Chess is a game that needs thinking, strategy and passion. Despite the fact that there are millions of fans across the world because of those characteristics, it is not an Olympic sport. It may be not as popular as other sports such as track, rowing, fencing but still, there are a lot of people that would like to see chess in the Olympics. In this article, I will talk about occasions when chess almost joined the Olympic Games. I will also talk about the chances chess has to join the Olympics and the parameters that affect this decision.
The Easy Explanation About Chess In The Olympics
Without diving into much detail there is an obvious explanation (but not the important one) one about why we haven’t watched chess in the Olympics. For most people, the reason why this happens is its difference from other sports, which has many aspects. It is a game of intellectual thinking that needs somebody to be calm and devoted. Most of these features make it boring and difficult for many people, so they choose to watch and be occupied with some more active and lively sport. In this case, however, the question is from what perspective one sees the meaning of the words “active” and “lively”. Some see it in its most literal meaning, which will respond to a sport of stress, action, motion, while someone else can move it a little further and wonder if it is truly something similar, concerning internal action and stress. So, many doubt if chess should be considered a sport in the first place.
Any chess player who has played in a tournament knows that chess creates enormous mental fatigue and great emotional intensity that can be overwhelming. Chess, then, is a sport that has its own action as well as its stress, of course at a more internal level that many people will never be able to understand. Every move has its own suspense, its own magic and thereof the corresponding stress and suspense about the opponent’s response. Therefore, it has to be made an internal review of what chess is and how interesting can it be to someone.
Efforts For Chess to Join The Olympics
In order to fully understand the nature of the problem, I have to mention all the efforts for chess to join the Olympics. Every sport from the very past wanted to be included in the Olympic Games that are organized every four years. Several years before the next Olympics event, there are the corresponding statements of new sports that want to be included. These new sports vary from season to season, but their common characteristic is their willingness to join the Olympic Games. The main reason, of course, is to advertise and promote them all over the world.
First Efforts and The Birth of Chess Olympiad
As with all sports, chess has also attempted at times to join the Olympic Games. All efforts were, of course, dissuasive, and several decades ago things were even more disappointing. The great disappointment was created when the organizers of the Olympic Games declared their doubts about whether chess belongs to the sports category. The blow was obviously huge.
Today, chess is recognized as a sport without, however, this fact helping it to join the Olympic Games. Attempts to integrate the sport into the Olympic Games took place in 1924, 2000, 2016, 2020, and there are many more.
When negotiating the inclusion of this sport in the 1924 Olympics, which apparently had negative results, some other thoughts started to be created by the general public, because they could not see which players were really professionals. They decided, therefore, to create the Chess Olympiad, which was held for the first time that year. These Olympics took place on 20 July 1924 in Paris, with great success, by taking on the historical name FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Echecs). This first chess organization was unofficial, but after this success it became official today, reaching today’s 43rd Chess Olympiad, which was held in 2018.
Other Major Events
In addition to the Chess Olympiad, some other world-wide organizations have been created that include chess, such as the World Mind Sports Games (WMSG Sports). WMSG Sports was created in 2008 and during his first event, it included chess as one of its five main games. In this event, took part people from many countries and had a great impact on the world. The next WMSG Sports event was four years later, in 2012, and was even more resonant. It is obvious, therefore, that chess is not a distant sport, for which efforts to participate in the Olympic Games never took place. But beyond that failure, chess has taken and is still taking part in many international and global events every year.
Reasons to Join the Olympic Games
Chess, like many other sports, is extremely interesting and due to its peculiarity in relation to other sports, it will bring a different note to these games. With this integration, it will expire a sense of thought, strategy, and concentration all over the world. The exposure of the world to this sport will bring them an interest in a further study on the subject. This phenomenon will obviously increase over the years, ultimately reaching an optimal point where a large percentage of the population will be interested in chess.
Chess can be similar in many ways to other sports that exist in the Olympic Games, and as the other games have also a huge competitiveness among the players that will promote the game at the highest level. This level will be enviable for any other world chess event of the past.
In the Olympic Games, however, there are currently some sports that do not have a great impact on the world and do not contain any particular interest that justifies their inclusion in the event. Chess on the other hand, however, is a well-known game and, by extension, a sport of an awesome intellectual interest, and these two facts make it an essential part of these games.
The Olympics are a spectacle for young and old people every four years. The youngsters, seeing all these sports taking place, start to shape a personality and some interests. But if in these sports there is chess included, then this will probably give children a deep interest in the particular subject. Even if this is done in a small number of children, the benefit it offers is enormous and starts from increasing intelligence, improving memory, socializing children, and, by extension, helping to overcome the learning difficulties in school. Therefore, the inclusion of this sport in the Olympic Games can bring a lot of positive feedback to the spectators and even more to the “young” spectators.
But What Keeps Chess Out of The Olympic Games?
The Olympics, like any other event, have costs and obviously require a large revenue. A key part of the revenue is advertisements. Which products will be advertised during the games and how they will be advertised, are some questions that are clearly related to the games that spectators watch. When a sport is shown, that needs leggings, shoes, and various sporting goods, various sports advertisements that sell the specific products appear on the screen. During chess, however, it will be quite difficult to make a corresponding advertisement, as chess needs only a chessboard and an opponent. Maybe they can advertise firms manufacturing chess and chess clocks, but marketing on that subject is indeed very limited.
Problems With The Audience
Another very important criterion for not including chess in the Olympic Games is the presence of a small number of spectators compared to most sports. It will essentially appeal to a small audience in comparison with other sports that necessarily incurs a small TV viewers’ reduction. This reduction will obviously result also in a reduction in revenue and therefore is an inhibiting factor in joining chess in the Olympics. There is a fear that it will also reduce viewers’ interest in next sports in the program because chess might cause mental fatigue to viewers. This is a not easy to believe scenario, but it is definitely a little bit realistic.
The fear of a reduced audience, who wants to see this sport obviously stems from some evidence. Chess seems like a game that is calm and tension-free. This is daunting because most spectators want to see something that has action, intensity. They want to see athletes go beyond their limits. This cannot be done in chess as it is a sport of intellectual thinking and calmness.
Another inhibitory factor is the issue of doping. So far, the organizers of the Olympic Games are aware of the measures they should take against doping, as well as the tests that every athlete should undergo to be allowed to participate in the competition. In chess, however, these tests will obviously have to be completely different, because the need is not doping to create tension, strength, and endurance but intense thought and clarity. Therefore, some specific research on the subject is required before chess joining these games. This certainly requires a great cost, so it makes it even more difficult for chess to join the Olympic Games.
Apart from all this, there is also a real factor that is present everywhere, the time. Many of the sports that exist in the Olympic Games take time to be completed, but not as long as a round of chess games. The greater the participation, the longer the time required will be for those games. This is a restrictive factor since neither organizers want to waste time, nor spectators want to see a game taking place so slowly.
Chess is a game and for many people has not been recognized as a sport. They still consider it a simple game that has no reason to be at the Olympic Games. For them, it’s a tabletop game that is not similar to other Olympic Sports. This view is plaguing our times and perhaps it is also an issue for which chess is not included in the Olympic Games.
Finally, the IOC (The International Olympic Committee) concern about the type of chess should be stressed. Because chess belongs to the broader category of tabletop games and sports, they are afraid that with the possible inclusion of chess in the Olympic Games there will be expressed a similar interest by other sports, such as Shogi, Xiangqi, etc. If this were the case they would actually be obliged to include them in the Olympic Games, which is not that feasible. So, it’s not just about chess but it’s about an entire type of games.
Propositions For a Successful Participation
At times, there have been stated many inhibiting factors for the inclusion of chess in the Olympic Games. These factors, however, are highly theoretical without any application. As we know, theory differs greatly from practice, so many of these factors can be broken down during implementation. With this in mind, chess could be included, as a trial, in the Olympic Games for only one year and depending on the results, the situation should be re-evaluated for the next Olympic Games. Perhaps it is a fair solution for those who want chess in this area, but also for those who do not want it and let the facts speak for themselves.
Also, there are some other modifications could be made so that chess as a sport is more accessible and interesting to the average spectator, who is interested in action, intensity, and motion. Chess and many other sports have categories, one of which is fast chess. Fast chess is a kind of chess with extremely limited time. So within minutes, two players try to do their best possible move. Experienced and already champions of their kind have been trained in the speed of their fingertips and thoughts. The combination of these will bring an incredible spectacle to every spectator, who will definitely have action, stress, and pressure. This will surely be of great interest to many spectators, who will love chess through this strange aspect because it’s already extremely popular to chess enthusiasts.
The fast chess category does not contain a specific mode of playing, but a significant number of them. This category includes Rapid (FIDE) or quick (USCF), Blitz, Bullet, and Armageddon, which have little differences in the distribution of the total time and time required for each move. All of them make fast chess very popular to chess fans.
The most important of all factors is that there has to be a will to include chess in the Olympic Games. If there is such a will from the organizers, as well as from those directly or indirectly related to this decision, then certainly there can be found additional ways to make the game more friendly and interesting to a large number of spectators.
For all these reasons and even more, chess cannot formally be included as one of the sports of the Olympic Games. This is likely to continue to be true for years to come because all of these factors are highly timeless and inhibiting. For now, IOC (The International Olympic Committee) seems to consider chess not as profitable as other sports and it’s not worth their time. However, I believe times have changed and with the proposals that I have mentioned above, chess could join the Olympics.
I would like to read your opinion about this issue in the comments. Feel free to write your own propositions and to check my other articles about strategies, tactics, and chess product reviews. Enjoy chess.