Olympiad R3: Kasparov Speaks, Armenia Stumbles, Netherlands Beats USA | Update: VIDEO
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Several top matches ended in 2-2 today, and now only 11 countries are in the lead, with three wins, at the 41st Chess Olympiad in Tromsø: France, Netherlands, Serbia, Russia, China, Azerbaijan, Israel, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Uzbekistan and Romania.
Three-time winner Armenia suffered its first loss against France, while Netherlands managed to beat the United States, which played its first match with Hikaru Nakamura.
On the third day of the Olympiad, many journalists missed the start of the round. The reason was that they were somewhere else: at the Rica Ishavshotel, where an hour earlier a press conference started with Garry Kasparov and his ticket members Afrika Msimang, Jan Callewaert, Ian Wilkinson and Ignatius Leong. The latter is still FIDE Secretary, and in fact also Olympiad tournament director, so he's wearing many hats at this Olympiad!
One member was missing: Rex Sinquefield, the biggest individual chess sponsor these days, who helped fund the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, the recent U.S. Championships, and the Sinquefield Cup. Sinquefield will be coming to Tromsø later this week.
The first question at the press conference came from Peter Nicholas, a journalist for the Wall Street Journal, who asked: “Do you believe Vladimir Putin is in lead with your opponent for this presidency and do you believe that your political opposition to the Putin government is in some sense the reason for that?”
Kasparov answered: “It is not a secret that every Russian embassy in the world has been mobilized by the incumbent. They have been actively pursuing federations and governments to exercise their influence and to sway the votes. In some countries they have been actively involved in buying votes.”
Wilkinson added: “I can confirm. The Russian tried to put a squeeze on us, so to speak.”
Jøran Aulin-Jansson, the President of the Norwegian Chess Federation, was also present and said that he was approached twice.
Kasparov: “Even the Ukrainian federation was approached!” He ended his response to Mr. Nicholas with: “Ilyumzhinov's FIDE will be fully dependent on the pariah state that unfortunately Putin's Russia has been turned into.”
The bigger part of the press conference was about proxies. A proxy is a vote by a delegate on behalf of another federation, whose delegate cannot attend the General Assembly for whatever reason. At least, that is the original idea.
“There were massive violations of the regulations. But you can also just look at the list of proxies. The incumbent side has 25, we have three. That definitely tells you that they have been very busy collecting proxies. (...) Out of these 25 proxies, I would say at least half of the countries that gave the proxies will be represented. In my view, it will not be morally acceptable to have presidents of federations in the audience, while somebody else will be casting the ballot. (...) In our case, all three proxies were given by countries who are not attending this Congress: South Africa, Hong Kong and Bhutan.”
The Kasparov team suspects that some of the proxies might not have a clear link between the two federations, but they haven't been able to bring this topic to the Electoral Commission.
“We asked the Electoral Committee and the FIDE office, led by Mr Freeman, the executive director, to provide us native documents, I mean the emails that could prove this link,” said Kasparov. “Our requests have been categorically denied, whereas every single request from the opposite side was accepted. That gives you an idea about the impartiality.”
“There were four specific proxies hand-delivered by Mr. Makropoulos. All we wanted to ask them is please provide us an email that will show the link between the link between the delegate and Mr. Makropoulos, especially since in two cases, Laos and the Maldives, the proxy was allegedly issued and delivered on the same day. I don't believe that you can sign a proxy on July 15 and the same day hand deliver it to the office in Greece, unless there is an email. Our request was denied again,” said Kasparov.
The Kasparov team believes that altogether at least 14 votes can be discounted “because they simply do not meet the requirements made by the FIDE rules.”
This last point suggests that if they lose by a small margin, it is likely that the Kasparov team will sue the FIDE leadership at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne.
It's high time to speak about chess. In the third round, Hikaru Nakamura made his first appearance for the U.S. team, as travel problems had prevented him from arriving earlier in Tromsø. The American drew very quickly on board one with Anish Giri in the match against the Netherlands, but later he saw his team losing the match, despite a smooth win by Alexander Onischuk against Loek van Wely.
Netherlands was 1.5-0.5 down, but on both white boards it had promising positions. Two victories was perhaps too much to ask, but a 2-2 was certainly possible. With some luck (as team captain Vladimir Tukmakov admitted to Chess.com), both games were won and the score was overturned.
Erwin l'Ami was the first to score a full point for the Dutch, against Gata Kamsky, certainly one of his biggest wins ever. It wasn't a perfect game from start to finish (the Duch GM didn't like taking with the f-pawn on e5; he had missed 17...Be8) but in the end, l'Ami's position was just too good.
From a 5.Re1 Berlin, Van Kampen was trying his luck with the bishop pair, and he got quite far. But then he traded queens, and the ending was probably a draw, until his opponent Varuzhan Akobian blundered on move 63; he allowed a pawn ending that was losing for him. With Giri and l'Ami watching closeby, Van Kampen decided the match.
Update: here's our video which includes interviews with Erwin l'Ami and Robin van Kampen:
Three-time winner Armenia suffered its first loss. Sergei Movsesian, who had narrow escapes in the first two rounds, finally stumbled after somewhat feeble opening play:
Levon Aronian had good chances on board one, but in the end Maxime Vachier-Lagrave saved the crucial half point. The computer likes 22.Rf3 and gives White about a two-pawn advantage there.
It seems that throughout the tournament, Norway's first team will be playing in the corner of the playing hall where the top boards are, so that the spectators and the cameras of the Norwegian TV can follow it closely.
On Monday, Norway did play like one of the top teams, scoring a solid 3-1 win with two draws and two wins against Montenegro. Carlsen won on board one as his opponent played OK but needed too much time, and went wrong from move 27 onwards:
Germany-England, Poland-Cuba, Italy-India and Turkey-Georgia, and Switzerland-Vietnam all ended in 2-2. Matthew Sadler opened the score for England in a Queen's Gambit Declined, about which he once wrote an excellent book. In the end, the English GM managed to trap his opponent's knight:
But at the end of the day it was Georg Meier who leveled the score against Gawain Jones, whose Torre Attack is not named after the record holder of Olympiads in Tromsø: Eugenio Torre (who is playing his 21st for the Philippines!).
Somehow Jones got himself into an IQP position without much compensation for the small weakness. In the rook ending Black was slightly more active, but was it really lost?
On board one, Italy's Fabiano Caruana further improved on his highest ever live rating by beating India's Parimarjan Negi. As so often, opposite-colored bishops weren't so drawish with rooks on the board.
Top favorites Russia were way too strong for Macedonia, named “FYROM” in the tournament tables which stands for Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the name used by the United Nations.
At the end of his game, Peter Svidler was playing around with some funny pawn checkmates.
Hungary gave Judit Polgar a rest, and top board Peter Leko defeated Wang Yue, but the Chinese went away with the win thanks to Ding Liren and Yu Yangyi on board two and three against Csaba Balogh and Zoltan Almasi respectively. Norway's second team again held a stronger team to 2-2: Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Update: Veselin Topalov's brilliant game against Paco Vallejo cannot remain unmentioned in this report!
Top pairings, round 4
It was a bad day for the USA as it also lost in the women's section. However, its opponent was top seed China, playing with Hou Yifan, so it was not a shame to go down.
Top pairings women, round 4
Again, don't miss the Chess in Tweets blog!
Chess.com is transmitting a number of top games every round in Live Chess, and we're hosting a daily show on Chess.com/TV. Our reporter Peter Doggers is present in Tromsø for on-the-spot (video) reports and calls in live from Tromsø during the Chess.com/TV show, so stay tuned!
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