Last week somebody asked me why Belgium is playing with a rather weak team. I am pretty sure our numbers 1, 13, 15, 21 and 46 of the fide ranking will do the uttermost to perform well but very likely we would get a (much) higher ranking if we play with our best players. I try to give some explanations why our team isn't composed of only our highest rated players.
1) Few Belgians are patriotic. I don't demand we should all be chauvinistic nationalists like the French but today we see very little interest in all activities launched by our federation (with the exception of the interclub). That was once more stressed in the last Belgian championship of which I reported in holidays part 2.
2) Chess is losing ground in Belgium. Many (top-) players play very few games and can be considered as inactive. That was already covered in my article inactivity.
3) The communication of the federation to the members to find players for the olympiad could definitely be improved. I found a message about it on the site of the federation but nothing else. On the fefb-forum I wasn't surprised to read that at least 1 top-player saw this invitation too late. I strongly suspect that most players only look at the site to check their rating and the results of the interclub.
4) Finally we also miss financial support. The players don't get any bonus for wins neither some kind of salary so many top-players aren't interested. Due to the debacle of the secretary a few years ago it is very hard to get an extra budget.
Budget-wise it is of course not only our federation having difficulties. 2 weeks ago I read some troublesome news about the fide becoming possibly bankrupt (see e.g chess.com). At a much smaller scale we see many tournaments cutting their expenses. I already wrote earlier on this blog that many professionals are just trying to survive but it is not only just about the prizes. In the last Open Gent I noticed that the liveboards which I praised 2 years ago on this blog were only partly activated. However the biggest inconvenience was the omission of the fans compared to last year. As we again had hot weather this transformed the playing-hall into an oven.
To mitigate this discomfort the organizers supplied cooled water against democratic prices which many made use of. I bought each round at least 1 bottle but this had nasty repercussions in the form of extra toilet-visits. Especially if you are playing against somebody spending hardly any time then you can get into a very annoying situation. Such thing happened to me in round 2 against Wiebke Barbier, active today at the olympiad. I really needed to go to the toilet but I didn't get a chance as it was my turn to move.
Except the loss of time we also see that toiletvisits are creating often extra stress (something which I already experienced see distrust). This often escalates into conflicts as was also happening in the ongoing olympiad. Players need to inform the arbiter of their toiletvisits and the arbiter has to register them. This was not accepted by everybody. Very soon a petition was launched successfully as by round 4 we see this rule being abolished already.
A player applying some very draconian measures not or very rarely to use a toilet, is the Belgian expert Alain Talon. He told me at Open Gent that he chose not to eat at all before a game. I don't understand how he can persevere as the evening-games could last till 11 PM. Nevertheless he performed very well and achieved a nice first shared place in his rating-group. This performance could've got even more glance if he didn't suffer a very unfortunate defeat at round 4.
Both players weren't very happy about their level of play but the unfortunate intervention of the arbiter caused of course a lot of irritation. Everybody makes mistakes but the ones of an arbiter are noticed much quicker and often create also larger problems. In the same context fits also an actual funny article of our Belgian teams on the olympiad.
Earlier I wrote on my blog that chess resembles a sadistic examen but I don't want to uphold this for eating, drinking and toiletvisits. Besides I never went through an exam lasting 4 hours without a break. If we want to preserve standardchess then it is necessary to provide the players enough space not only for just the moves.