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Chess Olympiads in Thessaloniki
26th Chess Olympiad: Thessaloniki 1984

The 26th Chess Olympiad was held at the Thessaloniki International Fair on 18th November - 5th December, 1984. This was the first time that Greece, the country where Olympic Games originated, hosted the Chess Olympiad.

A total of 88 teams with 521 players (including 65 Grandmasters and 97 IMs) participated in the Open section. The tournament format was four board (+two reserves) teams competing over 14 rounds of Swiss system.
The World Championship marathon between Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov was in full swing in Moscow, thus USSR arrived "weakened", and other teams saw this as a chance to attack the much desired gold medal.

Nevertheless, the Soviet team proved their superiority even without the best players as they coasted to the gold medal with 41 points, leaving the second placed England four points behind.

USA won the bronze medal with 35 points, after edging the higher rated Hungary by only half a point.

USSR was represented by GM Beliavsky Alexander, GM Polugaevsky Lev, GM Vaganian Rafael, GM Tukmakov Vladimir, GM Yusupov Artur and IM Sokolov Andrei.

The Women section had 51 teams with 202 players, including 17 WGMs and 36 WIMs. The tournament format was three board (+one reserve) teams playing over 14 rounds of Swiss system.

USSR, in the lineup GM Chiburdanidze Maia, WGM Levitina Irina, GM Gaprindashvili Nona, WGM Semenova Lidia, extended the winning row by claiming their third consecutive team gold medal. The Soviets won 12 matches and drew only two for the overall score of 32 points.

Bulgaria clinched the silver medal with 27,5 points, leaving the bronze medalists from Romania only half a point behind.

Head of Organizing Committee: Mr. Kostas Laliotis (GRE)
Head of Executive Committee: Mr. Kimonas Koulouris (GRE)
Tournament Director: Mr. Giannis Maris (GRE)
Chief Arbiter: IA Božidar Kažić (YUG)

28th Chess Olympiad: Thessaloniki 1988

The 28th Chess Olympiad was held on 12th - 30th November, 1988, at the familiar venue Thessaloniki International Fair.

A total of 107 teams and 616 players, including 78 Grandmasters and 117 IMs, participated in the Open section. The tournament format was four board (+two reserves) teams competing over 14 rounds of Swiss system.

The powerful USSR team, headed by Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov, was obviously a clear pre-tournament favorite for the gold medal. The Soviets duly delivered what was expected and convincingly won the Olympiad with 40½ points. The other members of the team were Yusupov Artur, Beliavsky Alexander, Ehlvest Jaan, Ivanchuk Vassily (one of the participants in the fourth stage of Grand Prix 2013 in Thessaloniki).

The struggle for the silver medals, however, was extremely close. Going into the last round, England had 33 points, ahead of USA, Hungary and Holland, each with 32 points.

The USA were to play Hungary while England faced Holland. The USA-Hungary match was 1½-1½ with one adjourned game (Csom-Christiansen). This was finally drawn and both Hungary and the USA ended up with 34 points each.

The crunch came in the England-Holland match. If England could hold the draw 2-2 or do even better, the silver medals were their. Speelman drew with Sosonko. Short was quite lucky to tie with Van der Wiel. Nunn seemed quite lost against Van der Sterren but managed to eke out a draw. Chandler however lost to Piket and thus the Dutch won the match 2½-1½.

This put both teams at 34½ point line. Of four possible tie-break methods, three of them favoured the Dutch, but the Buchholz method used as major tie-break gave the Dutch only 455.0 compared to English 457.0. England won the silver and the Dutch had to be satisfied with the bronze.

It should be noted that GM John Nunn, who represented England on 10 occasions, won four medals in two Thessaloniki Olympiads - two team silvers, one individual gold and one individual silver. In addition, he also won the gold medal in the Olympic solving competition with 25½ pts ahead of World Champion Valtonen of Finland (23½ points) and Miladenović of Yugoslavia (21 points).

The Women section had 57 teams with 221 players, including 1 Grandmaster, 19 WGMs and 43 WIMs. The tournament format was three board (+one reserve) teams playing over 14 rounds of Swiss system.

The highlight of the event was the first appearance of the Hungarian chess phenom - Polgar sisters - who ended the 10-year long domination of the Soviets.

The young team, composed of WGM Polgár Zsuzsa, WFM Polgár Judit, WGM Mádl Ildikó and WFM Polgár Zsófia, clinched the gold medal with 33 points, leaving USSR only half a point behind.

Hungary repeated the same feat in the same lineup in next Olympiad in Novi Sad, 1990.

Yugoslavia took the bronze medal with 28 points. Their long-time top board WGM Alisa Marić is now Minister for Sport and Youth in Serbian government.

Judit Polgár scored massive 12,5 points from 13 games, winning the individual gold medal for 2nd board and gold medal for the top rating performance. Judit played in women's team in 1988 and 1990, and proceeded to make seven appearances in the Hungarian team in Open section.

Chairman of Organizing Committee: Mr. D. Sarris (GRE)
Chief Arbiter: IA Svetozar Gligorić (YUG)

Information and statistics courtesy of Wojciech Bartelski, Chrysafis Stamoudis and Christos Boussios

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