Chess Olympiad Begins.
38th Olympiad begins at Dresden, Germany today, with significant rule changes.
The third point is the most significant change. Olympiad match and game point statistics are available for the last 6 Olympiads here. In five of the last six Olympiads the medal standings would have been different when scored by match points. Germany, for instance, would have finished 3rd instead of 6th in 1998 – pretty significant, I would say. This rule clearly levels the playing field for teams with breadth (strong players on upper boards), by reducing the advantage of teams with depth (strong players even on lower boards) since a 2.5-1.5 win is as good as a 4-0 rout. Reduction in the number of rounds should also favor breadth over depth as higher rated player(s) in a team can play more games, as there are fewer overall matches to play. Allowing only one reserve player can favor teams with depth – in case of loss of form of one player, that team will still have four strong players to field.
Last European Team Championship had similar rules and 10th ranked Poland, with four players in 2600-2650 and one in 2500s , finished 4th – one place above a much stronger 2nd ranked Ukraine. That said, powerhouses like Russia, Ukraine, Armenia and China should do well, this time too. But the change of rules has made this more exciting and should increase the medal prospects of US. Indian media has assumed this will favor India. Indians have a point to prove after the disaster at Turin.
You can follow the matches here.
UPDATE: more olympiad blogging here