Chess Olympiad: China Wins Double Gold – Chess.com


China is Olympiad champion once again. Actually, twice again.

Today in Batumi, Georgia, the open section squad won its second team gold medal in the last three Olympiads. The women’s team survived a late repetition claim and successfully defended its title from 2016 in Baku. Both sections went to tiebreaks, but China emerged victorious in both after all the results came in.

Note that this report focuses on today’s games. A separate, pictorial report on the closing ceremony will be posted here tomorrow.

In the final round of the open section of the 2018 Chess Olympiad, all draws between China and the U.S. left the two teams still knotted. Just like in 2016, the gold medal would come down to tiebreaks. Unlike 2016, team USA did not come out on top.

Although its players trailed the U.S. on tiebreaks going into the round (324.5-320.5), China’s previous opponents outperformed the U.S’s past foes, and first place switched as a result. The final calculations were China: 372.5 and U.S.: 360.5. The Americans settled for silver after being the top-ranked team going into the event, with the second-highest average rating in history.

USA team final round Batumi

The U.S. squad was only good for silver this time. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Russia beat France on board two to also get to 18 points and equal the U.S. and China, but its relatively weaker schedule early in the tournament cost the team. Russia began and ended the day well behind the U.S. and China in tiebreaks (354.5 was its tally), and took bronze.

Team Russia Batumi

After silver in 2004, 2010, and 2012 and bronze in 2016, another bronze was won by the Russian team that last won gold in 2002. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The hard-luck team of the event is Poland. The surprise of the tournament nearly led wire-to-wire, but then lost yesterday and tied India today to fall just off the podium in fourth. Poland played every one of the top eight teams in the open section! As a result, its tiebreaker was actually even ahead of all three nations tied for first, but alas, it couldn’t get to 18 match points for that to matter.

Poland team Batumi

Poland can be very proud with just one loss against so many great teams. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Today was largely a day for math instead of chess. Much of the marquee action was curtailed early. The world’s top players seemed to want their teammates to do the fighting today, as GM David Smerdon pointed out:

That factoid naturally included the top board, in the only matchup of two 2800s. Fabiano Caruana and Ding Liren would both try to pace their nations on the final day, but like the other board ones, the game fizzled early.

Caruana labored to find a way to avoid a repetition, but ultimately decided that avoiding it would not be prudent.

“I didn’t want to end the game yet,” he told Chess.com just after his game. “Boards two and four will be drawn almost certainly. Probably 95 percent. Hikaru is a bit better and even if we tie there’s still a chance.” But as we now know, that chance is gone.

Caruana vs Ding, BatumiA game between 2800s: Caruana vs Ding. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

How could Caruana be so sure that both of the even-numbered board would be drawn? Well, they were exactly the same for 16 moves!

“I actually thought this might happen because the Chinese players sometimes have the same repertoires,” he said. His estimate proved true as both ended in draws in the endgame.

Ding Liren explained more to Chess.com: “Yu (Yangyi) prepared for this specific line, and Li (Chao) just followed him!”

The same position in Yu-So (where 17.Bg5 was played), and Li-Shankland (17.Bf4). 

But still one dynamic game remained. Hikaru Nakamura, sitting on only an even score and uncharacteristically benched in the penultimate round, was inserted back into the lineup. And he had White. U.S. team captain John Donaldson said that re-inserting him was an “easy choice.”

Nakamura also banded together with Caruana for his prep, at least in a small way. 

“He seemed motivated before the round when we were on the bus,” Caruana said about his teammate, adding that they discussed the specific h4 lunge used by Nakamura in the game.

At a critical juncture, Nakamura labored to decide if he should go pawn grabbing, or continue his spatial expansion and development. He chose the latter, as it was was clearly safer, but instead his game ended drawn, too.

Nakamura Bu Xiangzhi Batumi

Nakamura vs Bu was a potential decider for gold, but ended in a draw as well. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

He told Chess.com that if he knew China was flipping the tiebreaks, he would have played something different. The opacity of the math in real time is the culprit; for team Sonneborn-Berger there are 11 individual opponents of each team that factor, and you’d also have to know the results of those matches, which were usually still in progress. Tiebreak two is much easier to calculate: game points. U.S. and Russia finished on 29 while China scored 28.5.

“If I had known we were down, I would have gone insane earlier in the game,” Nakamura said.

“Losing to Poland was a huge blow,” Caruana said. “We played a great Olympiad. It was just that one hiccup.”

Donaldson thought the strength of competition was much higher this year than in 2016. In Baku, the team scored 20 out of a possible 22 match points, as did Ukraine; this year no team even got to 19. But what ultimately hurt was how all the final-round opponents did, and China’s simply outperformed the U.S.’s opponents. 

“Some of our horses are not running strong in this round,” Donaldson said as he watched the returns. “I think we played a good tournament but left a little bit unfinished.”

USA vs China Batumi Olympiad

Donaldson sitting right of Shankland. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Particularly harmful was the slim 2.5-1.5 win over Georgia 3 early in the event. And the fact that the 4-0 win over Panama in the opening round was the one score “dropped” since Panama ended as the lowest-performing team the U.S. played. (If you really want to know the vagaries of the team Sonneborn-Berger methods, we invite you to consult the final news report of the 2016 Olympiad, where a match very far down the standings made all the difference).

Sam Shankland performed well on board four but finished just off the individual podium. Here are his thoughts on the last two weeks, keeping in mind that at the time of the interview the match results and final medals were not known, so he won’t get to be the one to raise the cup again.

Chess.com’s interview with Sam Shankland.

Bronze medalist Russia completed its podium comeback today by besting France 2.5-1.5. Ian Nepomniachtchi’s win was the only decisive game of the 16 battles of the top four matches. And if the final mating pattern looks familiar, that’s because you read the earlier report with Alexander Fier’s similar idea.

Nepomniachtchi Kramnik Batumi

Nepomniachtchi (pink shirt) won a nice attacking game today. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

England can be satisfied too with its fifth place, and the same can be said for 27th seed Vietnam (seventh), 32nd seed Sweden (11th), 36th seed Uzbekistan (16th) and 40th seed Egypt (19th). 

Fourth seed Azerbaijan disappointed with 15th place. Tenth seed Israel and 13th seed Netherlands finished below their standards as well, right beside each other on the 39th and 40th places.

Chess.com’s interview with Vishy Anand.

By drawing the world championship challenger, Ding Liren not only helped his team but himself. He maintained his hold in the individual gold medal on first board, with a TPR of 2873, the second-highest of any player in the event. Caruana takes silver and Anish Giri played all 11 games in earning the bronze.

On board two, Ngoc Truong Son Nguyen takes gold while Nepomniachtchi earns silver and Teimour Radjabov bronze.

Board three actually produced the most prodigious performance rating in town, and it was needed to best a world champion! Jorge Cori of Peru and his 2925 TPR earns a gold. Vladimir Kramnik gets silver and Kacper Piorun bronze.

On board four, Daniel Fridman gets gold, while Jacek Tomczak walks away with silver and Bu Xiangzhi bronze. 

For the alternate board, Anton Korobov wins gold. Ilya Smirin earns silver and Christian Bauer bronze.

In some final news, Qatar did not show up and therefore lost to Kuwait 4-0 but Chess.com could not confirm if the early start time was the culprit or if there was some other reason. The Qatar team is one of the delegations staying at an elite hotel but which is one hour’s drive away.

The final round also saw a pairing that hadn’t happened before at an Olympiad: team IBCA (the International Braille Chess Association) vs team ICCD (the International Chess Committee of the Deaf), or simply put, vision-impaired players against hearing-impaired players. The IBCA won 2.5-1.5.

Batumi Olympiad | Final Standings (Top 20)
























Rk. SNo Team Team TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4
1 3 China 18 372,5 28,5 149
2 1 USA 18 360,5 29,0 147
3 2 Russia 18 354,5 29,0 144
4 11 Poland 17 390,0 28,0 158
5 9 England 17 340,0 27,5 142
6 5 India 16 388,0 29,0 156
7 27 Vietnam 16 379,5 30,5 138
8 8 Armenia 16 371,0 27,5 152
9 7 France 16 366,0 28,5 153
10 6 Ukraine 16 337,0 26,0 152
11 32 Sweden 16 333,0 29,0 135
12 15 Czech Republic 16 331,5 27,5 143
13 16 Germany 16 317,5 27,0 139
14 35 Austria 16 300,5 27,0 133
15 4 Azerbaijan 15 402,5 29,5 159
16 36 Uzbekistan 15 341,0 30,5 135
17 23 Iran 15 337,0 28,5 138
18 12 Hungary 15 321,0 26,5 139
19 40 Egypt 15 298,5 26,0 135
20 25 Greece 15 295,0 26,5 134

(Full standings here.)

The women’s tournament was an even more dramatic affair, which involved the very last game that finished in the playing hall. And it wasn’t just any game; it was the top board of the all-decisive match.

Dvorkovich making first move Russia Batumi

Newly-elected FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich played the first move for Alexandra Kosteniuk in her game with Ju Wenjun, which would eventually go on until the rest of the playing hall was empty. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

China vs Russia became a crucial match, due to the other results among the top boards. After about two hours of play, the situation was that with two boards having won positions and at least one draw from the remaining boards, Russia was going to beat China.

That was excellent news for Ukraine, in second place, who were likely going to beat team USA and take over while the other team on 16 points, Armenia, wasn’t going to win their match as they quickly lost on the top two boards against Georgia 1.

On board one, Elina Danielian was already worse when she blundered a double attack vs Nana Dzagnidze:

Armenia Georgia women chess Batumi

Georgia 1 won in the final round vs Armenia. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Boards three and four eventually were drawn, so Armenia was out of contention. Ukraine was busy beating the U.S., killing their medal hopes along the way and heading to gold themselves, or so it seemed.

The Muzychuk sisters won their games on boards one and two, GM Anna Ushenina lost to WGM Tatev Abrahamyan (who finished her tournament strongly with 3.5/4) but GM Natalia Zhukova managed, where 10 others had failed, to beat FM Jennifer Yu in a tense game where she was so nervous that she missed a number of quicker wins.

Ukraine’s second gold (after the first in 2006 in Turin) seemed a certainty, but Zhukova didn’t celebrate. Instead, she stayed in the playing hall, keeping an eye on China-Russia all the way till the end of the last game. What she saw was… the desired medal turning from gold into silver.

Natalia Zhukova watching Batumi Olympiad

Zhukova watching as a spectator. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The score was 1.5-0.5 for Russia, thanks to a good win for GM Aleksandra Goryachkina vs IM Shen Yang and a draw between GM Valentina Gunina and WGM Huang Qian.

After Zhukova-Yu had finished, Alexandra Kosteniuk vs Ju Wenjun seemed to be heading to a draw, and Olga Girya was completely winning vs Lei Tingjie. That couldn’t go wrong, or could it?

As it went, Girya failed to finish it off, and eventually her nerves got the better of her. With two passers on the sixth rank, she allowed a perpetual.

Olga Girya vs Lei Tingjie Batumi

Olga Girya failed to win a completely winning game. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

It was still possible for Ukraine since Kosteniuk, now defending a QN-QN ending a pawn down, might still hold the position. But Ju was making progress, and it started to look critical.

A few dozen spectators and several big TV cameras were fighting for spots around the board, while being chased away by a furious Russian team captain GM Sergey Rublevsky and the arbiters.

Kosteniuk Ju Wenjun Batumi

Lots of spectators and media gathered around the board. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The spectacle took a new turn when Kosteniuk suddenly claimed a three-fold repetition. In a small twist of geopolitical irony, Ukraine’s victory depended on a Russian claim.

The match arbiter stopped the clock and started to reconstruct the game (thereby making the mistake of allowing the players to think on about their game while the clock wasn’t running).

At some point, chief arbiter Takis Nikolopoulos returned into the playing hall and ordered the arbiter to go through the game with the players. The claim turned out to be incorrect.

Alexandra Kosteniuk Ju Wenjun threefold

The player going through their game, to check Kosteniuk’s claim. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Kosteniuk Batumi claim

Kosteniuk, when she heard her claim was incorrect. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

With extra time on the clock for Ju, the game continued. Kosteniuk seemed to have distracted herself mostly. She failed to concentrate fully and soon made the ill-fated decision to play actively.

She maneuvered her knight to a worse square, which allowed Ju to win material. As the Chinese said in an interview with Chess.com, she hadn’t seen a win yet if White would just wait.

Kosteniuk Ju Wenjun Batumi

The final moments of this big game. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

With all other boards in the playing hall finished, a small applause could be heard. A tie with Ukraine had been established and it was hard to believe that Ukraine, with a worse Sonneborn-Berger tiebreak after the penultimate round (329.5 vs 343.5), could have improved that in just one round. Soon, a full confirmation came that China was indeed the winner.

Ju Wenjun Lei Tingjie interviewed

Ju and Lei interviewed, with team captain GM Yu Shaoteng on the left. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Ju also took the gold medal for board one, ahead of Hungary’s Hoang Thanh Trang and Georgia’s Dzagnidze.

Chess.com’s interview with Ju Wenjun.

Russia just missed on a medal, and finished fourth, behind bronze-winning Georgia 1. Hungary did well, and finished fifth, ahead of Armenia, the U.S. and India. A 9th place for Georgia 2 showed that women’s chess is still doing not so bad in the country.

7th seed Poland disappointed slightly with a 16th place, and even more so 9th seed German, which finished 28th.

Although her team dropped to a slightly disappointing seventh place, GM Irina Krush did win her first ever individual medal: silver for board two, behind Mariya Muzychuk and ahead of Goryachkina.

Gold for board three was won by WIM Khanim Balajayeva of Azerbaijan, ahead of WGM Huang Qian of China and IM Ana Matnadze of Spain.

FM Marina Brunello stayed ahead of two GMs for the board four medal: China’s Lei Tingjie and Georgia’s Bela Khotenashvili.

For board five, the best performers were WFM Alshaeby Boshra (Jordan), WGM Olga Girya and FM Jennifer Yu. That’ll be a nice souvenir, along with her IM norm.

Batumi Olympiad (Women) | Final Standings (Top 20)
























Rk. SNo Team Team TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4
1 3 China 18 407,0 30,5 153
2 2 Ukraine 18 395,5 30,0 154
3 4 Georgia 1 17 375,0 28,0 153
4 1 Russia 16 379,5 30,5 146
5 13 Hungary 16 372,0 29,5 141
6 12 Armenia 16 366,0 27,0 155
7 10 USA 16 359,5 27,5 152
8 5 India 16 352,5 29,5 142
9 14 Georgia 2 16 351,5 28,5 142
10 11 Azerbaijan 16 347,5 28,5 145
11 8 Kazakhstan 16 346,5 28,5 144
12 6 France 16 315,5 29,0 130
13 15 Spain 15 343,5 27,5 133
14 28 Iran 15 340,0 28,0 145
15 19 Vietnam 15 338,5 30,5 136
16 7 Poland 15 324,5 29,0 134
17 31 Uzbekistan 15 316,5 26,5 144
18 36 Belarus 15 308,0 28,5 128
19 29 Slovakia 15 283,0 28,0 121
20 17 Mongolia 14 332,0 27,0 145

(Full standings here.)

Games via TWIC.

Peter Doggers contributed to this report.


Earlier reports:


Chess Olympiad: China Ends Polish Run, Plays U.S. For Gold … – Chess.com


Poland‘s amazing run at the 43rd Olympiad was ended today by China, the opponent of the U.S. in a clash for gold in tomorrow’s final round. In the women’s section, China will defend its sole lead vs Russia.

The world of chess politics changed significantly yesterday, and continued to do so a bit more on the second day of the general assembly. Among the FIDE vice presidents that were appointed was none other than Nigel Short.

Short jokingly sat down at England’s third board for a moment.

Lukasz Turlej, who was on Short’s ticket as the intended deputy president, is a vice president now as well. That was a small Polish victory on a day when the Polish team suffered its first loss of the tournament.

Whereas so many other top teams had failed to do so, China won—and quite convincingly. Its board one Ding Liren was Jan-Krzysztof Duda‘s third 2800 opponent in the tournament, but the first he failed to hold the draw against.

Duda vs Ding Batumi

Duda facing his third 2800 opponent. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Early in the game there was a move repetition, but Ding decided to continue. Soon after, he found an amazing piece sacrifice and ended up winning a dazzling game.

Keep in mind that he needs to sit on a special, softer chair, and still walks on crutches. Although he is used to them by now (he needs them for another two months or so), Ding told Chess.com that he drinks less water to avoid having to go to the toilet! Below is his great game, and an interview.

Chess.com’s interview with Ding Liren.

Kamil Dragun hadn’t lost a game yet, but for him it also went wrong, against Li Chao. It wasn’t easy to point out exactly where White went from equal to worse, but it’s clear that the attack didn’t get off the ground, and White’s king’s rook got terribly misplaced.

Kamil Dragun Batumi

Like his team, Dragun (here checking out the games of his female compatriots) suffered his first loss today. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

That was a blow for Poland obviously, but the team will still be playing for medals tomorrow with a chance to make its Olympiad highly successful.

We’re seeing very close battles in this final phase of the Olympiad. In the five matches below the top boards, there were 16 draws out of 20 games, with Vietnam-Germany seeing only draws.

Team USA, playing without Hikaru Nakamura for the first time, recovered from yesterday’s loss with a narrow win vs Armenia. Sam Shankland did it for the Americans, with what was in fact a relatively easy win for him.

It looks like he out-prepared Hrant Melkumyan in a sharp and highly theoretical Botvinnik Semi-Slav, and bad judgment on move 26 by the Armenian player gave Shankland all the chances. Similar to his game with Sethuraman in the 2016 Olympiad, he walked up his king without fear.

USA-Armenia Batumi

Shankland’s game didn’t last very long, but still ended after a quick draw between Levon Aronian and Fabiano Caruana on board one. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com. 

Russia once again didn’t have a very successful Olympiad, but it actually fought back, and can still finish in a tie for first place. Whereas he was responsible for a key loss earlier in the tournament, this time Vladimir Kramnik helped his team to gain two match points.

England‘s David Howell probably had something brilliant in mind when he sacked a piece, but there was a flaw in his reasoning, as Kramnik demonstrated.

Vladimir Kramnik 2018 Olympiad

Vladimir Kramnik was today’s match winner for Russia. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Besides Poland and Russia there is one more team tied for third place. Just like in the FIFA World Cup final, France won against Croatia. Laurent Fressinet was the only winner here, and had an easy day:

Laurent Fressinet Batumi

Laurent Fressinet. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

For Azerbaijan the last few days have been pretty cruel. It started the Olympiad so strongly, but then lost 1.5-2.5 three times in a row—today vs Ukraine.

Norway, on the other hand, is still doing well. Today the young team beat Serbia 2.5-1.5. All five Norwegians are gaining Elo for a total of 46.6 points.

Notkevich Norway

Benjamin Norkevich won an absolutely wild game today. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

And so we’ll see the U.S. and China play on top boards tomorrow, with the easy conclusion that the winner will take the gold medal. More scenarios are given below.

The two countries have faced each other seven times before at Olympiads, and scored one victory each with five ties.

Tomorrow’s line-ups have been published already. It’s going to be Caruana-Ding, Yu-So, Nakamura-Bu and Li-Shankland on top boards.

Batumi Olympiad | Round 10 Standings (Top 20)
























Rk. SNo Flag Team TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4
1 1 USA 17 324,5 27,0 122
2 3 China 17 320,5 26,5 124
3 11 Poland 16 325,0 26,0 130
4 7 France 16 309,0 27,0 125
5 2 Russia 16 301,0 26,5 119
6 5 India 15 325,5 27,0 128
7 8 Armenia 15 299,0 25,5 125
8 6 Ukraine 15 278,0 24,0 125
9 16 Germany 15 274,0 25,0 118
10 15 Czech Republic 15 272,5 25,5 116
11 9 England 15 271,5 24,0 119
12 37 Kazakhstan 15 256,0 25,5 109
13 27 Vietnam 14 312,5 27,5 117
14 18 Croatia 14 288,0 25,0 128
15 38 Norway 14 272,5 26,5 114
16 32 Sweden 14 269,5 26,0 112
17 30 Moldova 14 253,0 24,0 113
18 35 Austria 14 245,0 24,5 110
19 54 Philippines 14 243,5 25,5 97
20 4 Azerbaijan 13 318,5 25,5 134


(Full standings here.)

Top pairings: U.S.-China, France-Russia, India-Poland, Germany-Armenia, Ukraine-Czech Republic, England-Kazakhstan.

OPEN SECTION CALCULATIONS FOR GOLD

  • U.S. (17 points): Wins gold by beating China. Can also win gold by tying China and hoping to maintain its very small edge on tiebreaks. Cannot win gold with a loss.
  • China (17 points): Wins gold by beating the U.S.. Can also win gold by tying the U.S. and having France-Russia draw and Poland not win; or by tying and having its previous opponents do well enough to overcome the small tiebreak deficit with the U.S. and Poland.
  • France, Russia, Poland (all 16 points): Must each win and have U.S.-China be a draw. Must also hope for previous opponents to do well to overcome tiebreak deficit (note that Poland already has better tiebreaks than anyone, even the leaders).
  • None of the teams on 15 points is alive since one team must get to at least 18 on the top board.

Whereas the Chinese open team was attempting to take over the lead today, the Chinese women’s team was simply trying to protect it.

Beginning with 16 points, one ahead of three other teams, it would face one of those teams in round 10. China was favored against the U.S. on all four boards, yet four draws ensued.

Chess.com’s interview with China’s board one, World Champion Ju Wenjun.

The other two most meaningful matches were also grudge matches: Ukraine-Russia and Azerbaijan-Armenia. Ukraine and Armenia both began the round with 15 points while their opponents were on 14.

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Ukraine-Russia had all of the usual importance but not much of the usual action. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com

But it was all draws here too!  Collectively there was no movement at the top, but there was still some action along the way, including another example of why you should never resign.

Let’s take a look at a few interesting moments in the drawfest. After split points on the top and bottom boards in China-U.S., the two middle boards would decide things. GM Irina Krush had a hint of an advantage in her middlegame, but that disappeared, leaving everything up to the most imbalanced position anywhere at the women’s top tables: GM Lei Tingjie against WGM Tatev Abrahamyan.

Tatev Abrahamyan

WGM Tatev Abrahamyan has recently been steadying the U.S. ship on board three. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com

Much had been made of team USA’s pitiful 1.5/7 start on its third board, but Abrahamyan has since tried to personally erase those memories with two straight wins there. But could she make it three? Also, with the entire match and first place in the balance, how much would she “push” in an effort to win? With a well-timed pawn sac, it turns out she was indeed going for glory.

In the end, it wasn’t even clear who was pushing for the win, but it seems it was that kind of day. No matter what was tried, draws seemed destined to find the players. That was never more evident than in board three of the Azerbaijan-Armenia match. 

WFM Anna Sargsyan was simply up a knight, seemingly without a complicated conversion. But if Armenia fails to win its first-ever team medal in the women’s section, it may have to look back on this moment:

Anna SargsyanDeep focus didn’t prevent Sargsyan from overlooking a stalemate, twice. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com

With the other three games in the match also drawn, Armenia settled for one match point. The vital match point lost costs the team a share of first place going into the last round.

Ukraine-Russia was a star-studded matchup on paper (seven GMs out of eight players, or about 20 percent of the female grandmasters in the entire world). But the actual games didn’t live up to the hype. Or, maybe both teams were just given instructions to play it carefully.

Symmetry permeated the top two boards, and if you had to look for one game where a player enjoyed a modicum of winning chances, that would be board four. Curiously, it came from the one non-GM of the lot. WGM Olga Girya’s space advantage and powerful bishop looked like they might amount to something against GM Natalia Zhukova

Olga Girya

WGM Olga Girya. Was she thinking about what might have been? | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com

An incredibly subtle bishop redirection would likely have tilted the balance of power.

Batumi Olympiad (Women) | Round 10 Standings (Top 20)
























Rk. SNo Flag Team TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4
1 3 China 17 343,5 28,5 126
2 2 Ukraine 16 329,5 27,0 130
3 10 USA 16 319,0 26,5 125
4 12 Armenia 16 315,0 26,0 129
5 1 Russia 15 319,0 28,5 119
6 4 Georgia 1 15 304,0 25,0 126
7 11 Azerbaijan 15 286,5 26,5 119
8 13 Hungary 14 293,5 26,0 121
9 15 Spain 14 292,0 25,5 109
10 5 India 14 288,0 26,5 119
11 14 Georgia 2 14 281,0 26,0 117
12 7 Poland 14 279,5 27,0 109
13 8 Kazakhstan 14 279,0 26,0 115
14 19 Vietnam 14 276,5 28,5 108
15 26 Czech Republic 14 273,0 27,5 108
16 17 Mongolia 14 273,0 26,0 117
17 6 France 14 266,5 26,5 107
18 23 Serbia 14 255,5 24,5 114
19 22 Cuba 14 246,0 25,5 110
20 35 Slovenia 14 222,0 23,0 109

(Full standings here.)

Top pairings: Russia-China, U.S.-Ukraine, Armenia-Georgia, Vietnam-Azerbaijan, Hungary-Slovenia, Poland-Spain. 

WOMEN’S SECTION CALCULATIONS FOR GOLD

  • China (17 points): Wins gold by beating Russia. Can also win gold by drawing Russia and maintaining its superior tiebreaks over all the teams that could then tie it (Ukraine, U.S., Armenia). Could even lose the match and win a multi-team tiebreak event, but only if U.s.-Ukraine is a draw and if Armenia does not win.
  • Ukraine (16 points): Wins gold by beating the U.S. and China loses and Armenia does not win. Could also win and have China tie, if many of its previous opponents score well enough to overcome a tiebreak deficit with China.
  • U.S. (16 points): Wins gold by beating Ukraine and China loses and Armenia does not win. Could also win and have China tie, if many of its previous opponents score well enough to overcome a tiebreak deficit with China.
  • Armenia (16 points): Wins gold by beating Georgia one and China loses and U.S.-Ukraine is a tie. Could also win and have China tie, if many of its previous opponents score well enough to overcome a tiebreak deficit with China.
  • Russia, Georgia one, Azerbaijan (all 15 points): In a real longshot, and perhaps mathematically close to impossible, each of these nations would need to win, have China lose, have Armenia not win, and have Ukraine-U.S. end in a draw. And even then a mammoth tiebreak reversal would need to take place, which may be close to impossible.

Games via TWIC.

Mike Klein contributed to this report.

NOTE THAT THE LAST ROUND STARTS FOUR HOURS EARLIER. You can watch live coverage with GMs Robin van Kampen and Yasser Seirawan at Chess.com/TV and Twitch.tv/Chessbrah starting from midnight Pacific, 3 a.m. New York, 9 a.m. Central Europe.


Earlier reports:


California Clippin' – Chess.com


“All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray…”

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Serendipity: 
   As you look for one thing, you often find all sorts of interesting items in the process.

   I had been searching through California newspaper archives for some information and stumbled over the following clippings, each of which I found unusual and worth displaying just for its own sake.

   I found this in the “San Francisco Call” for Dec. 18, 1892
   The companion articles below it came from “San Francisco Call” for Dec. 4, 1892 and Dec. 14, 1892 respectively.
   I was struck by the incongruity of hosting a Living Chess Game during a Baby Show.  The festivities also included the International Candle Contest.

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   Living Chess games must have been somewhat popular in Northern California.  I found the blend of classic Greek and Scottish Highlanders interesting along with the statement that the game lasted both 30 and 40 minutes.  The following appeared in the “San Francisco Call” May 22, 1908.
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     The composite image below came from the Palm Springs “Desert Sun” Jan. 27, 1984 (top) and May 18, 1957 (bottom).  The photograph in the top picture, however, was taken in 1956.  There are more “Desert Sun” articles mentioning the giant chess set from the Racquet Club so  I imagine it must have been a novelty back then.

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Also from the Palm Springs “Desert Sun,” but from May 6, 1954 is the following photo of Sonja Graff. Notice her California Women’s Championship trophy. null

    High chess drama. – Clifford Sherwood was the chess editor for the “L.A. Times” from 1927 until his suicide. This article appeared in the “Madera Tribune” on June 20, 1933.  His death launched the editing career for Hollywood Herman Steiner who took over the position from 1933 until his own death, by heart attack, in 1955.  Isaac Kashdan succeeded Steiner with the “L.A. Times.”

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   Speaking of Herman Steiner… from the Feb. 17, 1933 issue of the “San Bernardino Daily Courier.”

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   But chess could also be skeletal as this macabre article from the “Madera Tribune” of Jan. 18, 1928 reveals.

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    Chess isn’t all death and destruction. According to this clipping from  the “Madera Tribune” from Sept 1,1950,  chess plays a bit part in repairing the lives of these movie star sisters.

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   Speaking of movie stars – from the “San Pedro News Pilot,” April 7, 1925

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   The “San Bernardino Sun” of Jan 15, 1935 serves up a bunch of misinformation on Ajeeb, confusing it with the Turk  (see here for better information). Frank Frain and Jesse Hanson, a checkers champion, bought  Ajeeb in 1932 from Hattie McKeever and took it on tour of the United States Canada. Ajeeb did, in fact, play Frank Marshall and the result was a draw.

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   Even Dear Abby, the Ajeeb of Advice, makes an appearance – this was clipped from the Palm Springs “Desert Sun,” March 26, 1986.

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   Jim McKone, then the sportswriter for the “San Bernadino Sun” (this article is from the Aug 6, 1961 edition) who periodically covered chess, gives a somewhat sensationalist portrayal of young Bobby Fischer.  I’m sure others would substitute “accurate” for “sensationalist.”  
   It’s all in one’s perspective.

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   The “Santa Cruz Evening News” of Dec. 28, 1934 supplies us with this information while touting the Santa Cruz Chess Club,  I’d never come across the name “J. Bett” before. Presumably he either played in a lot of simuls or reveled in tall tales.

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Chess Olympiad: US Grabs Sole Lead In Round 8 – Chess.com


The situation was tricky, but eventually the U.S. pulled through and beat Azerbaijan to grab the sole lead at the 2018 Chess Olympiad in Batumi. China and Ukraine are leading the women’s tournament.

More photographers and videographers than ever had squeezed themselves behind the chairs of the arbiter and the two team captains to get their shots of one of the key matchups of this Olympiad. Two of the three leaders, the U.S. and Azerbaijan, faced each other, while right next to them co-leader Poland played Armenia.

USA-Azerbaijan Batumi Olympiad

U.S.-Azerbaijan, the center of attention at the start of the round. | Photo: Peter Doggers/Chess.com.

Team USA is the top seed, and of course the defending champion. For Azerbaijan the same, surprising statistic holds as for Armenia in the women’s tournament: not a single medal won yet at an Olympiad.

The match developed along a classic film script, where the winner of the fight initially gets punched severely (Radjabov-So 1-0), tumbles and struggles to get on his feet again (Nakamura-Naiditsch 1/2), but eventually finds renewed energy (Caruana-Mamedyarov 1-0) and then delivers the knockout (Mamedov-Shankland 0-1).

Wesley So was sitting on a fantastic, undefeated 6/7 score, but today the fun ended. Teimour Radjabov played an excellent game from start (good prep) to finish (good technique), as in his best days. Because he plays so little, it’s easy to forget how good Radjabov is when in top shape.

Teimour Radjabov Batumi Olympiad

Radjabov, in good spirits before the game… | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Radjabov vs So Batumi

…and becoming to first to beat So. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Hikaru Nakamura‘s draw was his sixth in the tournament, after an easy win in the first round. Although the other two boards were better, it wasn’t clear yet if they would win. A 2-2, or even a loss, was definitely possible. 

“At some point I felt this match was going out of our hands,” said Fabiano Caruana—but then the evaluation in his own game started to improve, step by step. The American number-one was squeezing water from stone like a certain Norwegian player (Magnus Carlsen) tends to do, and eventually managed to win, probably missing more than one quicker win along the way.

Caruana Kasimdzhanov Abrahamyan Ashley

Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Tatev Abrahamyan, Fabiano Caruana and Maurice Ashley chatting before their matches. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

“I was taking it move by move. I was trying to see what his options were after each of my moves and if it was immediately simplifying or if there is any obvious defense, and of course you have to do these things partly by intuition as well,” said Caruana. 

Chess.com’s interview with Caruana, who also comments on the fact that he is now 4.5 points away from taking over the world number-one position from Magnus Carlsen.

Sam Shankland turned 27 on Monday, but didn’t celebrate too much. The next day it became clear that was a good move, because he ended up playing 96 moves! 

USA’s board-four dominated the game from the early middlegame, and got a textbook advantage of pressure along an open file upon a backward pawn for Rauf Mamedov.

Shankland happens to have written his own textbook recently, about pawn play, and it was typical that he converted the point with a number of pawn breaks.

Shankland Mamedov Batumi

A big win when it counts for Shankland… | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Sam Shankland Olympiad

…who was visibly relieved and happy. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

In the same row in the center of the playing hall, Poland played yet another excellent match, holding Armenia to four draws. The spotlight again went to Jan-Krzysztof Duda, who found a truly brilliant drawing combination with Levon Aronian.

Chess.com’s interview with Duda.

If anyone could win this match, it was in fact Poland. Kamil Dragun was a pawn up for a long time against Robert Hovhannisyan, but eventually had to accept the draw in a basic king-and-pawn ending.

Kamil Dragun Batumi

Again playing very well, Dragun got close to a win. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Poland is now in clear second place, one point behind the U.S. Seven countries are right behind: Azerbaijan, India, France, China, Armenia, Germany and England.

The Indians defeated Czech Republic with three draws, and a win for Krishnan Sasikiran on board four. It seemed that Jiri Stocek ran out of ideas at some point and then, he made an odd move 32, while thinking for more than four minutes there.

Krishnan Sasikiran

Winner on board four, Krishnan Sasikiran. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Israel-England, Ukraine-France, China-Netherlands and Spain-Germany all saw the same scenario of three draws and one decisive game. In the latter match, Daniel Fridman decided the fight as Black. Josep Lopez was doing well initially, but the tables turned.

In Israel-England, it was Luke McShane who was congratulated for bringing home the two match points. After a strong exchange sacrifice, Maxim Rodshtein did well to give back material right away. The rook ending was probably a draw, but not when Rodshtein missed the best defense.

Luke McShane John Nunn

Luke McShane with his team captain John Nunn. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Etienne Bacrot was the match winner in Ukraine-France after he had been outplayed earlier in the game. In the time trouble phase, Yuriy Kryvoruchko failed to find the (difficult!) winning line, and then also blundered an important pawn.

Bacrot Batumi

Bacrot signing the score sheet, next to Laurent Fressinet. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The last team on 13 points not mentioned yet is China, who defeated Netherlands thanks to Bu Xiangzhi‘s win vs Loek van Wely, whose Schlechter System with an early …Ne4 didn’t work today as the Chinese GM played power move after power move.

Bu Xiangzhi, Batumi Olympiad

A powerful game by Bu Xiangzhi today.Sasikiran. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Batumi Olympiad | Round 8 Standings (Top 20)
























Rk. SNo Flag Team TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4
1 1 USA 0 15 227,0 23,0 79
2 11 Poland 0 14 209,5 22,5 81
3 4 Azerbaijan 1 13 236,0 22,5 89
4 5 India 1 13 203,0 22,5 78
5 7 France 1 13 195,5 22,5 78
6 3 China 1 13 193,0 21,0 75
7 8 Armenia 1 13 191,5 21,5 77
8 16 Germany 0 13 182,5 21,0 76
9 9 England 1 13 175,0 19,5 77
10 38 Norway 1 12 180,5 23,0 69
11 2 Russia 1 12 178,0 21,0 76
12 18 Croatia 2 12 167,5 20,5 77
13 30 Moldova 1 12 160,5 19,5 72
14 34 Italy 2 12 156,5 20,5 71
15 35 Austria 2 12 151,0 20,5 67
16 10 Israel 1 11 194,0 21,5 81
17 24 Spain 2 11 189,0 22,0 76
18 27 Vietnam 1 11 188,0 21,5 72
19 6 Ukraine 2 11 179,0 18,5 81
20 13 Netherlands 2 11 178,0 22,5 75

(Full standings here.)

Top pairings: Poland-U.S., Azerbaijan-China, India-Armenia, Germany-France, England-Norway, Italy-Russia.

In the women’s event, some truly crushing attacks cascaded down from the very top match to other contending teams.

Armenia’s lead on the field proved to be short-lived as it went down without much of a fight against Ukraine. The host nation’s border country stays on 13 match points while Ukraine leapfrogs to 14 points. It is joined by fellow round winners China, who dispatched Romania.

Ukraine

Ukraine-Armenia on board one. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

No other teams have reached 14 points, but since China and Ukraine already played in round six, both will have to try to win gold by outscoring other nations.

After only 30 minutes, Ukrainian third board and former women’s world champion GM Anna Ushenina was already nearly +9 against WFM Anna Sargsyan.

Zhukova Ushenina

GM Anna Ushenina (right) next to teammate GM Natalia Zhukova. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The lesson was common but instructive: Don’t allow the pawn sac on e6 if White can pile up in a hurry on that same square.

That lesson created an early deficit for Armenia that it could not dig out of from under.

From there GM Anna Muzychuk added a win of her own, and with two other draws, Ukraine took the match 3-1 and the overall classification, too.

China’s effort to keep pace with Ukraine came from one of its own past world champions. GM Lie Tingjie played a well-known pawn sac against the French, only to get it back short thereafter with a cruncher:

Two other Chinese women won, including the current women’s world champion, GM Ju Wenjun. The final score was thus 3.5-0.5.

Ju Wenjun

Something has caught the eyes of the Chinese women’s team before the start of the round. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Team USA got back on track one day after losing the lead for the first time all week. It won over Italy with two wins and two draws, and could have made it even more except for FM Jennifer Yu making some of her first endgame inaccuracies of the event. Still, it hardly mattered, as she still secured the draw and the match was never really in doubt.

Importantly for the U.S., the team got a win on board three. Previous to today, it had scored a miserable 1.5/7 there, which just shows how dominant its other players have been!

As was the case with the other women’s games in this report so far, WGM Tatev Abrahamyan delivered a winning bolt very early in the battle.

Tatev Abrahamyan

WGM Tatev Abrahamyan conducted one of the easiest attacks of her career. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

There was an unintended level of sneakiness that “provoked” Black’s error.

So what did the 16-year-old Yu miss? A weird deflection move that would have offered an easy rook-and-pawn ending, and then another idea for a winning bishop ending.

Jennifer Yu

FM Jennifer Yu might be adding higher titles before her name before long. Her six wins and two draws have her at a 2529 performance rating. Not best on the team though. GM Irina Krush needs no norms for anything but her 6.5/7 is a 2741 TPR! | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

You might as well make all of your mistakes in a game that didn’t affect the match outcome:

The biggest upset of the big-name teams came when India, which outrated Hungary on all four boards, went down 3-1 without notching any wins. Maybe it was the presence of all three Polgar sisters together, the last two days, that inspired the Hungarians!

India Women

The Indian women’s team, where the ladies on the two ends (GM Humpy Koneru, left, and IM Tania Sachdev) both lost today. | Photo: Mike Klein/Chess.com.

Especially useful is knocking off the women’s world number-three on the top board. That’s what happened when GM Thanh Trang Hoang took out GM Humpy Koneru. It didn’t hurt Hoang to learn the game at the age of four, about the age when the Polgar sisters were being molded into champions as well!

Georgia had two teams in the top 10 going into the round but its dream of being the first nation to have two teams medal in the same Women’s Olympiad all but ended today. Georgia two lost to Azerbaijan 2.5-1.5. Georgia’s top team, despite having a 2-0 lead in number of GMs, lost 3-1 to Kazakhstan.

Georgia women Batumi

A painful loss for Georgia today. | Photo: Peter Doggers/Chess.com.

Kazakhstan was buoyed by a 150-point upset on the final board when WIM Gulmira Dauletova corralled some pawns and pushed her own.

One team is quite surprisingly getting buried in reports and standings: top-seeded Russia. After dropping two matches early on, The Russians are trying to claw their way back into the medal hunt. Today the team reminded everyone of its immense talent by beating Netherlands 4-0.

In 2016 it finished just outside the medals in fourth place, but the math seems to suggest that it may still have a small path to the podium, even if gold is a now an extreme long shot.

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Russia was far too strong for the Netherlands today. | Photo: Peter Doggers/Chess.com.

Here are two nice moments from Russia’s top two players. Fitting the theme of the round, both games lasted under 30 moves.

First, the finish from Chess.com video author GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, where her queen kept taking things and retracting, taking and retracting:

Then, young GM Aleksandra Goryachkina, who used basically the same idea as Ushenina, with similar results.

In tomorrow’s round-9 pairings, as mentioned, 14-pointers China and Ukraine can’t play each other again. So on top board, Kazakhstan (13 points) and its young star IM Dinara Saduakassova gets defending champion China, while Ukraine drops down to board two to face Azerbaijan (13 points).

Also with 13 points, the U.S. plays Hungary and Armenia plays Iran (12 points).

Russia’s comeback must go through Romania. They both have 12 match points along with Mongolia and Georgia one, who also face off.

Batumi Olympiad (Women) | Round 8 Standings (Top 20)
























Rk. SNo Flag Team TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4
1 3 China 0 14 227,5 23,5 81
2 2 Ukraine 0 14 226,0 23,0 84
3 10 USA 1 13 203,5 22,0 80
4 13 Hungary 1 13 198,5 22,5 75
5 11 Azerbaijan 1 13 196,0 22,5 73
6 12 Armenia 1 13 193,0 21,0 81
7 8 Kazakhstan 0 13 192,5 23,0 71
8 1 Russia 2 12 205,5 23,5 73
9 4 Georgia 1 1 12 191,0 20,0 81
10 28 Iran 2 12 185,5 22,0 76
11 17 Mongolia 2 12 181,0 21,5 73
12 20 Romania 2 12 159,5 20,0 75
13 14 Georgia 2 2 11 189,0 21,5 78
14 5 India 1 11 185,5 21,5 78
15 18 Italy 2 11 177,5 20,0 79
16 31 Uzbekistan 2 11 170,0 20,0 78
17 19 Vietnam 2 11 169,0 23,0 68
18 15 Spain 2 11 164,0 21,0 68
19 40 Canada 2 11 161,0 21,0 68
20 26 Czech Republic 2 11 157,0 21,5 67

(Full standings here.)

Top pairings: Kazakhstan-China, Azerbaijan-Ukraine, U.S.-Hungary, Armenia-Iran, Russia-Romania.

Games via TWIC.

Mike Klein contributed to this report.

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Earlier reports:


Chess Olympiad: US Joins Poland, Azerbaijan In Lead – Chess.com


It took the women six rounds to erase all of the unblemished team scores, and now in the open section of the 2018 Chess Olympiad, round seven removed the last vestiges of perfection. That happened when on top board Poland and Azerbaijan played to an all-draws stalemate, while the only team one point back, the U.S., took care of Croatia 3-1.

Poland, Azerbaijan, and the U.S. all now have 13 points (6.5/7 match victories). Tomorrow, team USA will play Azerbaijan and Armenia (12 match points) will play Poland.

The top-seeded U.S. benefited from another lesser pairing, again from the Balkans. Whereas yesterday it matched with Bosnia & Herzegovina (56th seed), today it faced 18th-seeded Croatia, the second-lowest out of 10 total teams on 10 match points. Juxtapose that with just one board lower, where Ukraine played China in a heavyweight battle!

The Americans used a strategy they’d used earlier in the event. Just like in round three, they had Black and drew on the two odd boards, while winning with both Whites on the even boards.

Today those winners included Wesley So and Sam Shankland. While Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura both held as Black, actually all five team members had duties at the playing hall today. 

Ray Robson was required to attend and submit to drug testing. Robson’s first sample wasn’t testable, so he said he had to eat, drink, and wait for a second sample. This entire process took almost three hours, which was even longer than some of the games today (see Navara-Gelfand below!).

So continues to be on fire. He’s en route to potentially another individual medal with a personal 6.0/7 as he added his fifth win today to join with two draws.

Wesley So book OlympiadWesley So makes his wins look easy, but he was only reading this book before the game. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Stepping back to board one, after three draws on the lower boards, all eyes were on the heavyweight bout between Jan-Krzysztof Duda and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Well, you could argue all eyes were on them from the start, too. That’s what happens when you are a top board in the top match with an up-and-coming leader of a Cinderella team (Duda) against one of the most creative super-GMs in the game (Shak).

Jan-Krzysztof Duda, Olympiad

Duda, perhaps a bit confused during his calculations. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The draw meant neither team was perfect any longer, but it also proved to be yet another stepping stone for Poland. After beating the likes of Russia and France, Poland is still plenty in contention to fight for the medals. Sure, it has won six in their history in the open section, but none since 1939!

“It’s a good result, taking into account we’re the 11th seed,” said Polish captain Bartosz Socko. “I shouldn’t call it a surprising result since I’m the team captain. I should believe in them. But it is what I was hoping for.”

Poland team Batumi

Poland, still going strong. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Ukraine and China turned out to go the way of the top board. Despite showing normal match strategy by drawing with its two Black boards first, China could not make headway. Four draws meant it was a placid day for onlookers watching from the center aisle (top boards that are odd-numbered boards are easiest to view due to layout of the room).

Ukraine-China Batumi Olympiad

Ditto for Netherlands and Germany. After three draws, the fate of those countries came down to their fourth boards. It seemed for a bit that Germany’s Daniel Fridman might have to defend rook+bishop vs. rook against Jorden van Foreest, but it never quite came to that. The rook trade ended any such drama (but perhaps the Fridman family has nothing to fear in pawnless endings, since earlier in the tournament Daniel’s wife Anna Zatonskih had actually won rook+knight vs. rook!).

Van Foreest-Fridman

Van Foreest vs Fridman, shortly before drawing. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Three of the top four matches ended in all draws. You want some action? Enter Israel and Czech Republic! Sure, still a 2-2 tie, but with wins for White on all four boards, this was where the action was.

The fifth match produced the first decisive result of the premier boards. David Navara’s clock still read one hour, 14 minutes when he beat none other than Boris Gelfand. Navara had actually earned a full point well before Robson had finished his drug testing!

Gelfand has been playing the Accelerated Dragon recently, so with Navara just using about 30 minutes thinking time in total (if you include increment), it is clear that the Czech number-one was well prepared. Actually the opening didn’t win him the game, but an elementary checkmate pattern did!

Navara-Gelfand

Navara vs Gelfand. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The “will to win” award goes to Maxime Vachier-Lagrave for his effort over Peter Leko as France won 3-1 over Hungary.

Well, maybe just call his a-pawn the hero. After becoming a b-pawn, it sat one square from promotion for 17 moves before finally cashing itself in for a winning tactic.

The idea was not perfectly winning by any means, but as Leko told Chess.com, he checked his team and saw that they were losing, but by that point he’s already spoiled both the win and the draw! He also said that the encroachment of the TV cameras at one point made him deduce that there was a win for him, but of course finding it was a whole other matter.

MVL vs Leko

One of the more exciting games of the round: Leko vs MVL. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Batumi Olympiad | Round 7 Standings (Top 20)
























Rk. SNo Flag Team TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4
1 4 Azerbaijan 13 189,0 21,0 66
2 11 Poland 13 175,5 20,5 61
3 1 USA 13 160,5 20,5 59
4 8 Armenia 12 157,5 19,5 61
5 5 India 11 155,5 20,0 59
6 24 Spain 11 153,5 20,5 57
7 10 Israel 11 152,5 20,0 60
8 7 France 11 150,5 20,0 60
9 3 China 11 149,0 18,5 59
10 6 Ukraine 11 142,0 17,0 61
11 16 Germany 11 139,5 18,5 58
12 15 Czech Republic 11 137,0 18,0 59
13 13 Netherlands 11 135,0 21,0 53
14 9 England 11 131,0 17,0 58
15 23 Iran 10 143,0 20,0 56
16 2 Russia 10 140,5 18,0 59
17 32 Sweden 10 139,0 19,0 55
18 38 Norway 10 138,0 20,5 52
19 27 Vietnam 10 132,0 19,5 52
20 22 Turkey 10 127,5 19,5 53

(Full standings here.)

Top pairings: USA-Azerbaijan, Armenia-Poland, Czech Republic-India, Spain-Germany, Israel-England, France-Ukraine, China-Netherlands.

The women started their round with a trio at the top: USA, Georgia one and Armenia—all on 11 match points. Nine countries were trailing by a point.

In the matchup between two of the leaders, team USA suffered its first loss of the event. That means Armenia is now the sole leader, a country that, quite surprisingly, has never won a medal, not even bronze, at the Women’s Olympiads.

Armenia women Batumi Olympiad

Boards 1-3 of Armenia, right-left: Elina Danielian, Lilit Mkrtchian, Anna Sargsyan. GM Gabriel Sargissian checking the games. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

USA’s board-one IM Anna Zatonskih went into the Olympiad with the intention to play solidly. Today she was solid again, but just not enough.

The experienced GM Elina Danielian, who is playing her 13th Olympiad (she debuted in the same year as Vladimir Kramnik: 1992) maneuvered strongly against Black’s isolated queen’s pawn and just dominated throughout the game.

In time trouble, Zatonskih’s active defense probably accelerated her loss.

Elina Danielian Batumi Olympiad

Elina Danielian vs Anna Zatonskih. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

On board two, Irina Krush‘s position was promising out of the opening but, as she told Chess.com, she “wasn’t looking for a slow plan” and then lost the thread. IM Lilit Mkrtchian took over and got very close to winning, but then her team captain told her to go for a draw. While she lost her 100 percent score, Krush was probably lucky to stay undefeated.

Anna Zatonskih Irina Krush

Anna Zatonskih (with her husband Daniel Fridman, who plays for Germany in the Open) looking upon Irina Krush’s board. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Team USA’s board three has been seriously struggling so far. It has been occupied by either WGM Tatev Abrahamyan or WGM Sabina Foisor, and the two have scored only 1.5 there in seven rounds. Today’s loss by Foisor sealed the Americans’ fate, but the good news was that FM Jennifer Yu won again to make 6.5/7. Carlsen or Komodo couldn’t have played it better after move 40.

The third leader, Georgia, tied their match with India 2-2. Both team captains (GM Elizabar Ubilava for Georgia, GM Jacob Aagaard for India) couldn’t complain too much, but it looks like GM Harika Dronavalli had the biggest advantage in this match of four draws:

India Georgia Batumi OlympiadIndia-Georgia, with Javakhishvili vs Harika on board two. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

After round seven, four teams are tied for second place behind ArmeniaChina, Ukraine, Georgia one and Romania.

China was too strong today for the Netherlands (3-1), who are again playing with the Chinese-born GM Zhaoqin Peng on board one. She was outplayed by the 23-years-younger GM and world number-two Ju Wenjun:

Zhaoqin Peng Batumi Olympiad

The orange lion, always the mascot for the Dutch, didn’t bring much luck today. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Ukraine, who won bronze in Baku two years ago, is fully back in the race thanks to a narrow 2.5-1.5 win vs Iran. It was the former women’s world champion GM Mariya Muzychuk who scored the full point in the only decisive game. It was a fine, technical effort:

Mariya Anna Muzychuk

Mariya Muzychuk standing, while her sister Anna plays board one. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

After yesterday’s loss to Armenia, Russia bounced back with a 3-1 win vs Greece. It’s gonna take some effort to get back and play for the medals as the Russian ladies are still three points behind the leaders. GM Valentina Gunina was the one suffering today, as she blundered material in the opening.

It was a case of “LPDO,” which stands for Loose Pieces Drop Off—a term coined by the famous author GM John Nunn, who is team captain of England in the open section this year.

Batumi Olympiad (Women) | Round 7 Standings (Top 20)
























Rk. SNo Flag Team TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4
1 12 Armenia 13 158,0 20,0 59
2 3 China 12 176,5 20,0 64
3 2 Ukraine 12 165,0 20,0 63
4 4 Georgia 1 12 153,0 19,0 62
5 20 Romania 12 130,0 19,5 52
6 10 USA 11 158,5 19,0 62
7 5 India 11 157,5 20,5 59
8 11 Azerbaijan 11 149,0 20,0 55
9 18 Italy 11 149,0 19,0 60
10 13 Hungary 11 148,0 19,5 54
11 14 Georgia 2 11 146,5 20,0 57
12 8 Kazakhstan 11 141,5 20,0 54
13 1 Russia 10 143,0 19,5 56
14 28 Iran 10 137,5 18,5 58
15 7 Poland 10 136,5 19,5 51
16 17 Mongolia 10 134,5 18,5 56
17 19 Vietnam 10 134,0 21,0 52
18 31 Uzbekistan 10 133,0 18,0 60
19 26 Czech Republic 10 128,0 19,5 52
20 34 Lithuania 10 124,5 18,0 53

(Full standings here.)

Top pairings: Ukraine-Armenia, China-Romania, USA-Italy, Hungary-India, Georgia two-Azerbaijan, Georgia-Kazakhstan, Netherlands-Russia.

Games via TWIC.

Peter Doggers contributed to this report.

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Earlier reports:


New Haven twins take chess to the classroom – New Haven Register



NEW HAVEN — Before even graduating high school, twin brothers George and Jake Wang are developing the curriculum.

The Wang brothers, who are 16-year-old juniors at Hopkins School in their Westville neighborhood, co-founded Chess Haven, a nonprofit that wants to bring chess to low-income and urban children, a little more than three years ago.

“I don’t really see chess as a board game, but as an art,” said Jake, Chess Haven’s vice president. “It’s like players engaging in a dialogue.”

Qi Li, George and Jake’s mother, said their first introduction to chess began at a camp in Lake George, New York, around the time they were 10 years old.

“They really got into chess by themselves,” she said.

George, president of Chess Haven, said shortly after he caught the attention of a stranger at the library, who challenged him to a game.


“My mom told me not to talk to strangers, but he was a really nice guy,” he said. “My brother and I looked up the rules and played the guy.”

About two years later, he said he saw the man on the street with a cardboard sign, and learned that the man was formerly incarcerated and was experiencing homelessness as a result of his inability to find work.

“It shows how chess connects people,” George said. “We decided to start Chess Haven because we wanted to help students.”

The Wang brothers say that between the two of them, they have more than 1,000 volunteer hours teaching New Haven students the fundamentals of chess and helping to launch schoolwide chess clubs. In January, they’ll host a third annual chess tournament for kindergarten through 12th grade at Hopkins, which they say draws about 80 players.

“It’s a really unique experience,” George said.

As a way of expanding Chess Haven’s mission of reaching children with chess, the brothers recently developed Common Core-aligned chess curriculum they hope can be implemented into urban schools.

Jake said the concepts discussed in the chess curriculum involve storytelling and using chess to solve math and logic problems. For example, the curriculum assigns pawns a worth of one cent and bishops three cents and is using that to create math and logic puzzles for learners.


This past Wednesday, Elm City Montessori students Kingston Clark, 7, and Malachi Antoine, 8, were practicing moving pawns around a chess board under the brothers’ supervision.

“I like it,” Kingston said. “We’ve been playing since we were 6.”

Malachi corrected that he was 5 when he began playing chess.

Both brothers are accomplished chess players at the state level where they are co-champions in their division and they have had various successes in tournaments around the country. Recently, Jake won first place in the 2017 Continental Open.

“Although it’s nice to win, I feel like I learn more from the losses,” he said. “I didn’t perfectly win every game. It teaches you to be determined and resilient.”


brian.zahn@hearstmediact.com