Uzbekistan takes the lead in the Open; Four actions in mind for women; Kiolbasa goes to 9/9

The youthful 14th-seeded Uzbekistan side with an average age of 20 prevailed over overnight leaders 12th-seeded Armenia by a solid 3-1 scoreline for take the lead with 16 match points at the end of the ninth round of the 44th. FIDE Chess Olympiad. 11th-seeded India 2 held off sixth-seeded Azerbaijan to a 2-2 draw to tie second place with Armenia on 15 match points. The top two seeds, USA and India, are tied with the others for fourth-tenth place with 14 match points each.

GM Jovokhir Sindarov (rating 2629, performance rating 2716) and GM Jokhongir Vakhidov (rating 2564, performance rating 2821) scored crucial victories for Uzbekistan to secure a critical win over Armenia. IM Conor Murphy (2402 rated) from Ireland beat GM Lorenzo Lodici (2553 rated) from Italy to achieve an individual score of 7.5/8 and a performance rating of 2856.

At the FIDE Women’s Chess Olympiad, fourth-seeded Poland beat top-seeded India by a score of 2.5-1.5 to join them in a four-way split lead with 15 match points. Third-seeded Georgia beat second-seeded Ukraine 2-2 to join the leaders with 10th-seeded Kazakhstan, who beat 15th-seeded Bulgaria by a score of 3-1. Indonesia, Armenia, Ukraine, Germany and Azerbaijan are tied for fifth-ninth with 14 match points each.

WIM Oliwia Kiolbasa (rated 2376) continued his dream run with a ninth straight win. The win over IM R. Vaishali (rated 2442) provided Poland with a crucial win over India on the top table.

Open Section

The Olympics are invariably characterized by the rush to the top of the points table down the home stretch of competition, almost undeterred by early leads and early performances. So, as the tournament entered the final three rounds, chess enthusiasts in Chennai were delighted to be served with high-tension clashes on Sunday.

The high voltage clash: Uzbekistan-Armenia. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The clash between tournament leaders Armenia and team Uzbekistan was well contested on all counts, and the bottom tables proved decisive for the latter. Sindarov prevailed over GM Samvel Ter-Sahakyan with a sacrificial attack in a well-fought match:

GM Javokhir Sindarov from Uzbekistan. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

In contrast, GM Robert Hovhannisyan vs. Vakhidov was a long and protracted fight. The young Uzbek won in a complicated final:

GM Jakhongir Vakhidov from Uzbekistan. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Although India 2 have done much better than their initial seed in the tournament so far, it was never going to be easy for them to face a higher ranked team. The best plateau match between GM Dommaraju Gukesh and GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov never seemed to break the tie bar, but the encounter between GM Rauf Mamedov and GM Nihal Sarin was more uneven:

GM Nijat Abasov gave Azerbaijan the first break by defeating GM Raunak Sadhwani in a complicated ending:

GM Nijat Abasov from Azerbaijan. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Then it was left to GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu to score the equalizer for India 2 in a cliff-hanger of a fight against GM Vasif Durarbayli. It is analyzed as our game of the day:

game of the day

After an upset loss to Israel in the fourth round, the seventh-seeded Netherlands have steadily returned to the tournament claiming wins in all rounds except for a draw against France in the seventh round . The Dutch were expected to push for a podium finish down the stretch for a well-deserved victory over 13th-seeded Iran in this round.

Iran had an uneven ordeal, as they were held by 44th-seeded Canada in the fourth round and beaten by the top-seeded United States in the sixth round. They returned to the tournament with a well-deserved win over 15th-seeded France in the eighth round. The Iranians were also expected to try to win in the crucial ninth round. And it seemed entirely possible at one point.

After the bottom-of-the-table games – GM Benjamin Bok vs. GM Pouya Idani and Max Warmerdam vs. IM Seyed Khalil Mousavi – ended, the other two tables looked even for a long time. Although GM Anish Giri sacrificed a trade for GM Parham Maghsoodloo in the endgame, he was unable to progress in the resulting locked endgame:

GM Parham Maghsoodloo of Iran. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

So it was on to the suspense game between GM Amin Tabatabaei and GM Jorden van Foreest where the Iranian made an interesting exchange sacrifice in the opening, an invention of GM Vladimir Kramnik. Moreover, Tabatabaei even tortured his opponent in that familiar nightmare of a chess player – endgame rook and bishop against rook, but van Foreest steadily defended to force a draw:

Tabatabaei versus van Forest. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Another interesting matchup of the day took place between the top-seeded USA and 25th-seeded Greece. At the top of the table, after his uneven performance in the tournament so far, GM Fabiano Caruana showed his aggressive intentions by adopting the sharp Sveshnikov variant of the Sicilian Defense and scored an impressive victory:

But on board two, GM Levon Aronian mismanaged a promising position and lost to GM Nikolas Theodorou:

Greece vs USA in progress. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Finally, in an advantageous late round, GM Wesley So pressured his opponent to give the United States a winning advantage:

Irishman Murphy continues to impress and beat his fourth grandmaster opponent 7.5/8 in the tournament:

Team Ireland in action with GM Alexander Baburin and IM Conor Murphy (from right) on the first two boards. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Women’s Section

During the high-level meeting between India and Poland, GM Harika Dronavalli seemed to have a clear advantage over GM Monika Sock:

GM harika Dronavalli from India. Photo: Stev Bonhage/FIDE.

The game turned in Poland’s favor when the in-form Kiolbasa defeated Vaishali in a draw when the latter tried to overpress:

Thus, Poland managed to defeat India, the tournament leader, 2.5-1.5.

On the second board, in a heavyweight battle at No. 1, former GM Women’s World Champion Mariya Muzychuk missed an opportunity to gain a significant advantage against GM Nana Dzagnidze:

The Georgian team in action. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

In another all-GM encounter on the second set, GM Nino Batsiashvili defeated GM Anna Muzychuk in a tactical encounter:

On board four, IM Nataliya Buksa tied the score for Ukraine by defeating IM Meri Arabidze in a kingside attack:

Kazakhstan’s victory over Bulgaria was marked by a well-played match by GM Zhansaya Abdumalik:

See the full results here.

The 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad and Women’s Chess Olympiad are team events where national chess federations compete in classic games for gold medals, trophies and the nation title of strongest chess in the world. The event consists of an 11-round Swiss tournament where each player from one national team plays against another player from the opposing national team. Teams receive “game points” for winning or drawing and “match points” for winning or drawing. The teams with the most match points for each section become their section’s champions, with a third prize for the team with the most points from both sections combined.


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