Olympiad R7: Sole Lead for Azerbaijan & Russia, Carlsen & Hou Yifan Both Lose | Update: VIDEO

Olympiad R7: Sole Lead for Azerbaijan & Russia, Carlsen & Hou Yifan Both Lose | Update: VIDEO

| 59 | Chess Event Coverage

Despite a quick loss on board one, Azerbijan managed to grabe sole lead today at the 41st Chess Olympiad in Tromsø by beating Cuba 2.5-1.5. In the women section Russia leads after scoring a 3-1 victory over China. It was rare to see both World Champions lose on the same day: Magnus Carlsen against Arkadij Naiditsch (which decided the Germany-Norway match), and Hou Yifan against Kateryna Lagno.

This time there is not much to say about the FIDE Presidential elections except that on Saturday the final, official list of delegates who are entitled to vote was published on the FIDE website. From this list it's still hard to predict who is going to vote for whom, but the opinion of most so-called “experts” in Tromsø is that Ilyumzhinov is still the favorite to win.

The Olympiad itself has a small but slightly disturbing side-story. It's about the Burundi women's time and board 2 of the men's team, who failed to show up at their boards for both rounds 6 and 7. On Saturday Assistant Tournament Director Morten Sand issued the following statement:

“Chief Arbiter Panagiotis Nikolopoulos and his staff will decide tonight if Burundi will be allowed to continue in the tournament. Today, for the third time in the event, they failed to appear for the start of play. In order to prepare the pairings for the next (8th) round, a decision about whether they may continue must be made tonight. It is likely that they will be excluded for the rest of the event.”

But it looks like the arbiter hasn't made a decision yet. In the official round report it is mentioned that

“Norwegian newspaper VG reported that the location of the players is unknown, and that a security group from the organization were discussing the case.”

The seventh round saw the two leaders face each other in both the open and women section. In the main group, Azerbaijan-Cuba started with a surprisingly quick win for Leinier Dominguez, who crushed Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in a Sicilian:

A crushing win for Leinier Dominguez

However, it was Azerbaijan who went away with both match points as both Gadir Guseinov and Teimour Radjabov won their games. The latter converted a rook ending that looked quite drawish:

The top match in the women section was China-Russia. It took place in the central area of the top boards, because the Norwegian TV station NRK had decided that they wanted to give this match lots of attention. That turned out to be a good choice, since this encounter included Hou Yifan's very first loss in the tournament.

It was Kateryna Lagno, the main subject of the tension between the Russian Chess Federation and the Organizing Committe (and FIDE) before the event, who defeated the World Champion. “Now you know why we made such a fuss about her!”, joked Mark Gluhovsky, Executive Director of the Russian Chess Federation.

Something went wrong in the opening, and Lagno won an Exchange early on:

Hou Yifan in good spirits with captain Yu Shaoteng before the game...
...but Kateryna Lagno was the last to laugh

Russia went on to win the match 3-1 as Olga Girya defeated Tan Zhongyi on board four.

The open section saw more drama today as the other World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, also lost his first game in the tournament! For him it was even tougher (and he didn't give any interviews), because this result decided Norway's match in Germany's favor.

Arkadij Naiditsch was the first to admit that he had been lucky. “I have been as lucky as Carlsen usually is,” was a great quote he gave to several journalists afterward. The 28-year-old grandmaster was mostly referring to the previous round, where Fabiano Caruana was better out of the opening but eventually lost to the world #1.

Arkadij Naiditsch: “As lucky as Carlsen usually is.”

Naiditsch got into trouble after 13...h6?! as his planned 15...Bxb4 didn't work. However, Carlsen didn't follow up accurately. Naiditsch: “He started to panick. It was a little bit strange to see him so nervous.”

Just before the time control White had spoilt the advantage, but then 38.e6? was truly inexplicable. It lost a pawn for nothing, and Naiditsch went on to win the N vs B ending. A shocker!

But that was not all in this round. It looks like yet again Russia is going to have a very hard time clinching the gold medal since they suffered an unexpected loss to Czech Republic. Boards 3 and 4 ended in draws, whereas David Navara and Viktor Laznicka managed to beat Alexander Grischuk and Peter Svidler respectively:

Update: here's our video with Arkadij Naiditsch and David Navara speaking about their games:

China crushed Serbia 3.5-0.5. The world's youngest grandmaster had no trouble with Aleksansdar Indjic's Philidor:

Wei Yi

Bulgaria defeated Netherlands 3-1, but some luck was involved. Sergey Tiviakov was doing very well, but then took a poisoned pawn on a3:

Reigning champs Armenia dropped a point against Hungary with draws on boards 3 and 4, a loss for Gabriel Sargissian against Csaba Balogh but a win for Levon Aronian against Peter Leko:

On board one Levon Aronian... 
...Peter Leko

In France-Georgia (3-1), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Baadur Jobava played an absolutely amazing game:

Top Pairings Round 8, Open Section

No. Team Pts. MP - MP Pts. Team
1 China 21 12 - 13 20½ Azerbaijan
2 Romania 20½ 12 - 12 20½ Czech Republic
3 Bosnia & Herzegovina 17½ 9 - 9 16 Norway
4 Ukraine 20½ 11 - 12 19½ Bulgaria
5 France 20½ 11 - 11 20 Poland
6 Germany 19 11 - 11 20 Cuba
7 India 20½ 11 - 11 19½ Armenia
8 Hungary 19 11 - 11 20 USA

Top Pairings Round 8, Women Section

No. Team Pts. MP - MP Pts. Team
1 Russia 22 14 - 12 20 Hungary
2 Turkey 14½ 8 - 8 17½ Norway
3 China 22 12 - 12 18½ Poland
4 France 20½ 11 - 11 19½ USA
5 Ukraine 19 11 - 11 20 Georgia
6 Colombia 20½ 11 - 11 19 Armenia
7 India 20½ 10 - 11 19 Indonesia

On Saturday night the Kasparov team hosted a party at the same location as where the Bermuda Party was held earlier this week. Nigel Short played the guitar, the charismatic Ian Wilkinson got a few dozen chess players on stage to sing some medleys, Kasparov jumped out of a box and his whole team came on stage, then thirteen (!) lucky ones won a Samsung Tablet, there was a great magician from India, and at the end a DJ came on stage, assisted by a singer, a percussion player and a saxophonist. About fifty diehards stayed for a few hours more, dancing on some great music!

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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