Mark Bluvshtein

It’s always easier writing profiles on other players, but I will nonetheless write about my own previous experiences. 2010 will be my fifth Olympiad. If I didn’t have a veteran tag in previous Olympiads, I definitely have one this time around. Thomas has played in two Olympiads, Nikolay in one, and Artiom and Leonid will be playing in their first Olympiad. This means that I have more Olympic experience than the other players combined. I will try to share my experience with the rest of the guys as much as I can.

I played very well in my first three Olympiads, between 2002 and 2006. In 2002, I scored 8/11 on 5th board. In 2004, it was 8.5/12 on third board, and in 2006  7.5/11 on second board. However, in 2008 I felt like I just crashed and burned at the Olympiad, scoring 5/9 on top board. The score itself does not look so bad, but I feel like I played badly against rather weak opposition. This could be due to the pressure I put on myself playing on top board. No top board jitters in 2010 though.

Olympiads are generally the most fun tournaments on the chess calendar. All the best players from the best countries in the world get together to compete. This truly global event is one of a kind. It can be overwhelming the first time around. With such a young team on both the National and the Women’s side, the team chemistry should be quite good. This idea of good team chemistry can be just as important as 100 rating points at times, as we showed by going close to the top of the standings in 2002 and 2004. This was also shown in 2006 in us beating India. Some of the credit needs to go to Pascal for his incredible win over Anand though:). This is not to say that in 2008 we did not have good team chemistry. Fortunately, we were able to win the last few rounds to have a respectable finish. It also helps that we all enjoy representing Canada.

At Olympiads, I want to play every round. It’s just the way that I am. This is not to say that I am against getting “benched”, but I will not bench myself voluntarily. To be more honest, I will try to resist getting benched against strong teams, since that is the reason why I played chess- to compete against the best in the world. I believe that it is the Captain’s job to decide on who is playing and the players’ job to be ready to play every round. This is the reason as to why I led the team in games in 2002, 2004, and 2006 (I am not actually sure about 2008). I hope that every Canadian who will be playing on the Olympic team will provide the same attitude. This creates beneficial competition on the team for who will play more games.

The Olympiad should be a fun one. A lot of people have negative feelings about Khanty-Mansiysk, but those are people who have not been there. In recent years, a lot of world class events have been held there. The reviews that I get are positive ones except for the freezing weather. But in late September and early October, us Canadians should be able to handle it.

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