USA Olympiad Woes and Dreams

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Heading into the current Chess Olympiad in Chennai, the USA team in the Open Section were massive rating favorites. Today, with their 1-3 loss against India 2 they are all but eliminated from medal contention at all.

We can all speculate about the reasons for this severe underperformance all we like, but ultimately it boils down to poor form at the wrong time, along with some opponents who have shown quite good form. This is chess, it happens.

We can also engage in the quite enjoyable activity of Monday morning quarterbacking and speculate how a team composed of youngsters such as Xiong, Sevian, Niemann, etc. would have done. In fact, I kind of played that game earlier today with an elite GM. I also played it with another friend. It’s fun!

Let’s be honest though, all of those thoughts are fueled by hindsight. It’s easy to say that things should have been done differently once they have gone somewhat wrong. Yet had we sent a team that was not the best one we could field in terms of rating, then fans would be screaming bloody murder. So the speculation has to remain as a “what if” – or does it?

Imagine a world in which the USA bids for, and receives, an Olympiad. We can then field two teams. In fact, if there is an odd number of teams, we can even field a third. What would that look like? Now we could be taking the same action as India and seeing what our youngsters can do. Imagine USA 2, a team composed of Xiong, Sevian, Niemann, Robson, and Swiercz. USA 3, where we can get a veteran like Onischuk back at the board on a team where we could get experience for players like Yoo and Mishra.

I would love to see this dream become a reality. Let’s keep growing chess here in the US.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott