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2012 Olympiad
It might be appropriate for me to comment on this thread, if only because:

- I followed many of the Olympiad games live, both Open and Women. Although in the later stages I was away on holiday in France, I continued to do so as far as possible.
- I play almost all of my chess nowadays at incremental time controls and like many others I believe that these are the best way to encourage a higher standard of games.
- I also try to play as far as possible in FIDE-rated events myself and believe that all ‘national’ events should be FIDE-rated.

Because of the potential length of this reply, I will post it in instalments to make it more readable.
Olympiad results:

These were not much different from what we might have expected. We are probably no better or worse than we were in the past but it is an undeniable fact that much of the ‘developing’ world is now catching up with the once-dominant Europeans. This is particularly true in the Women’s game where we are now ranked below countries with comparable or smaller chess-playing populations such as Bermuda, Guatemala, Myanmar, El Salvador, Cyprus, Botswana, Zambia and Costa Rica. (Closer to home even Leichtenstein outranks us!).

Is this a vindication of the much-maligned FIDE President’s (successful?) ‘inclusive’ policy of encouraging and supporting ‘third world’ chess? I know many will see it differently—but do the attempts to re-establish the ‘old’ order include some element of outdated ‘colonialist’ attitudes? (I’m not taking a stance on this—just pointing out how others might see it).

Analysing the games themselves, there were many instances where ‘our guys’ established highly promising positions only to be outplayed later on and either drawing games which might have been won, or losing games which might have been drawn. Perhaps it was always thus but those who suggest that unfamiliarity with the incremental time controls (which give you a better chance to ’grind’ down an opponent) may have a point. So to the next posting…
Incremental Time Controls:

I was introduced to these five years ago when I first played in the Euro Senior Teams. Since then I have played them a lot, in various National and International tournaments, and I like them. The biggest difference I have found is that suddenly long-term positional and endgame play becomes very important—prior to that many games were decided by sudden tactics and/or blunders, often on or around the time control. I have had to modify my preparation and play accordingly.

A couple of days ago I witnessed the unedifying spectacle of the two strongest players in the world playing a game in Sao Paulo without increments where Carlsen made a horrific blunder and Aronian failed to spot it. Is that what chess is all about? Not for me—I would rather see a well-played endgame coming down to its logical conclusion with correct play from both sides. But now doubt some of you will disagree. Whether you do or not, the fact is that increments are here to stay, so you had better be prepared to start sharpening your endgame technique. And also to be able to ‘close out’ games and be prepared for your opponent to do likewise, given the opportunity to ‘think’ and ‘analyse’.
FIDE Rating of ‘National’ Tournaments.

To my mind this should be a no-brainer. All major international tournaments are rated this way, as well as the Scottish, the British, and most other prestigious tournaments. By playing almost exclusively FIDE-rated tournaments, I have now reached the situation where my CS grade only differs from my FIDE grade by 1 point. That is surely how it should be—both grades should be a ‘true’ reflection of current playing strength. It has now reached the stage where I will might only consider playing in a tournament if it is FIDE graded (and preferably with increments!). Most of the time that means having to play outwith Scotland.

As I recall, my club (Edinburgh) were in favour of the Richardson (which is, after all, a National Championship) being FIDE graded. Similar arguments might reasonably be applied to the SNCL.

Many players still do not have an FIDE grading, and no doubt find it difficult to get one because of the lack of opportunity. I personally find this a further source of frustration—especially when decent wins against fairly good players are discounted because they do not have a FIDE grading.

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