Should chess be an Olympic sport?

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
As nobody of you will have missed, tonight the Beijing Summer Olympics have officially been opened. Again, chess is not part of the biggest sports event of the year. Is this a bad thing?

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the President of the F?ɬ©d?ɬ©ration Internationale des ?É‚Ä?checs, has been trying to make chess an Olympic sports from the moment he started leading the world chess federation in 1995. So far, with little success.

In 1999, chess was granted recognition by the International Olympic Committee. In the same year FIDE decided to comply with the IOC's guidelines for conducting dope tests for players participating in international chess tournaments.

A year later, at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, chess was included as a trial sport for display: Anand and Shirov played two rapid games (both were drawn - not the best pr for a sport perhaps!?).

Since then it has been quiet around the subject, but in this Olympic year, Iluymzhinov seems to push it a bit more again. At the opening ceremony of the Sochi Grand Prix tournament he expressed his ambition once more, and the first World Mind Sports Games in Beijing in October can be seen as another major display of chess to the rest of the world.

About the question whether chess should chess be an Olympic sport, opinions vary a lot. Many non-chess lovers will simply laugh about it, and claim that Olympics should only include physical sports. Most of these people argue that chess, like bridge or draughts, is no sport at all, because "you don't really get tired by doing it, do you?" So far, this has also been the reasoning of the IOC to not include chess in their official register.

Many chess lovers have their own opinion, which they often try to defend in vain at birthday parties or other social meetings. It was quoted as follows in a recent article in TIME Magazine:

"In the ancient Olympic Games, the element of cultural and mental activity was present," Rajcsanyi counters. Indeed, the ancient Olympic Games included contests in music, theater, poetry and other arts. "In the Olympic Games, until the Second World War, there were competitions that rewarded the mental efforts of people in the same manner they rewarded physical efforts," he adds. "Today, the missing element of the intellectual competition can be reintroduced by the involvement of chess, and perhaps bridge."

But not all chess players like to see chess included in the Olympics. Especially since we have our own Olympiads, which are always a big success, and besides, chess is chess, not to be compared with any other sports, right?

On this first day of the Beijing Olympics, on the 8th of the 8th month (8x8!), we wonder what our readers think: should chess be an Olympic sport? Please vote, and do explain your choice in the comments!

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

Company Contact and News Accreditation: 

Phone: 1 (800) 318-2827
Address: PO Box 60400 Palo Alto, CA 94306

More from PeterDoggers
BBC To Broadcast New Chess Show Decades After 'The Master Game'

BBC To Broadcast New Chess Show Decades After 'The Master Game'

Arjun Erigaisi Briefly World #5 As Menorca Open Winner

Arjun Erigaisi Briefly World #5 As Menorca Open Winner