Olympiad R6: Azerbaijan, Cuba Leading; China, Russia Top Women's Section | Update: VIDEO

Olympiad R6: Azerbaijan, Cuba Leading; China, Russia Top Women's Section | Update: VIDEO

| 25 | Chess Event Coverage

After six rounds, two countries are sharing the lead at the 41st Chess Olympiad in Tromsø: Azerbaijan and Cuba. Both scored 11 match points, and will face each other tomorrow.

On Friday, the Azeri GMs defeated Georgia 3.5-0.5, and with the same numbers, Cuba beat Kazakhstan.

In round seven, the women's section will see the crucial clash between China and Russia, who are tied for first place with 12 match points.

Rest day

Thursday was the first rest day in Tromsø. Many chess players (and journalists!) didn't do anything special besides recovering from the Bermuda Party, but some decided to cross the Bruvegen bridge towards Tromsdalen, and climb the mountain.

From there you have a splendid view over the city, as this photo shows (admittedly, it was taken last year during the 2013 World Cup):

A small (in fact rather disappointing) group of journalists and delegates accepted an invitation to enjoy an “arctic evening” in the Polaria museum. After a welcome drink, there was a lecture by Jan Gunnar Winther, Director of the Norwegian Polar Institute, called “A Warming Arctic: Regional Drama with Global Consequences.”

Despite showing a number of staggering diagrams that demonstrated the climate change, Mr. Winther luckily ended his talk on a positive note. Apparently there's still hope for this planet.

Later, we also enjoyed a panorama film about the arctic wilderness on Spitsbergen, some wonderful arctic tapas, and a film about the northern lights. The highlight of the evening, however, was a brief show of chess interested seals!

The museum is offering a 50 percent discount to all participants of the Olympiad, so if you're here in Tromsø and reading this, don't skip it. It's worth it (and located just behind the playing hall).

Russian Chess Federation vs Organizing Committee

Friday started with the news that the Russian Chess Federation (RCF) has taken legal action against the Olympiad organizers. According to the RCF, its women's team was only accepted to enter the Olympiad after a letter was sent by some very expensive lawyers. 

“The OC based its decision on incorrect understanding of the tournament rules and acted as well in a way that contravene the clear and valid decision of the FIDE President, Mr Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who was entitled to reverse the OC decision,” the lawyers supported their legal action in an email.

Worried that the Olympiad Committee might be declared bankrupt after the end of the event, the Russian Chess Federation attempted to arrest some of the OC's assets. The case is due for Tuesday at before the Tromsø District Court.

“This is not something against the organizers, we don't have a problem with them,” Mark Gluhovsky, Executive Director of the Russian Chess Federation told “This is a normal legal procedure. We lost money on American lawyers. They are very expensive, and it wasn't necessary, so we want it back.”

Mr. Gluhovsky didn't want to mention the amount, but on Norwegian TV the Chairman of the organizing committee, Hans Olav Karde, said that it was a staggering 1.2 million NOK (close to $200,000 or 145,000 Euro) “just for writing a letter.”

No Toiletgate 2

In an earlier report it was mentioned here that many participants complained about the mobile toilets outside the playing hall. Apparently they were dirty, the flushing often wouldn't work and the doors sometimes couldn't be locked. The CEO of the Olympiad, Børge Robertsen, has now issued the following statement:

“The toilets we have are the best portable toilets found in northern Norway. With an event of this size it is difficult to please everyone, but we are working constantly to optimize the facilities for competitors. So we have increased sanitation staff, changed cleaning liquid and designated dedicated men's and women's stalls. We hope that this will help satisfy those who have been disappointed earlier.”

Later, Press Officer Morgan Lillegård tweeted that from now on there will be eight people taking care of 56 toilets:

Ilyumzhinov vs Kasparov

Journalists and other “experts” in Tromsø cannot stop talking about the presidential elections. Nobody is really sure what is going on, and how many votes each team is sitting on at the moment, but everyone seems to agree that it's going to be (much) closer than in 2010 (Karpov) and 2006 (Bessel Kok).

In our previous report, the “FIDE First” bulletin from the Ilyumhinov team was discussed, and some quotes were included. The following letter by FIDE's Executive Director was not discussed, but deserves to be. It addresses Garry Kasparov's complaint that several proxy votes in favor of the Ilyumzhinov team are not traceable to the original federation:

Dear Garry,

FIDE provided the ELE with all the requested information and documents, including copies of all emails accompanying proxies. The ELE members even had the opportunity to examine Maria’s computer.

The ELE considered itself adequately and sufficiently informed about the proxies, including those which were hand-delivered by Makro to FIDE Secretariat, since it ultimately voted on the proxies and accepted all of them, thereby confirming that they complied with the Electoral Regulations.

Neither the FIDE Statutes nor the Electoral Regulations require that the ELE – let alone the presidential candidates – be provided with any other documents, which in any case were not requested by the ELE.

Best regards,

Nigel Freeman

Andrei Korobeinik of Estonia, one of the five members of the Electoral Commission, told that this letter is not accurate:

It's strange, because FIDE had no obsever at the meeting, it was a closed meeting, so how can he know this?

"The thing is, for some of the votes, no emails were found, for example for the Macedonia proxy. But the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Ms. Margaret Murphy, decided to vote on the proxies that had no supporting documents, and they were all accepted.”

Mr. Korobeinik was not in favor of that procedure:

“For some proxies we found emails between one FIDE Board member to another, but it wasn't clear how it got to FIDE in the first place. Maybe these proxies were perfectly alright, but we can't just vote for these proxies, they have to be checked!”

This example supports the scenario that if the Kasparov team loses by a small number of votes, it will go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne. The same might be happening in the opposite case, and so one could say that even though the elections are on August 11, the fight might well continue afterward.

Azerbaijan & Cuba / China & Russia

After this -- by now traditional -- long intro about the many side stories here in Tromsø, let's jump into what the Olympiad should be about: chess. In the open section, Azerbaijan -- a strong outsider -- and Cuba, certainly not a pre-tournament favorite, are tied for first place. 

After starting with two draws, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov has now won three game in a row, and it seems to go easier every day. Baadur Jobava, who didn't mind giving an interview to Norwegian TV at the board 10 minutes before the start of the round (“No, it was a pleasure!” he told, lost like a child:

Jobava being interviewed by NRK reporter Nora Thorp Bjørnstad.

The team went on to win 3.5-0.5 against the Georgians.

Cuba reached the same score against Kazakhstan. On third board, Quesada proved once again that this line of the Classical French is good for White thanks to 11.Qf2 move:

Cuba, the surprising co-leader after six rounds.

After a “good 2-2” against Russia the other day, Bulgaria scored a “mediocre 2-2” against Serbia. Veselin Topalov recovered well and showed that he is in good form, just not on Wednesday against his nemesis.

A good win for Veselin Topalov.

Speaking of Vladimir Kramnik: the 14th world champion didn't have a good day, and went down in spectactular fashion against ex-FIDE World Champion Rustam Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan.

It was a rare case of Kramnik being outprepared; Boris Gelfand and Magnus Carlsen missed the strong move 16.Ne5! during their game (“mutual blindness” -- Kasimdzhanov), and Kramnik and his computer apparently too. The finish was spectacular.

Update: here's a video with Mr Kasimdzhanov explaining his game:

Russia in fact escaped, and won the match 2.5-1.5, after Peter Svidler survived a completely lost position.

Kasimdzhanov-Kramnik: a spectacular win for White.

Grischuk's win was just brutal:

And what about Magnus Carlsen? Well, he played the world's #3 in the live ratings for the second time (!) and defeated Fabiano Caruana as Black. He used the modest Scandinavian with 3...Qd8, and equalized as soon as Caruana refrained from 22.h6. And then it went from equal to worse to much worse for the Italian...

Once again many photographers at Carlsen's board.

This was part of a good 3-1 win over Italy, and so the home crowd can be satisfied for the moment. Norway's second team didn't do so well this time (a 3-1 loss to Czech Republic) but Norway's third team crushed Guatemala 4-0.

Reigning champion Armenia is now on its way back thanks to a 2.5-1.5 win over England.

Adams and Aronian drew very quickly in a Ruy Lopez, Marshall Gambit, Sadler and Akopian drew a fairly even French, Jones failed to win a Q vs RN ending, and in the end the match winner was Movsesian:

Armenia-England, with Adams-Aronian on board one.

Ukraine's players rented bikes and went for a ride on the rest day. Despite some heavy rain, it looks like it did them good: 3.5-0.5 versus Switzerland. On board one, Ivanchuk won his first game:

Top Pairings Open Section, Round 7

No. Team Pts. MP - MP Pts. Team
1 Cuba 18½ 11 - 11 18 Azerbaijan
2 Czech Republic 17½ 10 - 10 18 Russia
3 Norway 14½ 9 - 9 16½ Germany
4 Serbia 17 10 - 10 17½ China
5 Bulgaria 16½ 10 - 10 17½ Netherlands
6 Croatia 17½ 10 - 10 18 Romania
7 Armenia 17½ 10 - 10 17 Hungary
8 France 17½ 9 - 9 16 Georgia
9 Qatar 16 9 - 9 17½ India
10 United States of America 16½ 9 - 9 15½ Uzbekistan
11 Poland 17 9 - 9 16½ Bosnia & Herzegovina
12 Kazakhstan 15½ 9 - 9 17 Ukraine
13 Brazil 17½ 8 - 9 14½ Latvia
14 Canada 14 8 - 8 15½ England

The women's section will see the big clash between China and Russia tomorrow. In the sixth round, Hou Yifan continued her strong play against Hungary's top board Hoang Thanh Trang:

Hou Yifan before her game. | Photo © Paul Truong.

Kateryna Lagno has scored a solid 4.0/5 for Russia so far. In her game today, it was instructive to see that the pawn ending is winning for Black:

Top Pairings Women's Section, Round 7

No. Team Pts. MP - MP Pts. Team
1 Russia 19 12 - 12 21 China
2 Norway 17 8 - 8 15 Vietnam
3 Poland 16½ 11 - 10 18½ France
4 Hungary 17½ 10 - 10 17½ Romania
5 Armenia 17 10 - 10 17½ United States of America
6 Indonesia 17 10 - 9 19 Iran
7 Georgia 17 9 - 9 14½ Serbia
8 Greece 16 9 - 9 17½ Colombia
9 Kazakhstan 15 9 - 9 16 Ukraine
10 Netherlands 14½ 9 - 8 17 India

Of all the players who played all six rounds in the open section, Bulgaria's Valentin Iotov scored the best: 5.5/6. Four players are still on a 100 percent score: Ukraine's Alexander Moiseenko, USA's Sam Shankland (5.0/5), Slovenia's Alexander Beliavsky, and Hungary's Judit Polgar (4.0/4).

In the women's section, nine players are on 5.5/6. Two players from the Romanian team and one from Greece are on 5.0/5: IM Irina Bulmaga & WGM Elena-Luminita Cosma, and WFM Haritomeni Markantonaki.

Don't miss the Chess in Tweets blog!

The official website is here, and the Olympiad is also on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. is transmitting a number of top games every round in Live Chess, and we're hosting a daily show on reporter Peter Doggers is present in Tromsø for on-the-spot (video) reports and calls in live from Tromsø during the show, so stay tuned!

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