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posted 7 Sept 2016, 05:47 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 7 Sept 2016, 05:56 ]
frank sears

In keeping with my interest in a wide range of sporting disciplines I thought it fulfilling to give a birdsImage result for chess-eye view of how Chess is organized at its highest level. For the record I am also interested in swimming, diving, cycling, football, boxing, table-tennis, weight-lifting, even race-walking as disciplines I would really like to see and be involved in some limited way with their development at a professional level in T&T.

The 42nd Chess Olympiad is now underway in Baku, Azerbaijan with 176 countries taking part in the Open section and at least 146 countries registered for the women section. It is a team event that is held every two years. Russia is again the top seed in the Open section but they have not won the gold medal (1st place) in the post-Kasparov era from 2004 – 2014. [Gary Kasparov of Russia was considered the strongest chess champion ever when he retired. He actually visited Trinidad two years ago seeking our vote to become President of the world body but he failed in his effort]

China is rated third based on average players’ ratings is the defending champion with the USA rated second, fielding its highest rated team of five which includes a reserve player. America is not known to be a nation where Chess is a prominent sport but it seems their policy of attracting top players from abroad with incentives has gradually propelled them near the summit.

In fact they have on their roster the number three male players in the top ten of the world and these individuals have as their ‘mother’ country, the Philippines (Wesley So); Fabiano Caruana (France) Hikaru Nakamura (Japan). Social media is wondering whether twin sisters from an east European country would be eligible for the next Olympiad to be held in Batumi, Georgia.

Image result for azerbaijanOther top teams contending for podium places are Ukraine, Hungary, Poland, France, India, England and the hosts themselves in this eleven round tournament. There are at least 14 countries from the Caribbean headed by Cuba and including Trinidad and Tobago which has two teams in Baku.

Chess is considered an ancient game but organizing it has evolved to reflect the world of today. For instance, no chess player can enter the playing hall with a watch, a pen, an electronic device or a notebook. Spectators cannot enter with a mobile telephone and electronic devices will not be allowed.

Before the start of each round the players and captains (who are non-playing participants) must walk through x-ray frames at the entrance while security staff will check their bags. They will have to leave mobile phones, smart watches and pens in a designated storage area and collect same on leaving. The default time for the start of the games will be 15 minutes which means this is a player’s grace period to start his game or else it is an automatic forfeit. From the twelve hotels assigned to the teams for accommodation, buses are provided and adjustments must be made by the teams to cater for queues awaiting security checks: a reflection of the pervasive influence of technology on sport, in this case Chess.