Team Chess: Contradiction or the Best Format?

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Playing chess in a team at first seems like a contradiction, because it is not played with several people participating on the same board. In most competitions each member of each team plays games individually, but their result influences the overall team result. In the Olympic system, two teams of four players each participate in each match. If the match finishes 2-2, it is tied and both teams win 1 point. If the match goes 2.5-1.5 or 4-0, the score is the same: 2 points for the winning team and 0 for the defeated team.

The first chess team I took part in, 18 years ago!

This scoring system determines the team situation, where games influence each other, since our loss can cause someone on the team to have to force their game to have a chance of winning, or their victory can give us the advantage of being favored by a draw. Again, this is because losing by too much or too little is irrelevant, except for tiebreak systems.

My most recent team event with some great friends, winning the championship of our province.

In team chess there is then a unique possibility in our sport to escape the individualistic logic. Only in this way it’s possible to be empathically moved by the game next board at the same level as one's own, to identify with a group and feel represented. Thus, this strange version can achieve a connection with other people during the game that is not based on rivalry; but on empathy, understanding and collaboration during the tournament.

However, in some cases, this connection is broken. For example, there are team tournaments where the points made by all the players throughout the tournament are simply added to the team, without the result of each confrontation between teams being relevant. There are also times when teams purchase the participation of each individual player. Therefore, the identification between the players and with the team is rather poor by default. Even worse than the normal isolation situation in chess is believing that you are part of a team with players who suddenly seem to only care about their individual results.