27th Chess Olympiad: Dubai 1986

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Basic data

27th Chess Olympiad
(see all-time tournament summary)
Date: 14th November - 2nd December 1986
City: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Venue: The Dubai Trade Centre
Head of Organising Committee: H. H. Sheikh Buti Al Maktoum (UAE)
Head of Executive Management: Mr. Mohamad Obaid Ghobash (UAE)
Chief Arbiters: IA Emad El-Din Ghalayini (PLE)
IA Miroslav Filip (CSR)
Teams participating: 108 (incl. UAE "B")
Players participating: 641 (incl. 59 GMs, 90 IMs and 49 FMs)
Games played: 3024 (at leas 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
Official logo: DUBAI 1986
Downloadable game file: 86olm.zip
Special thanks to Anwar Qureshi for the materials.

Tournament review

The UAE chess federation was founded in 1976 and had about 2,000 registered players at the time of the Olympiad. They had absolutely no experience in international chess apart from Pan-Arab Chess Federation established in 1979. But many of the players in Dubai called this Olympiad the best organized ever. The hosts were said to have spent more than half a million pounds on beautifying the playing site alone. The lavish opening ceremony was a testament to the care taken to ensure that this was an enjoyable and memorable competition. The players stayed at the best city hotels. The transport was also perfect. As no Arab nation had previously held such an immense sporting event as this Chess Olympiad they wanted to stun the world, but the first problem was to persuade the world to attend. With weeks to go before the starting date, no attendance records were due to be broken. Yet the organizers offered $1 million for free air tickets to those who were reluctant or experiencing difficulties. This boosted number of participating countries to a new record of 107. Of course Israel, officially in the state of war with most of Arab countries, couldn't participate. Some West European nations, namely Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands withdrew as an act of solidarity with Israel. Some individuals like Kortschnoj, Hübner or Lobron refused to come to Dubai as well. According to FIDE rules the Olympic organizing committee had right to refuse to invite one selected country. At the Dubai FIDE congress the US chess authorities put a demand that this rule be abolished under threat of their withdrawal from the Olympiad (they were the leaders at the time). It had been rejected and the only amendment was enacted that once the organizing committee asks for the right to refuse anyone it has to pass 75% majority voting.

Apart from the mentioned above virtually all world's top players came to Dubai. Kasparov lead USSR team for the first time as reigning World Champion. England sent almost same people as two years ago (100 ELO margin to USSR though!) and were among top favourites along with Hungary and Yugoslavia. USA were seeded 5th (aiming probably at fifth bronze in last seven appearances). Iceland were surprisingly seeded 6th. Lucerne silver medallists Czechoslovakia were deprived of Hort. Argentina had no best players in the squad - as usual.

In the first round top-seeded Soviet Union rested top players Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov but still ran out 4-0 winners against Lebanon, even though there was a temporary hiccough with Rafael Vaganian being taken to an adjournment session. Maximum points were also recorded by Hungary, Yugoslavia, USA, Iceland and more leading nations. The only real embarrassment was caused to Chile by the unconsidered Algerians, whom they beat by narrow 2½-1½. While most of the first round matches had been one-sided the second round proved a more serious test. Only four teams in each event remained on maximum points at the close of the second day. Kasparov and Karpov made their debuts but the USSR still conceded its first half-point when Reyes of Peru held Yusupov to a 26-move draw. This left the Soviets tied in fifth position along with Cuba, Czechoslovakia and the United States but behind the leading quartet of Hungary, Indonesia, Spain and West Germany. England, fortuitous beneficiaries of the pairing system in round one when prospective opponents Puerto Rico defaulted, draw the short straw in round two. Of all the outsiders they might have chosen to be paired against Scotland could surely have been bottom of the list. An unconvincing 2½-1½ win temporarily relegated the second seeds to joint twelfth. On the next day Indonesia proved practical example of the development of chess in South-East Asia. Having already beaten Uganda and Sri Lanka 4-0 they now upset the formbook with a 2½-1½ win against West Germany to become the only outsiders among the leading group. In the match between the other two men's teams which had started the day with perfect scores, Hungary beat Spain 3-1. This kept the third seeds in the joint lead, but they were now joined by the Soviet Union which crushed Czechoslovakia 3½-½. Yugoslavia beat Poland by the same scoreline to join Indonesia in third place on 10½ points, a half-point ahead of fifth-placed England who took 3½ points from their match against Colombia. Round 4 provided the first stiff test for the top men, with four of the top five seeds clashing. In these matches the Soviet Union beat Hungary 2½-1½ and England defeated the United States by the same margin. Wins by Karpov against Ribli an Short against Kavalek were the only decisive encounters. Iceland beat Australia 3-1 at table #3. Yugoslavia took runner-up position after defeating Indonesia and China entered top 5 thanks to hammering Egypt. The main news of day 5 was Karpov's loss - his first in an Olympiad since 1972 - to Ljubojević, who himself cannot have felt charitable after losing to an unconsidered Indonesian the day before. This was balanced out by a Sokolov win, so the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia finished all-square at 2-2. England, 2½-1½ victors in a hard match against Hungary joined Yugoslavia in second place along with Cuba, who beat China 3-1. The England-USSR clash of round 6 was a tremendously exciting match. Four decisive results, four wins by White. Karpov, defeated one day before was rested for the match. The four other top seeds did benefit through the draw keeping them apart. All four, in varying degrees, took the opportunity to make up some lost ground against teams just below the front-rankers. Hungary won 2½-1½ against Bulgaria and Yugoslavia by the same score against Cuba. Iceland defeated Argentina 3-1 to join the USSR and Yugoslavia in the lead while the USA, 3½-½ winners against Chile now shared fourth placing. The top match of round 7 saw the Soviet Union leading Iceland 1½-½ after the first session of play but the Norsemen later levelled the match during the adjournment sessions. England beat Yugoslavia 2½-1½, Hungary defeated Canada 3½-½ and Bulgaria took three points against Czechoslovakia. Hungary and USA were in tied lead in the halfway, half a point ahead of England and USSR.

After three consecutive draws, the Soviet Union's team went one worse. Kasparov's loss, coupled with two drawn games, meant they ended the day 2-1 down against the United States with the remaining game also destined to be drawn. Worse still, main threat England chose precisely this moment to come good with a 4-0 win against Iceland and move into a significant lead. On the leader-board Hungary's 2½-1½ defeat of Yugoslavia was sufficient to limit their drop to second place behind England but ahead of Bulgaria, 3-1 winners against Scotland, a half-point behind. The Soviet Union and the United States although temporarily behind, each at this stage had two adjourned games in hand. On the next day England's team beat Bulgaria 3-1 to remain clear leaders. The United States led Hungary 2-1 but perhaps the most significant result was the Soviet Union's win - its first since round four - by 3½-½ against France. Here, present World Champion Kasparov drew with ex-WCh Spassky. Rivaling this result in signifance was Spain's 3-1 win against fourth-seeded Yugoslavia. The main talking-point of day 10 was the acrimony which followed England's disastrous loss to Spain in the top men's match. Main target of the accusation was Tamas Georgadze, Soviet GM who was the Spanish team's trainer and captain; he was seen in deep conversation with both Soviet and Spanish players. According to Reuters English GM Tony Miles asked Kasparov whether the Spanish team was receiving outside help and received "an embarrassed nod". GM Chandler has been told by GM Ribli that he had heard Georgadze discuss a move with a Spanish player who had been offered a draw by GM Nunn. After the discussion the Spaniard turned down the offer and went on to win. With England losing 3½-½ the other leading men's teams gained ground. The USA beat Argentina 2½-1½, the USSR defeated Romania by the same score and Hungary inflicted a 3-1 loss on West Germany. Round 10 had been followed by a rest day and, when the tournament recommenced the England-Spain controversy was seen to have resulted in the top tables being roped off to prevent players circulating too easily from match to match. Their respective matches were without major incident with Spain losing 3-1 to USA and England holding a 2½-½ lead against Romania. Of the other leaders the Soviet Union beat Bulgaria 2½-1½ and Hungary drew 2-2 against Czechoslovakia. On the next day leaders United States beat Iceland 3-1 and their two closest rivals kept in touch. The Soviet Union defeated Spain 3½-½ while England vanquished Poland 3-1 leaving both teams one point behind the USA with two rounds to follow. It seemed increasingly likely that the medals would be shared among this trio as Hungary, lying in 4th, were two clear points behind the pair sharing second place. As the top four teams had already played one another they had to be down floated in the pairings to the teams immediately below. Thus the results of the matches between this latter group had an indirect but very significant bearing on the likely destination of the medals as they determined the respective leader's opponents next round. Leaders USA were scheduled to meet the highest-placed team they had not yet encountered so their rivals had to pray that, by beating Bulgaria this round, the 4th seeds Yugoslavia would move up into 5th place and thus provided the Americans with the toughest possible opposition. But the flagging Yugoslavs failed to oblige. Worse still this contributed to outsiders Brazil - who completely upset the form-book with a 3½-½ victory against West Germany leapfrogging into 5th and providing the next test for USA. The Americans managed only 2½-1½ win and thus lost ground to the Soviet Union, 3-1 winners against Italy. England, with the hardest task of the trio, made heavy weather of Czechoslovakia and slipped back to 3rd after winning only 2½-1½. With one round to go it was USA 36½; USSR 36; England 35½; Hungary 32½.

Who could have forecasted the drama of this wonderful last round? Three teams were in contention for gold medal but the USSR and England had significantly easier pairings than the USA, who had to play Bulgaria. As it turned out, the USA cracked. Only Fedorowicz could win and their match was tied 2-2. The GM norm for him was the only consolation of the day. England put in a mammoth effort by beating Brazil 4-0. In fact they didn't just beat them; they crushed them. It wasn't good enough. The Soviets won the gold after a ruthless 4-0 steamrolling of Poland. However there were quite serious suspicions (unsolved until today) that the Poles were forced not to disturb the Soviets because of obvious political reasons. Hungary halved with Cuba to stay in 4th. Iceland hammered Spain 3½-½ to take 5th spot.

USSR won again - but not without major trouble. Finally the five best players of the world and an extremely strong reserve finished where they really belonged. After crushing their first three opponents to take 11/12 they played five matches against their five closest rivals when they secured only a 50% score. The finish was successful though. Second place unlucky for England? Not really. They had their chances and Spain made a mess of them. They were not as good as the Soviets but to finish second was an excellent overall performance. Bronze went to USA, traditionally! They would probably have settled for that before the start of the Olympiad but as the games progressed they showed themselves to be a terrific team. Third-seeded Hungary never quite looked likely winners, although attaining a quite reasonable result, while fourth seeds Yugoslavia simply faded right out of contention at the halfway stage.

So an always interesting Olympiad ended in a blaze of excitement and it was left to Campomanes to express FIDE's thanks to the Emirates Government for their hospitality in hosting the Olympiad. But, with respect to the speakers, the most lingering memory will surely be the thunderous burst of applause from spectators which greeted Poland's Schmidt gesture of resignation against Kasparov, a result which ensured that the Soviet Union retained the gold medals, and the boisterous scenes of near-adulation which followed.

/Based on "The Game of the Round" by Bob Wade/

Individual medals

Best Rating Performance
no. name flag code ELOp
1. GM Kasparov, Garry Soviet Union URS 2746
2. GM Yusupov, Artur Soviet Union URS 2741
3. GM Chandler, Murray Graham England ENG 2711

1st Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. GM Kasparov, Garry Soviet Union URS 11 77.3
2. IM Klinger, Josef Austria AUT 9 12 75.0
3. GM Torre, Eugenio The Philippines PHI 13 73.1
3. Xu Jun China CHN 13 73.1

2nd Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. IM Abdelnabbi, Imed Egypt EGY 12 79.2
2. IM Utut Adianto Indonesia INA 11 14 78.6
3. Charpentier Morales, William Costa Rica CRC 13 73.1

3rd Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. GM Short, Nigel David England ENG 10 13 76.9
2. Matamoros Franco, Carlos Ecuador ECU 13 73.1
3. IM Day, Lawrence Canada CAN 8 11 72.7

4th Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. GM Yusupov, Artur Soviet Union URS 10 12 83.3
2. GM Chandler, Murray Graham England ENG 9 11 81.8
3. Thole, Markus Zambia ZAM 10½ 13 80.8

1st Reserve Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. Muñiz, Luís Puerto Rico PUR 6 7 85.7
2. GM Speelman, Jonathan Simon England ENG 7 9 77.8
3. Kuczyński, Robert Poland POL 10 75.0

2nd Reserve Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. Ng Ek Leong Malaysia MAS 6 7 85.7
2. Abbas, Baha H. Iraq IRQ 9 83.3
3. IM Dlugy, Maxim United States USA 7 78.6

Interesting games

A good opener produced the home player.
Sharif, Mohamed (UAE) - Velikov, Petar (BUL) ½ - ½

That was very interesting pawn ending.
Matamoros Franco, Carlos (ECU) - Zamora, R. (HON) 1 - 0

It is usually White who has troubles on the queenside.
Mokrý, Karel (CSR) - Chinchilla, Eugenio (CRC) 1 - 0

Plucky Visky on the edge.
Anand, Viswanathan (IND) - Seirawan, Yasser (USA) ½ - ½

Quick debacles in Budapest Gambit are not very uncommon.
Yrjölä, Jouni (FIN) - Liew Chee Meng, Jimmy (MAS) 0 - 1

Ghindă, Mihail Viorel (ROM) - Defize, Alain (BEL) 1 - 0

That was Garry in his vivid prime.
Kasparov, Garry (URS) - Smejkal, Jan (CSR) 1 - 0

White was depressively powerless.
Zapata, Alonso (COL) - Nunn, John (ENG) 0 - 1

There are few Karpov losses here, but even less that well played.
Ljubojević, Ljubomir (YUG) - Karpov, Anatoly (URS) 1 - 0

We rarely see the Soviets that badly shaped...
Chandler, Murray (ENG) - Vaganian, Rafael (URS) 1 - 0

Biggest upset of Dubai and Kasparov's only loss.
Seirawan, Yasser (USA) - Kasparov, Garry (URS) 1 - 0

White sacrificed a pawn and pair of Bishops.
Still too little for Black to survive.
Motwani, Paul (SCO) - Velikov, Petar (BUL) 1 - 0

That excellent victory sealed Spain's sensational win
and deprived England of gold medals.
Miles, Anthony (ENG) - Fernández García, José Luís (ESP) 0 - 1

White pieces took control over opened "h" line.
Chan Peng Kong (SIN) - Välkesalmi, Kimmo (FIN) 1 - 0

Very instructive Queen ending.
Carton, Patrick (IRL) - Saleh, Najeeb Mohamed (UAE) 1 - 0

That first move was quite original, same as the rest of the game.
Pétursson, Margeir (ISL) - Speelman, Jonathan (ENG) 0 - 1

With a deficit of two pieces White can only say "check!" and "mate!"
Jansa, Vlastimil (CSR) - Domínguez Sanz, Juan Pedro (DOM) 1 - 0

Development on both wings must be balanced.
Sax, Gyula (HUN) - Salazar Jacob, Hernán (CHI) 1 - 0

Vishy had always been inclined to tactics.
Pazos, Plinio (ECU) - Anand, Viswanathan (IND) 0 - 1

White developed quickly to go on to a brilliant win.
Árnason, Jón (ISL) - Adianto, Utut (INA) 1 - 0

Ribli's unexpected but well-deserved loss.
Cifuentes Parada, Roberto (CHI) - Ribli, Zoltán (HUN) 1 - 0

Shortest game of the Olympiad.
Rechi Pérez, Francesc (AND) - Grassi, Enrico (SMR) 1 - 0

White had already a deficit of a Rook, but he had the edge all the time.
Georgiev, Krum (BUL) - Ionescu, Constantin (ROM) 1 - 0

Karpov's immaculate strategy.
Karpov, Anatoly (URS) - Sznapik, Aleksander (POL) 1 - 0

White recklessly lost their grip on h3 outpost.
Filguth, Rubens (BRA) - Chandler, Murray (ENG) 0 - 1

This game was full of everything you could ever dream of.
Depasquale, Chris (AUS) - Chan Peng Kong (SIN) 0 - 1

Allegedly this is IM Day's all-time best game.
Braga, Fernando (ITA) - Day, Lawrence (CAN) 0 - 1

Is that called the Nasser's mate?
Nasser, Kamal (BRN) - Mbye, S. (GAM) 1 - 0


Boris Spassky of France once again was the player to concede most draws (10) and the only one to avoid loss having played all of 14 games.


White to play and winWhite to play and win

The following chess problem was composed by ex-World Champion Vassily Smyslov. It was dedicated to the organizers and participants of the 27th Olympiad. Drag your mouse between the brackets to reveal the solution:
[ 1. g8N+! Bxg8 2. Kf6 Kh7 3. g5 d3 4. Bf4! Kh8 5. Be5 Kh7 6. Bc3 d2 7. Bxd2 Kh8 8. Bc3 Kh7 9. Bb2 Kh8 10. g6 fxg6 11. Kxg6# ]

[FEN "8/2B2pPb/7k/4K3/3p2P1/8/8/8 w - - 0 1"]


The pre-tournament intention had been for a computer suitably programmed to make the draw. To this end, the organizers had thoroughly checked out the computer's capacity to handle up to 100 teams in one tournament - as many as had previously contested any Olympiad - and found it adequate.

However a rush of last-minute entries had taken the number of competing teams in the men's event up to a new record of 108. Asked to prepare the draw, the computer flashed "overload"messages and declined to oblige. Red-faced organizers then worked out the draw manually.


Many top GMs refused the team competition to influence individual ELO ratings. As a compromise the chairman of the qualifications commision issued a list of GMs who ordered their results not to be rated (the list included Kasparov, Karpov, Yusupov, Sokolov, Spassky, Nunn, Ribli, Gheorghiu, Seirawan, Kavalek. Among those who did not care were Portisch, Sax, Miles, Georgiev, Speelman, Jansa, Schmidt and more).


Many players thought that Dubai Olympiad was at least as good as the legendary Havana 1966 Olympiad, as far as playing conditions were concerned.