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By Michael P. Orsi
Edward Snowden should declare his patriotism in court
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - Wang Hao
Sometimes the finish line isn't the best place to watch a race. At the recent World Open held in Arlington, the ninth and final round featured a minimum of drama on the top boards, as the grandmasters in a position for a big payday preferred to play it safe.
Like one of those busy Pieter Bruegel peasant harvest paintings that seem to be breaking out of the frame, the annual blowout Tata Steel Tournament at the Dutch coastal city of Wijk aan Zee features an almost overflowing bounty of chess. There's a huge nine-round Swiss event for amateurs, a seven-round rapid tournament and, of course, three -- count 'em, three -- 14-player invitational round-robin tournaments in which the weakest "C" tournament boasts six grandmasters and an average rating of over 2460.
Just as in the five-ring Olympics where athletes compete in track events and on the ski slopes, many of the competitors and countries that show up at the biennial chess Olympiad arrive knowing they have little hope of earning a medal. Men’s and women’s teams from more than 150 countries took part in the recent 40th Olympiad in Istanbul, which once again was dominated by the globe’s long-standing chess powerhouses: Russia, China, Armenia, Ukraine and the U.S.
The Little Country That Could did it again as tiny Armenia on Sunday won its third gold medal in the past four years, nipping mighty Russia on tiebreaks after the two chess powerhouses finished 9-1-1 at the 40th biennial Olympiad in Istanbul.
In one of the most impressive performances by an American player in decades, GM Hikaru Nakamura on Sunday won the 73rd Tata Steel Wijk aan Zee premiere section over an all-grandmaster field that included world champion Viswanathan Anand, former world champion Vladimir Kramnik and world No. 1 Magnus Carlsen of Norway.
It's been the best of chess and the worst of chess at the Tata Steel Tournament, the traditional elite event held each January at the Dutch seaside town of Wijk aan Zee.