It's an event in which players famous and not so famous yearn to take part, a time to cross chess swords with the best and not so good, and an occasion to cherish -- win or lose -- with co-celebrants from around the planet.
For world title-holder Garry Kasparov, the recent Chess Olympiad in Yerevan, Armenia was an even more special moment. In early 1990 Kasparov, his Armenian mother and relatives -- members of an embattled minority community -- fled for their lives from neighboring Azerbaijan to Moscow.
At the opening ceremony, Kasparov was welcomed with thunderous applause -- an adopted native son of a chess-loving country in which he has never lived.
Kasparov responded by doing what he does so well. Scoring 7 1/2 -1 1/2 , he led a Russian men's team to an easy victory and the gold medal. Finishing second was the Ukraine. The United States and England tied for third.
In the women's event, top-seeded Georgia took first. China and Russia shared for second and third.
Although it suffered a disappointing tie for 16th, the Hungarian "men's" team transcended the usual parameters of gender and age. At first board was the world's top woman player, 20-year-old Jidit Polgar. She was followed by Zoltan Almasi, who is also 20, and teen-aged phenom Peter Leko. At fourth board was the 59-year-old warhorse Lajos Portisch.
Historically, the Chess Olympiad has little or no connection to the yraditional Olympic Games. An exception occurred in 1936 when several national chess teams competed in a Munich tournament linked to the Berlin Olympics.
Below is a win by Xiamin Peng of China (population 1.218 billion)over Ahmed Abdulla of Qatar (population .5 million).
1. e4 d5
2. exd5 Qxd5
3. Nc3 Qa5
4. d4 Nf6
5. Bc4 c6
6. N(g)e2 Bg4
7. f3 Bh5
8. g4 Bg6
9. h4 h6
10. Nf4 Bh7
11. Qe2 N(b)d7
12. Bd2 Qc7
13. g5 hxg5
14. hxg5 Bd3
15. Bxf7ch! Black
Note (a): If ... Kxf7, 16. Qe6ch Ke8 17. Rxh8, etc. Or ... Kd8 16. Rxh8 Bxe2 17. Ne6ch Kd8 18. Nxc7, etc.