FCO 2014: Review

FCO icon 03All of the other chess websites did their reviews of Tromso weeks ago so it’s high time we published our reflections on the Fantasy Chess Olympiad that we ran alongside it!

I think it’s taken me about a month to recover from the FCO 2014. It was an exhausting and exhilarating ride but we were really delighted with the level of interest and support we got from chess fans all over the world. If you took part or just popped by to see what was going on then I’d like to say on behalf of everyone at Yorkshire Chess “Thank you for your support!”

The personal highlight of the whole two weeks for me was actually the night before the first round. That may sound like an odd thing to say but I was online most of that Friday afternoon and evening and the excitement building on Twitter and other social media networks as the day wore on was really infectious! Our friends at Chess24 were kind enough to publish our press release on the official Olympiad website that afternoon and I watched in amazement as our mailbox filled up with entries directly as a result of that article.  At times we were getting two or three new entries a minute. This really got us off to a brilliant start. I think the tweet I posted below sums up the sense of anticipation that evening.

The fact that Magnus Carlsen almost immediately favorited this tweet can’t have harmed our promotional endeavors either!

It’s not for us to judge whether the Tromso Olympiad itself was a success or not (plenty of commentators far more qualified than ourselves will have already said plenty about that) but as chess fans and spectators we can certainly say it was wonderfully enjoyable and exciting to follow.

This heat map shows where our FCO 2014 entries originated

This heat map shows where our FCO 2014 entries originated

We wanted FCO to enhance the Tromso experience for chess fans everywhere and we think we managed to do that. In this article we’ll take a last look back at the competition, confirm all the winners and tie up the final loose ends. First of all let’s just put out some of the headline numbers that confirm we achieved all our objectives in terms of participation for the FCO this year.

  • 896 team entries across the two main competitions
  • 76 countries represented (the map on the right shows the spread of our entries)
  • Over 5,000 visitors came to our website during the course of the FCO
  • 80 prizes donated to us by our generous sponsors

Yorkshire Chess are delighted to have been able to build so successfully on the 2012 edition of this competition and we hope that everyone who’s taken part, and a few interested onlookers, enjoyed themselves as much as we did. It’s been very hard work but we had a great time!

Below is a summary of the final stages, a roll-call of our winners and some of our favorite Olympiad photos (and captions!).


FCO 2014

Ukraine's board 3 Anna Ushenina makes her feelings for the Russian opposition very clear indeed. Photo by David Llada and used here with permission

Ukraine’s board 3 Anna Ushenina makes her feelings for the Russian opposition very clear indeed. Photo by David Llada and used here with permission

Going into the final round of the Olympiad our main event was headed, as it had been almost exclusively from start to finish by ‘I Bribed Kirsan And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt’ of the USA. After round 10 they had 257 points (64%) and their lead over ‘Red Star Cox Green’ of the UK was just 5 points. Amazingly, the same team manager had also picked our third placed team at that stage! ‘Kirsan Bribed Me And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt’ had 250 points and were also within striking distance of the top spot. The margins were fine enough to ensure that the end of competition predictions would come into the final reckoning.

For those of you who may have forgotten, points scoring for predictions worked like this. 5 points for a correct prediction and 2 points if a team/individual you picked finished in the top 3 but not in the position you predicted.

Round 11 at Tromso came and went. China were slightly unexpected but thoroughly deserving winners of the Open section and the Russian Women’s team proved too strong for their opponents despite a penultimate round hiccup against a highly motivated Ukraine team (this tense encounter was aptly encapsulated by the amusing photo above right by David Llada).

We had a feverish Thursday night and Friday morning making sure we’d got all the data and calculations correct before finally confirming our top three and bottom placed finishers as:

  • 1st: I Bribed Kirsan And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt (USA) – 290 points
  • 2nd: Kings and Queens (Israel) – 283 points
  • 3rd Los Quijotescos (Brazil) – 280 points
  • Booby Prize: Magnuts! (Ireland) – 67 points
Daughter: What is the problem with knight takes rook? Garry: It's clear 11.Ng4 Bxe4 12.Rxa7 Rxa7 13.Qxa7 Nc4 14.Ba1 Kf7 15.Nf3 Ne7 16.0-0 Qc6 17.Nd4 Qb6 18.Qxb6 Nxb6 19.Nb5 Nc4 20.h3 h5 21.f4 h4 22.Re1 Rh5 23.Nc7 e5 24.fxe5 Rxe5 25.Rxe5 fxe5 26.Kf2 Kf6 27.Kf3 Kf5 28.b5 g5 29.g3 e4+ 30.Kg2 hxg3 0-1 Daughter: OK Caption by Sanket Keni Photo by Georgios Souleidis of Chess24

Daughter: What is the problem with knight takes rook?
Garry: It’s clear 11.Ng4 Bxe4 12.Rxa7 Rxa7 13.Qxa7 Nc4 14.Ba1 Kf7 15.Nf3 Ne7 16.0-0 Qc6 17.Nd4 Qb6 18.Qxb6 Nxb6 19.Nb5 Nc4 20.h3 h5 21.f4 h4 22.Re1 Rh5 23.Nc7 e5 24.fxe5 Rxe5 25.Rxe5 fxe5 26.Kf2 Kf6 27.Kf3 Kf5 28.b5 g5 29.g3 e4+ 30.Kg2 hxg3 0-1
Daughter: OK
Caption by Sanket Keni
Photo by Georgios Souleidis of Chess24

In the end poor old ‘Red Star Cox Green’ had a melt down in the final round as, although they managed 21 points for their round 11 score, they only managed 6 points for their predictions (punished fully for an admirable and patriotic but ultimately unrealistic choice of England for the silver medal in the Women’s section!) and slumped down the table to joint 4-6th places.

‘Kings and Queens’ had always been in the mix and scored very consistently right through the whole FCO. They never scored less than 20 points. For this reason if no other they fully deserve their second place. Meanwhile, ‘Los Quijotescos’ (also consistent but rarely impressive scorers through the rounds) made their move at the very end of the competition by scoring an impressive 19 points for their predictions which included correctly predicting the Russia, China and Ukraine top three placings in the Women’s section.

In the Booby Prize category, ‘Magnuts!’ took full advantage of  some of the wrinkles in our participant data (which we only managed to completely iron out for the Week2Sprint contest) and rooted out a number of names that weren’t ever likely to make an appearance at the board. Their managers’ hard work was rewarded when five of their players scored nothing at all as they posted an enviably low score of just 67.

We also had a prize for the highest scoring team in every round and that enabled us to give away prizes to 12 more players. It’s worth giving a special mention here to ‘Panda Team’ who scored a sensational 24/40 in the predictions round. You can find the full list of FCO 2014 prize winners and what they won on our prizes page.


Week2Sprint

"You know what Magnus, I've heard that Bird's Defence is supposed to pretty sound, especially with 5... Nf6. Why don't you play that today?" "Erm... ok then." Photo by David Llada and used here with permission

Erna: “You know what Magnus, I’ve heard that Bird’s Defence is supposed to pretty sound, especially with 5… Nf6. Why don’t you play that today?”
Magnus: “Erm… ok then.”
Photo by David Llada

Perversely for a shorter competition, the winner of our Week2Sprint was far more clear cut than the main FCO. ‘It’s a Sprint, Not a Marathon’ held an imposing 12 point lead going into the final round. They’d scored with tremendous consistency throughout the competition so it was hard to see them slipping up at the death.

Of course they didn’t slip up and even extended their margin of victory to 16 points as they garnered an impressive final score of 167 (60%). Behind them it was predictably much tighter for the second and third places as we had three teams finish on the same score of 151. ‘Olsen brothers’ of the United Arab Emirates, ‘Paul Morphy Rules’ of Sri Lanka and ‘trying to win funny team name prize, please vote’ all crossed the line together and we had to resort to our first tie-break method to decide on the final places. This involved calculating the cumulative performance rating for the players in all three teams with the highest totals being the winners.

Once we’d calculated this we were able to confirm the final positions as follows:

  • 1st: It’s a Sprint, Not a Marathon (USA) – 167
  • 2nd: ‘trying to win funny team name prize, please vote’ (Croatia) – 151
  • 3rd: Olsen brothers ( United Arab Emirates) – 151
  • Booby Prize: It’s better down here (Croatia) – 11

Unlucky for ‘Paul Morphy Rules’ you might think, but in fact there is a consolation for their manager who won the prize for best score for the predications due to having a higher overall score than the other two teams who scored 19 points for their predictions.

All the Week2Sprint prize winners and details of the prizes they won are on our prizes page.


More Winners

Kirsan: "Nimzo-Indian?"  Kateryna: "No, she's Chinese"  Caption by Jordi Photo by Georgios Souleidis of Chess24

Kirsan: “Nimzo-Indian?”
Kateryna: “No, she’s Chinese”
Caption by Jordi
Photo by Georgios Souleidis of Chess24

We also awarded some prizes to players who entered our spot competitions. Here they are:

  • Day 2: Prediction competition winner – Ninad Kuilkarni
  • Day 3: Caption competition winner –  Sanket Keni
  • Day 5: Prediction competition winner – Francesca Matta
  • Day 7: Spot the deliberate mistake competition winner – Ulrik Svensson
  • Day 8: @Fantasy_Chess twitter followers draw winner – Chadzilla
  • Day 9: Caption competition winner –  Jordi

We held a poll for FCO competitors and the public to decide on their favourite team name. We shortlisted 10 and the winners (by a single vote!) were ‘Kissin’ in the Bacrot of the Movies’. Everyone that voted was also entered into a prize draw and Shubham Jain was the winner of that prize.

Again a list of all prize winners and what they won can be found on our prizes page.


FCO 2014 Most Valuable Player awards

The winners of our FCO 2014 Most Valuable Player awards were Tarvo Seeman of Estonia in the Open section and Pia Cramling of Sweden in the Women’s section. You can see the full details of their superb FCO points scoring on our MVP page. We are currently making arrangements to ship their… erm… ‘genuinely unique’ medals to them.


Dream Team

By means of a sign off we thought that you make like to see our FCO 2014 Dream Team. This is essentially the best possible line up of players that you could have picked from each list. This is the ‘solution’ to FCO 2014 if you will. Here it is:

Open SectionName (Federation)FCO points scored 
1.Amonatov (TJK)33Or Kelires (CYP) also scored 33 points on board 1
2.Seeman (EST)35Our MVP obviously makes an appearance in our dream team
3.Yu Yangyi (CHN)34The highest rating performer in Tromso makes our top 10
4.Crux (PER)33A contender for our MVP award right the way through the FCO
5.Shankland (USA)32If he'd won the final round with Black instead of drawing he'd have scored 34
Women's SectionName (Federation)FCO points scored
1.Cramling (SWE)37Our Women's section MVP made the highest FCO score
2.Saduaskassova (KAZ)32Or Shvayger (ISR) also scored 32 points on board 2
3.Stojanovic (MNE)32Frisk of Sweden scored 34 but couldn't have been selected alongside Cramling so we've included the Montenegran as the second highest scorer
4.Skinke (LAT)32Great name, even better performance!
5.Anwar Al-Bzoor (PLE)32Made a late run in Tromso to make it into our dream team

This team would have scored a whopping 332/440 (75%)!


Our heartfelt thanks once again to all our entrants, visitors and, of course, our sponsors and promotional partners for helping us to make FCO 2014 such a great success. Now we have to decide what to do next. Azerbaijan 2016 seems like to long to wait for another Fantasy Chess competition…

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