Hard Talk: FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich On The Online Olympiad
Arkady Dvorkovich. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Hard Talk: FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich On The Online Olympiad

74 | Chess Event Coverage

The decision from FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich to give the Online Olympiad gold medals to both India and Russia was debated heavily in the chess community. In this interview, Chess.com is asking all the questions that were raised over the past day and a half.

The FIDE Online Olympiad ran July 25-August 31 on Chess.com. It was a major online chess event with 163 teams and over 1,500 participants from all over the world. It ended in an anti-climax: both India and Russia received the gold medals after a ruling from FIDE President Dvorkovich as the final was marred by major internet disruption.

In this interview, Dvorkovich explains his decision.

The full, 54-minute interview video.

Peter Doggers: It was a long and big event, 1,500 participants or actually more, but in the end, especially in the playoffs, there were some unfortunate situations with disconnections. It's not the best way to finish a tournament like that so, in general, how do you look back at it?

Arkady Dvorkovich: Let me start by saying that the whole idea behind the Online Olympiad came to our mind just about four months ago. We started thinking about all kinds of online activities to fill the gap that was created by the pandemic. We had a junior event created by our Chinese friends, we had the Online Nations Cup with just a few teams participating and then, when it was clear that we were not going to have a real Olympiad this year in Russia, we started thinking about an online Olympiad. I am happy that we have more than 160 teams participating through the vast majority of FIDE members, playing for both the success, but also the Olympiad is about festivities, it is about playing, meeting friends, this time online, but still, it was good.

Also, we had a few innovations, most important the mixed characters of the teams, the six boards, two men, two ladies, one junior, one girl, and substitutes for all of them, and each board was equally important. That was what mattered actually. My team wanted everyone to feel responsible for the team result. Not just the best player, but also the player on the last board was equally important and responsible for the result of a team.

Of course, we envisioned the difficulties. We knew that we were going to have issues with the Internet connection in many places and we knew that we were going to have issues with cheating since we're talking about online. Happily, we identified only eight cases of likely cheating over the course of the Olympiad which is almost zero. Cheating exists and it's a problem for online chess and for chess in general, but in this Olympiad, it was not widespread I think.

Internet quality has been a problem throughout the event, starting with the very first division and especially in the base division. Countries playing in those divisions, countries with poor economic conditions, with a quality of infrastructure not sufficient to provide a high-speed Internet connection all the time, we're talking about Africa in particular, unfortunately, we're talking about some of the countries in Oceania, in eastern Asia, some South American countries. In some countries, Internet outages had been related to political events, especially Somalia. They couldn't participate starting from the second day already after a complete block of the Internet due to a political event. There was a risk that the same could happen in Belarus, but luckily one day before they decided to switch it on and the Belarus team was able to participate.

Peter Doggers with Arkady Dvorkovich
Peter Doggers with Arkady Dvorkovich in 2018. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

About the teams playing with two general boards, two women boards, and two U20 boards. From a diversity standpoint, this is very positive and we got to see a lot of new names and promising upcoming players also but at the same time, this was criticized because we were not seeing the best teams of each country. In sports, in general, fans like to see the very best teams competing against the very best teams. How do you look back at this decision to make teams like this?

I still believe it was the right decision since people from the same country should feel they are one team, independent of age and gender. Of course, there are some pluses in having separate teams when you can have higher rated players involved but I think it was exciting to see men and ladies in one team, and juniors as well. For them, it was a huge experience as well. It was a check for them whether they were already able to play at the highest level since they were competing not just for themselves, not just for their own success but for the success of the team. So, they had to play a bit differently from how they play usually against guys from the same age group, in a more responsible manner.

We had the best players in most of the teams because you still had two players plus two substitutes, so in most teams like the Russian and Indian team, who were in the final, all four best players could play.

But they could never play at the same time of course.

Yes, but still, people knew that they could see their best players at some point. Also, there was another important thing. We are talking about countries and we are talking about how countries should develop chess and that they should focus on the things they are weak at, not only at the things they are strong at. For some teams, adding ladies to the team was weakening the team, but for some countries adding ladies was a strengthening of the team. I would mention Ukraine, Georgia, Kazakhstan, where the ladies are very strong. When you add them it's good for the team, they can compete in a more equal manner. Also, adding juniors, in some cases was a strengthening of the team. In some countries, there are very good aged players but they didn't put enough attention to raising a new generation of players and that's why they were losing. I think that's a reminder to all chess federations: that they should pay attention to all aspects of the development of chess, not just to their best players. I think it's one of the functions of the Olympiad, to do this.

I think that's a reminder to all chess federations: that they should pay attention to all aspects of the development of chess, not just to their best players.

Would you even consider introducing this next year as well?

I am not sure. We will discuss the experience, we will discuss the lessons of this Olympiad. There were more innovations of course. First, there was the division by groups, from weaker to stronger. There are many advocates of this structure, many people believe we should do the same at the main Olympiad but there are also negative sides: weaker teams want to face the strongest teams in the first couple of rounds.

Of course, if you're a board-one player of a weaker country it's an amazing opportunity that you have a chance to play against Carlsen.

Exactly. Maybe we should think about some kind of a mix that would allow still to have a couple of rounds playing against the strong teams but then to find a way for strong teams to compete amongst themselves and identify the winner. It's sometimes not good that the winner is identified by additional coefficients that are determined by the level of play of other teams, not of the teams themselves. Another thing was the tiebreaker rule, the armageddon rule that was also controversial but really exciting for spectators.

Wasn't it a little bit too random?

I think it was random, yes. Again, we were trying to weigh two things: the excitement of spectators and a fair approach. I personally thought that maybe a couple of blitz games could be played before the armageddon and if the blitz games are not decisive then the armageddon could come into effect. But other players thought that, well, in the end, it created huge excitement for spectators. So we will think about the future, whether we will do the same or whether we should change the format but certainly, those innovations were really interesting and some of those could be used in traditional chess, but probably not all of them.

All of these differences, like the armageddon making it random, and especially teams not being able to come up with their six strongest players, which is more in the Olympic spirit— when you have the Olympics, countries are basically sending their strongest athletes everywhere in all the sports—so a lot of times I heard that this tournament should not have been called an Olympiad. Unfortunately, the Online Nations Cup was a name that was not available because we already used it, but many people thought: OK, it's fine to organize this, but don't call it an Olympiad.

But the name is not FIDE Chess Olympiad, the name is FIDE Chess Online Olympiad. The name is different. I don't think we should consider the two Olympiads as completely the same, put them in the same line. I think the Online Olympiad is really important, it's a big event, but it's just not the same and we should all understand that.

Arkady Dvorkovich elected president
Dvorkovich just after being elected FIDE President in 2018. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Well, I think it's time to dive more into the details of the big decision you had to make. I have a lot of questions about that, questions that are partly also coming from the community, via Twitter, and in comments under articles.

We can start by saying that the Russian team members were not happy about it. Some of them pointed out that on the top four boards Russia won this second match 2.5-1.5 because of GM Alexandra Goryachkina's victory against GM Humpy Koneru. But at the same time, Humpy also lost her Internet connection for a while and she lost precious time getting back. She did manage to get back into the game and then she lost.

And then there were the boards of Nihal Sarin and Divya Deshmukh. Sarin was in an equal position and Deshmukh was objectively winning but both were in time trouble. But at the same time, the first match ended in 3-3 and you could say that because of the decision, it was sort of decided that the second match also ended in 3-3. So purely based on the playing situation (time and board), do you think it's a fair decision like that?

First of all, if I would not say it was a fair decision I would not take it. Fairness was one of the most important considerations in the decision-making process this time, besides the legal and technical aspects of the situation. So there are three components: legal, technical, and fairness. No politics whatsoever, let me stress this from the very beginning since we're being accused of doing this from political considerations. Only three things were important to me when I was making the decision.

The second thing that's important to understand is that this final was preceded by another case in the quarterfinals between India and Armenia. To understand the logic of the second decision you need to understand the logic of the first, since people compare the events, especially our friends in Armenia compare the two decisions, and of course some members of the Russian team as well.

In that particular case, I was serving as a member of the appeals committee and when the situation happened in the game of Haik Martirosyan in the game of also Nihal Sarin, Haik had 52 seconds on his clock in a position that I would say was as equal as the position of Sarin in the game against Russia. Objectively equal, but we all know how difficult it is to defend equal positions when you have just a few seconds on your clock.

Yes, I actually noticed that in the very final position the black player actually had to be a little bit careful and had to actually protect his c6 pawn, otherwise there would've been winning chances.

We all know the right move but when you have a few seconds on the clock you could make mistakes. Certainly, I was not the one to evaluate the positions, I am not a grandmaster and I should not do it. I cannot take it into account. Of course, I cannot avoid thinking about it but it was not a major factor. So, in the case of Armenia, we started looking into the technical aspects of the situation and found that there is no global issue, no issue on the side of Chess.com as we had confirmed by the technical team of Chess.com...

By the way, the Armenians want to see this information.

Yes, and we are still expecting the full report from Chess.com. [Editor's note: A full technical report was provided to FIDE by Chess.com on the same day that the interview was conducted.]

I am working for Chess.com but I am not involved in all of this. As I understand, Chess.com is planning to share the information with FIDE, but not directly with Armenia.

We are happy to serve as an intermediary and to summarize all the information that will come to us from Chess.com and Armenia since we need this information from both sides to have the full report. Then, after we have both, we can have a summary report so that everyone will know what happened, what were things underlying the decision.

So, we didn't find anything suspicious on a global scale or on the side of Chess.com and at the same time, the regulations clearly say that Internet connectivity is the sole responsibility of the players. Based on that and only on that, the appeals committee didn't have any other opinion or solution rather than to confirm the result of the game that had been announced by the chief arbiter, that Haik, unfortunately, lost to Sarin. The result stayed.

Arkady Dvorkovich
Dvorkovich in the Central Chess Club in Moscow. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

It was really unfortunate that the Armenian team went out of the competition after this decision, saying that is unfair to them, and they didn't compete in the second match. I was not happy about their decision and, of course, they were not happy about our decision. I thought they could continue giving their spectators the joy of watching further games and they had all the chances to get the match back and have an armageddon. They have a really strong team and they deserved it. But it was their decision. I cannot do anything about it. So, coming to the India versus Russia match, visibly, it was the same situation, just not one game but two games.

Except that in the final the Zoom calls also froze, unlike the quarterfinal.

Exactly. The Zoom calls froze but initially, it looked the same, the first few seconds. In two games the Zoom calls froze and we started getting confirmation from different sources, from Chess.com but also global mass media, and we found that there is a global issue, there is a global outage of the Internet. I saw the publication yesterday, it was not during the decision-making time but yesterday, that it caused Internet traffic going down by 3.5 percent globally, meaning that in the countries that have been affected directly it was maybe 35 percent or even more. So, that means there was a 100 percent probability almost that if six players are playing maybe a couple of games will be affected.

What I am not happy about is that we couldn't get this information before the match. Probably we could postpone it based on the knowledge that there is a global issue and we could play this match thereafter, rather than at the time when the issues were really big around the world. That's the lesson we should learn in the future. If you have a very important online event and we have the information that there is a global issue with the Internet we should postpone the competition rather than go ahead with it, having all those risks.

So, the situation was that after receiving the same information, the Indian team decided to appeal. Actually, they had a similar case before, in the group stage, against Mongolia, losing two games by a disconnect. They didn't appeal since they didn't have any information that it could have been caused by a global issue rather than a local one.

Actually, after that, they made their infrastructure stronger. They used special software that allows them to use two Internet providers simultaneously, making it much safer for them to play. So, they didn't appeal that time but when they saw this kind of information they decided to appeal. The only thing they asked for is not to confirm the results of those two games. They didn't ask for any specific solution like replaying the games or continuing the games from the moment they were stopped, they just asked for not confirming their losses, leaving it for the appeals committee, for FIDE in general, to decide what to do with this situation.

[India] didn't ask for any specific solution like replaying the games or continuing the games from the moment they were stopped, they just asked for not confirming their losses, leaving it for the appeals committee, for FIDE in general, to decide what to do with this situation.

I couldn't participate in the appeals committee meeting since I had a conflict of interest, being Russian, so we only had two members, Michael Khodarkovsky and Sava Stoisavljevic, discussing this and they asked for additional information from Chess.com who provided them with this information. They didn't have a unanimous decision on what to do.

I have a question about that. I am assuming there were two conflicting opinions there between Mr. Khodarkovsky and Mrs. Stoisavljevic.

Sava felt she didn't have sufficient information to make a final decision while Michael had a certain proposal but certainly there was no majority for any of the proposals.

My first question about this is: why wasn't there a third person placed there, why weren't you substituted by someone else so that you had an odd number of people in the committee again?

I would acknowledge that it was a missing part of the regulations, it was a missing part in our decision. Ex-ante there was no way this kind of decision can be made in the process of decision making. Since people will have again many questions about how does the person...

But you are acknowledging that in the future you will always need three.

I think we'll always need reserve members of the appeals committee, to always have three. It was clearly an imperfection in our regulations.

I think we'll always need reserve members of the appeals committee, to always have three. It was clearly an imperfection in our regulations.

Now that we're at the topic of forming an appeals committee, don't you think it should include at least one (top) chess player? Such big events, also in history, there has always been the feeling that at least one of the participants should be able to be in the committee as well.

Maybe. It's something to think about. There are pluses and minuses. But chess players are very specific people, I would say. [Laughs.] Sometimes they have very surprising opinions about what's going on.

Which could be positive or negative.

Yes, but I think when we're talking about the appeals committee and there is no rule to decide on the result of the game based on the positions, when it's only about legal and procedural matters, there is a question mark. But certainly, in this particular case, we could use chess players and I could even do it, I will explain to you in a second. The appeals committee didn't come to any decision regarding what to do next; of course, they decided the results cannot stay.

Dvorkovich in 2018. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

That's a question which was discussed by grandmaster Peter Heine Nielsen and arbiter Chris Bird on Twitter: If you have an appeals committee and the appeals committee cannot make a decision, shouldn't you just leave the decision of the chief arbiter standing then? How can you overrule the chief arbiter without making a decision in the appeals committee?

Let me be clear. The appeals committee was OK with two things: not confirming the results claimed by the chief arbiter and not asking Armenia to pay a fee for their appeal. The thing that was missing, where there was no unanimity, what about what to do next.

Right. So they did agree that India's appeal, that the two games that were lost on time should not be declared lost, that's what they actually agreed on.


But then the next stage was, what to do?

Yes. One might say that since we have those two games unclear, then it is 2.5 against 1.5 and Russia won but the regulations say you need 3.5 to win the match so it's not true that Russia won the match if two games have not been played basically, or unfinished. So we had to find a solution. They were at least three possibilities to proceed, maybe more. One was to replay those two games, and many people actually proposed that. For me, the problem with that kind of proposal was both on the fairness and the technical side.

On the technical side, the Internet issues were not over, and replaying would mean we should postpone until the next day.

What was the problem with that?

There was not a major problem with that but...

Normally speaking, you are limited to renting a venue and stuff like that, people have to catch their planes, but if everybody is at home anyway...

First of all, we don't know, because people know the schedule of the Olympiad. Who knows.

But you know you will be able to find a time, within a few days, when everybody can be playing.

Like the Candidates tournament. I would not say that's the best situation we are in right now with the Candidates tournament when you don't know when and how you're going to do this. Of course with this, it could be easier but still, you create a gap between almost the whole competition and the very final thing that you should have. It was possible but I was not sure it is fair.

Now it comes to your point that maybe you should have chess players in the appeals committee. I strongly felt Russia should not be put under the risk of losing in this particular situation. There was almost no chance that Russia would lose in these two games given the situation. It was very likely to lose one but almost impossible to lose another one so the worst possible result for Russia was 3-3 and an armageddon in this case. I would certainly say that an armageddon would be a fairer thing than playing those two games from the very beginning.

Arkady Dvorkovich
Dvorkovich at the 2019 Chess960 world championship. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Since I didn't feel it was fair, and I put myself now also on the Armenian side, I would say, when they [stepped out], I thought that Russia would go out and that could be the second disaster over the playoffs. For me, Armenia going out was a real disaster, not from the point of you that I dislike the Armenians' step, I don't like it, but that's another thing. It's about the reputation of the Olympiad. People going out, it is kind of a boycott of the official event. Even if the probability of this step from the Russian side was like 20 percent or whatever, I was not going to take this risk at this stage of the event.

You made a lot of assumptions, About the possible outcomes of those two games, about the possible stepping out of Russia out of the Olympiad... You made those assumptions but actually, I think it was Daniil Dubov who shared his surprise that the Russian team was not even contacted. Why didn't you contact the Russian team and ask them: are you willing to play those games again?

That's not true, I was in contact with the Russian Chess Federation but we were not discussing the solutions.

But why didn't you simply ask them: are you OK with playing those two games again?

I contacted them at the time of the consideration of the appeals committee, when I was not involved in that, I just informed them that these deliberations are still going on and they are considering different options and of course the options might include replaying the games.

But you couldn't just ask: are you OK with playing again?

What if I would receive an answer that no, we are not going to play.

Then you can still make the same decision as you did, but at least you know that.

No, that would put me in the position where I would make the decision under the pressure from the team. I didn't want to have pressure from any of the teams while making a decision. I wanted to make my own decision; it's my responsibility.

I didn't want to have pressure from any of the teams while making a decision. I wanted to make my own decision; it's my responsibility.

You should understand that on both parts there was a very emotional situation so people, I would say, could not fully control their emotions as well and they could take a completely unreasonable emotional decision and make claims like that. I would say, they would not be proud of themselves the day after, but that would happen. I didn't want to put myself in this position to hear those things and to be under pressure and I didn't want to put them in this position to take decisions under those huge emotions.

Of course, there were other options, like replaying starting from the positions where the games have been stopped, but most people believe that it is even worse than replaying from the beginning. People would have time you think about the position...

Did you consider declaring the second match equal and finishing with an armageddon?

No. I know there could be such a proposal but actually nobody proposed it, even the appeals committee members, they only considered the first two options that I just mentioned. Out of those two, they believed that playing the games again from the beginning is the better one but they didn't come to a unanimous decision about that so that's why they were not proposing this firmly.

So, in the end, how did you come to the decision to give the gold medals to both teams?

I certainly thought that given the situation that Russia, based on the decision of the chief arbiter, deserved a win but India didn't deserve to lose since it was not their fault that those two games had been lost. So both teams deserve having the gold, that was my logic based on fairness.

I certainly thought that given the situation that Russia, based on the decision of the chief arbiter, deserved a win but India didn't deserve to lose since it was not their fault that those two games had been lost. So both teams deserve having the gold, that was my logic based on fairness.

Again, from a technical perspective, I thought that we cannot continue playing on this day so we would need to postpone and I thought, and I only had a few minutes to make the decision, I thought at that point it's not a good outcome to postpone to another day. From a legal perspective, I thought it was different from the Armenian case since we have proof that it is global so it is a different situation and we should not base our decision on the same logic. And from the fairness perspective, I thought it would be fair to give gold to both teams. That was the full logic I used. Once again, I didn't want the situation where one of the teams would just go out of the playing hall.

You already mentioned it before: you didn't like that it was described as a political decision but at the same time it is understandable that people thought about that because it's like a compromise decision, it's a decision that sort of tries to keep both sides happy in a way, which is very common in politics. In fact, you have been a politician for many years yourself. At the same time, in the world of sports, as people are arguing, it's very important that there is a winner. At the end of the day, a sports event needs to have a winner, a clear winner. Do you agree with that?

I certainly agree with that, though in some sports we had cases where there were two winners. In some cases, it was due to technical issues, for instance in speed sports like swimming or running. At some point, the clocks had not been able to identify the marginal differences so there was a certain degree of imprecision in the clocks. There was no other way rather than to have two winners in some competitions, even in the Olympiads it happened before.

I also remember a figure skating competition where the Russian player won the competition but then there was the decision to give gold to another pair, I think from Canada, since the organizing committee felt that the judges had been unfair to the Canadians, so they overruled the decision of the referees and gave another gold to the Canadian pair. I would say this one is similar to what we did but it was also a scandal.

But, and this is very important since I remember this case: all spectators around the world, especially the spectators from the Soviet Union from where the first player was, of course, they thought it was their victory. They considered that the decision to give another gold is probably a nice compromise but all spectators in the Soviet Union considered our Soviet players as winners, not [as finished in second place].

I strongly believe that in Russia and in many other countries the spectators would consider that Russia won this competition. In India, of course, it is different and they consider that India is the champion. Of course, I understand the emotions but in some tweets, people could have been a bit more balanced in terms of seeing who are the champions rather than saying that just one country is the champion. Formally, it's not true.

Again, it's about interpretation, it's about feelings and I'm sure the Russian team should be proud of winning the Olympiad and the Russian spectators should be proud of the Russian team winning the Olympiad. After winning the World team championship and the European team championship, it is the third team competition won in a row won by the Russian team. For India, it's the first gold in an Olympiad, not the same Olympiad but still, a very important gold for the Olympiad, they never had it before. So, people should be proud of their teams, that's it.

I said it to Russian media actually, I cannot fully separate my heart and my brain but I had to do it at that point. My heart was 'Russia won the competition' and I took the decision to give India another gold so they are also the champions. My brain did it, not my heart. [Laughs.] But that is the situation, that is how things are done in real life. Unfortunately, in the end, sometimes one person has to make a decision.

My heart was 'Russia won the competition' and I took the decision to give India another gold so they are also the champions. My brain did it, not my heart.

Let me put you in a hypothetical situation. The same thing could've happened also in Armenia versus India in the quarterfinals. In the final, you can make a decision like this but in a quarter or semifinal, you really have to have one team going to the final. So, what if Armenia lost their game because of a Cloudflare issue. What would you have done?

And it was not in the first match but in the second match. Because since they had a second match that could affect my decision...

Let me put it this way. What if the whole situation had happened in the semifinal?

I think the only way to do it then was your proposal, to have an armageddon.

Then you would have let them play for it.

Yes. Correct. At least, I think so now. Every time there are many factors but I think that will be a fair decision and at least partially legal if not completely legal.

Or maybe in this case you would have started by trying to replay the two games, by asking both teams if they would be happy with that or you would just go to armageddon?

Maybe. I don't know. It's very hard to put myself in an artificial situation. And I would certainly prefer in the future not to be a member of the appeals committee. [Laughs.]

I would certainly prefer in the future not to be a member of the appeals committee.

I was actually thinking about this too, that you are really close to the chess, you really follow it as a chess fan as well, all those events, so at some point, I was thinking: aren't you a little bit too much involved as FIDE President? Shouldn't you maybe take a little bit more distance in those situations or do you feel it's OK like this?

For the final decision making in a case like that, anyway I would have to decide. Formally, I was not doing the appeals committee job in the final so it was the same thing. But nobody else can decide besides the president when the situation is completely stuck and there is no simple solution. But for the appeals committee job I think you are right, I should be distant in the future.

Dvorkovich visiting the 2019 Tata Steel Chess tournament.
Dvorkovich visiting the 2019 Tata Steel Chess tournament. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Just a few things that came on Twitter from especially the players of the Russian team and also the Armenian team. As I said, the players of both two teams were not happy. For example, GM Ian Nepomniachtchi tweeted that it was 'a smart decision to please the Indian chess community.' We can talk about the chess boom in India a bit later but he felt that because there is so much attention in India, that this might have influenced your decision?

I know, I discussed this with him for a few hours already. We discuss chess things a lot, almost daily, with Ian and some other players as well. I understand his feelings, I just think he is not right but he has his own view on that. That's OK for me. He was at least making those comments in the correct way, I would say. There was no offense here.

Daniil Dubov called the whole decision a 'disrespect to the Russian team' and Elina Danielian was also very strong, tweeting for example 'shame on FIDE.' It seems there is a little bit of damage between FIDE, or maybe you, and some top players in Russia and Armenia. Levon Aronian was also not happy and also tweeted about it. Do you feel you need to repair the relationships with the Russian and Armenian top players a little bit?

I had conversations with Daniil and I think we understood each other. While I strongly disagree with some of his comments and the way he made those comments, I respect him a lot and I think we have a mutual understanding about that. We just need to put emotions aside and will continue discussing these things probably with the whole team, not just with him. Again, we had a conversation and it's OK. Certainly, I would not recommend anyone to make comments like that under emotional pressure. Everyone should calm down before making public statements and at least discuss things with the second party before making those statements.

Everyone should calm down before making public statements and at least discuss things with the second party before making those statements.

I was in contact with Levon Aronian. Of course, he's very much disappointed about it and I understand him. I explained my position to him in detail. Hopefully, he understood me and I strongly believe we have huge mutual respect between the two of us.

Regarding Elina, let me leave this for her own responsibility. I don't want to comment on her statements, I don't think I should go down to this level of discussion.

One last thing I also found on Twitter, I think it was Malcolm Pein who suggested this related to a system in cricket. What do you think, maybe for the future, about an adjudication system where for example the time on the clock combined with a computer assessment of the position can lead to maybe an independent jury deciding games won, lost, or draw?

That's not impossible but I would say it would not be real chess. But it is not impossible, maybe in some tournaments it would be possible but again, I think everything should be decided eventually on the board and what happened this time is not an optimal thing. I was choosing between two bad choices. In the future, everything should be decided on the board in all cases where it is possible.

Except for what we might have already discussed, when you look back, what is the biggest thing you learned from this Olympiad, something you might want to do differently next time?

We learned that there is a huge interest in this kind of online chess competition including those of the team nature, not just individuals. People like this stuff. We had a real festival for amateurs, a checkmate coronavirus festival, that was also interesting. This kind of professional team competition is of course very exciting and I think we should consider options on how to structure those online team competitions in the future, whether to continue with Olympiads or do it in some other way.

Even without the coronavirus?

Even without, not as a substitute for anything but complementary to traditional chess events, somewhere in the middle, sometimes there are some gaps in the schedule, like, spread those events over a long time span throughout the year. We should think about all options that we might have.

The second thing we learned is that certainly, we need to strengthen the Internet infrastructure all around the world, that would be our recommendation to the governments and to investors to concentrate on! [Laughs.] But I think people know about this anyway, especially given the pandemic. Investments in the physical infrastructure will increase in the nearest future.

Anti-cheating is also one of the lessons. We are improving but we are far from the solution, far from the optimal situation. I addressed the chess community in August with some ideas so we are collecting ideas now from our colleagues, from our friends, from the chess family and we will consider these options at the next FIDE council meeting. That's really important.

And, we already discussed that we need to explore those innovations in more detail, whether to have mixed teams in the future for some competitions, but not for all. We can also have separate ones. But maybe for some competitions, it is reasonable. We should explore different ways of tiebreaks including blitz games before the armageddon, that's certainly possible. And we should certainly think about the world team championship because the Online Olympiad is the event for all teams but the world team championship is only for the top teams, so we need to think about how to structure this, even based on the experience we had now with the Online Olympiad.

Finally, I think one of the very positive effects of this Olympiad is the incredible attention it got in India, and also in some other countries but India stood out on the last day. The #ChessOlympiad hashtag was trending topic number two in the country and even the Prime Minister was tweeting about it. So in that sense, I assume we can look back at a successful tournament, right?

Yes, I think it was a success. When China was still in the tournament the interest in China was also huge. They lost, both to India in the round of the group stage and then they lost to Ukraine in the playoffs, but China is also a huge market I would say, for FIDE, and some other countries as well. In Russia also the tsunami of tweets and also the congratulations of the president of Russia to the Russian team as well were published yesterday.

But in India, yes, it's quite special. I'm happy they have a young generation that is playing at a very high-quality level. Probably Russia and India are at the top of the youngsters' competitions. There are some other countries as well, like Iran, and China of course, and others. But India and Russia are clearly growing chess nations with the largest number of active chess players.

The first thought I had yesterday is that we should not replay the final but we should have the match between India and Russia in the nearest future, kind of a champions series or something like that, why not? That would create a huge interest In the chess community both in Russia and India and could support the boom that has been created by this Online Olympiad but has a much deeper foundation in the history of course, as India is the mother of chess and Russia has one of the best traditional chess schools, so why not?

Especially if we would include Armenia, then everybody would be happy.


Alright, Arkady, thank you very much for being here and good luck with all the future events that are going to happen.

Yes, for the future we are thinking about what to do this year the most important thing is to complete the Candidates tournament of course.

Are you still confident it might happen this year?

Yes, I think we can have it in November or early December, so why not. [Update Sep 2, 2020: Mr Dvorkovich later corrected himself and told Chess.com that the plan is to hold the Candidates in November, not December.] So, the Candidates, the women Grand Prix, and we will think about some format for the world rapid and blitz too but of course we are not sure of it. When we are talking about online, one thing we're thinking about is the world bullet. That's an idea we are exploring now.

Sounds exciting. Thanks again and until next time.

Thank you.

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