Lessons from Chess World Olympiad

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Chipo Sabeta
The Zimbabwe National Chess Federation (ZCF) says they have sport administration and playing lessons to share from the just-ended 43rd World Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia.

The Chess World Olympiad is a biennial team event in which 147 countries participate, each fielding two teams of four players with one reserve and this year’s performance was the best ever performance from Zimbabwe chess teams since initially partaking in the World Chess Olympiads in 1982.

Zimbabwe was represented by ten chess players, two captains and two officials in the tournament that featured many of the world’s leading players.

Despite losing in the first round to Argentina and Austria, Zimbabwe Chess Federation vice-president Clive Mphambela said they treasure the exposure and lessons gained from Georgia.

“The players took the opening matches as a learning opportunity. The men’s team played the Grandmasters from Argentina and we lost 4-0, while the ladies played the Grandmasters from Austria and were also thrashed 4-0.

“From round two to round 11 the Zimbabwe Chess players played extremely well, performing well above their initial starting rankings. The defeats did not dampen our team’s spirit. We took the beating as a learning curve and the exposure will be helpful in upcoming tournaments ,” he said.

“The men’s team was ranked 119th and the ladies team was ranked 122nd.

“After the 11 rounds of play, the Zimbabwe men’s team finished the tournament on position 39, but were pushed to 59th on the world rankings on tie-breaks.

“We picked important lessons from such international events in terms of administration and running tournaments. It was more than playing chess,” Mphambela added.

Mphambela hailed the Zimbabwean team for coming second in Africa after Egypt despite the unbalanced pairings.

On the continental rankings Zimbabwe men’s team attained the silver medal.

“The Egyptians once again proved their mettle and won gold.  However, our performance was above Zimbabwe’s anticipated performance ranking. The ladies also improved from their initial ranking finishing on position 97th overall, in the competition in which 186 country teams participated.

“On the continental rankings Zimbabwe men’s team attained second position, earning a silver medal behind Egypt which clinched gold.

“While the Egyptians once again proved their mettle as the African Chess kings, Zimbabwe by coming second on the African continental rankings and 59th in the world, joined an elite group of chess playing nations.

Mphambela added: “Individual performances were commendable. Our top player International Master Rodwell Makoto managed to beat two Grandmasters, drew with two Grandmasters and lost only once to a Grandmaster.

“He missed the Grandmaster norm by a whisker after his tournament performance rating failed short by a mere 24Elo points from the required performance rating of 2 600.”

“Emerald Mushore our current national champion and the new team player Thabo Elisha are now Candidate Masters.”

The event, which is designed to promote the game across the globe, is open to all national federations affiliated to Fédération Internationale des Échecs or World Chess Federation (Fide).

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