Olympiad-2012: In the Middle

  • WGM Natalia_Pogonina
  • | Sep 25, 2012

Round 5 was the last one before the first rest day. We were paired with the co-leader, France (8 match points). I had a free day. When everyone left the hotel, the Internet finally started working fine. I managed to watch a movie online and then went to the playing hall myself to cheer up my teammates. At first we were under some pressure, but then important victories came on boards 3 and 4. Tatiana Kosintseva drew Elmira Skripchenko on board 1. The game between Sophie Milliet and Valentina Gunina was a real thriller. Valya messed up in the opening and had a lost position. Then her opponent failed to find the mating attack and even got a worse position. After the time control was reached the the position was objectively drawn, but Gunina started playing too ambitiously and lost. We won the match 2.5-1.5.


In a good mood before the match

The Chinese team convincingly beat India 3.5-0.5. Another good time to remind you that Humpy Koneru wasn’t participating in the Olympiad.

Every day there was press conferences with players, coaches and other interesting people. This time all the three Polgar sisters reunited:


At the Istanbul Olympiad there was a video broadcast from the playing hall with audio commentary. Additionally, many websites used to have their own online commentary. We also had a very detailed live report on both the Open and Women’s sections each day with pics and game updates. Check out Pogonina.com if you are interested in re-living those moments.

We decided to spend the rest day before a critical match vs. China by visiting the downtown of Istanbul – Sultanakhmet square. Valentina Gunina preferred to stay at the hotel, but we were joined by the captain of the men’s team Yuri Dokhoian. To become more familiar with the place, we didn’t take a taxi and traveled by subway and tram.


On our way

We had a nice meal at a local restaurant and went sight-seeing:


Can you guess the average rating of the people on the picture? :)

Then we took a walk on the wharf and returned home by about 5 p.m. Time to prepare for our match with the Chinese ladies!

The rest day flew by quickly and entertainingly. We had a one match point advantage over China, so we weren’t in a must-win situation. At the previous Olympiad we barely won the match, but at the World Championship’11 the powerful Chinese girls crushed our team 4-0. Naturally, we were rather motivated to do well this time.

The confrontation went tough for us. Tatiana Kosintseva quickly lost an opening duel against Hou Yifan. I messed up the moves and got an unclear position instead of a better one. The game ended in a draw. Sasha Kosteniuk had a slightly worse endgame, but managed to hold. Nadya won a piece, but it was not so easy to convert it. Kudos to her for winning the game. The match ended in a tie: 2-2.


Sergey Rublevsky is cunningly looking at the Chinese players


The Chinese ladies are having a friendly chat

Poland defeated Serbia and caught up with us on match points. An interesting endgame occurred on board 4:

Ukraine beat a solid team from Azerbaijan:

In round 6 we were playing Poland. Tatiana Kosintseva caught a cold and had a rest day.

Historically, matches against Poland have been a real challenge for us. I can't remember when the last time we won was. No one knows the reason behind this phenomenon. After the match with China it seemed like the road to gold was now pretty much open, but that was an illusion. Frankly speaking, judging by the positions we could have been destroyed by Poland. The only game where we had an advantage was Alexandra Kosteniuk vs. Ioland Zawadska. Ironically, Alexandra lost. Valentina Gunina and Nadezhda Kosintseva were on the ropes. I had an opposite-colored bishop endgame with rooks on board which should have been drawn. Then miracles started happening. Valya and Nadya escaped, while I succeeded in outplaying my opponent and scoring. The match was thus drawn. China attained an important victory over another rating favorite – Georgia and caught up with us.


Before the round

The Chinese team lost just one game in that match, on board 4:


Georgia-China: 1.5-2.5

After two such nerve-racking matches we were rather exhausted. Ukraine, another tough adversary…Alexandra Kosteniuk had a vacation after the painful loss.

My opponent caught me into her opening preparation and managed to trick me – I couldn’t work out some of the nuances over the board. This was my only loss at the Olympiad. Valya had a rather tense game that ended in a draw. Tania had a winning position against Kateryna Lahno, but was low on time. Nadya could have lost at some point, but then she managed to hold on and even outplay Natalia Zhukova in the endgame. She won! Meanwhile, Tania was having a marathon and kept missing one winning continuation after another. Her game was a pain to watch – it lasted 157 moves and ended in a draw.


«Look me in the eyes»

Another tie. We were clearly struggling and could have even lost.

China left Poland no chances (3-1) and was in clear first. Here is the game from board 1:


A honorary guest used to make the first move each day on board one of the leading teams

It was time to change the situation dramatically. The captain was really irritated by the way things were going, and so he gave us a verbal beating to try to get us back into our senses. Normally that’s not the way to treat girls, but it worked. We performed almost excellently in the final three rounds. Check out part III next week to find out how our race for gold ended! Laughing

Photos by Russiachess.org and ChessOlympiadIstanbul.com


  • 3 years ago



  • 3 years ago


    Thank you....Maghi Perak Malaysia @ Wellcome to Perak Malaysia.

  • 3 years ago

    IM BakaPG

    Thank you for accepting my friend request. Best regards, Blažo.

  • 3 years ago

    WGM Natalia_Pogonina

    Let’s stay in touch on social networks! Here are my official accounts:

    Account 1, Account 2, Account 3

  • 3 years ago


    love  with chess

  • 4 years ago


    " Tatiana Kosintseva caught a cold and had a rest day." How possibly a woman from Arkhangelsk can catch cold in İstanbul :) She nearly lives in poles :)

  • 4 years ago


    in round 6 Tata Steel Chess, we see again an insulting behaviour, clearly demonstrating lack of sportmanship, this time from Anish Giri, who refused to resign in totally lost endgame, against Yifan. 

    @Pogonina: in case you are not aware, most of kibitzers on chessdom live broadcast find this behaviour is not acceptable, and making cynical jokes out of Giri because of his lowly attitude. this is not different from your colleague at the olympiad. 

    but i i understand, that i think we have to agree to disagree. while i call this behaviour as insulting, impolite, lack of sportmanship, you call it as heroic attempt. be my guest! 

  • 4 years ago


    in the pic LOOK ME IN THE EYES u were looking dangerously at ur opponent

  • 4 years ago


    Thank you

  • 4 years ago


    She may or may not offer a draw, I just hope she wouldn't do it because she thinks she's obligated to be "polite."

  • 4 years ago

    WGM Natalia_Pogonina

    Also, it's very hard to stop from the psychological point of view. I've seen 2700+ players fight to their bare kings and even then keep making moves! That's how intense chess struggles sometimes are; one just keeps playing in a trance. And here a guy is protesting about playing out a standard endgame.

  • 4 years ago

    WGM Natalia_Pogonina

    @edpratomo Tatiana is two-times European champion too, fyi. And one should play the board. If you have a position which you can only win and can't lose in any case, you should play it against anybody - Kasparov, Anand or Carlsen. Especially in such a situation - extremely important team event, critical match, both players being very tired (over 6 hours of play).Too bad you just keep repeating your mantra fanatically and are not willing to listen...

  • 4 years ago


    mobidi, that's what i'm talking about. Tatiana's opponent was two-times European champion(!), yet she was endlessly kept asking her opponent to prove  her knowledge about that bishop vs rook endgame! Laughing 

  • 4 years ago


    Elubas, what is your opinion if the player sitting at the opposite of Tatiana was Ivanchuk? Tongue Out oh may be that's too much... how about Judit Polgar? Tongue Out

    would she kept playing? or would she politely offer draw? 

    it's not about human rights or not. i wanna hear your answer Elubas. 

  • 4 years ago


    Tatiana? Of course she was RIGHT!Wink Little bit funny ,but right-game is game-such end is very instuctive (for all players), but Kateryna is really GM-and she knows what to do in such caseEmbarassed.Capablanca played end vs Alekhine once- N+R vs R-long,very long game,but Alekhine was GM tooCry-and REMIS.

  • 4 years ago


    It doesn't matter how futile your attempt is -- you have every right to make that attempt. If you can try to win, essentially without the risk of losing, your net result will probably not be any worse than if you end it early. The only exception is if, as stated, you think the loss in energy will be too large, although I think that argument tends to be overrated. Interestingly, you could use the energy argument as a reason to continue, because you might tire out your opponent, which could hurt their team and thus help your team potentially.

    If you want to be a good samaritan, why do so during something that is meant to be competitive and completely impersonal? If you want to be one, it makes more sense to do so in real life, rather than claim to be a gentleman because people can look forward to you giving up easily against them. Sure, it's pleasant to play against someone who will let you win the second you win a pawn, but part of the joy in chess is the fight, in my opinion anyway, and that includes trying to win in any position, no matter how low your chance of winning it is.

  • 4 years ago


    Natalia: well at least your team captain seemed to agree with me that Tatiana's attempt is futile. it was an absolutely right decision that he stopped that before reaching 50 moves regulation, otherwise people would remember that as the most ridiculous game in the olympiad Tongue Out 

  • 4 years ago


    Eternity, yes that's the expected kind of handshaking, we all know how to shake hands in polite way Smile

  • 4 years ago


    Natalia - I hope your not suggesting I was criticizing Tatiana in her long game and she has an 'unhappy face' - I was only observing generally she doesn't smile. People who have criticized Tatiana for this long game don't know what they are talking about - maybe Tatiana should come on here to defend her case?

  • 4 years ago


    Anyway, it's nice (well, not nice, but you know what I mean Smile) to see that even very strong players struggle with pushing home the extra pawns against dogged defense. Now I know I'm not the only one :)

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