Home Olympiad Reflections 4 from Georgia with love by Dr Lyndon Bouah – 2018 Chess Olympiad

Reflections 4 from Georgia with love by Dr Lyndon Bouah – 2018 Chess Olympiad

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The Georgian opening book states that the hosting of the Olympiad is a very significant, delightful, joyful and symbolic event. The joy of being a host is not unusual for Georgia. It is an indigenous feature and tradition here, and the Georgians are able to turn a simple occasion into a festive celebration. Chess Olympiads are the days of thinking, evaluation, excitement, while the chess world is a rich and diverse body. Hosting the Olympiad is at the same time an expression of the appreciation of devotion and love of this kind of sport as well. The logo of the current Olympiad too suggests the great past of Georgian chess- the queen clad in the Olympic colours will be all means, remind us of the Georgian Olympic and World Champion women- the genuine queens of Georgian chess- and consequently of the rich Georgian chess history, which appears as the host of this Olympiad.

One old chess player, Photine Chikovani always started the chess game with a Knight, jokingly remarking that “the Georgians should always start with this figure”, hinting in this way at the centuries old military tradition of Georgia.

When one thinks of Georgia, the first thought coming to mind is the women chess players, who have won for Georgia the name of a great chess country. Not surprisingly we are told – beyond the successes in sports there has always been the sense of national pride, since in the epoch when Georgian women played for the world championship title or when they won or defended their titles, Georgia as country was unknown to the world, it was just part of the Soviet Union and every national triumph was greeted by a very special emotion.

That is why people called them Chess Queens, which wasn’t surprising either as the first chess grandmaster woman, Nona Gaprindashvilii, and the first teenage champion Maia Chiburdanidze kept the champions title among women players from 1962 until 1991. The contenders for the title were also other Georgians Nana Aleksandria and Nana Ioseliani.

South Africa and Georgia have started to develop a unique history. Batumi was up against Durban to host the 2018 Olympiad which we are now playing. Georgia’s bid received 93 votes whilst South Africa received 58. South Africa wanted to celebrate the centenary of Nelson Mandela in 2018 and the Chess Olympiad would’ve been part of the celebrations. South Africa lost out and maybe one day Chess South Africa should consider hosting the Olympiad. The voting took place in Tromso, Norway. At the same time the South African Open Chess Champion was a Georgian Grandmaster Merab Gagunashvili! So you can say we have already been co-operating!

Grandmaster Merab Gagunashvili beside a towering statue of the great South African statesman, Nelson Mandela

The International Arbiter Gunther Van Den Bergh related a story to me yesterday. At the airport he heard Afrikaans being spoken and when the guys realised he was also speaking Afrikaans they chatted with him and informed him that they were wine farmers from South Africa who also had wine farms here as well. Ben Winnaar from Free State who is also an arbiter here found a channel here that is exclusively only showing rugby! The Georgians love their rugby and many of their top players play in France alongside the big South African contingent there!

Georgia has a long list of famous players and trainers. I noted that in 1944 Vladas Mikenas won the Georgian championship whilst from 1955 the dominant name appears to be Bukhuti Gurgenidze who won the Georgian national championship 12 times! Many of you watch the Roman video series. Well he won the national championship in 66, 67, and 69. Zurab Azmaiparashvili won the championship in 1980 and later went on to assist GM Kasparov for a long time. In 1974 Elizbar Ubilava won the event and in later years became famous for being the second of GM Anand who was a five time world champion. The player who was the best player at the 2016 Olympiad was GM Baadur Jobava who won in 2003 and is probably one of the most exciting players to watch. The tournament hall also has prominent photos of GM Gufeld who was a favourite of mine because of his love for the Kings Indian Defence.

Many readers have written to me wishing the team well. Thank you for the notes. I am informing the team that their supporters are firmly behind them. As captain I have a specific role that must be played. The FIDE chief Arbiter sent out a note to all captains to tell us what he expects from us:

Batumi, Georgia, 23 September – 6 October 2018

Dear Team Captains, With this letter I would like to inform you about the basic procedures of the 43rd World Chess Olympiad that will be held in Batumi, Georgia, from 23 September (Arrival) to 6 October 2018 (Departure).

You will be provided in advance by email (which will be sent to you on 16 September 2018 by TAP) with detailed instructions and the unique password for every participating team, for the online registration of your team composition for every round of the tournament. Additionally you have to submit online and according to the instructions that the will be also sent to you the FIXED BOARD ORDER of your team (i.e. the exact order of the boards, where you want the players of your team to play in the tournament) until 21 September, 24.00 hour.

In case of facing any difficulties you can send the FIXED BOARD ORDER of your team by email to the Chairman of TAP IA Werner Stubenvoll, at [email protected], until 21 September, 24.00 hour.

CAPTAINS’ MEETING: The captains’ meeting will take place on 24 September, at 09.30, at the Batumi Sport Palace (Playing Hall). Transportation from and to your hotels will be provided by the Organizers. Your participation in the meeting is very important, because all details of the Olympiad tournament will be discussed there. The team pairings for the 1st round will be published on the websites (official website, chess-results.com, etc.) at 08.00, on 24 September BEFORE THE ROUND: The deadline for submission of the team compositions is at 10.00 in the morning of the day of each round.

For the first round the deadline will be at 11.00 in the morning of the day of the round (24 September). For the last round the deadline will be at 24.00 in the night of the previous round (4 October). The submission must be online, through Swiss Manager Program and according to the instructions and with the use of the unique password that will be given to every captain by TAP. In case of any problem an Assistant will be present in every Olympiad hotel from 09.00 to 10.00 every morning, to offer any help needed. Additionally, the captains will be provided with the TAP telephone number and will have the possibility to call the TAP members, should any problem arise in the registration of their team composition. In case that no team composition will be submitted by the captain for a specific round, the composition of the team shall be the Fixed Board Order (1, 2, 3, 4 boards) of the team.

ARRIVAL IN THE PLAYING HALL: Every round of the Tournament will start at 15.00, except the last round (5 October), which will start at 11.00.

The Zero Tolerance has been extended to fifteen (15) minutes. It means that the players have the right to arrive at their board up to (maximum) fifteen (15) minutes after the start of the round. If they arrive after fifteen (15) minutes from the start of the round they may be forfeited, according to the Laws of Chess. At the entrances of the Playing Hall there will be X-ray frames and for anti-cheating measures all the players and captains will have to pass through them. In order to avoid long queues and delays of the start of the games, please make sure that your teams arrive in the Playing Hall in advance before the start of the round and don’t miss the buses that will be provided by the Organizers for the transportation from your hotels.

The buses will be scheduled in such a way that all last buses should arrive at the playing venue at 14.30 (except at the last round, when they will arrive at 10.30) , Additionally, the captains (and the players) have to deliver their laptops, mobile phones, watches, pens and any other communication device that they have with them, before entering the Playing Hall (they will be stored in special areas and given back to them on their departure from the Playing Hall). Please take care so that none of your players carry such devices with him/her during the round, because they will be penalized, according to the FIDE Laws of Chess and the FIDE Anti-cheating regulations. Captains are allowed to have books with them (supposing that they are not chess books, the match arbiters shall check them) and photo cameras. Taking photos (with or without flash) will be allowed according to the tournament regulations (i.e. only in the first ten (10) minutes after the start of the round). The captains have the right to arrive in the Playing Hall maximum up to two (2) hours after the start of the round (The players of the team have to inform the match arbiter accordingly). At the moment they enter the playing venue, they are not allowed to leave it and come back, before the end of the match of their Team. They must wear their badges and their green cards and present them to any check.

Chairs for the captains will be next to the arbiter’s chair. The captains have the right to communicate with their players according to the Laws of Chess, as follows: The team captain must not stand behind the opposing team during play. If the team captain wishes to speak to one of his players, he shall first approach the match arbiter. The team captain shall then speak to the player in the presence of an arbiter, using a language the arbiter can understand. The same procedure shall be followed if a player needs to speak to the Captain.

A team captain is entitled to advise the players of his team to make or accept an offer of a draw, following the draw restriction rule which is in effect for the Olympiad (30 moves must have been completed by both players) of the tournament regulations. He shall not intervene in a game in any other way. He must not discuss any position on any board during play. The team captain may delegate his functions to another person, provided he informs the match arbiter of this in writing in advance. As the 180 match arbiters from all over the world may not know the players and the captains of the participating teams, captains and players must wear their badges that they will receive from the Organizers, during the whole round.

Additionally the captains will be given five (5) green cards by the match arbiter. The players and the captain of the team MUST also wear this green card during the whole round and especially when they are walking in the Playing Hall or visiting toilets, the smoking area, the bar area etc. The green card will indicate that their game is still in progress and therefore they are allowed to be in the Playing Hall. After the end of every game of the match, the player has to give his green card to the match arbiter and quit the Playing Hall (Analysis room is provided by the Organizers).

After the end of the match the captain MUST receives back all the green cards (4) from the match arbiter, in order to use them (together with his own card) for the match of the next round. The captains must take care not to lose the green cards, as their number is limited and any loss may cause problems at the entrance of the players to the Playing Hall, as no player and captain will be allowed in the Playing Hall without his green card. The captains are not allowed to visit the Press-Room or any other area of the playing venue, where they could analyze any games on computers or on chessboards. They must not carry any mobile phone, watch, laptop, tablet or any other device of communication while being in the Playing Hall. If a captain or a player wants to submit a complaint for cheating reasons, he has to fill the form of the In tournament complaint, according to the FIDE Anti-cheating regulations. This form will be provided by the Chief Arbiter or the Deputy Chief Arbiters.


The captain (or the player who finishes his/her game last) MUST sign the match protocol, after checking the results of the games and the final result of the match written by the match arbiter. Before he leaves the Playing Hall he has to receive back all the four (4) green cards from the match arbiter. In case any player of his/her team will be selected for a check according to the article 11.3.3. of the Laws of Chess and the Anti-cheating regulations (i.e. thorough check in a separate room, with private inspection of clothes, bags and other items of the player), he may be present, as a witness of his/her player. I believe that the captains play an important role in every Olympiad and their contribution to the success of the event is essential. The good co-operation between Captains, Players and Arbiters is necessary, for the success of the 43rd World Chess Olympiad. I hope to have your valuable help on this issue. Expecting to see you all in Batumi. IA Takis Nikolopoulos Chief Arbiter 43rd World Chess Olympiad.

I believe that the captain should be a servant leader. He is the leader of the team and needs to maintain the balance of the team so that the players are equipped to perform their best. He must enable and facilitate the players to play their best. The servant leader comes into play when he needs to serve the needs of the team. I for example monitor the water intake of the player. At the start of each round I normally wait ten minutes and then supply each me player with water. Some take longer than others to drink their water.

After thirty minutes I then go make green tea for our legendary Centurion IM Kobese who prefers green tea. He then drinks this at his own pace (Kobese has played over 110 games for South Africa at Olympiads already!) The younger members of the team enjoy their coke cola drinks. I then after a further thirty minutes then go to fetch the cool drink. The organisers supply this free of charge to the players and captains. In the late afternoon yesterday though we ran out of milk. So it is important to see which players are running short of water as I don’t want the players to be running to fetch water.

At this Olympiad one is also not allowed to bring in pens and watches. So at the beginning of each round these things have to be handed in. Captains are allowed to bring any non-related chess book to read at the end of the table. For this Olympiad I have chosen a book about about Stalin. He is probably the most known Georgian in the world as he ruled the Soviet Union after the death of Lenin. So many readers commented on this to me in their private messages. Yes captains are allowed to read while sitting down at the table. I monitor the boards and water intake whilst reading. I am somewhere now in the 1930’s with the book on Stalin. Of course a dear friend of mine chastised me for reading the book but I need to educate myself as I believe I am a lifelong student!

Book on Stalin

The role of a captain is not to prepare the team. That is done either by the team itself or by a coach, in the Women’s team Chessa has employed the services of former SA Open Champion GM Aleksa Strikovic to act as captain and also as coach. He then works with the ladies team to prepare them and also to go over their games. In my case my entire team are former and current SA Closed Champions and are all titled players.

I thus chose to qualify for my International Organiser title by attending the morning seminar organised by the FIDE Organisers Committee. A very interesting course that looks at how to organise an event. When I return to South Africa, Gunther and I will through Chessa apply for our International Organisers titles as we both have completed all the necessary norms and other requirements. So in our routine the players generally do their own thing in the morning by preparing for the matches. The captain is thus free to work on Reflections! I will encourage all future managers and captains where ever they find themselves to attend the seminars and courses that are on offer. As we are living one hour away from the playing venue I spent about R1000 in taxi fare to get here to the course because if we wish to stage any FIDE event next year then the event must be organised by an accredited FIDE organiser. Gauteng and KZN have a few International organisers but at present Cape Town has none.

The captain must also check on the emotional well-being of the players. In an event of this nature it is very easily to castle kingside (I.e suffer two losses in a row) or castle queenside (I.e. three losses in a rows). It is then my duty as captain to pick that player up, to remind them that they are in the top five in the country and that they are playing on the world stage. In an event of this nature where amateurs and professionals play alongside and against each other, the very best will triumph. So it is important to maintain perspective. We lost yesterday against Kazakhstan but we were happy to nick 1.5 points off them. It showed when Daniel drew against the 2605 rated grandmaster that we can hold our own. Everyone rejoiced that Calvin Klaasen won his game by beating the strong Kazakh grandmaster that had earlier refused a draw. Remember Korchnoi said that to beat a grandmaster a player must first learn to draw with a grandmaster and then the wins will come. Well Calvin showed that yesterday. He is drawing with grandmasters regularly and he can win on the day if allowed an opportunity.

Today the Women’s played Tajikistan. Tajikistan is a country in Central Asia surrounded by Afghanistan, China, Uzbekistan and Kyrhyzstan. It is known for rugged mountains, popular for hiking and climbing. The Fann Mountains, near the national capital Dushanbe, have snow-capped peaks that rise over 5000 metres. The range encompasses the Iskanderkulsky Refuge, a notable bird habitat named after Ishanderskulsky, a turquoise lake formed by glaciers. It has a population of 8 million people. Tajikistan was the first former Soviet Republic that South Africa beat in 1994. The best Tajikistan player is grandmaster Farrukh Antonov who recently played in South Africa in the Capablanca Closed in 2017 and who also won the Rapid that here.

It was a tough match. The ladies narrowly lost 2.5 to 1.5. WIM February beat her highly fancied opponent on board one which is a good plus for her. WIM Van Zyl drew with her opponent. We were unlucky on the middle boards as our ladies may possibly have had a draw. We will put this down for experience.


The Open team is playing Jamaica. Jamaica is well known to South Africans. It is a Caribbean nation, and has lush topography of mountains, rain forests and reef lined beaches. Many of the all inclusive resorts are clustered in Montego Bay, with its British style architecture. Jamaica is famed as the birthplace of reggae music and its capital, Kingston is home to the Bob Marley Museum dedicated to the famous singer. Usain Bolt has of course put Jamaica on the map as the worlds best sprinter for the last decade. South Africa drew 2-2 in the last round with of the Azerbaijan Olympian. One of my good friends is Ian Wilkinson (QC) from Jamaica who has written a great book called Magnificent in Bled about the 2002 Bled Olympiad and who enjoys chatting about matters.

Ian Wilkinson (QC) with Dr Bouah

On board one IM Daniel Cawdery played very aggressively against her opponent Warren Elliot. He placed him under so much pressure with his pawn sacrifices that his opponent lost on time.
On board three IM Mabusela was a piece up but agreed to a draw because of his opponents threatening passed pawns on the queenside. I am sure IM Mabusela will probably find the win in his study!

On board four IM Van Den Heever played some inspiring chess to place his opponent under pressure. Essaying the Sicilian Defence he soon equalised and went on the attack. He later on won a piece in the complications.

On board two FM Klaasen will be having some mixed emotions tonight. He played a wonderful game with the Black pieces to secure an advantage. He then was only playing for two results , a win or a draw. And then the unthinkable happened. After exchanging pieces in the middle game his opponent suddenly emerged with an outside rook pawn that was pushed to the queening square ala Usain Bolt.

FM Klaasen was now forced to give up his rook. His opponent now had a rook against three pawns. Ras Lorne from Jamaica won back two pawns but the third went to the promotion square where Klaasen then requested a knight in order to stave off mate. We now went back and forth with Klaasen putting up a defence like the ancient Greeks did with 300 men against 7000. He moved the knight back and forth to secure the draw. I was reminded also of Micheal Atherton who had the ability to bat the whole day and not score many runs but could bat to secure the draw. This is what Klaasen did.

They were about seven moves away from the fifty move rule. Klaasen was counting the moves because they were already playing about 99 moves. His opponent finally liquidated with Rook takes knight thus leaving only kings on the board. Both players were unhappy after the game but not at their opponents. They were unhappy with themselves because Klaasen had let a win slip through his fingers and then when the pendulum swung his opponent couldn’t find the win when Klaasen defended to secure the draw. My opposing captain Jomo and I realised that Ras Lorne was trying to find the win but we both knew that at some stage the two warriors would have to smoke the pipe of peace! Yeah Monday we shall take the win.

Jamaica in the Caribbean

Enjoy the evening.

Dr Lyndon Bouah Reporting live from Batumi, Georgia

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