Is getting the Board 3 board prize asking too much from African players?

With the new system of using performance rating as a criterion to individual board awards winners, will an African ever win an Olympiad board prize again? The great Zimbabwean IM Robert Gwaze in Khanty Mansisky 2002 and the Nigerian Odion Oikonje at Elista  1998 are the two Africans to have won an Olympiad board medal for Africa.

However both of these got their award under the old system of calculating only the number of wins achieved by the player regardless of the strength of your opponent.

As we entered round 7 of the 43rd  Batumi World Chess Olympiad , the following were the best Africa showings per board taken from the list of top 150 performance rating from the tournaments open section.

BOARD 1

For board 1, the best for Africa, so far, is Grandmaster Amin Baseem of Egypt with a rating performance of 2853 on position 14. To achieve this perfomance rating GM Dr Baseem has beaten Grandmaster Delgado Ramirez of Paraguay 2619 Elo, GM Kovalelenko Igor of Lativia( 2646 )and GM Repka Christopher (2523) and drawn with GM Grandelius Nils of Sweden (2655), GM Flores Diego of Argentina (2621). As we went to press GM Baseem had just drawn with the Tiger of Madrass , Vishy Anand in round 7.

The continent is crossing its fingers that the Egyptian will clinch the board one award. But this is not an easy task as he is competing with the likes of GM Fabiano Caruana, GM Levon Aronian, GM Shakir Mamedyerov et al, who are all in top form.

Board one is usually hot, because generally the teams’ strongest chess players feature on this board. At the 2002 Olympiad in Khanty Mansiyk, Zimbabwean IM Robert Gwaze won himself the board one award, causing the traditional winner of this award , former world champion, Garry Kasoparov to jokingly comment, “These Africans from Hondurus have come to get our medals”.

BOARD 2

The best board 2 so far is Egyptian Grandmaster Adley Ahmed of Egypt on position 66 with a perfomance rating of 2668. Some of his casualties include GM  Neikksans Arters (2566) of Lativia, GM Peralta Fernando (2569) of Argentina, but couldn’t do anything on GM Petrik Thomas (2481) of Slovakia and GM Harikrishna Pentala (2743) of India.  At the 1998 Olympiad in Elsta Nigerian veteran Odion Oikonje got himself the board 2 award.

BOARD 3

Should we say board 3 is too much for Africa? Because nobody playing board 3 for Africa is in the current top 150 performance rating list. However if it were the old system of calculating number of wins, unrated Congolese player  Kwambamanishi Mashala on position 2 in this criterion with 5 out of 5 wins would have been a hot contender. The unrated Congolese has hammered all his opponents so far.

BOARD 4

Topping board 4 perfomance rating list for Africa is Nigerian IM Olape Bunmi on position 33 with a perfomance rating of 2750. Among his 4 casualties is Elisha of Zimbabwe rated 2024. Though his opponents haven’t been of high rating, his good rating perfomance is largely because of the 100 percent score record he has so far.

Perfomance rating is used for the board awards. But when there is a tie, other tie breakers spelt out in the chess Olympiad handbook are used.

History tells us that Africans are capable of winning these awards.

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