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Istanbul Chess Olympiad 2012: A New Record

With 156 teams in the Open section and 124 teams in the Women one, we can say that the Istanbul Olympiad brock a new record in the chess history. A brief statistical information confirms that fact: in the Open section: 239 Grand Masters, 130 International Masters, 91 FIDE Masters and 54 Candidate Masters, in the Women section: 16 GMs, 75 WGMs, 33 IMs, 99 WIMs, 3 FMs, 89 WFMs and 50 WCMs. One can says only one word: WOW!!!

Lebanon is represented by 2 teams: in the Open section, the honor went to (by board order): IM Fadi Eid (2377), FM Faisal Khairallah (2308), FM Amr ElJawish (2166), CM Antoine Kassis (2209) and Nassim Sakr (2171), having Roland Akhras as captain, while in the Women section, the honor went to : WFM Maya Jalloul (1923), WFM Youmna Makhlouf (1950), Danielle Bedrossian, Sara ElShamiyeh and Farah Kaskas, having FM Joan Bakr (Syria) as captain and coach. The Lebanese Delegation is headed by the Lebanese Chess Federation President Mr. Nabil Bard, and the fed secretary Mr. Chehadeh Abou Nimri. Also the vice president of the fed Mr. Elias Khairallah is working there as arbiter.

The Lebanese team is ranked as 95 from 156 in the starting list of the Open section, while the starting rank of Women team is 99 from 124.

Another plus for the Turkish federation is their organization of the U16 Olympiad. Lebanon is represented by: FM Ibrahim Chahrour (1953), Nareg Najarian, Mohammad Hamad, Ralph Khairallah and Mathieu Mowakdié, and federation member Mr. Nazareth Seukunian as captain. From 40 participated teams, the Lebanese one is ranked as 34 in the starting list.

It is worth to mention that the Mediterranean Youth and Juniors Individual championships are underway in Greece. Lebanon is represented there by a big delegation, headed by Ali ElJawish. I will dedicate later a special report about it.

Now, in my opinion, the most important Lebanese moment of the Olympiad occurred during the third round at the “Chess and Education” schools conferences, where His Excellency Mr. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov made an important speech, which was dedicated to spread chess in schools. The conference was crowned by signing of an agreement between Ministry of Education of Lebanon, Lebanese Chess Federation, represented by Mr. Nabil Badr, and FIDE.

The documents were signed by His Excellency Minister of Education Mr. Hassan Diab and Fide President His Excellency Mr. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov for the future cooperation as far as chess in schools is concerned. A framework between the two parties was established so that a further educational development will benefit the Lebanese students. This is  a signal for the momentum that the Lebanese Chess Federation must profit at the maximum, in order to raise our noble game to a higher level. I am sure that the Lebanese Chess Federation will not miss it.

Before moving to the technical and sporting parts of the Olympiad competition, allow me to express my impressions about the event, as I attended the opening ceremony and the second round before returning back to Beirut.

Firstly, the Opening ceremony: The Lebanese delegation couldn’t attend it as their plane was just landed at the Ataturk Airport at the same time as the start of the ceremony. But they shouldn’t feel sad for missing it as it was a dull one. Sorry but this was and still my impression. Some folk dances, VIPs speeches, and that’s it. Not to mention the installation of TV and video cameras in the middle of the convention hall, where the opening ceremony took place, blocking the view of the scene, where the folk dance was taking place.

At least my daughter Elissa managed to take one distinguished picture:

So, I am a guest for the second round. This means you have to pay 10 euros to get a guest accreditation card. And for those 10 euros, can you guess what can you get? You are just permitted to sit in the spectators’ area, without the permission to take any photo, or watching your favorite teams playing (a little exception was at the U16 olympiad). Even the chief of delegation is also barred from entering the playing area. Only the captain is allowed. And if a player needs to drink just some water, he has to pay. Pay, pay, and pay.

From a technical view, I can understand that the organizers are seeking a peaceful playing hall, but they are depriving the chess fans, who attend the Olympiad, from their one of their big dreams: seeing their idols playing live. They can see them playing, but though TV screens or the internet live stream videos transmission, not by flesh and blood. A very disappointing feeling. At least I got compensation by watching live the game of my friend Mohammad ElModiahki, from Qatar, beating the super star Vassily Ivanchuk.

Let’s go back now to the round-by-round follow-up. In round 1, the Lebanese Men team faced the strong Spain one. Fadi surprised his opponent, and the others, by playing a new setup against the Catalan of his famous opponent Vallejo Pons, and even reached an advantageous middle game position.  I couldn’t follow the game live, as some technical errors occurred during the transmission (corrected later by the organizers). Anyway, the honor was saved by Antoine Kassis in snatching a draw on the 4th board against his GM opponent Korneev.

In the meantime, the Lebanese Women team was beaten 4-0 by the Belarusian Women team.

In round 2 , the Lebanese men took their revenge by beating 3-1 the Macau team. Faisal and Nassim draw their games, though I think it could be 3.5-0.5 as Faisal had an overwhelming position against his opponent. Bu the presence of Queens plus opposite colored bishops raised the chances of draw.

The Lebanese Women made a tie 2-2 with their Nigerian opponents. Maya and Sara won, while Youmna and Farah lost their games.

Another hit for the Men team occurred in round 3 by beating the Bolivian team 3-1. Fadi and Faisal drew their games. In the Women section, the Lebanese players lost 1.5 – 2.5 to Guatemala.

A strong match occurred in round 4. Lebanon – Bulgaria !! Again, Antoine saved the honor: 0.5 – 3.5 to Bulgaria.

The Women team lost 4-0 against ICSC (International Committee of Silence Chess).

In the U16 Olympiad, the young Lebanese players, in the first round, lost to English team 0.5-3.5. In round 2, they lost 1.5-2.5 to Australia. Another loss 1.5-2.5 occurred in round 3 against Iraq.

Click here to download the rounds 1-4 of Lebanese Men and Women games.

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