Quick Olympiad Update, Plus Dana’s Solution to World Politics

by admin on August 11, 2014

Bobby Fischer can breathe a sigh of relief. If only he were still breathing, that is. Sam Shankland isn’t going to beat his record of 19 consecutive wins, because Sam drew in round nine of the Olympiad. Still a good result for Sam — a draw as Black against a higher-rated player, Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu. The U.S. drew with Germany, and so I think it’s fair to say now that the American team is now out of the running for first place.

Two teams are tied for first with 15 points (China: 6 wins and 3 draws; France: 7 wins, 1 loss, 1 draw) and five teams are tied for third with 14 points. The U.S. is in a thirteen-way tie at 13 points, and interestingly we have the best tiebreaks in that group. This bodes well for the possibility of winning a silver or bronze on tiebreak. But first the U.S. needs to shake off the draw malaise and win its last two rounds.

When you look farther down the crosstable you find some interesting “countries” represented. The U.K. alone has Wales, Scotland, Guernsey and Jersey in addition to the main British team. The U.K. Virgin Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands are both represented, a matchup I would certainly like to see. You also have the International Braille Chess Association, the International Physically Disabled Chess Association, and the International Committee of Silent Chess. It’s kind of cool that they get to play in the same Olympics as everybody else.

One country puzzled me until I looked it up on Wikipedia, and then I learned something about world politics. There is a team called “FYROM” on the crosstable, which turns out to stand for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Most countries in the world recognize this country as the Republic of Macedonia, but Greece disputes this name because it has a province called Macedonia. Most countries in Europe agree with Greece, and they use the acronym FYROM. Negotiations over the name have gone on between Greece and Macedonia for almost twenty years, without much progress.

You might say, “Why don’t they just get over it, already?” For example, no one in the U.S. state of Georgia is bothered by the fact that there is also a country named Georgia. (And in fact, Georgia prefers its Anglicized name to its Russianized name, Gruzia, which it has asked the former Soviet bloc countries to stop using.)

Names often carry a lot of baggage. Greece feels that the name “Republic of Macedonia” encourages a pan-Macedonian element that would like to separate the Greek territory of Macedonia and make it part of the independent country of Macedonia. So it’s been a stalemate for twenty years. Similarly, “Gruzia” for Georgians reminds them of their years as a non-independent country within the Soviet Union, a memory they would rather leave in the past.

Believe it or not, this is all leading somewhere. I have a suggestion for Macedonia. I think that they should follow Georgia’s lead and Anglicize their name. Don’t you think that the Republic of McDonald’s has a great ring to it?  😉

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Edward August 22, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Generally speaking, it’s probably not a good idea to include “politics” on your chess blog. Your fans come to your blog for chess, nothing else.


Eric Kuniholm June 22, 2016 at 11:23 am

Thank you so much for writing this! I, too, was puzzled when I saw FYROM on the crosstables, and your post saved me time researching the answer. Also as members of the worldwide chess community we need to understand the context in which we play.


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