The Olympic exhibition match between Viswanathan Anand and Alexey Shirov at
Athletes' Village last Sunday attracted only one member of the
International Olympic Committee, but that person probably holds the key to
chess' chances for admission as a medal event to a future Olympic Games.
Marc Hodler became well known four years ago after becoming the first IOC
member to go on the record about the extent of corruption within the
Olympic controlling body. He was muzzled by IOC President Samaranch for
being too frank but Hodler's reputation outside the IOC remains excellent.
The 82-year-old Swiss lawyer has been a bridge official for many years and
spoke before and during the Anand-Shirov match of his plans for trying to
have these mind sports included in the Games.
"Chess and bridge are partners; the two great intellectual sports. I hope
in future we will be able to include intellectual sports in the Olympic
programme," said Hodler after apologising for the absence of Samaranch from
the chess display. "We have already achieved some small steps on the road
to success: obtaining recognition by the IOC as official sports federations
and hosting some events in the Olympic Museum in Lausanne."
Hodler oversees the Winter Olympics for the IOC and has been trying to
convince the sceptical chief of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics to give
chess and bridge a try.
Hodler explained that the catalyst for change may be the need to alter the
balance between the bloated Summer Olympics (11,000 competitors) and the
Winter Olympics (2,200 participants).
"We have been trying to move some Summer Olympic sports such as fencing or
basketball to the Winter Olympics," said Hodler. "However that usually
involves the host city building new [stadia]. With chess and bridge all
you need is ballroom or a theatre, so chess and bridge are much cheaper for
The reasoned tone of Hodler's arguments contrasted sharply with the
inflated language used by FIDE President Kirsan Iljumzhinov. The Kalmyk
leader talked of half a billion chessplayers worldwide - a dodgy figure
even including Chinese chess - and his optimism for chess' rapid admission
to the Olympics.
However, as Hodler made clear, the most chess can expect before 2006 is a
Sydney-style exhibition which, while entertaining for those lucky enough to
be admitted to the Athletes' Village Amphitheatre, was as much a part of
the Sydney Olympics as the rock concert which preceded it.
The strongest ACT Championship on record saw favourite Vladimir Smirnov
forced into third place behind Ian Wright and Kazimir Kolossovski. The
following game was perhaps the most important of the tournament.
1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5 Ne4 3.Bh4
Smirnov's pet variation, but Wright is well prepared.
3...c5 4.f3 g5 5.fxe4 gxh4 6.e3 Bh6 7.Kf2 cxd4 8.exd4 e5! 9.Nf3 Nc6 10.Nc3
Smirov haa also tried 10.c3, without success.
10...exd4 11.Nd5 Be3+ 12.Ke1 d6 13.Bc4
The bishop proves exposed on c4. The immediate 13.c3 was necessary.
13...Bg4 14.c3 h3! 15.gxh3 Bh5 16.Nxe3? dxe3 17.Qd5? Ne5!
Since 18.Nxe5 loses to 18...Qh4+, White must now lose a piece and the game.
18.Rf1 Bxf3 19.Be2 Qh4+ 20.Kd1 Bxe2+ 21.Kxe2 0-0-0 22.Kxe3 Qxh3+ 23.Ke2
Rhg8 24.Rf2 Rg2 25.Raf1 Qf3+ 0-1
Leading final scores:
1. Wright, Kolossovski 7.5/9;
3. Smirnov 6.5;
5eq. P.Jovanovic, De Gier, Bliznyuk 5.5.