First Ever Gold for China at Olympiad, Russia Wins Women's Section
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China won the 41st Chess Olympiad in Tromsø, Norway on Thursday after beating Poland 3-1 in the final round.
The team finished on 19 out of a possible 22 match points.
Russia clinched the gold medal for the third time in a row in the women's section, scoring 2.5-1.5 against Bulgaria in the final round.
After an excellent “Caribbean party” on Tuesday night (which once again proved that spontaneous parties are often the best!) and a very rainy rest day, the final round of the Chess Olympiad started three hours earlier than normal, at 11 a.m. on Thursday.
China faced Poland while defending a one-point lead over Hungary, which was playing Ukraine. In the women section's, Russia played Bulgaria, while also defending a one-point lead over China and Ukraine. And it was all over surprisingly quickly.
The first winners were the Russian women, who thus secured their third consecutive Olympiad gold medal!
Shortly before the time control, two games finished at the same time: Adriana Nikolova resigned her game with Alexandra Kosteniuk, and then Iva Videnova also had to throw in the towel against Valentina Gunina.
Kosteniuk's game was quite a convincing win:
Because Natalija Pogonina drew her game with Margarita Voiska, the desired 2.5 match points were in the pocket, and it didn't matter that top board Kateryna Lagno lost her game to Antoaneta Stefanova.
@Pogonina) August 14, 2014
Later, at a press conference, Alexandra Kosteniuk stated that the turmoil before the tournament, when for a moment it was unclear whether they could play, “didn't affect the preparation process.”
Coach Sergei Rublevsky said "what really contributed was the girls' drive to win. They understood how many people cheered for them.”
As these ladies were sitting next to each other and answering questions with the most charming smiles, the reason behind their success in 2010, 2012, and 2014 wasn't hard to guess: a fantastic atmosphere in the team.
Andrei Filatov, president of the Russian Chess Federation and newly elected vice president of FIDE, rightly described them as “golden girls”!
Let's return to the men's section, where China was doing very well. The team, which left out 15-year-old Wei Yi for this crucial match, made a somewhat nervous impression when arriving at the chess boards, but eventually scored a very convincing 3-1 win against Poland.
First Ni Hua, at 31 the oldest player in the team, drew his game with Mateusz Bartel on board four. Then Ding Liren, who is 10 years younger, opened the score against Grzegorz Gajewski.
In a Bogo-Indian/Catalan hybrid, he was better out of the opening:
Wang Yue (age 27) then drew Radek Wojtaszek and thus decided the match, since Yu Yangyi (21) had a completely winning position. And he finished it off without any problems:
And so China won its first gold medal at an Olympiad, eight years after earning a silver medal in Turin 2006.
After the collapse of the Soviet-Union, only Russia, Ukraine and Armenia had won gold thus far.
The team only lost just one game out of 44 games (Wang Yue, against Peter Leko in round three). And, remarkably, the winning team played without three players from the current top five in China.
“Li Chao didn't have time to play the qualifier tournament, Bu Xiangzhi did play but failed to qualify, and Wang Hao couldn't come to an agreement about the conditions with the federation,” delegation leader Tian Hong Wei told Chess.com.
@SusanPolgar) August 14, 2014
At the press conference after the match, the players emphasized the good team spirit. Ni Hua said something interesting about their playing styles:
“In the past. we played very sharp openings, but we realized that they might not be so suitable to our style. We made changes. Nowadays we've found more solutions; we combine different styles and we can also adopt styles of American and European styles and play solid openings.”
The players realized that they might have become role models back home.
Wang Yue: “I think this result is very good for the promotion of chess in China. It will encourage many players to do well.”
Yu Yangyi: “It was very hard for us. I hope this is good promotion for China. We hope we can continue like this, and have a solid foundation for chess in the future.”
Ding Liren: “I'm sure more kids will start to like this game. We hope we can be a star team, like a football club in Europe!”
Wei Yi, the youngest GM in the world and also the youngest ever gold medal winner: “I didn't expect that I would qualify for the team. It wasn't easy, but I am very happy we won. It was team work. It's great to have magical team members!”
There was more success for the Chinese players because the women's team clinched the silver medals thanks to a 2-2 with Ukraine (four draws). That way they ended on 18 points and remained in shared second place, with China having the better tiebreak. Germany could have ended on 18 points as well, but lost 4-0 to Georgia.
Back to the open section, where there was an identical situation as far as the silver medals were concerned: Hungary ended second after playing 2-2, also with four draws, against Ukraine.
On the last day again the Hungarians left out Judit Polgar, whose loss to Sam Shankland in round eight seems to be her last game as a chess professional.
In an article (behind a paywall) in The Times, her retirement was announced yesterday. In the mean time Ms. Polgar, who had a tremendous career spanning 25 years, has confirmed the news via her Twitter and Facebook accounts.
It's been an amazing 25 years! Huge thanks everyone, especially my wonderful family for supporting this long journey! pic.twitter.com/1ejEmGALgy— Judit Polgar ( @GMJuditPolgar) August 14, 2014
Three more teams that ended on 17 match points as well: Azerbaijan, Russia and India. It was the latter who clinched the bronze medals after an amazing swing of tiebreaks in the final round.
After ten rounds, Russia was on 301.5 SB points and India on 291.5, but after the final round, India moved to 371.5 while Russia only had 352.0! The difference between India and Hungary was only half an SB point.
(SB stands for Sonneborn-Berger, which is the total of match points of each opponent, excluding the opponent who scored the lowest number of match points, multiplied by the number of game points achieved against this opponent.)
The Russian men ended its unsuccessful tournament with a 2.5-1.5 win against France, and it was decided on board four, where Ian Nepomniachtchi defeated Romain Edouard in a 6.h3 Najdorf, deploying a “rook fianchetto.”
Despite Sam Shankland's amazing tournament (a draw in his last game got him to 9.0/10 and a higher performance rating than Magnus Carlen!), team USA won't be too happy either. It's traveling back home with a last-round loss against Azerbaijan.
Hikaru Nakamura had to resign against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, as in the final position White will simply liquidate to a winning king and pawn ending:
The bronze medals were India's first ever prize at an Olympiad, and it's a tremendous result. Like China, this-19th seeded team was playing without three players from its current top five: Vishy Anand, Pentala Harikrishna and Abhijeet Gupta.
Parimarjan Negi, who earlier this week announced that he won't be playing much chess in the future after getting admitted to Stanford University, defeated Uzbekistan's top player and ex-FIDE world champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov, who must have been tired at the end:
27th-seeded Belarus had an excellent Olympiad, finishing shared 6th and 11th on tiebreak. Another team that surprised positively was Austrialia. As the 60th-seeded team, it finished shared 24th (31st on tiebreak) thanks to an excellent 2-2 against Germany in the final round.
Below you'll find a few tables with statistics, including the board medals. Veselin Topalov won the prestigeous gold medal for board one in the open section with a 6.5/9 score and a 2872 performance. He won 11.9 rating points and climbed from 8th to 6th in the live ratings.
@SilvioDanailov) August 14, 2014
Mickey Adams took silver with the same score but a slightly worse average rating of his opponents. Anish Giri won the bronze medal and climbed to 11th place in the live rankings!
Final Standings | Open Section (Top 20)
(Full final standings here)
Final Standings | Women's Section (Top 20)
(Full final standings here)
Board Prizes | Open Section
|1||Nguyen, Ngoc Truong Son||2634||Vietnam||2843||10||8,5||85||2542|
|2||Ortiz Suarez, Isan Reynaldo||2603||Cuba||2766||8||6||75||2573|
|1||Shankland, Samuel L||2624||USA||2831||10||9||90||2457|
(Full board standings here)
Board Prizes | Women's Section
(Full women board standings here)
The tournament ended on a very sad note. A player from the Seychelles collapsed during the round. The player received first aid, was brought to the University Hospital and died.
The closing ceremony started with one minute of silence.
Really sad to hear that one of the players from Seychelles apparently died during the last round of the Olympiad today.— Hikaru Nakamura ( @GMHikaru) August 14, 2014
If what I've heard is correct, someone died during the round today. Puts the chess results in perspective. Condolences to the team and family— Fabiano Caruana ( @FabianoCaruana) August 14, 2014
Update: it's almost unbelievable but later in the evening another player, from Uzbekistan, was found dead in a hotel room. Both appeared to have died of natural causes.
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- Round 6: Azerbaijan, Cuba Leading; China, Russia Top Women's Section | Update: VIDEO
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