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Powerful US Teams Head to Olympiad in Baku

Powerful US Teams Head to Olympiad in Baku

USChessFederation
Aug 30, 2016, 5:06 PM 10

Powerful US Teams Head to Olympiad in Baku

By IM John Donaldson, Team Captain

 Fabiano Caruana at the U.S. Championships. Photo: Spectrum Studios

Two powerful American teams will soon be heading to Baku, Azerbaijan, for the 42nd Chess Olympiad which starts September 2. The U.S. will field its highest-rated team ever in the Open competition headed by Fabiano Caruana , Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So (currently rated number 3, 6 and 7 in the world respectively), who are ably supported by Sam Shankland and Ray Robson.

 Open Team (in rating order)

1. GM Fabiano Caruana 2808
2. GM Hikary Nakamura 2789
3. GM Wesley So 2782
4. GM Sam Shankland 2679
5. GM Ray Robson 2674

Captain IM John Donaldson
Coach GM Alex Lenderman

This team will be ranked 2nd right behind Russia and just ahead of defending Olympiad champions, China, but there will be no shortage of contenders fighting for the medals. Host Azerbaijan (twice European champions) and averaging over 2700 per board, will be looking to finish on the podium for the first time in an Olympiad.

One need only look at the performance of Russia in the post Kasparov years to realize how hard it is to win an Olympiad and that there are no guarantees. Top seed every Olympiad from 2004-2014 and with great players, high motivation, excellent support and generous incentives Russia nonetheless won no gold medals.

 

U.S. Women's Champion, Nazi Paikidze, will be making her Olympic debut on the U.S. Women's Team. Photo: Spectrum Studios

The Women’s competition sees four teams – China, Russia, Ukraine and Georgia – enter the competition rated significantly higher rated (an average over 100 points per board) than the rest of the field. China, led by Hou Yifan is the top seed, but Russia has won the past three Olympiads with the Chinese runners-up each time. Ukraine and Georgia will also be contenders to finish first, something no other country besides the “Big Four” has done since the breakup of the Soviet Union.

The United States, led by Irina Krush and Anna Zatonskih who are both rated in the top 40 women in the worldwill be seeded sixth and seeks to repeat its tremendous performance in 2008 when it took home bronze. U.S. Women’s Champion Nazi Paikidze, who will be making her Olympic debut, strengthens the team which includes Katerina Nemcova and Sabina Foisor who played well two years ago in Tromso.

Women's Team (in rating order)

1. IM Anna Zatonskih 2449
2. GM Irina Krush 2444
3. WGM Nazi Paikidze 2366
4. WGM Katerina Nemcova 2365
5. WGM Sabina Foisor 2259

Captain GM Yasser Seirawan
Coach GM Robert Hess

The Olympiad is not only about teams winning medals and mega lineups averaging over 2700. Over 1600 players will be competing in the competition which ends September 13th, and many if not most of them will be amateurs of varying strengths hailing from nations all over the globe, from Palau to São Tomé and Príncipe. F.I.D.E.’s motto Gens una sumus “We are one people”, is definitely true during the Olympiads.

Thanks to the Chess Club & Scholastic Center of St. Louis and to the Kasparov Chess Foundation for their continued generous support.

Find our campaign page here and join Kasparov by making a donation of any size using this link.

Look for daily reports from the Olympiad on US Chess News by GM Alejandro Ramirez. 

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