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BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » General Gaming

Subject: Chess in the Olympics, or offering a better idea rss

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Calvin Daniels
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I write a weekly newspaper column on boardgames; generally reviews.

This week I went a different way, and I am curious to see some feedback, so read away (note this is rough first draft)....


The Summer Olympics have of course taken centre stage the last couple of weeks.

So for something a little difference, I have to comment a little on the potential of board games to be medal sports one day.

Yes it sods a bit far-fetched to me, but that does not mean efforts are not ongoing to see such eventuality.

Chess and Bridge were both among 26 sports that applied for inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Neither made it, which should not come as a major surprise.

At the same time the International Olympic Committee (IOC) does recognize chess as a sport.

And chess was an exhibition sport at Sydney in 2000.

On its own merits western, or FIDE chess, the one most of us recognize, has a rather successful international event presence.

The Chess Olympiad is a biennial chess tournament in which teams from all over the world compete. FIDE organises the tournament and selects the host nation.

The use of the name "Chess Olympiad" for FIDE's team championship is of historical origin and implies no connection with the Olympic Games.
“The first Olympiad was unofficial. For the 1924 Olympics an attempt was made to include chess in the Olympic Games but this failed because of problems with distinguishing between amateur and professional players,” details Wikipedia. “While the 1924 Summer Olympics was taking place in Paris, the first unofficial Chess Olympiad also took place in Paris. FIDE was formed on Sunday, July 20, 1924, the closing day of the 1st unofficial Chess Olympiad. FIDE organised the first Official Olympiad in 1927 which took place in London. The Olympiads were occasionally held annually and at irregular intervals until World War II; since 1950 they have been held regularly every two years.”

Anyone doubting the scale of the Chess Olumpiad need only consider the 2014 event.

“The 41st Chess Olympiad, organised by the Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE) and comprising an open and women's tournament, as well as several events designed to promote the game of chess, took place in Tromsø, Norway from 1–14 August 2014,” notes Wikipedia.

“A total number of 1,570 players participated at the Olympiad, with 881 in the men and 689 in the women's section. The number of participating teams was 177 from 172 countries in the open section and 136 from 131 countries in the women's section.”

In regard to countries participating perhaps only soccer among better know ‘sports’ would be in the same category.
Bit should chess be in the Olympics?

Frankly no.

It’s not likely to happen either.

The list of sports competing for spots in 2020 also included sports such as baseball, softball and squash, all certainly better known as sports than chess.

But is chess a sport to start with?

That depends on how broad a definition of sport you apply. One definition has sport being an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

I would argue sliding a chess rook across a board fails the ‘reasonable test’ for physical exertion.

If you were going to look at a board game fitting the broadest interpretation of the definition I would suggest carrom or crokinole fit better, both games of pure skill, with at least some level of physical action to them.

And, if chess does fit the definition, then it would seem to open the door to a legion of similar games; shogi, Arimaa, Terrace, Xiangqi, and international checkers coming to mind immediately.

It is unreasonable to expect the IOC to open the Olympics that wide, especially when a couple of dozen, and likely far more, more traditional sports are knocking at the door looking to be let in.

That said, building on the Chess Oylmpiad model, to create an event with a dozen games of physical and mental skill (leave the luck of card draws and dice rolls out of the equation), could have merit.

Let’s see; on the dexterity side of things I nominate; crokinole, carrom, rod hocket, Subbeteo (soccer).

On the abstract strategy side; chess, shogi, Xiangqi, international checkers, Arimaa, Go, Chase and Tzaar.

While I am sure this list would get much debate from dedicated gamers, it is food for thought of what could be an amazing gathering for board game players.
 
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Pete
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I think I'd watch chess if it came with proper sports-style coverage, including play by play and analysis.

Pete (likes watching poker that way)
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Calvin Daniels
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Not exactly the point. But should it be an Olympic sport ?
 
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Thom0909
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My understanding was the push for chess was all about funding. For some countries, it would mean public funding for chess. Downside: drug testing.

ADD: I vote no in the Olympics. The Chess Olympiad is a right fine event.




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Thom0909
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plezercruz wrote:
I think I'd watch chess if it came with proper sports-style coverage, including play by play and analysis.

Pete (likes watching poker that way)


There's some of this online. But the problem is it's hard to edit a chess match. TV poker is severely edited. You can remove a bunch of dull hands an not lose the plot.
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Pete
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Talisinbear wrote:
Not exactly the point. But should it be an Olympic sport ?
Using Google-Fu to try to answer, I came across this:

https://stillmed.olympic.org/Documents/Commissions_PDFfiles/...

Pete (thinks chess fits virtually all of the criteria)
 
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Thom0909
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plezercruz wrote:
Talisinbear wrote:
Not exactly the point. But should it be an Olympic sport ?
Using Google-Fu to try to answer, I came across this:

https://stillmed.olympic.org/Documents/Commissions_PDFfiles/...

Pete (thinks chess fits virtually all of the criteria)


"Good governance basic principles" might doom them. FIDE makes the guys who run boxing look respectable.
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Talisinbear wrote:
But is chess a sport to start with?

That depends on how broad a definition of sport you apply. One definition has sport being an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

I would argue sliding a chess rook across a board fails the ‘reasonable test’ for physical exertion.

That may be true for run-of-the-mill chess, but full-contact chess is extremely challenging both physically and mentally. It's a test of agility, strength and stamina, and despite the protective gear, carries a considerable risk of injury.
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Mike Jones
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E Decker wrote:
Talisinbear wrote:
But is chess a sport to start with?

That depends on how broad a definition of sport you apply. One definition has sport being an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

I would argue sliding a chess rook across a board fails the ‘reasonable test’ for physical exertion.

That may be true for run-of-the-mill chess, but full-contact chess is extremely challenging both physically and mentally. It's a test of agility, strength and stamina, and despite the protective gear, carries a considerable risk of injury.


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Chad Brown

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Here is why chess will never make the Olympics: The Olympics are an international competition celebrating PHYSICAL sports mastery. Chess is not physical and will probably never make the Olympics as a result.
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Cris Whetstone
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I was just joking the other day that the PGA must have lobbied hard to get golf back in the Olympics and wondered if NASCAR and poker were next.

Joking aside I can't really see how Chess gets in. If chess were to be included then Go should be as well. That would also open the flood gates to all manner of other table top and card games such as Backgammon and poker. The closest thing I can think of would be Curling which is very similar to some table top games and things like shuffleboard.

Then you'd have the Euro gamers making some noise.

"Today we have the gold medal round of Terra Mystica." shake gulp

The horror.
 
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Calvin Daniels
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So chess is a sport in your minds? If that is the case where is the line for it not being a sport?

Arimaa?

Hive?

Xs & Os?

Bridge?
 
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Kyle
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Chess is not, and never will, a sport. See all the other threads.
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People competed at boules in 1900. Crossboule has a BGG entry for some reason.

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15 Keys
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Hi guys. I know we are all geeks here and love our boardgames, but seriously, this whole "we are just like sports people!" inferiority complex thing has to just stop. No, chess is not a sport. No, board games are not sports. No we aren't just like athletes.

And, you know what? That's ok! We don't need validation of our hobby by comparing it to sports because, you know, we don't need validation.

And, honestly, if you compare board games (including chess) to sports to the general public, they will just laugh at you. And rightfully so.
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Greg
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Isn't this what that whole World Mind Sports Games was suppose to do? Be the Olympics of "mind sports?"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Mind_Sports_Games

They do Chess and Go and Bridge and a few others. They try to hold it around the same time as the Summer Olympics in the same city, though it looks like it was pushed back to 2017 this time.

I'm not sure if this will ever gain any serious traction, but it's nice to see an attempt being made.
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Calvin Daniels
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While I heartily agree, IOC has accepted that it is.
 
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T. Dauphin
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SolomonGrundy wrote:
Here is why chess will never make the Olympics: The Olympics are an international competition celebrating PHYSICAL sports mastery. Chess is not physical and will probably never make the Olympics as a result.


I don't know. I'm inclined to think it's because everybody realizes there's no way to cheat at chess. What drug can you take that makes you a better chess player? devil

 
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tanik wrote:
I'm inclined to think it's because everybody realizes there's no way to cheat at chess.

Absolutely! Chess is definitely immune to cheating of any kind.

(Now excuse me for a minute while I interrupt our game to go for a quick bathroom break. You don't mind if I take my smartphone with me, do you?)
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There's plenty of drugs you can take to make you better at Chess.

And as for the IOC recognizing it, that likely means they saw a way to get more bribes by including it. They'd accept gardening if they thought they could get a buck out of it.

The only reason baseball is in is because Japan has enough fields to host it. It's not just a matter of whether something is deemed a sport, it has to be practical to include in the location and timeframe as well. Chess can be hosted in a spare cafeteria between meals, so it's a candidate.

S.
 
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Calvin Daniels
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There are supposedly criteria, number of countries playing as an example.

Cricket as an example not competitive on international level from enough countries.

Lacrosse the same I suspect although indoor growing in many countries.

Certainly sports aspire to the games. It was a big things for disc sports to gain 'recognition' a step for ultimate and disc golf.
 
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Zee Deveel
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Chess Boxing is a good call lol.

Personally I think the Olympics should be limited to things that involve running, fighting, jumping, swimming and throwing. I certainly don't think golf or dressage should play any part. What's olympic about making a horse prance around?
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Barry Harvey
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s3kt0r wrote:
Isn't this what that whole World Mind Sports Games was suppose to do? Be the Olympics of "mind sports?"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Mind_Sports_Games

They do Chess and Go and Bridge and a few others. They try to hold it around the same time as the Summer Olympics in the same city, though it looks like it was pushed back to 2017 this time.

I'm not sure if this will ever gain any serious traction, but it's nice to see an attempt being made.

How about renaming it the IQlympics and automatically having the top rated boardgames included?

And not having the teams in the opening ceremony walk so far, especially carrying heavy things like flags.
 
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Garry Clarke
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Yep the Olympics are all about sports. For me sport should involve some sort of physical exercise. Chess obviously has none, but there again there are a lot of sports that have almost none, golf being a prime example, it's a game not a sport so shouldn't be in the Olympics.

I also have a problem with sports where the scoring is not cut and dried, ie not fastest, strongest, highest etc. basically any 'sport' where the scoring is based on someones opinion of how well you've done: Diving, gymnastics and that funny horse dancing thing. All very skillful and some of them require a lot of physical effort, but you can't objectively measure it.

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Desiree Greverud
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Garry wrote:
Yep the Olympics are all about sports. For me sport should involve some sort of physical exercise. Chess obviously has none, but there again there are a lot of sports that have almost none, golf being a prime example, it's a game not a sport so shouldn't be in the Olympics.

I also have a problem with sports where the scoring is not cut and dried, ie not fastest, strongest, highest etc. basically any 'sport' where the scoring is based on someones opinion of how well you've done: Diving, gymnastics and that funny horse dancing thing. All very skillful and some of them require a lot of physical effort, but you can't objectively measure it.


I agree with almost all of this, but I suspect people who dismiss golf as a sport have never actually tried to play. Funny how those who dismiss golf as "not a sport" presumably because it's not physical enough have no qualms about skeet shooting, archery or bobsled. Golf may not require strength or stamina, but it does require precision, which is a dexterity skill generally recognized as "sport"

[side note: I'm with George Carlin on this one though: Golf is boring and after hitting the ball instead of hitting it again you should pick it and go home - you're lucky you found it in the first place]
 
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