Russia 2½-1½ Switzerland
Vietnam 1½-2½ Ukraine
China 2½-1½ Philippines
Azerbaijan 4-0 Macedonia
Hungary 2-2 Iran
Pregame Analysis: There are some very interesting match-ups in the first round of the 2008 Olympiad. In the past, a 4-0 result was typical of the Swiss format pitting a strong team against teams without titled players. However, using the match point system, a 4-0 score will be worth the same as 2½-1½ result. Apparently a different pairing system has been used and the first round will indeed see a number of close matches. China-Philippines will be interesting.
Round #1 Analysis: While there was only one upset (Germany 2½-1½ Bulgaria and Venezuela 2½-1½ Croatia), other chess powers had to eke out victories. Bulgaria rested Veselin Topalov and figured to have the edge over Germany 2, but the Ivan Cheparinov and Kiril Georgiev dropped games on the top boards. IM Arik Braun finish Georgiev with the cute 74…Ra7! after the game displayed geometric wizardry.
Croatia was upset by Venezuela which is led by Eduardo Iturrizaga, the nation’s first and only Grandmaster. Croatia boasts a team of 2600-rated players, but Iturrizaga caused a stir after uncorking 20.Nxf7! on Mladen Palac and winning a technical ending in 81 moves. In other news, an upstart Iran held Hungary!
(L-R) Tigran Petrosian, Gabriel Sargissian, Vladimir Akopian and Levon Aronian
Photo by ChessBase.
China’s Ni Hua was crushed by Filipino phenom Wesley So putting China down a game early. Wang Yue and Wang Hao rallied victories to give China the margin of victory over the Philippines 2½-1½. Azerbaijan showed it means business by crushing Macedonia 4-0. Teimour Radjabov mated Vladimir Georgiev and Shahkriyar Mamedyarov sent Trajce Nedev’s king on the run in a wild Trompowsky.
In women’s play, there were a lot of lopsided scores which is perhaps a result of using four boards instead of the three as in previous years. Both Russia and China coasted to victories and Georgia squeaked by England. One surprising result was Argentina holding the powerful Ukrainian team. The women’s team from Iran duplicated their male compatriots by holding a much stronger team. Iran held the host Germany 1 team to a 2-2 draw.
There has been a lot of discussion about the 1-minute forfeit rule… another example of German efficiency. The arbiters have imposed a rule that any player more than a minute late would forfeit. There has been a relaxation of the rules for the first two rounds as players gain their bearings. However, there were a number of forfeits. There is also a rule that no game can end in a draw before move 30. This may have been instituted because of the embarrassing draws on less than 15 moves in previous Olympiad matches. Some occurred on all four boards.
African Diaspora: After many twists and turns in the visa department, most of the African teams have arrived and settled in. However, as many as five African teams forfeited matches while other teams forfeited game on one or more boards resulting in free points for the opposition. If the Germans have a reputation for being fastidious with time, they are proving it. In Nigeria’s case, they had visa problems, so two of their top players (IMs Oladapo Adu and Odion Aikhoje) will arrive on tomorrow.
Africa’s top federation Egypt was crushed 3½-½ by powerhouse Romania as they missed the cut and were paired up. Other African teams had an easier pairing. Algeria blanked Liechtenstein 4-nil while South Africa walloped Hong Kong 3½-½. Many of the other African teams were huddled at the bottom boards slugging each other. The Ghana “Black Stars” made their first Olympiad since 1986, but was whitewashed by Botswana 4-0. Gabon made it debut against Panama 4-0.
The Caribbean is lead by Cuba which of course is playing with the “bigboys” and started off with a 3-1 rout of Estonia. The Dominican Republic overcame a slashing victory by Barbados’ Philip Corbin (above right) to win 3-1. That game started 1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.e5 c5 4.b4!? a line also played by IM Emory Tate. Jamaica crushed Kenya 4-0 after two players were forfeited. Trinidad and Tobago had an easy time with New Zealand, winning 3-1.
GM Wesley So (PHI) – GM Ni Hua (CHN), 1-0
FM Philip Corbin (BAR) – Juan Jaquez (DOM), 1-0
GM Kiril Georgiev (BUL) – IM Arik Braun (GER 2), 0-1
GM Eduardo Iturrizaga (VEN) – GM Mladen Palac (CRO), 1-0
GM Wang Yue (CHN) – GM Buenaventura Villamayor (PHI), 1-0
GM Vladimir Georgiev (MAC) – GM Teimour Radjabov (AZE), 0-1
GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son (VIE) – GM Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR), 1/2-1/2
Video by Europe-Echecs.com