The World Chess Federation has been trying to get chess into the Olympics for many years. In 2000, it was, as an exhibition sport.

The biennial Chess Olympiad begins in Baku, Azerbaijan, on September 1, while the better-known Olympic Games are at the halfway point. Many chess fans know about the Chess Olympiad and some may know that the World Chess Federation (or FIDE, for Fédération Internationale des Echecs) has tried to have chess included in the Olympic Games. But how many know, or remember, that at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, chess was included as an exhibition sport with a two-game match between elite players?

Viswanathan Anand of India and Alexei Shirov of Latvia, who was then representing Spain, played that match. Except for Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik (who were about to play a match for the World Championship), Anand and Shirov were probably the best possible representatives for the Olympic exhibition.

Anand, No. 3 in the world, had played, and lost, a World Championship match to Kasparov in 1995 atop the World Trade Center. He had also nearly won the first FIDE Knockout World Championship in 1998.

Shirov had defeated Kramnik in a Candidates match in 1998 to qualify for a title shot with Kasparov that never came to pass and was ranked No. 6 in the world.

(As it turned out, a few months after the Olympics exhibition, Anand and Shirov would also play each other in the finals of the 2000 FIDE Knockout World Championship in Iran, which Anand would win, 3½ - ½.)

Both Anand and Shirov were in very good form for the Olympics exhibition. Shirov had White in Game 1, and the players tested one of the sharpest lines in all of chess, the English Attack (6.Be3 e6 7.f3) against the Najdorf Sicilian.

Shirov, Alexei vs. Anand, Viswanathan
Sydney ol exh | Sydney | Round 1 | 24 Sep 2000 | ECO: B80 | 1/2-1/2
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e6
6... e5 and  )
6... Ng4 are far more popular nowadays.  )
7. f3 b5 8. g4 h6 9. Qd2 Nbd7
9... b4  )
10. O-O-O Bb7
10... b4 may be a must.  )
11. h4 b4 12. Na4 Qa5 13. b3 At the time of this game this line was all the rage, and there are well over 1000 games with this position in the database. Then it was popular, but current theory suggests that Black is in grave danger.
13... Nc5 Najdorf specialist Loek van Wely tried to rehabilitate this line with
13... Be7 earlier this year, but it didn't go very well.
14. Rh3 Nc5 15. a3 Rc8 16. axb4 Nxb3+ 17. Nxb3 Qxa4 18. Kb2 d5 19. Bc5 Qd7 20. g5 hxg5 21. hxg5 Rxh3 22. Bxh3 Nh7 23. f4 Qc7 24. Bxe7 Kxe7 25. Nc5 a5 26. g6 Nf6 27. e5 Nd7 28. Nxd7 Qxd7 29. f5 Rc4 30. f6+ gxf6 31. exf6+ Kd6 32. Qh2+ Kc6 33. g7 Qd8 34. Qe5 Bc8 35. b5+ Kb7 36. Rg1 Qb6 37. g8=Q 1-0 (37) Caruana,F (2787)-Van Wely,L (2640) Wijk aan Zee 2016  )
14. a3 Nxa4
14... Rc8 hasn't fared so well either:
15. axb4 Nxb3+ 16. Nxb3 Qxa4 17. Kb2 d5 18. c3 dxe4 19. Ra1 Qd7 20. Qxd7+ Kxd7 21. Rd1+ Kc7 22. Bf4+ Kb6 23. fxe4 is well known to theory.  )
15. axb4 Qc7 16. bxa4 d5
16... Nd7 makes sense, aiming to transfer the knight to the attack via b6. Maybe this is Black's best hope, though White is still better after
17. c4 Nb6 18. Rh2!! Nxc4 19. Qc3 Rc8 20. Rc2 Of course, this is the point behind 18.Rh2.
20... d5 21. exd5 Bxd5 22. Bxc4 Bxc4 23. Nxe6! fxe6 24. Rd4  )
17. e5 Nd7
17... Qxe5?? 18. Bf4 is a simple but important point.  )
18. f4 Nb6 Still following 600 games in the database. As I said, the line was all the rage, even if today it's the chess equivalent of a ghost town.
19. f5 After this, the position appears to be a forced draw.
19. Rh3! is the move that seems to have put Black out of business.
19... Nxa4 20. Bf2 brought Black's attack to a standstill, while White still enjoys various ways of continuing his active play. One example:
20... Rc8 21. Be1 Nb6 22. f5 Nc4 23. Bxc4 Qxc4 24. fxe6 fxe6 25. Rf3 Be7 26. Nxe6 Qa2 27. Qd3 Qa1+ 28. Kd2 Qxe5 was Gabrielian, A (2545)-Oguzov,S (2024) Dombai 2013, and now instead of 29.Re3 (which kept the advantage and led to an eventual win,
29. Nc5! would have given White a decisive advantage.  )
19... Nxa4 Intending ...Nc3 followed by ...Bxb4.
20. fxe6 White must counterattack; there is no time and there aren't enough resources to attempt a defense on the queenside.
20... Nc3 21. exf7+ Kxf7 22. Bd3 Bxb4 23. Rdf1+ Kg8 24. Qf2 White's last two moves could be played in the opposite order.
24... Ba3+ 25. Kd2 Ne4+ 26. Bxe4 dxe4 27. g5
27. Qf5 is another draw:
27... Bb4+ 28. Kd1 Qc4 29. Ne6 Qd5+ 30. Ke2 Qc4+ 1/2-1/2 (32) Anand,V (2762)-Gelfand,B (2681) Shenyang 2000  )
27... Bd5 28. gxh6 A novelty at the time, I believe.
28. e6 Rf8 29. Qg2 Qc4 30. Rxf8+ Bxf8 31. g6 1-0 (31) Alvarez,R (2605)-Elwert,H (2681) email 1999  )
28... Bb2
28... Rc8 and  )
28... Qa5+ have also been shown to draw.  )
29. Rb1? White had two moves to keep the balance, and this isn't one of them.
29. hxg7 Qa5+ 30. c3 Qxc3+ 31. Kd1 Bb3+ 32. Nxb3 Qxb3+ 33. Ke1 Bc3+ 34. Bd2 Qb1+ 35. Ke2 Qd3+  )
29. Kd1 Qa5 30. Qf4 Rxh6 31. Rfg1 Rh7 32. Nf5 Bc4 33. Ne7+ Kh8 34. Ng6+ Kg8 35. Ne7+  )
29... Bc3+
29... Bxd4 30. Bxd4 e3+ 31. Qxe3 Bxh1 32. Qb3+ Qf7 33. Qxf7+ Kxf7 34. Rf1+ Kg8 35. Rxh1 Rxh6  )
30. Kc1 Bxd4 31. Bxd4 e3 32. Qxe3? Now Shirov is losing.
32. Qe1 Rc8 33. Rh2 Rxh6 34. Qxe3 Rxh4 35. Rb7!! Rxh2! 36. Rxc7 Rxc7 37. Qd3  )
32... Bxh1 33. Rb6 Rc8? This natural move allows White to escape.
33... Bd5 was the cleanest move, covering the a2-g8 diagonal.
34. Rg6 Rh7 35. e6 Rc8 36. c3 Qa5 37. Rxg7+ Rxg7 38. Bxg7 Qa3+ 39. Kd2 Qb2+ 40. Ke1 Qb1+ 41. Kf2 Rb8  )
34. Qb3+! Qc4
34... Qf7 35. hxg7 Rxh4 36. Rb8 Qxb3 comes to the same thing.
...   )
35. hxg7 Rxh4 36. Rb8! Qxb3 Black has nothing better.
37. Rxc8+ Kxg7 38. cxb3 Rxd4 39. Rc7+! Next is 40.Ra7, and as Black has no reasonable way to defend the a-pawn the result is a theoretical draw, even if Black manages to win both of White's pawns.

A full-blooded game and a narrow escape for Shirov, who pushed too hard for more than a draw and nearly came away with less. In Game 2, it was Anand’s turn to push hard with the White pieces.

Anand, Viswanathan vs. Shirov, Alexei
Sydney ol exh | Sydney | Round 2 | 24 Sep 2000 | ECO: C13 | 1/2-1/2
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 dxe4 5. Nxe4 Be7 6. Bxf6 Bxf6 7. Nf3 O-O 8. Bc4
8. Qd2 is the top move at the moment.  )
8... Nc6 As with the previous game, here too we have a line that was hot around the turn of the century, but that has fallen into disuse.
8... Nd7  )
9. c3 e5 10. d5 Ne7 11. Nxf6+ gxf6 12. Qd2
12. Nh4 is the principal alternative, which worked out very well for Shirov a couple of years later.
12... Ng6 13. Qh5 Qd7 14. h3 Qa4 15. b3 Qa5 16. O-O Qxc3 17. d6 Kg7? 18. dxc7 Qd4 19. g3 Qd7 20. Rac1 Qxh3? 21. Bd3 Qe6 22. Be4 Qb6 23. Rfd1 1-0 (23) Shirov,A (2697) -Akopian,V (2678) Kallithea 2002  )
12... Kh8 13. O-O-O Bg4 14. Be2
14. Qe2  )
14... Qd6 15. Nh4 Rg8
15... Bxe2 16. Qxe2 Rad8  )
16. g3 Rad8 17. Bxg4 Rxg4 18. Qe2
18. Qc2  )
18... Ra4 19. Kb1 Nxd5
19... Ra5 might be a shade better for Black.  )
20. Nf5
20. Rhe1  )
20. Qb5  )
20... Qe6 Hitting f5 and hinting at tactics against a2.
21. Ne3
21. Qc2! Rxa2 22. c4 Qa6 23. Qb3 Ra1+ 24. Kc2 Ra5! 25. cxd5 Qe2+ 26. Kb1 Qe4+ 27. Qd3 Qa4 28. Qa3 Qe4+ would have made for a spectacular finish.  )
21... Rd6! 22. Nxd5 Rxd5 23. a3 Raa5 24. c4 Rd4
24... Rd6!  )
25. Rxd4 exd4 26. Qd3 Rc5?
26... c5  )
27. Qxd4?!
27. Rc1  )
27... Rxc4 28. Qd8+ Kg7 29. Rd1 Qf5+?!
29... Rc6  )
30. Qd3 Qxd3+ 31. Rxd3 f5 32. Rd8 Black is better and can certainly play for a win, but his next move lets it all slip away.
32... a5? A simple blunder.
33. Rd5 Regaining the pawn, after which the position is completely drawn.
33... a4

A different opening, but once again the players castled on opposite flanks and went after the opponent’s king. Here, too, Black was more successful and had chances to win, and once again the result was a peaceful outcome – probably due in part, in both games, to inaccuracies in time trouble.

As this was not an official Olympic competition, there were no medals to be won and thus no tiebreaks to be played. And although the games were very exciting, they went almost completely without notice. There were practically no spectators and there was almost no coverage in the mainstream media. Chess was not given a place in the 2004 Olympics in Athens or in any subsequent Games, so, for now, the Chess Olympiad will have to do.

Speaking of which, the defending champions are the Chinese, who went from also-rans late in the 20th century to a powerhouse today. The following game was their first splash on the international stage —  a crushing victory in the Buenos Aires Olympiad in 1978 by Liu Wenzhe, who later became an international master, over Jan Hein Donner, the experienced Dutch grandmaster.

Liu, Wenzhe vs. Donner, Jan Hein
Buenos Aires ol (Men) | Buenos Aires | Round 8 | 1978.??.?? | ECO: B07 | 1-0
1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. Be2 It looks peaceful, but White's next move will dispel that impression.
4... Bg7 5. g4
5. h4 is an even more popular thrust against the Black kingside.  )
5... h6 Black has a wide choice here. One logical move is the counter-thrust
5... d5! Black has lost a tempo, but White's g4 changes the character of play. It makes sense for Black to blast open the center in response.
6. e5 Ne4 7. f4 c5 8. Nxe4 dxe4 is very sharp and imbalanced. One high-level (blitz) game went
9. d5 e6 10. c4 Qh4+ 11. Kf1 g5 12. Qc2 exd5 13. cxd5 Bxg4 14. Bxg4 Qxg4 15. Qxe4 gxf4 16. Nf3 Qg6 17. Qa4+ Nd7 18. Bxf4 b5 19. Qd1 Qe4 20. Bg3 Bxe5 21. Kf2 Bxg3+ 22. hxg3 O-O-O 23. Re1 Qf5 24. a4 Nf6 25. axb5 Ne4+ 26. Rxe4 Qxe4 27. Rxa7 Rxd5 28. Qa1 Qc2+ 29. Ke3 Re8+ 30. Kf4 Rf5+ 31. Kg4 Qe4+ 32. Kh3 Rh5+ 33. Kg2 Qe2+ 34. Kg1 Qe3+ 35. Kg2 Qe2+ 36. Kg1 Qe3+ 37. Kg2 Qe2+ 38. Kg1 1/2-1/2 (38) Smeets,J (2538) -Mamedyarov,S (2754) ICC INT 2007  )
6. h3
6. Be3  )
6... c5 Here too
6... d5 looks sensible.  )
7. d5
7. dxc5!? Qa5 8. Qd3 O-O!? 9. cxd6 Nxe4 10. Qxe4 Bxc3+ 11. Kf1 Bg7 is murky.  )
7... O-O?! Underestimating the danger.
7... a6  )
8. h4! e6?!
8... Qa5  )
9. g5 Black is already in serious trouble.
9... hxg5?
9... Nh7  )
10. hxg5 Ne8?
10... Nh7 had to be played, followed by ...Re8 and ...Nf8. Still, White is probably winning after
11. Qd3 Re8 12. Qg3 Nf8 13. Bf4 e5 14. Bd2 , as Black has virtually no counterplay and his king is in a coffin.  )
11. Qd3 exd5 12. Nxd5 The immediate
12. Qg3 was even stronger.  )
12... Nc6
12... Nc7 13. Nf6+! Bxf6 14. gxf6 Qxf6 15. Bd2 Nc6 16. O-O-O Nd4 17. Qg3 Black's kingside is too gappy to sustain a long-term defense.  )
13. Qg3 Be6?!
13... f5  )
14. Qh4 White is mating by force.
14... f5 15. Qh7+ Kf7 16. Qxg6+!! Very nice - like something straight out of a tactics book. Or in this case, something headed straight for the tactics books.
16... Kxg6
16... Kg8 17. Qh7+ Kf7 18. Bh5#  )
17. Bh5+ Kh7 18. Bf7+ Bh6 19. g6+ Kg7
19... Kh8 20. Rxh6+ Kg7 21. Rh7#  )
20. Bxh6+
20. Bxh6+ Kh8 21. Bxf8+ Qh4 22. Rxh4#  )

[Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated that chess was a demonstration sport in the 2000 Olympics, which would indicate it had an official status. It did not. It was an exhibition held in conjunction with the Olympics. The error was introduced in the editing of the article.]

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Dennis Monokroussos is a FIDE master who has written about chess on his blog “The Chess Mind,” since 2005. He has been teaching chess for almost 20 years and for the last 10 years has been making instructional chess videos, which can be found at ChessLecture.com. Between 1995 and 2006, he taught philosophy, including a four-year stint at the University of Notre Dame.