Olympiad R8: China Beats Azerbaijan to Take Sole Lead, Russia Tops Women's Section
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China is the new leader at the 41st Chess Olympiad in Tromsø. With three rounds to go they are the only team with 14 match points after beating Azerbaijan 3-1 on Sunday. Russia continues to top the women section after a 3.5-0.5 win over Hungary. On the eve of the FIDE Presidential elections, both candidates are urging their opponent to have a civilized meeting tomorrow, but it remains to be seen whether that will happen.
On Sunday morning (or rather Saturday night) the Kasparov team posted an open letter on its website (in PDF here), proposing to the Ilyumzhinov ticket “a short set of detailed procedures that would guarantee a fair and confidential election for FIDE President on Monday.” In includes, for example, a request to have all six members of each ticket to be seated on stage facing the assembly, and to have an extra 15 minutes for both teams to present their tickets.
Later on Sunday a reply from the other team came, unambiguously titled “Open Reply by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to the Open Letter of Garry Kasparov”. It starts as follows:
“In the hours leading up to the FIDE Presidential Election, Garry Kasparov is in panic mode. Painfully aware of his imminent defeat, unable to resign and just go home, he must play to mate. All he can do at the moment is muddy the waters and try to manufacture explanations for his financial backers: he is paying a team of lawyers from one of the most expensive firms in the world (>$725/hour/lawyer) to create fog and confusion.”
It is clear that on the eve of the election, both teams aren't mincing words anymore and the prose used in their communication predicts a hostile atmosphere tomorrow. Meanwhile, VG has posted a very interesting video interview with both candidates - don't miss it.
Before turning to the games, first an update on the Burundi story mentioned yesterday. Apparently a big part of their delegation has simply disappeared! Here's an official statement from the organizers:
“Seven individuals from Burundi have left the Olympiad - five players - four women and one man, plus a team captain and a team leader. We are disappointed that they have not completed the event. The police were informed yesterday (Saturday) evening about their disappearance.
All of the missing persons have Schengen visas, which give them three months freedom of movement in the Schengen area. No laws have been broken and we have not heard anything back from the police and have no reason to suspect any trouble. The matter is now in the hands of the police, and not the Olympiad organization.”
At the Olympiad there was a change of the guard as China defeated Azerbaijan 3-1. Wang Yue-Mamedyarov and Radjabov-Ding Liren both ended in draws and Yu Yangyi slowly outplayed Eltaj Safarli. It then came down to the following game, which reached a knight vs not so great bishop endind that looks close to winning for White after 44.Ne2. But Guseinov stumbled at the end when the team desperately needed a win:
Romania and Czech Republic played 2-2 with four draws and so did India & Armenia. The huge pre-tournament favorite, Russia, also dropped one match point in their fight with Spain. At the start it looked alright, as Sergey Karjakin was crashing through against Ivan Salgado Lopez's Dragon:
However, Vladimir Kramnik suffered a painful loss to Paco Vallejo (and in doing so, the 14th World Champion dropped out of the top 10 in the live ratings).
@Tromso2014) August 10, 2014
It was quite a disappointing day for Bulgaria as well, who were doing well after about two hours of play against Ukraine. Ruslan Ponomariov committed a blunder in a slightly worse position against Ivan Cheparinov. It was basically immediately over, but in team matches you normally play on a bit longer than normal:
Ukraine started badly but are back in the game | Photo © Paul Truong
But then suddenly the tables turned as Valentin Iotov lost his first game of the event, against Pavel Eljanov, Krasimir Rusev didn't survive against Anton Korobov and then Veselin Topalov failed to convert a winning position against Vassily Ivanchuk:
Norway beat Bosnia & Herzegovina 3-1, where Magnus Carlsen won against his friend Borki Predojevic to quickly wash away the memory of that unnecessary loss yesterday.
France improved their medal chances with a 2.5-1.5 win over Poland where Etienne Bacrot was the match winner:
As mentioned, there were some matches ending in 2-2 among the teams just below the top - for example also Germany-Cuba and Hungary-USA. The latter saw draws on boards one and two, but Onischuk blundeded terribly on three:
Sam Shankland saved the day for the Americans, moving up to an amazing 7.0/7 score!
Netherlands is also in the group of countries with two points below the leaders thanks to a convincing 3-1 victory over Brazil. One of the winners was Erwin l'Ami, who played a very creative game:
Top Pairings Open Section, Round 9
|9||United States of America||22||12||-||12||21||Germany||GER|
When Russia is facing Norway 2 in the 9th round of the #ChessOlympiad, it's a clear sign that things are not quite according to the plan.— Tarjei J. Svensen ( @TarjeiJS) August 10, 2014
After beating China, Russia continued their role as favorite for gold in the women section with a solid 3-1 victory over Hungary. Kateryna Lagno drew with Hoang Thanh Trang on board one and Anita Gara put up a good fight against Alexandra Kosteniuk, but on the other boards the difference in strength was clear. Valentina Gunina won very easily:
But also here the tournament isn't decided yet. China recovered well, and that includes Hou Yifan. The World Champion nicely demonstrated that a lead in development can also be decisive after the queens have left the board:
A horrible blunder was seen on board 2 of the match between Norway and Turkey. Black reached a winning position, but blundered a mate in one:
Top Pairings Women Section, Round 9
|10||United States of America||21||11||-||11||21||Montenegro|
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- Round 7: Sole Lead for Azerbaijan & Russia, Carlsen & Hou Yifan Both Lose | Update: VIDEO
- Round 6: Azerbaijan, Cuba Leading; China, Russia Top Women's Section | Update: VIDEO
- Round 5: 7-Way Tie for First, Ilyumzhinov Team Responds
- Round 4: Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Serbia Top Olympiad Open Section After 4 Rounds | Update: VIDEO
- Round 3: Kasparov Speaks, Armenia Stumbles, Netherlands Beats USA | Update: VIDEO
- Round 2: Top Players Play, Norway 2 Holds Ukraine
- Round 1: Olympiad Takes Off With Few Surprises | Update: VIDEO
- Opening ceremony: 41st Olympiad Officially Opened
- Preview: Top 10 Questions About the Tromsø Chess Olympiad