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[Update] Everything You Need to Know About the 2014 Chess Olympiad in Tromsø, Norway

Item 1: Chess is the best.

Chess Olympiad

UPDATE: They are livestreaming games with coverage. You can watch Round 1 right here:


Friday August 1st Today kicks off the Chess Olympiad 2014. What exactly is the Chess Olympiad? Teams from 174 countries compete for world chess dominance. It happens every two years, and it’s the fourth-largest sporting event in the world. It’s a big deal for chess nerds. Here’s everything you need to know to get on board.

You Can Watch Online

There will be 11 days of competition, and we’ll be embedding as much coverage of the event as we’re able to right here on the site for you convenient enjoyment starting Friday with the opening ceremony. Round 1 of games starts Saturday, August 2nd.

Update: We will have a second post up soon about exactly how to watch the Olympiad. So far we know that Chessdom will have live boards of all the games in both the Open and Women’s competitions. Susan Polgar has been posting videos on the official YouTube page of the Olympiad, which is where we assume any live streams will be posted.

We’ll also have a curated Twitter list of important chess figures like Polgar, Magnus Carlsen, the official Olympiad account and more.

Tromsø Is Located in the Central European Time Zone

That means they’re six hours ahead of where we are in New York. The opening ceremony starts at 7:30PM CEST, so 1:30PM EDT. You can easily compare the time zone to where you are with or similar services to keep up to date on when things are happening on your local time.

Games start at 3:00PM CEST on Saturday, August 2nd. For the full schedule of events, you can head to the Olympiad page on

How It Works

The 174 participating countries send teams of four players, plus one alternate to, the Open section. 137 of those countries are also sending teams to the Women’s section. There are 1,800 players in the event. (Countries can send multiple teams.)

Play is governed by the FIDE laws of chess, and the tournament will follow the Swiss system. Teams are being scored collectively with points awarded to each player in their respective games. One point is given for a win. Half a point is given to both players in a draw. Losers don’t get any points.


Chess-Playing Seals

According to the official information guide, there is an event with chess-playing seals. I’m currently trying to confirm whether or not this event will be livestreamed because I would very much like to see it.

Top Ten Countries by Average Rank

Top team teams (via Chessdom)

  • Going into the Olympiad, the players on the Russian teams have an average rating of 2777, almost 50 points higher than the next-highest average of 2730 in the Ukraine.
  • France is third with 2718.
  • Armenia is fourth with 2705.
  • The US has the fifth-highest average rating with 2704, and they’re being led by the 5th highest rated player in the world, Hikaru Nakamura (2787.)
  • Next is Hungary with a rating of 2702. Their team also features the top-rated female player in the world, Judit Polgar. She’s rated 2676 and is the 66th top-rated player in the world. She’s also the sister of the first Chess Triple Crown winner Susan Polgar.
  • China is seventh with 2696.
  • Azerbaijan has an average rating of 2694.
  • England’s average rating is 2682.
  • Closing out the top ten is Netherlands with 2682.

There are a lot of individual players with really strong ratings that could easily help boost a lower-average team in the rankings once play begins, but at least going into the tournament these will likely be the top teams to watch. Then there’s Norway…

Magnus Carlsen Is Leading “The Best Norwegian National Team in History”

Russia may have the highest average rating, but Norway has World Champion and Triple Crown title-holder Magnus Carlsen, the highest-rated player in the world—ever. Carlsen’s personal rating is currently 2877, a full 100 points ahead of the Russian average. He’s joined by fellow Grandmasters Simen Agdestein, Jon Ludvig Hammer, Kjetil Lie, and Leif Erlend Johannesen.

The Norway team’s average doesn’t put them in the top ten, but it’s hard to deny that Carlsen is a huge asset to team. We also probably safely assume a lot of the coverage of the event will focus on Carlsen and his team.

Looking for a Specific Country’s Team?

Here’s the official page listing all the players and teams involved in the tournament.


Like the sports Olympics, the Chess Olympiad will award medals and trophies. The trophies will be awarded to the winning teams, and the national chess federations for the winning countries will get them. Players on the winning teams will also get medals.

Individual players can win medals based on their “board” position on the team. Teams have their strongest players on “first board,” so expect that medal to go to Carlsen.

Here’s a Preview of the Opening Ceremonies

This video will play as part of the opening ceremonies of the Olympiad, which again begin at 7:30PM CEST (1:30PM EDT). We’ll have that coverage for you shortly before the event begins.

This Is a Great Opportunity To Better Understand Chess

You’ll be able to spend days watching the best players in the world competing, with what I’m hoping will be expert commentary. GMs Susan Polgar and Ramesh R.B. were joined by IMs Tania Sachdev and Lawrence Trent to provide commentary for the 2013 World Champion in Chennai, India and they did an incredibly job of covering the event in an understandable way. Hopefully the commentators for Tromsø will be just as good.

Not everyone who will be watching this event has a Grandmaster rating, and that’s something chess commentators seem to forget sometimes. It’s helpful watching such advanced players, but not if you have no idea why they make the moves they make or what their thought process might be.

Of course, you can also count on my inexperienced commentary here on the site and on Twitter as well.

(via Chess Olympiad)

Previously in chess

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Glen is a comedian, writer, husband, and father. He won his third-grade science fair and is a former preschool science teacher, which is a real job.