Olympiad Round 2: Top Players Play, Norway 2 Holds Ukraine

  • PeterDoggers
  • on 8/3/14, 3:35 PM.

Norway's second team impressed on the second day of the 41st Chess Olympiad, as the team full of rising stars managed to hold two-time winner Ukraine to a 2-2 tie.

In the second round, many top players appeared in the playing hall, and while most cameras were pointed at Magnus Carlsen's first Olympiad appearance since 2010, the world champion didn't get more than a draw against Finland's Tomi Nyback.

With more than 2,000 players in one big hall, some irregularities are inevitable. Compared to the first round, things went much better on the second day, with almost no delay at the start and all players getting through security in time.

Well, either that, or not at all. In the second round, unfortunately the ridiculous zero-tolerance rule claimed its first victims.

There were three teams, and three individual players, who lost their games by default this time. The Palestine women arrived too late and lost 4-0 to Kyrgysztan, while the men's team from the same country failed to show up at all. The strange thing was that they had actually played in the first round, like Burundi, who also didn't arrive at the playing hall today.

Empty boards, and a forfeit for the Palestine women.

Former candidate for the world crown Alexander Beliavsky of Slovenia was forfeited because he was under the impression that the round would start at three, just like the first day. Then there was Joseph Dalliah of Gambia who was on time, had to go to the registration desk, and somehow didn't manage to make it in time back to his board.

The worst example was 11-year-old Murara Umuhoza Layola from Rwanda, who was in tears after losing because she arrived just a little bit late. In an Olympiad, where 75 percent of the participants are amateurs having a two-week chess holiday, the zero-tolerance rule is completely misplaced.

Rwanda-Dominican Republic, with board one forfeited.

A lot of big names did make it on time to the playing hall, and played their first games: Magnus Carlsen, Levon Aronian, Fabiano Caruana, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Vladimir Kramnik, Vassily Ivanchuk and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Unsurprisingly, it was Carlsen's board where all the photographers and cameramen gathered at the start of the round.

Making his first Olympiad appearance since 2010, the world champion played Tomi Nyback of Finland, whom he had lost to at the Dresden 2008 Olympiad. As Black Carlsen didn't get close to a revenge, because Nyback played too solidly.

Carlsen started with an uneventful draw.

In fact the other three games also ended in draws, and the score board was showing 2-2 at the end of the day, a disappointing result for the home crowd.

One more game from that match should be included, since Finnish IM Vilka Sipila, who has played just about every possible first move in his career, went for 1.Na3!? today -- how awesome is that?

The same score was reached by Norway's second team, but it was a fantastic result as its opponent was two-time winner Ukraine! The hero of the day was IM Frode Urkedal (2500), who brought down the legendary Vassily Ivanchuk (2744).

A great achievement, although it must be said that Ivanchuk wasn't playing a particularly good game. On board four, Alexander Moiseeko beat IM Aryan Tari; otherwise it would have been truly sensational.

Not a great game by Ivanchuk. | Photo © Paul Truong.

Urkedal was quoted by the official report:

“Ivanchuk just collapsed. He probably overlooked something and his king was quite weak. He probably thought I had to go for his knight. It obviously feels good to beat a strong player such as Ivanchuk. ”

Both top favorites Armenia and Russia didn't look a 100 percent convincing today. Kramnik won easily against Mohamad Al-Modiahki, whose wife Zhu Chen lost to Grischuk and Karjakin defeated Husein Aziz Nezad, but Nepomniachtchi had to settle for a draw against someone who seems better than his rating suggests:

Nepomniachtchi held to a draw. | Photo © Paul Truong.

Armenia was even more shaky today against Australia. On board one, David Smerdon held Levon Aronian to a draw in a topsy-turvy game where White's exchange sacrifice was an idea Smerdon had seen before. It even got Garry Kasparov's attention; the 13th World Champion was walking around the playing hall and at some point stopped and checked Aronian's notation form!

Smerdon-Aronian: a fighting draw. | Photo © Paul Truong.

This particular game had a bigger meaning as Aronian dropped to number three in the live ratings list. Number two now is Fabiano Caruana, who beat South Africa's Kenny Solomon.

Back to Armenia-Australia, where Max Illingworth was just winning against Sergei Movsesian around the time when he found the nice move 36.Ra3. About ten moves later things started to go downhill. Movsesian now survived two lost positions in a row!

France did make a good impression, winning 4-0 against Mongolia. The ending Vachier-Lagrave got seemed nothing special, but look how the French number one and world number nine finds tactics all over the place.

A powerful game by Vachier-Lagrave.

Hungary defeated Venezuela 2.5-1.5, where Richard Rapport wasn't in great shape and lost against someone rated more than 300 points lower than him. It happens.

Rapport lost with White.

Most of the favorites won their matches in this round while dropping half points here and there but Netherlands, Germany and Cuba managed to do so with clean 4-0 sweeps. Making his first appearance for Israel, Boris Gelfand played a nice game with White. His rook sac on g7 was a novelty and might have been part of his theoretical knowledge:

Strong play by Boris Gelfand.

An absolutely amazing game was the encounter Shirov-Sulskis, board one of the Latvia-Lithuania match. Black won in terms of creativity, as he played a line that is known to be bad in all the textbooks: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5

and now 5...Nxd5. Can you believe a GM playing that? Wasn't this refuted by dudes named Polerio and Greco back in the 17th century? Well, Sulskis knew what he was doing, but so did Shirov -- the players were following a 2003 correspondence game for 20 moves -- or maybe they didn't know that? In any case it was fun, especially for Shirov:

Here are the pairings for round three, limited to the teams who started with two wins:

Top Pairings Round 3

No. Team Pts. MP : MP Pts. Team
1 Armenia 7 4 : 4 8 France
2 United States of America 7 4 : 4 8 Netherlands
4 Germany 8 4 : 4 7 England
5 Poland 7 4 : 4 8 Cuba
6 Italy 8 4 : 4 7 India
7 Turkey 7 4 : 4 8 Georgia
8 Iceland 7 4 : 4 8 Serbia
9 Switzerland 7 4 : 4 8 Vietnam
10 FYROM 7 4 : 4 Russia
11 Hungary 4 : 4 China
12 Azerbaijan 4 : 4 Croatia
13 Belarus 4 : 4 Israel
14 Czech Republic 4 : 4 Iran
15 Bulgaria 4 : 4 6 Spain
16 Brazil 4 : 4 6 Uzbekistan
17 Belgium 4 : 4 6 Bangladesh
18 Latvia 4 : 4 Kazakhstan
19 Romania 4 : 4 6 Slovakia

In the women's section, the local team did a fine job: Norway beat Ecuador, with only a slightly lower average rating, 4-0. China crushed Venezuela with the same numbers and Russia was no worse against Brazil.

The Australian ladies were just as tough as their male counterparts, losing 3-1 to Ukraine, which could have been even better. For example, Nguyen Thu Giang was still winning against a former world champion when she repeated moves:

Here are the women's pairings for round three, again limited to the teams who started with two wins:

Top Women Pairings Round 3

No. Team Pts. MP : MP Pts. Team
1 United States of America 7 4 : 4 8 China
2 Norway 7 4 : 4 8 Hungary
3 Russia 8 4 : 4 7 France
4 Armenia 8 4 : 4 7 Vietnam
5 Bosnia & Herzegovina 7 4 : 4 8 Iran
6 Azerbaijan 8 4 : 4 7 Switzerland
7 Romania 4 : 4 8 Indonesia
8 Germany 4 : 4 8 Argentina
9 Belarus 8 4 : 4 Netherlands
10 Kazakhstan 4 : 4 India
11 Turkey 4 : 4 Bulgaria
12 Croatia 4 : 4 Cuba
13 Spain 6 4 : 4 7 Ukraine
14 Slovakia 4 : 4 Austria
15 Poland 6 4 : 4 Philippines
16 Georgia 7 4 : 4 6 Italy

This report included a number of tweets, but if you want to read more, don't miss the first installment on the Chess in Tweets blog!

The official website is here, and the Olympiad is also on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

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!

19869 reads 31 comments
4 votes


  • 2 years ago


    Armeniaaaaa !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   

  • 2 years ago


    The games are going fine with everyone this good.

  • 2 years ago


    I thought that the zero tolerance rule was adopted so that chess can be taken more seriously, however can anyone imagine a grand-slam tennis final not being played because one of the players is a few seconds late?! The play itself is the point and so rules should serve to facilitate chess being played instead of preventing it from being played. Towards that end the threat of monetary fines are incentive enough to encourage promptness ... but not being one second late is a standard that neither organizers nor machines can always meet.

  • 2 years ago


    First victory of Magnus Carlsen in Tromso:


  • 2 years ago


    I think there have been quite a lot of disappointing results at the top level. Many of the worlds super GM's who have come into this tournament expecting to beat everyone have made dissappointing draws with people hundreds of points below them. I think this is so because they are playing very unusual openings. What seems popular in this bracket is pirc/modern systems. I have so issue if this is their front line opening and they are specialists. But playing just for an unbalanced position is wrong. You shouldn't play out of your comfort zone in chess. Play your front line opening; polished with your own ideas, and go hard at the opponent. These rarer openings adopted by some of the stronger players are rare because they give opponent favourable chances. I am not impressed by the level of play so far and i hope to see the more critical openings coming back and some crushing and instructive games.

  • 2 years ago


    @Demidjinn: Of course my comment was kidding semantic nitpicking, but rather referring to the little word 'too': Nyback played 'too solidly' - a certain amount/degree of solidity is OK, but what Nyback did was too much?! In other words: the lower-rated player "has to" blunder at some stage, at least against Carlsen?

  • 2 years ago


    @b2b2 - Jersey is a "crown dependency" of the Kingdom and hence not part of our constituent nations, hence it is able to enter as its own country

  • 2 years ago


    Will Magnus lose 100 points for his draw with 2500 Tomi ;-))...

  • 2 years ago


    It strikes me that nobody has mentioned that SHirov should have lost!!!

    Indeed in a game, Roeczak (1504)- IM pfren (2197), chess.com 2012 there was played...

    1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Nxd5 6.Nxf7 Kxf7 7.Qf3+ Ke6 8.Nc3 Ncb4 9.a3?? Nxc2+ 10.Kd1 Nxa1 11.Nxd5 Qh4! 12.Nxc7+ Kd7 13. Qf7+ Qe7 14.Qxe7+ Bxe7 15.Nxa8 Kd6 16.b4 Bf5 17.d3 b5 18.Bxb5 Nb3 and White resigned.

    It is amazing how a 2500+ GM did not know that!!

    IM Pfren's comment about the game was:

    (After 9.a3??) White has no real improvements- he must enter that ending which is just lost with correct play.

  • 2 years ago



    I think you read more into the word 'because' than is there. because just offers an explanation. It's not inherently a word that blames.

    Edit: I suppose the words 'since' or 'as' could have been used instead.

  • 2 years ago


    Sarunas Sulskis seems to love playing old stuff. I was last season trashed by one of his old forgotten ideas, see http://chess-brabo.blogspot.be/2014/02/old-wine-in-new-skins.html but a + 2700 player is of course an other caliber of player than an amateur like myself.

  • 2 years ago


    Chess Olympiad playlist:


  • 2 years ago


    "As Black Carlsen didn't get close to a revenge, because Nyback played too solidly."

    Apparently Nyback did something wrong - just how solid was he 'allowed' to play? Normally the loser of a game is blamed for making at least one mistake, yet here Nyback was 'supposed' to lose but wrongly avoided mistakes!?

    Seriously, if you have black against a much lower-rated player, it's quite possible that the opponent won't take risks. Then it's your task to try to unbalance the game - a problem I regularly face (at a much lower level) in amateur team competitions. Maybe the Slav wasn't the most challenging/promising opening choice in such a situation?

  • 2 years ago


    @chesssteve2200: Well, actually it is an international site. (Note: Peter Doggers is Dutch, not American.) The USA has got all matchpoints, and 7 out of 8 board points, you should be able to work it out. Apparently, the match they played wasn't that special.

  • 2 years ago



    Thanks, corrected.

  • 2 years ago


    Zero tolerance nonsense again. I don't mind zero tolerance rules for invitational tournaments where each player earns a living from playing. Otherwise the rule has little justification. I still remember how Hou Yifan was forfeited (a World Cup?) although she had already arrived, but went from her board to look for a pen. We should have zero tolerance with the creator of this rule. Kirsan was very cross that Karpov had once arrived late for the inauguration of a tournament Kirsan was endorsing. Sigh. Why must the rest of the world suffer so that Kirsan can have his will?

    And now the endless queues to search for the "sinister" mobile phones. We can count on one or two hands the cases of players anywhere in the world actually cheating with mobile phones, but still the hunt is on to avoid the terrible threat of being able to cheat. Shouldn't we rather care when cheating becomes more than an imagined threat? Look what happened with Borislav Ivanov, since he wasn't using a mobile phone (but most likely another electronic device), and he could just refuse to permit frisking of his body - the solution implemented in Bulgaria was to ban him from regional tournaments, quite without proof and only on suspicion.

    Perhaps you can argue that the endless frisking in Tromsø is to avoid a new "Ivanov" to emerge. At least the frisking in the airports to catch bombs and weapons have a reason that is well known: The 911 incident. We know what we are trying to avoid. In the Chess world, the measures seem out of proportion with the threats. As Nimzowitsch pointed out, the threat is stronger than the execution.

    Making little girls cry because rules must be followed, is just sad. What has happened with human compassion in this world we are living in?

  • 2 years ago


    Go Bangladesh Go !! Already two wins out of two !!

  • 2 years ago


    Gee, I wonder how the USA did?  This is an American site and the USA is a top team might be nice if the result was at least posted.

  • 2 years ago


    And I didn't know zero tolerance was THAT strict. Like 0 is actually 0 minutes. 

    Go France! and USA!

  • 2 years ago


    Wow! Interesting, fun, and weird all at the same time.

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