which is more or less an automatic slot. In countries where there are no grandmasters, trial tournaments were held. Some had rated trials organized for their players hence bringing out the best players for selection based on performances during the trials. Some had two (2) trial formats. The first encompass players who feel they have what it takes to play where the Top 10 where selected for the second phase and the last top 5 players were emerge as the country’s representatives.
Earlier this year, the Nigerian Chess Federation announced the criteria of selection for the Batumi Chess Olympiad team for Nigeria which was specifically the top 5 (five) highest rated player on July 1st 2018 according to FIDE ratings.
It’s interesting to note that there were only 2 rated classical tournaments between January 1st 2018 to July 1st 2018 within the country and none was organized by Nigerian Chess Federation body itself. The tournaments of note were Magnus Otuedon International Chess Tournament in Benin as at April 2018, won by CM Shorungbe Ademola hence his rise to number 6 in the National Ranking. Worthy of note is that this tournament was submitted for rating two months after the tournament ended which definitely have effects on player’s rating which is analyzed below:
Unrated player A plays in Otuedon tournament meets three rated players and scores 1.5/3. This means player A needs just two (2) rated games to for initial rating to be calculated. Player A goes ahead to play C4 tournament, played four (4) players and lost all. Mind you Otudeon tournament is not yet rated, what it means is, Player A scored 0/4 at the rated C4 tournament which was rated first. By the time Otuedon rating list comes out, player A won’t have any rating yet but 1.5/3 would be recorded in FIDE’s database. Player A will now hope to play another rated tournament and meet two rated players in order to get initial rating.(Sad).
P.S. For every chess tournament, organizers should inform their Federation one month before the tournament date. The federation in turn sends to FIDE in order to be placed on FIDE’s calendar. This protocol enables effective rating of tournament.
The second was the Chevron CPAN Chess Challenge (C4) organized by Chess Players’ Association of Nigeria (CPAN) which was held in May, 2018. Abdulrahman Abdulraheem won outstandingly with three (3) International Masters present, which shot him to No. 11 in the country’s ranking.
Top 5 male team are which includes three International Masters are:
- FM Kigigha Bomo (2317)
- IM Adu Oladapo (2299)
- IM Balogun Oluwafemi (2275)
- FM Anwuli Daniel (2267)
- IM Olape Olubunmi (2252)
CM Shorungbe Ademola’s tournament win at Benin pushed him to the 6th position ahead of IM Odion Aikhoje. FM Abimbola Osunfuyi is on 8th position while Ajibola Olanrewaju aka Papa sits on 9th and CM Chikwere Onyekwere is on 10th.
Amongst the men above, only FM Anwuli Daniel has not featured in any tournament this year.
The effect of the tournament in Benin made an affected player to send a message to Mr. Ayotuase (a reputable chess organizer, enthusiast and believe to have strong ties with the Nigerian Chess Federation) read thus:
“Greetings Sir Ayo, please I will like to draw your attention to a ticking time bomb involving ladies chess in Nigeria. By now we all know that the selection criteria for the Olympiad is the rating list of July 1st. If you see the top five names, you will notice the absence of strong female players whose ratings are quite far but, demonstrate more strength over the board than the names you will see. Some of the higher rated players got their ratings and seemingly went into hiding and are just becoming active because of the Olympiad list. This is worrisome because we would be deprived our best hands in Georgia. Furthermore, Toritsemuwa Ofowino who is 4th on the list may drop to 6th or 7th when the Benin tournament gets rated. Assa Oluwaseun will become active along with two new players whose initial ratings will surpass hers. So will our strongest players not go to the Olympiad because of some rating rule?
In addition, due to the late rating of the Benin event, Suleiman Ayisha Azumi whose initial rating would have been 1900+, is now rated 1700+ because Benin tournament hasn’t been rated. To make matters worse, when the Benin tournament gets rated, her rating will reduce because the games she lost as an unrated player will now be taken to be rated, whereas if Benin were rated first, she will have a high initial rating; the issue is serious and her coach isn’t taking the matter lightly at all.”
As predicted by the young man, here is the list of the top 5 female rated players
- Agbazue Precious
- Assa Oluwaseun
- Chukwuemeka-Ehirim, Chinyere
- Akintoye Deborah
- Ogbiyoyo Perpetual Eloho
Unfortunately, Ofowino Toritsemuwa came 6th, Amadasun Rosemary on 7th and Azumi on 8th.
Rules are rules! It would be so unfair to change the rules at this moment. Batumi is just one month away. We hope our representatives have intense training and we believe they would do wonders in this Olympiad. Finally, we believe Nigerian Chess Federation would learn from this decision and make sure trials are held for the next Olympiad tournament. The preparation should start immediately this team comes back from Georgia.