34th Chess Olympiad: Istanbul 2000

<< [ Information || The final group || Statistics || Women's Olympiad ] >>


[ Basic data | Tournament review | Individual medals | Interesting games | Trivia | Books | Missing data ]

Basic data

34th Chess Olympiad
(see all-time tournament summary)
Date: 28th October - 12th November 2000
City: Istanbul, Turkey
Venue: The Istanbul Convention & Exhibition Centre (Rumeli Fair)
President of Organizing Committee: Mr. Emrehan Halici (TUR)
Chairman of Executive Committee: Mr. Sinan Erdem (TUR)
Chief Arbiter: IA Geurt Gijssen (NED)
Teams participating: 126 (incl. Turkey "B"); Nicaragua, Mauritania, Djibouti and Nigeria didn't arrive.
Players participating: 768 (incl. 197 GMs, 155 IMs and 68 FMs)
Games played: 3528 (at least 14 games were forfeited)
Competition format: Four board 14 round Swiss.
Final order decided by: 1. Game points; 2. Buchholz; 3. Match points
(there are some discrepancies in the final order of some lower placed teams in the official final standings table)
Time control: 40 moves in 100 minutes, then 20 moves in 50 minutes, then 10 minutes for the rest of the game. 30 second increment per move.
Official logo: ISTANBUL 2000
Website: http://www.istanbulchessolympiad.com (cached only)
Other websites: Team Barbados at the Olympiad
Indian diary for men's and wome's team
Ukraine's chess-sector
Alex Baburin's extensive diary
Sam Sloan's blog with lot of issues
Mark Orr's report on Irish teams
Scottish team at the Olympiad
Olympiad report [in Dutch]
Teleschach report [in German]
Downloadable game file: 00olm.zip

Tournament review

Istanbul, the Queen of the Megapolis', situated on two continents (Europe and Asia) who hosted three world Empires - East Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman - as the capital, today's biggest and busiest city of the modem Republic of Turkey (though it is not the capital), has witnessed many important gatherings, events, meetings throughout her history of 2000 years. Now Istanbul was once more witnessing another important event, the 34th Chess Olympiad. The record number of participating countries - 129! - had also the chance to enjoy this beautiful city with its historical palaces, mosques, churches, castles and as well as the natural beauties like the Bosphorus. The organizers have made it clear that they were bidding for the Summer Olympics for the year 2008. This Chess Olympiad was essentially a trial run. No problem with that, considering that the chess players were the great beneficiaries.

The fabulous Blue MosqueRussia were the top seeds. Even without Kasparov, Kramnik, Bareev and Karpov they were still a great team lead by Khalifman and promising youngster Grischuk. England looked very good too ranked on average just 13 ELO points behind the leaders - with Adams, Short and Hodgson at top boards. Ukraine set up their unique duo (Ivanchuk and Ponomariov) at boards #1 and #2. Another team to potentially threaten the Russians was Hungary (Lékó, Almási, Polgár). The US team were seeded 7th. Armenia, who won European Team Championship in 1999 were seeded down in 11th (Vaganian, Lputian, Minasian). Germany were lying down in 12th and hardly anyone expected them to reach medal zone. The most intriguing newcomers were from Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), because shortly after Myanmar joined the World Chess Federation only a few years earlier almost all of their previously unknown top players established ratings of over 2600, which put them in the world class, but by only playing games against each other. This caused a crisis in the World Chess Rating List and a number of decisions were made which had the effect of reducing their ratings by over one hundred points. Suat Atalik, Turkey's only grandmaster decided finally to leave Turkish team and join Bosnia & Herzegovina (a land of his great-grandparents) due to long standing problems with the Turkish Chess Federation, starting in 1993, when he was punished for playing in Tilburg when they wanted him to play elsewhere. However due to formal problems he was not able to play for his new country leaving the hosts with a virtually impossible task of beating their Olympic all-time best position (33rd in 1968).

Ilumzhinov makes first move in Russia-Morocco matchAs usual the first round pairings at the Olympiads are one sided, but because of huge number of games a few surprises may happen. The biggest one was that USA dropped 1½ points to Turkey (Nick de Firmian lost). England, Israel, Ukraine, China and Netherlands dropped half of point each and were all lying in joint 34th, as 33 matches ended with a clear 4-0 on day 1.

Round 2 saw some tough clashes. All games in the match Denmark-Netherlands were drawn. Finland beat Belarus 2½-1½ and England dropped a point to Costa Rica (Julian Hodgson lost). This result could be even worse but Michael Adams managed to win an inferior rook ending. Hungary beat Burma 4-0 and were the only team on perfect 8/8 score as Russia beat Italy 3½-½ (Grischuk drew against Belotti). Georgia barely halved vs underestimated Canada and Spain managed Turkmenistan by the lowest margin possible (Vallejo lost to Ovezov).

The tournament hallIn round 3 the courageous Hungarian team scored big time and beat the pre-tournament favourites Russia. Lékó beat Khalifman (again!) while others drew to bring Hungary 2½-1½ win. They were sharing the lead with Germany, who beat Moldova 3-1. A disappointing result for Russia who again found themselves lagging behind the leaders. But the Russian team had always a good history of catching up. Krishnan Sasikiran, the Indian prodigy, aged 19, drew Nigel Short of England, but the Indians lost 2½-1½. Nick De Firmian was let back on the American team in spite of his disastrous loss in round one, and just in time, too, as he defeated Artūrs Neikšāns of Latvia, enabling the USA to win by 2½-1½, while Slovakia unexpectedly beat powerful Armenian team with the same score. Standings: Hungary and Germany 10½; Israel, Cuba, France, Slovakia and Brazil (4-0 over Iran) 9½.

All of top teams remained still rather closely packed after day 4, and those that were lagging behind would probably make up for it by having the privilege to face weaker teams in the next couple of rounds. The German team took the lead in the tournament by defeating the heavily favoured Hungarians 3-1. Dautov and Luther were the German winners in the match, beating Polgár and Portisch respectively. Israel were fortunate enough to face Cuba, thus getting "easy" points through a 3-1 victory. Russia moved into third place together with Ukraine (4-0 vs Australia) and the surprise team Brazil who beat Slovakia 2½-1½. Russia managed the same result against France although it looked that the score could be even higher as Khalifman failed to convert his considerable advantage. The Netherlands and England drew all four games. The disappointment teams until then were the Chinese and the Americans. On day 4 USA lost to India 3-1 and the Chinese team only managed an equal score against Poland.

Olympic veterans: Kortschnoj and SosonkoGermany beat Israel 3-1 in the top match of round 5 to become the sole leader. That result was surprising, as Israel looked like a stronger team. Russia moved into runner-up position having defeated Brazil convincingly by 3½-½ with Morozevich as the only non-winner. Hodgson's familiar Trompowski opening was a good try and he led England to a nice win over Yugoslavia. Ukraine beat Switzerland at table 3 but only by 2½-1½ - less than they expected. Hungary proved equal with the tournament surprise team India, who could be even stronger had only Anand change his mind and join the team. Lékó beat Sasikirian, but Almási lost against Kunte. Spain scored 2-2 against the Netherlands. Shirov crushed Wan Wely on board one with the fashionable Perenyi "take my pieces" Sicilian. Slovakia trashed overrated Myanmar to move into third. Armenia ran over Turkmenistan and took 5th spot. The matches were very tight: until round 6 as much as ten teams remained unbeaten!

Round six proved to be a real drawing round, in as far as match results are concerned, and many of the top players took a rest as well. There were no changes at the top of the leader board. Hungary and Israel moved up after getting 3 game points each from the round, beating the Czech Republic and Spain respectively. The leading teams Germany and Russia faced each other. Jussupow and Khalifman drew first, and other followed suit later. Ukraine and Slovakia also drew all four games. England had a "rest" day against Denmark: 4 extremely quick draws. Veselin Topalov beat Vaganian in a rarely fierce top match Armenia - Bulgaria, where all games were decisive. USA moved slightly up the table defeating Poland 2½-1½.

Bulgaria-IndiaThe eight day of the Olympiad was preceded by the rest day. After a day-off it was logical to see some hard-fought matches and this was indeed the case in round 7. The Dutch team were the big winners of the day after a confident 3½-½ score against Georgia. By virtue of this result thee Dutch joined the group of teams who were lying in 3rd after first half of the tournament. Germany drew their match with Slovakia (all four games drawn). The same thing happened in the Russia-Israel match (some claimed this was really Russia-USSR clash: indeed, Gelfand and Smirin originated from Belarus, Avrukh came from Kazakhstan, Psakhis came from Russia, Sutovsky was from Azerbaijan while Huzman represented Ukraine before). Ivanchuk grinded the win against Lékó in the Ukraine - Hungary match to equalize Portisch's win and Ukraine went on for a 2-2 draw. Armenia outclassed the surprise team Denmark with comfortable 3-1. Anastasian and Asrian decided the match on the two lower boards. In the match Croatia-England, Adams beat Chilean expatriate Morović but Miles lost to Šulava and the overall match result was a tie. In one of the top games on today's round Shirov beat Fedorov in a Sveshnikov Sicilian to lead Spain to a 3-1 win over Belarus. The Philippine team overclassed China in the all-Asian match. Switzerland were another stars of the day as they destroyed Chile by 4-0. Standings in the halfway: Germany 20½; Russia 19½; Slovakia, Switzerland, Armenia and Netherlands - 19 all.

In the Netherlands-Germany match, the top clash of day 8, the German top player Jussupow beat Van Wely who gave away his Queen for Bishop and Rook. Germany collected 3 points from that match, which is exactly what the Russian team had done earlier on that day against Slovakia. These two teams kept the top positions. England were one of the big favourites going into the Olympiad, but in round 8 they saw another limp draw as they barely halved vs Poland. Armenia modestly beat Switzerland. Hungarian prodigy Judit Polgár added another scalp to her collection, demolishing Smirin in the Israel-Hungary clash to level match result after Sax's lost and lead Hungary to a well-deserved 2-2. USA made up for part of a lost ground, beating Brazil 3-1. But the Americans would have tough task ahead of them as they had not yet met all the strongest teams. Ukraine and Bulgaria moved up the table impressively winning 3½-½ both.

FIDE congress held concurrently with the OlympiadIn round 9 Bulgaria, lead by Topalov, who performed very good in the first half of the tournament, caused major upset as they beat Russia 2½-1½. Topalov and Kiril Georgiev won their games at top boards and Russia only scored one as revenge (Grischuk beat Kolev at board 4). This already became unfortunate tradition as the Russians lost to Bulgaria already in 1994 and 1998! Germany suffered their first defeat as well losing to Ukraine 1½-2½. Child prodigy and future FIDE World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov was the winner of the only decisive game in that match. Armenia caught up with the leading Germany by disposing of Spain 3½-½. Hungary beat the weakened French side 3-1.

Russia were the big winners of round 10, the election day in US. By crushing Romania with a perfect score the Russians took the lead in the tournament. Germany beat Armenia. Jussupow and Dautov continued with their winning ways while Luther lost to Anastasian to set up the final result 2½-1½. Ukraine beat Bulgaria with Ivanchuk and Topalov drawing their game on board one. Peter Lékó beat Seirawan in the Hungary-USA match. Seirawan had to give a Knight to free his trapped Queen after being pushed into a passive position in a Caro-Kann game. Nick De Firmian equalled the match on board 4. Israel drew Denmark who had three Hansens in the squad! This was Denmark's fourth match of four draws. Standings after 10 rounds were as follows: Russia 28; Germany 27½; Ukraine 27; Armenia 26½; Hungary and Bulgaria 25½.

Irish team short before the round startsRussia took a firm grip on the winners' trophy by beating their main rivals the Ukraine on the 11th round. Rublevsky turned out to be the Russian hero of the day when he beat Romanishin on board 4. Other games were drawn but not without interest. Morozevich sacrificed his rooks for Ponomariov's queen, but the game was drawn by a perpetual check. In the Germany - Bulgaria match Kiril Georgiev decided the match to the Bulgarians by beating Dautov on board 2 after the German got into dire straits with his back rank. Hungary moved up the table again. On day 11 they beat the strong Armenian team - Judit Polgár was their winner (again). Israel vs Bosnia went on for a draw. USA and England, pre-tournament big wigs won their matches 2½-1½, apparently not enough to reach the medal zone.

Round 12 saw the demise of the Armenian team, who had been very solid until now. But the Armenia-Russia match score was desolate: 3½ for Russia and a mere draw for the Armenians. FIDE World Champion Khalifman coolly collected Lputian's white pawns with his Queen and then exchanged Queens in a two plus pawns position. Germany beat the poorly performing team USA to decisively deny American hopes for medal. Jussupow and Hübner took the points for the Europeans. The Ukraine vs the Netherlands match was a draw on all four boards whereas Hungary defeated Bulgaria. Polgár was the only breadwinner in the team as she dissembled her hanging pawns in the right moment against Delchev. The awaited encounter on top board between Topalov and Lékó was drawn after an unusual ending: Queen for Lékó, Rook, Bishop and pawn for Topalov. Israel, Bosnia & Herzegovina and England retained some chances for a medal after 3-1 results. With two rounds to go standings were: Russia 34, Germany 32, Hungary and Ukraine 30½; Israel, Bulgaria, Bosnia, England 29½.

Germany-EnglandIt was not a hard day at the office for Russia on Friday's penultimate round. Even though there was an official free day scheduled on Saturday before the final round, the Russians took no risks and agreed to 4 quick draws against England. The total number of moves for the leading team was 53. Hungary did not ease up as they still had their sights at silver medals. Hungary climbed to 3rd spot beating the under-form Netherlands 3-1. Germany were still lying in second after beating the Bosnians 2½-1½. Kurajica of Bosnia went for complications against Dautov, and wound up just a piece down very soon. Israel drew Ukraine in a match of four draws while China's tie against Armenia was a sum of four decisive games. Georgia wiped out Bulgaria 3½-½ with Topalov the only Bulgarian not losing. Yugoslavia's 4-0 over Turkmenistan was a bit too late perhaps, same as FYR Macedonia's impressive final spurt (8/8 in last two rounds) that only let them up to tied 11th. Standings after round 13: Russia 36; Germany 34½; Hungary 33½ (and playing relatively weak Slovenia); Ukraine 32½; Georgia 32; Israel and England 31½.

There was no high drama on the final round of the Olympiad. Russia only needed a decent score from the final match against Georgia, and the match was soon drawn on all four boards. The battle for second place was tighter, but a solid performance from the Germans secured them the silver medals in the match against England. Hübner drew an unusual ending against Short: three pawns and Knight against Rook and Knight. Dautov sealed up a wonderful tournament performance with a win against Hodgson. Germany won 2½-1½ anyway and came second as Hungary could only manage a draw against Slovenia, which allowed the Ukrainian team to catch up with them after thumping 3-1 effort over Bosnia & Herzegovina. Ukraine were given bronze medals by virtue of extra 2 Buchholz points. Israel beat Yugoslavia 3-1 and came fourth, a fraction ahead of Georgia. A group of seven came in joint 7th with 33 points. Those were lead by England and India. Switzerland's 3-1 over Holland puffed them into top 10.

Winners at the podiumAs for individual results, Alexander Morozevich received a trophy as the player who showed the highest rating performance in Istanbul. He and another Russian prodigy Grischuk led Russia to another Olympic gold. FIDE World Champion Khalifman scored only 50% at top board. Germany, definitely the biggest surprise of the event and one of most unexpected medal winners ever seen, showed good fighting spirit and team consolidation. Dautov's result was third best according to ELO performed. 17-year old Ponomariov of Ukraine had a very good result winning individual gold medal. He and Ivanchuk at board 1 contributed mostly for Ukraine's medal. Hungary came fourth just unlucky to miss the medal. Polgár and Lékó performed really well, unfortunately others did not do so. Israel (only 4 game loses!) and Georgia were very good, but simply not good enough to finish better than 5th and 6th respectively. England's 7th was very lucky given they were lying in 8th with two rounds to go where they scored 3½/8. Armenia at 17th were some disappointment but that is just a piece of cake compared to disastrous performance by USA (26th) and the Netherlands - who finished down in 33rd! Turkey, a country with a lot of tournaments and plenty of talented youths finished in 62th, so obviously they needed yet some time to level with World's best nations.

The closing ceremony in the evening was quite spectacular. After the speeches and prize giving there was about an hour of music, dance and spectacular costumes from Turkey's rich cultural heritage. The favourite piece, most agreed, was the swirling dervishes - about a dozen men, some young, some old, who came on stage dressed in lose fitting white robes. When the music started each dancer began rotating on the spot at a fairly fast rate. They extended their arms and tilted their heads to the side, and their robes billowed out. Somehow they managed to keep their center of gravity stationary and appeared to be in some kind of trance. They kept this up for quite some time, maybe as much as 5 minutes, and then suddenly the music stopped, they stopped rotating and walked off stage. Not one of them fell over or even looked dizzy. Amazing!

/Based on reports by Alexander Baburin and Sam Sloan/

Individual medals

Best Rating Performance
no. name flag code ELOp
1. GM Morozevich, Alexander Russia RUS 2804
2. GM Topalov, Veselin Bulgaria BUL 2797
3. GM Dautov, Rustem Germany GER 2788

1st Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. GM Utut Adianto Indonesia INA 9 83.3
2. IM Simutowe, Amon Zambia ZAM 8 10 80.0
3. GM Kasimdzhanov, Rustam Uzbekistan UZB 12 79.2

2nd Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. GM Ponomariov, Ruslan Ukraine UKR 11 77.3
2. GM Spraggett, Kevin Canada CAN 9 12 75.0
3. GM Morozevich, Alexander Russia RUS 10 75.0

3rd Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. IM Jacimović, Dragoljub FYR Macedonia MKD 7 9 77.8
2. Zambrana, Oswaldo Bolivia BOL 7 9 77.8
3. GM Dautov, Rustem Germany GER 11 77.3

4th Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. GM Anastasian, Ashot Armenia ARM 9 12 75.0
2. Mannhart, Marcel Liechtenstein LIE 9 12 75.0
3. GM Soćko, Bartosz Poland POL 8 11 72.7

1st Reserve Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. IM Moussa, Taleb United Arab Emirates UAE 6 7 85.7
2. IM Kadhi, Hamid Mansour Ali Yemen YEM 8 81.3
3. Byambaa, Zulzaga Mongolia MGL 7 78.6

2nd Reserve Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. GM Barsov, Alexei Uzbekistan UZB 7 78.6
2. Wondimu, Dawit Ethiopia ETH 7 78.6
3. GM Grischuk, Alexander Russia RUS 10 75.0

Category Prizes
cat. country pts
2 India 33
3 Finland 30
4 Faroe Islands 28
5 Angola 26½

Those are prizes given in separate categories for best teams within selected seeding numbers. It is unclear why category 1 was ommited. Also, seedeng ranges applicable for each category are not known.

Interesting games

Smirin had simply no time to breeze.
Polgár, Judit (HUN) - Smirin, Ilia (ISR) 1 - 0

A thunderstruck!
Why couldn't Black recapture white piece on his 28th move?
Movsesian, Sergei (CZE) - Bauer, Christian (FRA) 1 - 0

Beliavsky is well-known from his perfect endgame technique.
RvB is theoretical draw, but not always easy to extricate!
Lékó, Péter (HUN) - Beliavsky, Alexander (SLO) ½ - ½

Black conducted well this interesting ending.
Camilleri, Henry (MLT) - De Silva, Nuwan (SRI) 0 - 1

Is white Queen lost? Seemingly yes, but this was just cute trick.
White lost the game anyway.
Vescovi, Giovanni (BRA) - Sakaev, Konstantin (RUS) 0 - 1

A rather crazy one where plenty of pieces were hanging
and nobody took care.
Shirov, Alexei (ESP) - Van Wely, Loek (NED) 1 - 0

Black sacrificed a piece to open the h-file for attack.
Unfortunately this did not pay the rent.
Abbasifar, Hasan (IRI) - Mohamed, Samir (SYR) 1 - 0

A game worth hundreds of hours of deep analyses.
Dautov, Rustem (GER) - Lputian, Smbat (ARM) 1 - 0

Nice technique from Xu, who played the final BvB part
of the game quickly and flawlessly.
Xu Jun (CHN) - Nielsen, Peter Heine (DEN) 1 - 0

White lost the plan somewhere in the midgame.
Van der Sterren, Paul (NED) - Dautov, Rustem (GER) 0 - 1

Intuitive rook sac proved extremely hard to refute.
Ganbold, Odondoo (MGL) - Banikas, Hristos (GRE) 1 - 0

A typical game of 2700 players: series of seemingly
deep manoeuvres and suddenly - bang! Game over.
Ivanchuk, Vasyl (UKR) - Lékó, Péter (HUN) 1 - 0

Unusual material imbalance but Black held perpetual check.
Topalov, Veselin (BUL) - Lékó, Péter (HUN) ½ - ½

White pieces were bustling with activity while Black was totally squeezed.
Gelfand, Boris (ISR) - Shirov, Alexei (ESP) 1 - 0

White took control over white squares whereas Black took black squares.
Ivanchuk, Vasyl (UKR) - Topalov, Veselin (BUL) ½ - ½

With balanced material White's major prevalence
was "good" Knight vs "bad" Bishop.
Lékó, Péter (HUN) - Khalifman, Alexander (RUS) 1 - 0

One cannot let white Knight take up c6 outpost in Queen's Indian.
Dautov, Rustem (GER) - Polgár, Judit (HUN) 1 - 0

White's poor opening play let black Bishop pin the a1-h8 diagonal all along.
Vaganian, Rafael (ARM) - Topalov, Veselin (BUL) 0 - 1

Weakening d5 on Black's 16th turned out to be impossible to work out.
Seirawan, Yasser (USA) - Damljanović, Branko (YUG) 1 - 0

Shortest decisive game.
Sharavdorj, Dashzeveg (MGL) - Gruska, Vladimir (SMR) 1 - 0

Black Rook engaged in a Queenside rout and failed to defend the King's position.
Vaganian, Rafael (ARM) - Shirov, Alexei (ESP) 1 - 0

Exposed pawn may cramp opponent's position but is also vulnerable for attack.
Rossi, Carlo (ITA) - Sakaev, Konstantin (RUS) 0 - 1

Black could well take a draw but he took the risk
and was knocked down on White's 34th move.
Al Modiahki, Mohamad (QAT) - Baburin, Alexander (IRL) 1 - 0

Files open for attack and three pawns are usually ample compensation for a piece.
Gwaze, Robert (ZIM) - Cueto Chajtur, Johnny (BOL) 1 - 0


A couple of minutes after all the games of round 2 had started a most unusual thing happened. An announcement was made that a problem had developed with the computer systems monitoring the games for the live internet transmission and everybody in the playing hall was asked to return their pieces to the starting position and begin again.

The players reacted with a mixture of astonishment and amusement but dutifully returned their pieces back to the start and waited for about twenty minutes until the technicians had resolved the problem. Some of the arbiters were looking uncomfortable, probably because they were worrying what they were going to do if anyone decided to change their moves after the restart - there are no rules to cover this situation. Apparently a dispute did in fact arise in one of the women's matches where there was much whispered discussion and pointing at score sheets.


Noteworthy firsts: for the first time ever two women were playing on the top seven men's teams. For Judit Polgár it was a bit of a step down as that year she was playing on board three. However for 21-year-old Antoaneta Stefanova to play on board six of the strong Bulgarian team was a great accomplishment.


Two teams from the Philippines came to compete. There was "the right team" and "the wrong team". The "new" Philippines Chess Federation was started by a Campomanes group, whereas the old established Philippines Chess Federation was led by Art Borjal. Thanks to the support of FIDE authorities the voting decided that the Campomanes' group was considered to be official Philippine representation.