Archive for September 14th, 2016

Despise the enemy strategically, but take him seriously tactically.

Passivity is fatal to us. Our goal is to make the enemy passive.

Mao Zedong

Communist China, the somewhat unpopular champions of the 2014 Olympiad, lost their title yesterday, failing to find a top ten place in fact, losing to Ukraine, England, and Hungary mid-tournament. For the first time since the 70s, the Americans and their distinctly migrant team are now champions.

The Chinese are a curious bunch, don’t you think? Little has been said about their meteoric rise over the last ten years irrespective of their successes. When participating in tournaments they often keep themselves to themselves and you wonder whether they are discouraged to interact with their foreign counterparts. Having known some of their top players before, being fortunate to have met Hou Yifan on more than one occasion, it is undoubtedly the case the the top players are, to some degree, subject to governmental demands. At the time I knew her, she could not decide herself which international tournaments she was allowed to play in. We do not yet know why the Chinese under-performed so in this Olympiad, I suspect it will not be reported on internationally if at all.

The Americans, comprising of an Italian, a Japanese, a Filipino and a player from California on the bottom board, are now the more popular champions. Perhaps the opportunism the country embodies both historically and in the present day appeals to a wider audience, its allure a success story in itself, irrespective of where its players are really from. I personally predicted they would win the event, and so they did, looking strong throughout with notable performances from Caruana and So in particular. As we know, the Americans are investing heavily in chess at the moment, pronouncing St. Louis, Missouri as the world chess capital and New York as home to the upcoming World Championship match between Carlsen and Karjakin. An early return on their investment is, most likely, much to the liking of the upper echelons within the game.

One of the great things about an Olympiad is that you often see unusual pairings and results. I find this Olympiad to be fascinating, especially when we now have so many options to follow the action, and some great commentary too. The quality of the play was very high and there were many great games to play through. Roll on Georgia 2018.

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