When I first saw the chess24 tweet with news that Levon Aronian will switch federations from Armenia to USA, I seriously thought it was an April Fool’s Day joke!
Then I realized it’s only February 26…
Holy Crap. Of all top players, I never expected to see Aronian transfer from Armenia. He is THE living treasure of a chess-obsessed nation.
Then I read his comments in the press release of the Saint Louis Chess Club, and understood his decision. A new governement apparently didn’t support his endeavors the way he felt they should. It reminds me of Sergey Karjakin’s transfer from Ukraine to Russia several years ago.
More Support is Good for Chess as a Whole
I’ve already seen comments online criticizing the USA and particularly Rex Sinquefield, but I’m all for top players receiving more support, no matter which country they play for.
Personally, I’m grateful for Mr. Sinquefield supporting chess the way he has over the past 10+ years. He is the single most important person in American chess since Bobby Fischer.
Aronian playing for the USA in Olympiads and World Team Championships will be…strange… but otherwise, not much will change.
Levon Aronian will always be seen as Armenian by fans worldwide. Let’s discuss the rest of Team USA:
Wesley So is still viewed as Filipino because he changed federations when he was already a 2700 player.
The case of Leinier Dominguez is very similar to that of Aronian.
Fabiano Caruana took his early steps in chess in America. I would know, he played in countless Marshall Chess Club events I directed. The first time he played in one of my tournaments, he was already a FIDE Master. This was long before he went to Europe.
Ray Robson, Sam Shankland, and Jeffery Xiong developed in the United States.
Chess doesn’t have the money of other sports, and players should find opportunities wherever they can. Those complaining on the sidelines aren’t going to pay these players’ bills.
I don’t remember how I found Olimpbase.org for the first time, but I’m so glad I did. It seems the site has not been updated for a couple of years, but I still want to bring attention to it for those who are unfamiliar with it. I’ve put it under “Product Reviews” even though it is free.
Wojciech Bartelski has compiled the definitive reference on team chess. As the name hints, it contains extensive info about Chess Olympiads played through 2016. it has not been updated for 2018, and the 2020 event has been moved to 2021.
For each Olympiad (Open and Women), Bartelski includes a summary of the event and the results. These include the standings of the teams, player results, and medal winners. Also, most of the games can be viewed in a popup window, or downloaded as a zip file!
More than Olympiads
In addition to the chess Olympiads, Olimpbase.org has compiled information about all kinds of team chess events, including:
World Team Championships
Continental Team Championships (African, Asian, European, Pan-American)
European Club Cup and various National Leauges
Student and Youth Team Championships
USSR Team Championships
Others: USSR vs. World, Mitropa Cup, Asian Cities Championship, Pan Arab Games, etc.
More than team events, too!
Olimpbase now includes many individual events as well. Examples:
The World Championship cycles (from 1886-2000)
The World Junior Championships (Open and Girls)
Continental Championships and Continental Junior Championships
National Championships of the Soviet Union and Poland
Olimpbase has another important resource…
The site contains all FIDE rating lists since the first list in January 1971 up to October 2001! You can find everything since 2001 on the FIDE website. Ratings are a big part of our game, and full rating lists provide historical context. Some interesting tidbits:
Only Fischer (1971), Karpov (1974), Tal (1980), and Kasparov (1984) achieved FIDE ratings of 2700 or above before Boris Gelfand joined them in January 1991.