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is chess in the Olympics

  There is currently no chess in the Olympiad. The Chess Olympiad is a chess competition officially organized by FIDE since 1927 and takes place in even-numbered years. Before World War II the event was occasionally held every year. There was also an unofficial Chess Olympiad series that ended in 1976. Although chess is covered in the sports sections of many newspapers around the world, it is not one of the recognized sports in the Olympic Games. However, FIDE is now a member of the International Olympic Committee and follows its rules. This means that chess could one day become an Olympic event, although most knowledgeable observers say this is unlikely. The World Chess Championship is a competition held annually by the international chess organization FIDE to determine the World Champion of chess. Both men and women are eligible to participate in this championship. The World Champion does not have to be the player with the highest Elo rating: the 2006-2007 World Champion, Vladimir Kr

My First Chess Tournament

I competed in my very first serious chess tournament where most of the players are experienced, strong rated players. I am still an unrated player so I wanted to know what my strength in chess might be by comparing my knowledge of chess with others through practical application. We played a Swiss system rapid chess tournament with 20 minutes given per player and 5-second increments per move.

When I first arrived at the venue, I was quite underwhelmed by the number of participants in the tournament which gave me an impression that chess is not as valued here in my country as other sports are and that people generally have no interest in it, perhaps also due to the minimal media exposure of chess here in the Philippines and the lack of resources. But as the day rolled on, I became super excited because people started pouring in and jostled about in the venue. Kids, seniors, boys, and girls along with their parents or teammates came and I had hope for chess in the Philippines. 

In my group, we played seven rounds. I had ups and downs in the tournament and I noticed that most of the players are not like any ordinary passer-by. These people actually study the game in-depth and are trained by coaches of their respective school or clubs. I was not able to judge the playing strength of my opponents so easily which led me to make a lot of mistakes but then again, it is my first tournament and I have not been trained and monitored in my chess progress. Overall I scored 3.5 out of 7 which is fairly good but there were three players who were undefeated for most of the game until they got pitted against each other. Even then, they were still able to hold their position and drew their games so technically, they were undefeated.

What went down in my games? Well, here are some brief summaries. My first game was against an 1800-rated player and his play was very solid. I played a dreadful Sicilian against him which caused me to lose a considerable amount of material in the endgame brought about a positional inaccuracy at the beginning. These were the first few moves that we made up to the point where I made, in my opinion, a positional inaccuracy:

After a few more costly errors in the middlegame and a close endgame duel for the passed pawns, we ended the game in the following position which is a draw.

My second game was also quite tough since I battled one of the seniors who was quite strong in the 1900 ratings and pursued a tactic head-on in the beginning but the tactic actually resulted in simply gaining a pawn whilst I activated all of my pieces in the process so we had a fairly equal middlegame where I was able to exchange a pair of rooks, take control of the open c-file, and sneak my king into his kingside to control some important squares. Eventually, he made a blunder which led to a material advantage and subsequently he resigned. 

My third game was perhaps the only game where I had the clear advantage since my opponent did not know the theory of the opening which was the Benoni, my favorite with Black against the d4 openings. It was a rook endgame where I had three passed pawns - one on either end and one in the f-file - and a rook against his rook and pawn. Eventually, we each munched a pawn and had a Lucena position. One of my pawns got pushed to the seventh rank so he had to sacrifice his rook for that pawn and he resigned afterward.

My fourth game was a loss. I played the White side of the Advanced Variation of the Caro-Kann. I was able to take control of the opening and some parts of the middlegame but towards the end, I made crucial mistakes that cost me the game. Here is the critical position that led to the downward spiral and eventually, a crushing blow to my king. Being down on a lot of time, I crumbled under pressure and forfeited the game.

My fifth game was surprisingly a victory since I played the dubious Danish Gambit in a less energetic and less tactical way that gave my opponent much initiative against my king, with three of his pieces - queen, knight, and rook - threatening to capture the hapless monarch. But he blundered in an almost winning position and later on lost the endgame fight. He said after the game that he should have just played a waiting move or improved the position of his knights but alas, in his haste, he made a fatal mistake.

I was able to exchange a pair of knights and my queen for his rook and other knight to have a rook endgame where I am up a pawn. My center pawn became a monstrous passer to which he was not able to defend against and ultimately resigned the game.

For my last two games, I suffered devastating losses. The sixth game, in a symmetrical English Opening, I blundered one of my pieces in this fashion:

In my last game, since it was rather late in the night already, I simply went berserk and opened up with the King's Gambit to which I lost because I was not able to get enough compensation for the pawn and my opponent definitely defended well and attacked aggressively in the middlegame and successfully pawned me on the endgame literally. He had three passed pawns - two on the a-file and one on the c-file - and a bishop against my lone bishop. 

Playing in my first serious tournament against really strong players and being able to win some games was very fun and educational for me. My experience will not end here but I do hope that the next tournaments that I will join in, I would already be able to play stable and solid chess. Always remember to stay calm and collected and never get too carried away with a single advantage because your opponent can still get enough counterplay even though you have an opening or even middlegame advantage with no concrete attacks or threats.


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