28th Chess Olympiad: Thessaloniki 1988

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Basic data

28th Chess Olympiad
(see all-time tournament summary)
Date: 12th - 30th November 1988
City: Thessaloniki, Greece
Venue: The Thessaloniki International Fair
Chairman of Organizing Committee: Mr. D. Sarris (GRE)
Chief Arbiter: IA Svetozar Gligorić (YUG)
Teams participating: 107 (incl. Greece "B"; Chile did not arrive)
Players participating: 616 (incl. 78 GMs, 117 IMs, 1 WIM and 54 FMs)
Games played: 2956 (4 games were forfeited)
Competition format: Four board 14 round Swiss.
Final order decided by: 1. Game points; 2. Buchholz; 3. Match points
Time control: 40 moves in 2 hours, then 1 hour for each next 20 moves
Downloadable game file: 88olm.zip
Special thanks to Christos Boussios for the data.

Tournament review

The 28th Olympiad was held in Thessaloniki - again after 4 years. The experience gained in 1984 paid a rent. A total of 107 teams arrived, including Israel banned from Dubai Olympiad. Unlike 1984 and 1986 virtually all the strongest players came to Greece apart from Timman and Spraggett maybe, who were in preparation for WCh candidates matches. The seeding was 1. USSR, 2. England, 3. Hungary. The USSR team was lead by two K's (like in Dubai) making them fully-fledged favourites for gold. England, who took silver at last two Olympiads were seeded 2nd - exactly where they were expected to finish by anyone. Hungary were hoping to come back to their successes from earlier Olympiads and their ticket to heaven was a superb trio: Portisch, Sax, Ribli followed by another strong three. USA were lying in 4th according to ELO ranking. Perhaps there were aiming at fitted third again (this time Seirawan at top board). Yugoslavia had Ljubojević in the squad but no Gligorić - enough for medal? East Germany came at the Olympiad for the first time since 1972. Holland seemed reasonably weaker than in the past.

The games started on November 13th. There were some individual upsets in the very beginning. Csom of Hungary lost to an Irish player as well as Israeli's #1 Greenfeld to a Barbados' team leader. Ehlvest barely drew vs Akil of Syria (!). On the next day England beat the host team by narrow margin and USA barely halved against underestimated Chinese. Seirawan conceded a 191-move draw vs Xu on that day. The Soviet Union beat the Philippines 3-1 and Hungary wiped out Greece "B" with a cold blooded 4-0. Romania and Peru (!) were the only teams to score a perfect 8/8. The Romanians took the lead after round 3 as they defeated Peru at board 1 by 3-1. Hungary-Czechoslovakia was a brisk 2-all draw. Soviet Union made up for a lost ground hammering Argentina 4-0. But it was China-Yugoslavia 3-1 that was unanimously considered as an upset of the day (no draws!). On the next day the Soviets crushed Romania to take the sole lead at last. Bulgaria beat Australia and rose up to 2nd place. Hungary defeated Spain 3-1 as well as Czechoslovakia who played China. USA were unhappy to see their team being humiliated by audacious Denmark. USSR extended their lead to 2½ points as they beat Iceland 3-1 and Bulgaria lost to Hungary. England finally joined the chasing group as they ran over Romania neatly. In round 6, USSR met their closest rival England. This big fight turned into a big win when the super big K's beat Short and Speelman while Ehlvest and Ivanchuk drew the other two games. Hungary most unexpectedly lost to Sweden, who took 2nd position, and we had seen the newcomers from East Germany to climb into the medal zone after they had beaten Cuba. On the next day USSR hardly drew vs surprising Sweden, boosting Viking's morale so they became major favourites for silver. East Germany-USA and Yugoslavia-Bulgaria were both draws, yet not without fight. Hungary and England recovered (not fully though) defeating Asian duo, namely Indonesia and India. Poland suffered 0-4 debacle vs West Germany, sort of disappointment even considering they were far from their pre-War achievements. It was Soviet Union who were in clear lead in the halfway ahead of Sweden who had yet an extra one point advantage over the chasing group including set of major teams as Hungary, Yugoslavia or Holland.

Round 8, scheduled on November 21st brought USSR-Yugoslavia clash at top table and it was Kasparov who sealed Soviet's win. East Germany beat West Germany in an intestine fight of the day. USA earned clear 3 points from their match vs Norway. England murdered Switzerland 3½-½ - Short beat Kortschnoj at board 1. Denmark hit the jackpot of the day wiping out Scotland 4-0 to move then up into tied 6th. On the next day the dream "K" duo secured modest win over mighty Americans. England collapsed Swedish hopes for medals with an undisputed 3-1 paving their way to silver. Hungary beat East Germany and the rest of top matches were draws. On the next day Hungary extricated with 4 draws vs USSR while England killed off East Germany who dropped down to 8th. Yugoslavia entered the medal zone because of confident 3-1 win over Sweden; they tied on points with USA and the Netherlands, who ran over West Germany. Next round saw a quick 4-all draw in a USSR vs Netherlands match. England-USA were also four draws but at least it took full 5 hours of play. Hungary beat Yugoslavia convincingly. East Germany continued their downward plunge losing to Denmark by 3-1. Philippines found their way to the top 10 beating Indonesia 3½-½. On the next day the Soviets defeated Denmark and England virtually crunched desperate Hungarians earning clear advantage over the chasing group with two rounds to come. Standings: USSR 34, England 31, 1½ point ahead of the rest. In penultimate round Soviet Union sealed their gold medals beating 3-1 Bulgaria. England surprisingly drew Philippines (three brisk draws and Chandler's unsuccessful efforts to beat Barcenilla), Hungary destroyed China and USA hold their medal hopes defeating Yugoslavia.

The USSR won the championship in convincing style, with a total of 40½ points. In the last round they crushed Czechoslovakia 3½-½. 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 halve 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. The USA stayed in tied 4th together with Hungary, disappointing for both teams. Yugoslavia finished in 6th place ahead of the Philippines and China (all-time best for both Asian teams). Argentina were back in top 10 - after 12 years of struggle. Tied 12th was a par for Sweden, huge disappointment for Czechoslovakia and intense success for the Italians. Both German teams were lying in tied 15th. Bulgaria and Romania were already suffering crisis of communist block - both outside top 20.

It was USSR again to enjoy the power of play of the K's duo in their prime. England took second spot, not without problems though. Their experienced squad, based as usual on Short, Speelman, Nunn and Chandler seemed probable to threaten the Soviets, but they never looked like it. Nunn produced best individual performance and Chandler was a real disappointment (5/11). Underestimated Holland tore the bronze medals out from the Americans - it wasn't certainly neither Sosonko nor Van der Wiel, their #2 and #1 respectively, who contributed most to the success since they scored an overall of +2-1=19! Fortunately the rest lead by Piket were more vigorous. They only conceded one loss - vs Iceland, who did poorly this time, by the way. Benjamin's excellent play was not ample compensation for what Seirawan and Gulko had lost. That is why the Americans had to be satisfied with tied 4th. Portisch for Hungary (this was his 16th Olympiad - an all-time record at the time) played as in his prime, but his teammates did not. From other teams, Torre lead Philippines to a lifelong success and Argentina's 10th place based mainly on 2nd res. Gómez Baillo's performance. Venezuela won two individual medals - but no one apart from the two managed to exceed 50% line. Chaivichit of Thailand produced best percentage performance (8/9) but his opposition can hardly be called serious.

The next Olympiad was to be held in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia.

Individual medals

Best Rating Performance
no. name flag code ELOp
1. GM Kasparov, Garry Soviet Union URS 2877
2. GM Karpov, Anatoly Soviet Union URS 2800
3. GM Portisch, Lajos Hungary HUN 2767

1st Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. GM Kasparov, Garry Soviet Union URS 10 85.0
2. GM Portisch, Lajos Hungary HUN 11 77.3
3. FM Atalık, Suat Turkey TUR 10 75.0

2nd Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. GM Karpov, Anatoly Soviet Union URS 8 10 80.0
2. IM Palacios, António Venezuela VEN 7 9 77.8
3. IM Mirza, Shahzad Pakistan PAK 10 75.0
3. Senkiewicz, Mike British Virgin Islands IVB 9 12 75.0

3rd Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. Reyes Nájera, Carlos Antonio Guatemala GUA 10 75.0
2. GM Nunn, John Denis Martin England ENG 12 70.8
3. Tapaszto, Laszlo Venezuela VEN 9 13 69.2
3. IM Marin, Mihail Romania ROM 9 13 69.2
3. Hernández, Gustavo Sevillano Dominican Republic DOM 9 13 69.2

4th Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. FM Chaivichit, Suchart Thailand THA 8 9 88.9
2. Gueye, Gorgui Senegal SEN 12 79.2
3. Battikhi, Husein Jordan JOR 7 9 77.8
3. FM Weemaes, Ronald Belgium BEL 7 9 77.8

1st Reserve Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. IM Arlandi, Ennio Italy ITA 7 78.6
1. Vásquez, Eduardo El Salvador ESA 7 78.6
3. Saleh, Najib Mohamed United Arab Emirates UAE 10½ 14 75.0
3. Capella, Rurik Netherlands Antilles AHO 6 8 75.0

2nd Reserve Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. FM Rahman, Tahmidur Bangladesh BAN 6 7 85.7
1. IM Gómez Baillo, Jorge Argentina ARG 6 7 85.7
3. Perdikis, Costas Cyprus CYP 8 81.3

Best game prizes

Best combination prize:
Høi, Carsten (DEN) - Gulko, Boris (USA) 1 - 0

Interesting games

White were totally destroyed.
Gheorghiu, Florin (ROM) - Kasparov, Garry (URS) 0 - 1

Andersson was rarely losing such even endings.
Karpov, Anatoly (URS) - Andersson, Ulf (SWE) 1 - 0

A Rook in a combat with pair of Knights.
Kasparov, Garry (URS) - Seirawan, Yasser (USA) 1 - 0

Those manoeuvres took much time but White was patient.
Sznapik, Aleksander (POL) - Gheorghiu, Florin (ROM) 1 - 0

White pieces were standing still while Black conducted mortal attack.
Nikolić, Predrag (YUG) - Ye Rongguang (CHN) 0 - 1

Control over open line was decisive for Black.
Pintér, József (HUN) - Nunn, John (ENG) 0 - 1

Classical Ruy Lopez plots leading to a magnificent draw.
Nunn, John (ENG) - Van der Sterren, Paul (NED) ½ - ½

A threefold re-pin-nition forced Black to resign.
Christiansen, Larry (USA) - Blatný, Pavel (CSR) 1 - 0

Black mishandled the opening and let white Bishop control d6.
Hort, Vlastimil (GER) - Winants, Luc (BEL) 1 - 0

Black took a pawn but coordination of white pieces was complete.
Kudrin, Sergey (USA) - Machado, Hermes Amilcar (BRA) 1 - 0

Former junior WCh close to defeating reigning senior WCh.
Hansen, Curt (DEN) - Kasparov, Garry (URS) ½ - ½

That must have been calculated with no loopholes.
Piket, Jeroen (NED) - Thomson, Craig (SCO) 1 - 0

Facing mate in 1 White cannot lost a tempo. Check! Check! Mate!
Popović, Petar (YUG) - Georgiev, Krum (BUL) 1 - 0

White would pay much more than a pawn for opening "g" line.
Sax, Gyula (HUN) - Inkiov, Ventzislav (BUL) 1 - 0

Interesting whether he calculeted that all along to the end
once he sacrificed a Rook?
Andersson, Ulf (SWE) - Greenfeld, Alon (ISR) 1 - 0

A Queen will not overcome pair of Rooks. A Queen + passed pawns - yes.
Beliavsky, Alexander (URS) - Barbero, Gerardo (ARG) 1 - 0

Chain of White pawns proved decisive.
Murugan, Krishnamoorthy (IND) - Mestel, Jonathan (ENG) 1 - 0

That'll be either mate or fork. Both enough to resign.
Ravisekhar, Raja (IND) - Tsorbatzoglou, Theodoros (GRE2) 1 - 0

This must have been calculated more than 10 moves in advance!
Velimirović, Dragoljub (YUG) - Maynard, Francis (CRC) 1 - 0

Did he postpone mate because he is malicious guy or did he overlook it?
Ghindă, Mihail Viorel (ROM) - Watson, William (ENG) 0 - 1

That was really confusing X-ray for White!
Hadad, A. (BRN) - Tatai, Stefano (ITA) 0 - 1

In order to make the pawn the way to promotion line Black had to
remove the Knight first and than to block the Rook.
Rødgaard, John (FAI) - Klinger, Josef (AUT) 0 - 1

Beautiful mate trap.
Rødgaard, John (FAI) - Nunn, John (ENG) 0 - 1

Shortest decisive game.
Haboush, A. (JOR) - Kgatshe, Stephen (BOT) 1 - 0

This one lasted for 191 moves on the contrary.
Seirawan, Yasser (USA) - Xu Jun (CHN) ½ - ½

That was perhaps most memorable Kasparov's Olympiad.
Kasparov, Garry (URS) - Cámpora, Daniel Hugo (ARG) 1 - 0

That didn't look very well for White but he went on for a nice win.
Knaak, Rainer (GDR) - Christiansen, Larry (USA) 1 - 0


The player to have scored most points was Najeeb Mohamed Saleh for UAE, 18, who first appeared at the Olympiads in 1982 when he was just 12.


East Germany re-appeared at the Olympiads after 16 years. Allegedly they were kept home because their chess accomplishments proved unsuccessfull comparing to other sports disciplines.