Resting in round 1?

To play in the Olympiad is an honor. Therefore, I believe that any player who competes in the Olympiad MUST be in tip top physical, mental and emotional shape. That player must give his / her country 150%. If not, that player has no business representing his / her country in the most prestigious International team competition. I guess I am old school.

I played in 4 Olympiads in my career, twice with both of my sisters, once with Sofia and once for the United States. I won team and individual medals in every Olympiad. I won a total of 10 medals, 5 Gold, 4 Silver and 1 Bronze. I have never sat out even one game in those 4 Olympiads. I played all 56 games on board 1 and I have never lost a single game.

I simply do not understand the philosophy of resting star players, especially in round 1, 2 or 3. The Olympiad usually offers 2 rest days anyway. As I mentioned before, every half a point counts because the (individual and team) point scores are computed for the team and individual medals. Two years ago at the age of 35 (some consider that over the prime age), I had no problem playing all 14 games. In fact, I performed better toward the end, scoring 5.5 / 6 and winning the last 4 straight games. How did I do that? I eat healthy, exercise daily and have proper rest at night (that means no party or nights on the town during the event, only after). I wish more players would take this seriously.

Again, I also do not understand the philosophy of not playing your best players, especially for teams which are on an uphill battle to win medals. In the men’s team, there are 4 starters and 2 alternate players. In the women’s team, there are 3 starters and 1 alternate player. There are specific reasons why some players are starters but the #1 reason is the starters are supposed to be stronger. The only time any starter should sit out is if he / she does not feel well or he / she has a bad streak. Some teams do have the luxury of having deep teams. A perfect example would be Russia. Most do not.

At the 2004 Calvia Olympiad, 3 women’s teams were within half point from each other for the team Silver after 13 (of 14) rounds: US, Russia and Georgia. The US and Georgia played the top 3 boards while the Russian rested their board 1 in the most crucial round. Georgia and the US both won by the score of 2.5 – .5 while Russia won 2 – 1. That gave the US the Silver and Georgia moved into a tie for 3rd with Russia (eventually lost on tie-breaks).

Why do captains sit out their best players?
If you are the captain, would you sit your best players during early or critical rounds?

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Chess Daily News from Susan Polgar