Bangladesh national chess team went to the 41st World Chess Olympiad in Norway with the hope of replicating last edition's performance where they had produced their best-ever performance by finishing 33rd. But they came back finishing in 64th position out of 177 teams, despite having trained for a month under Dutch GM Sergei Tiviakov.
Bangladesh Chess Federation's general secretary Shayiful Tareq failed to find any explanation behind the dismal performance but IM Minhazuddin Ahmed, who returned yesterday along with GM Niaz Murshed, felt the performance was below-par.
“The last two rounds of the Olympiad are always very important but unfortunately we failed to do well in the last round against Sweden, whom Bangladesh, comprising two GMs and two FMs, had held to a draw in World Cities Chess in UAE in 2012,” said Minhazuddin yesterday.
“Our strategy was to win first and fourth boards of Zia bhai and Niaz bhai respectively, who had started with white pieces and draw the second and third boards of Rakib bhai and Razib bhai. But nothing went according to plan. Zia and Niaz bhai drew while Rakib and Razib bhai lost their boards despite starting well against Sweden,” said Minhaz, who was appointed captain in the last round.
Sweden beat Bangladesh 3-1 to grasp the 33rd position while Bangladesh slipped to 64th from 51st.
Bangladesh, ranked 55, had started well by beating 141th-ranked Zimbabwe, 50th-ranked Chile, drawing against 44th-ranked Belgium before losing three successive matches against second-ranked Ukraine, 22nd-ranked Peru and Singapore, who are places below Bangladesh in ranking.
“I still can't believe the defeat against Singapore as no one could play their natural game. You can say it was a step backward for us,” said Minhaz.
After the defeat against Singapore, Bangladesh beat San Marino, drew against Philippines and beat El Salvador before losing against Sweden in the final round.
Minhaz said they suffered from the lack of warm-up tournaments before the Olympiad but he believes he would be able to earn a GM norm in future if he is given opportunity to play six tournaments outside home in a year.
Minhaz in fact had the opportunity to earn a GM norm from the Olympiad had he earned two to three more points but he was used in only seven rounds to team's strategy. However, he says he is happy to be part of Bangladesh squad and with his five wins out of seven games.