Naturally the question is only being asked in retrospect, since I didn't ask it before the Olympiad and to my knowledge nobody else did either. But Nigel's performance - 1.5 out of 5 - was so glaringly poor that the wisdom of having selected him must surely be in question.
In some ways the 5 is as significant as the 1.5. If a player were to score 30%, but in eight or nine games, and hence served the purpose of protecting a player on a lower board simply by turning up, that'd be one thing - sacrificing some game points higher up in order to gain them lower down. But if a player's in such poor form that he, or his team captain, feels he needs to be left out in more than half the games, you're not even achieving that.
So what, you say - you could say that of any player who's performed badly. Of course you could, normally, but in this instance it was surely known in advance that Nigel had business other than chess in Tromsø, since he was heavily involved in Garry Kasparov's election campaign. So, in retrospect, was it wise to select a player whose mind, for perfectly good reasons, wasn't necessarily going to be on the job?
Of course it may be that the selectors, or the captain, or the player himself, feel that the campaigning was nothing to do with it, that it was just unexpectedly poor form. Fair enough if they do. But obviously the question does present itself.
Precisely because it does so in retrospect, it can be asked in a general way rather than being solely about Nigel. For the future - is it wise to select a player for the Olympiad who is likely to have other commitments than the team? Are you likely to get the best out of them if you do?
No use crying over spilt milk, sure. But while the mopping-up is going on, it seems a good time to ask the question. Given how few games the nominal number three was able to play, might it not have been better to give somebody else a chance?
[Nigel Short index]