1986 Chess Olympiad

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The entrance to the venue for the 1986 Chess Olympiad
The venue for the 1986 Chess Olympiad in Dubai

The 27th Chess Olympiad 1986 was a team chess tournament that was held from November 14th to December 2nd, 1986 in the congress halls of the World Trade Center in Dubai . In particular, the conflict over the non-invitation of Israel , which is officially at war with several Arab states , also received attention outside the chess world.


Lucerne 1982

The Israeli team was not invited by the hosting chess federation of the United Arab Emirates and did not participate.

Horst Metzing (2008)

Horst Metzing, managing director of the German Chess Federation and FIDE delegate, writes in his memoirs of the awarding of the Olympics under the title "Why was Israel excluded?":

“Up until 1982, the FIDE principle was that only the federation was allowed to host an event that ensured the participation of all member federations by granting visas to the respective players. This provision naturally meant that the Arab countries were out of the question as organizers, as they would refuse to invite Israeli players. At the 1982 FIDE Congress in Lucerne - still under the leadership of the former President Fredrik Olafsson  - this regulation was softened to the extent that the General Assembly could allow exceptions. This was particularly true in the event of war, but also in the event of severe violence between individual countries. Every delegate to the Lucerne General Assembly was aware that this provision was primarily directed against Israel. "

There were two reasons why the majority were in favor of this restrictive visa issue:

On the one hand, the majority were already influenced by countries from the Third World and the Eastern Bloc, and on the other hand, federations that were quite pro-Israeli were of the opinion that the Arab countries should organize FIDE events. After all, Israel had already organized 2 Olympiads in which the Arab federations were not allowed to participate (in contrast to current practice, however, they were invited by the Israeli chess federation!).

With this change in the statutes in Lucerne it was clear that there would be major problems relatively quickly because of the non-invitation of Israeli chess players. We Western Europeans had hoped that at least the Olympics could be excluded for a long time to come. For 1984 the Olympiads were awarded to Saloniki, Iceland had applied for an option for 1986 (after all, Libya already received the 2nd option and Indonesia the third). However, when Iceland did not deposit the required guarantee until the FIDE congress in Manila in 1983, the Libyan Chess Federation threatened to host it. After a change at the top, they (luckily) did not make use of their option. Nothing more was heard from Indonesia either. The FIDE Congress therefore distributed new options: the first to Venezuela, the second to the United Arab Emirates.

Saloniki 1984

Venezuela soon waived its option. The UAE Chess Federation submitted a binding offer to FIDE President Florencio Campomanes , who accepted it and informed the Executive Board of FIDE.

At the FIDE Congress in Saloniki in 1984, Campomanes announced that Venezuela would not be able to host the Olympics and that he had given the Olympics to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. This news caused a stir because the UAE Chess Federation could not guarantee Israel's participation. The UAE denied entry not only to Israeli citizens, but also to all travelers with an Israeli visa endorsement in their passports.

In response to this announcement, USCF Chess Federation delegate Don Schultz spoke out in favor of Israel's right to participate, without excluding the possibility of compromise. It said:

“Petitioning against the expulsion of Israel is not a sufficient answer. The USA will not take part in Dubai unless a solution is reached that is acceptable to the Israeli chess federation. "

Congress upheld Campomanes' decision in favor of Dubai by a clear majority of 61-25 with 5 abstentions. Most Western European federations, however, voted against this decision. Around 40 member associations had threatened to boycott the Olympics in the event of Israel's exclusion.

Negotiating Commission

Dubai city skyline during the 1986 Chess Olympiad

The FIDE Congress set up a commission to examine ways of getting the Israeli team to attend in Dubai and preventing a boycott. This commission included Schultz and the delegates from England and Greece Raymond Keene and Giorgius Makropoulos . Metzing assesses the convening of this commission as "quite naive" because on December 11, 1984, a few days after the congress, the Secretary General of the UAE High Council for Youth and Sport announced in Dubai that all FIDE member federations would be included Invite exception from Israel.

According to Schultz, a boycott was advocated by the Israeli State Department under Yitzhak Shamir , while both Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres and the US State Department preferred a boycott-free solution.

The commission proposed various compromises to the representatives of the Israeli Chess Federation Yaacow Hadassi and Israel Gelfer , such as setting the Israeli team for the 1987 World Team Championship in Lucerne, or the moves of the Israeli team at the 1986 Olympics from a ship on international waters off the coast of Dubai to be transferred from. The Israelis rejected these proposals for a variety of reasons.

Finally, the Commission pursued two plans. The "bold plan" provided that in return for an invitation from the Israeli team to Dubai, a Palestinian player should take part in the cadet world championship for players up to 16 years, which took place in 1985 in Petah Tikva , Israel .

Campomanes, Schultz and Keene traveled to Dubai and discussed the bold plan with representatives of the UAE government. The UAE promised that the ban on people with an Israeli visa endorsement in their passports would be lifted for entry in connection with the Chess Olympiad.

After that, Schultz and Makropoulos visited Tel Aviv and signed an agreement with Israeli officials for a Palestinian to take part in the cadet championship. FIDE hoped that after such a tournament participation by a Palestinian chess player in Israel, the UAE would invite Israel to the Chess Olympiad in order to avoid the scandal of a widespread boycott.

Despite the agreement reached, the representatives of FIDE were informed by the Israeli Minister of Education during their stay in Tel Aviv that there would be no Palestinian participation in the World Cadet Championship.

Graz 1985

After the failure of the bold plan , FIDE tried at its 1985 congress in Graz to avoid a boycott by offering the prospect of adopting another amendment to the statutes at the FIDE congress held together with the Dubai Olympics. Accordingly, at future FIDE events, the host federation should grant all other federations free entry, exceptions being granted only with the consent of a 3/4 majority of the FIDE general assembly.

After debates between Hadassi and the President of the UAE Chess Federation Mohammed Ghobash at a meeting of the FIDE Central Committee in the run-up to the Congress of Graz , Campomanes met privately with Hadassi on the eve of the Congress of Graz. With reference to the story of the sacrifice of Isaac from the Old Testament , Campomanes is said to have asked Hadassi not to participate in the Israeli Olympics. At the next day's general assembly, the Israeli representatives approved the compromise proposal. Hadassi said no team should stay away from Dubai because the Israeli team cannot be there. Gelfer added that he understood that the Israeli team could not participate but, on behalf of the motto of FIDE Gens Una Sumus, wished the UAE Chess Federation every success in hosting it.

The USCF and other western chess federations planned to leave the FIDE meeting in the event of a rejection of this proposal by Arab federations in Dubai despite the parallel Olympics.

USCF 1986

The world's largest chess piece, 1986 in Dubai

The USCF's policy board decided in February 1986 6 to 1 with one abstention that the US team would participate in Dubai. At the USCF's annual delegates meeting in August 1986, several speakers opposed this policy board decision . Among them were the Grand Masters Lew Alburt and Joel Benjamin and a representative of the Anti Defamation League . There was also a petition from 41 members of the US Congress calling for the USCF to boycott the Olympics.

In addition to Schultz, several grandmasters stood up for participation in Dubai, among them Arnold Denker and Yasser Seirawan . Finally, the annual delegates' meeting followed the policy board's proposal , but with the addition that the USCF delegation would leave Dubai immediately if the proposed amendment to the FIDE statutes was rejected.

Ultimately, only the Netherlands , Norway , Denmark , Sweden and the Faroe Islands did not participate. In addition, a number of players canceled their participation, including Grandmaster Viktor Korchnoi, who played for Switzerland, and Grandmasters Robert Huebner , Eric Lobron and Vlastimil Hort from the German team . Lobron justified his rejection with the awarding of the tournament by FIDE to Dubai, and the Israeli team expected to be unloaded "from the start".

FIDE Congress in Dubai

FIDE Congresses usually take place in the last of the three weeks of a Chess Olympiad. The FIDE Congress in Dubai was also where Campomanes came up for re-election. Brazilian Lincoln Lucena was the other presidential candidate. US threats to withdraw from Congress helped pass the amended statutes. At that time the US team had already beaten the Soviet team in the Chess Olympiad and had a good chance of winning the gold medal. Campomanes, who had come under massive criticism for breaking off the World Chess Championship in 1984, had no difficulty in winning the presidential election. Lucena withdrew when it became clear that he would have no chance of profit.

Another change concerned the evaluation of the Elo ratings for the Women's Olympics. Arpad Elo had provided evidence that women were on average about 100 points undervalued, which is why 100 points should be awarded to each woman. Susan Polgar , however, like a few other players, should not receive an Elo rating, as she had almost only competed against men and was therefore not undervalued. According to some critics, including Larry Evans , Polgar was treated unfairly. She also wrote about it in a book.

Another change concerned a fund that was badly managed and from which FIDE would no longer invest money in South Africa because of apartheid .

Tournament schedule

As a game mode, team fights were held on four boards each. 14 rounds were played in the Swiss system with Buchholz rating . Participants were 641 players from 108 teams (the United Arab Emirates were allowed to host two teams), with 3020 of 3024 announced games being played. The drawing was supposed to take place by a computer, which could only draw up to 100 teams, so that the drawing had to be done manually at the last moment. The time control was two hours for 40 trains and then one hour for 20 trains. In the starting field there were 14 teams who completed their first Chess Olympiad. With the exception of the very first event, this is a record. The debuting teams were, in alphabetical order, Antigua, Barbados, Brunei, El Salvador, Fiji, Gambia, Ghana, Haiti, both Yemeni countries, Qatar, Mauritius, the Seychelles and Sudan.

Final result of the open tournament

The tournament favorite, the Soviet Union, suffered a period of weakness in the middle of the tournament: from the fifth to the eighth round the team could not win a competition and even suffered a defeat against the USA team when Garry Kasparov lost his game against Yasser Seirawan and the remaining three Games ended in a draw. Before the final round, the US led by half a board point but only got a 2-2 against Bulgaria, while the Soviet Union won 4-0 against Poland. There are suspicions that this match was deliberately lost by Poland for political reasons. However, this has not been proven.

World champion Garri Kasparov discusses with Rafael Vaganian during the 1986 Chess Olympiad in Dubai
Lajos Portisch - Garri Kasparow, Chess Olympiad 1986
# team Points
1 Soviet UnionSoviet Union Soviet Union 40
2 EnglandEngland England 39.5
3 United StatesUnited States United States 38.5
4th Hungary 1957Hungary Hungary 34.5
5 IcelandIceland Iceland 34
6th Bulgaria 1971Bulgaria Bulgaria 34
7th China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 34
8th CubaCuba Cuba 33
9 CzechoslovakiaCzechoslovakia Czechoslovakia 33
10 FranceFrance France 33
11 ArgentinaArgentina Argentina 33
12 PeruPeru Peru 33
13 Germany BRBR Germany BR Germany 32.5
14th AustriaAustria Austria 32.5
29 SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland 30.5

108 participants

Final score of the women

The women's games were played on three boards each. 49 teams with a total of 193 players took part. 1008 games were played.

USSR: Elena Donaldson-Akhmilovskaya and Nona Gaprindashvili , 1986 Chess Olympiad. Behind them, John Donaldson, team captain of the United States
# team Points
1 Soviet UnionSoviet Union Soviet Union 33.5
2 Hungary 1957Hungary Hungary 29
3 Romania 1965Romania Romania 28
4th China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 28
5 Yugoslavia Socialist Federal RepublicYugoslavia Yugoslavia 25.5
6th Germany BRBR Germany BR Germany 25th
7th PolandPoland Poland 24.5
8th EnglandEngland England 24.5
9 Bulgaria 1971Bulgaria Bulgaria 23.5
10 CubaCuba Cuba 23
11 Brazil 1968Brazil Brazil 22.5
12 AustriaAustria Austria 22.5
13 FinlandFinland Finland 22.5
16 United StatesUnited States United States 22nd
23 SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland 21st

this and that

  • World champion Garry Kasparov was the team captain of the Soviet Union.
  • Many top grandmasters refused the Elo evaluation.
  • Boris Spasski was the only player who played all 14 games without a loss. He drew ten games, also a record in the tournament, and won four.
  • Former world champion Vasily Smyslow dedicated a chess study to the organizers and participants of the tournament .
  • After the Chess Olympiad, 200 people were invited to the palace of Crown Prince Sheikh Ḥamdān bin Rāschid Āl Maktūm .
  • Although the Arab states had not yet had any experience of hosting such events, the Chess Olympiad is considered by many players to be the best organized of all time. Among other things, one million dollars was made available for plane tickets.

Team lineups


Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Horst Metzing: Why was Israel excluded ?, in: Hans-Joachim Hecht, Sergiu Samarian, Klaus Klundt, Theo Schuster: Schacholympiade Dubai 1986 . Verlag Deutsche Schachblätter / Schach-Report Hollfeld, special volume 1987, p. 4
  2. a b c d e f Dubai Olympiad ( Memento from May 7, 2005 in the Internet Archive ), online version from Don Schultz: Chessdon , Chessdon Publishing, 1999 (English)
  3. "Petitioning against the banning of Israel is not a strong enough response. The USA will not go to Dubai unless a solution is reached that is acceptable to the Israeli Chess Federation ", Dubai Olympiad ( Memento of May 7, 2005 in the Internet Archive ), online version from Don Schultz: Chessdon , Chessdon Publishing, 1999 ( English)
  4. a b Frank Große: History of the Chess Olympiads (7), The world of chess moves together (1980–1990) , September 3, 2008, Chessbase
  5. Casto Abundo: Happy 80th Birthday Campo, Read Campo's Legacy to World Chess , February 22, 2007
  6. ^ E. Lobron: Open letter, in Deutsche Schachzeitung 12/1986, page 386
  7. 27th Chess Olympiad: Dubai 1986 - Final Group Standings (English)
  8. 27th Chess Olympiad (women): Dubai 1986 - Final Group Standings (English)

Images and web links

Commons : Chess Olympiad 1986  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files