2008 Chess Olympiad: Round #3

Russia keeps pace… China upset!

Top Boards

Russia 3½-½ Cuba
Germany 1 3½-½ Malaysia
Georgia 2½-1½ Ukraine
China 1½-2½ Norway
Netherlands 2-2 Azerbaijan
Armenia 4-0 Faroe Islands
Tajikistan 1-3 Spain
India 3½-½ El Salvador
Japan 1-3 Romania
England 4-0 Malta

Pregame Analysis: Here is where the rubber meets the road. The first match between top 20 teams. One may ask how the Faroe Islands got on the top boards. The benefited from the accelerated pairings and have gotten through on the less tortuous path. However, looking at the top 10 boards, there will be some lopsided scores today, but Cuba will challenge Russia to the hilt. Traditional powers Ukraine and Georgia face off. Magnus Carlsen and Norway gets China. Netherlands and Azerbaijan should be interesting as it is a match of young stars. However, boards 5-10 should be a wash. In other action, South Africa will face USA.

Stage of Top Boards. Photo by Susan Polgar.

Stage of Top Boards. Photo by Susan Polgar.

Round #3 Analysis: A day of reckoning. This round may give an ode to how this tournament will shape up. It will show who’s in form and whether there is any team chemistry. So far, Russia has it… unlike previous two Olympiads. Russia crushed Cuba on the strength of a powerful performances by Peter Svidler and Alexander Morozevich. Dmitry Jakovenko finished the romp over the Cubans. Georgia upset the Ukraine as Vassily Ivanchuk fell on board #1 to Baadur Jobava after losing material and losing a two bishop vs. queen ending. This result comes as a surprise, but Georgia has a balanced team and may pose a serious medal threat.

China was upset by Norway, a heavy underdog. Bu Xiangzhi played in his first match and was caught flat-footed Kjetil Lie’s brisk attack. Wang Yue was unable to score the full point against Magnus Carlsen despite getting a material advantage. Thus, the Great Wall has fallen! This is a tremendous setback for China and hopefull Bu can collect himself and round into form. There is still time, but the way Russia is playing, they will be hard to match.

Azerbaijan was held by the Netherlands as Teimour Radjabov lost to Loek van Wely after his daring piece sacrifice failed to muster enough counterplay. There was a stir around the chess world when it was reported that IM Watu Kobese had beaten Hikaru Nakamura of the USA (pictured right). The confusion lies in the fact that the official site and chess-results.com had posted this result and while the American team still won, this would have been a major upset. However, the correct result was a win for Nakamura and a 3½-½ win over South Africa.

In the women’s section, Russia was close to losing to India but salvaged a draw when India’s Nisha Mohota failed to hold a trivially drawn ending. From the looks of the game, it appeared to be a devastating loss for Mohota. Looking at the game, one would think that it is impossible to lose such a game, but she apparently panicked. The draw gives Russia new life in their quest for a gold. China is now 3-0 after beating the Netherlands on the strength of a win by Tan Zhongyi.

After upending the USA, Israel was fed to traditional powerhouse Georgia and was crushed 3-1. The Ukraine is storming back into contention after beating Mongolia 3-1 despite GM Kateryna Lahno dropping her game to WGM Munguntuul Batkhuyag. Round #4 we see a lot of marquee match-ups beginning with Hungary-Georgia, China-Armenia, Serbia-Poland. Russia gets Indonesia and the Ukraine gets Lithuania and IM Viktorija Cmilyte, the tallest female player and certainly one of the strongest.

African Diaspora: Another rough day for the African-Caribbean nations. There were a lot of lopsided scores including South Africa’s loss to Nakamura mentioned above. Most of the African-Caribbean teams took it on the chin this round. What this boils down to is African-Caribbean players play among themselves and never get the stronger teams again.

While there will be no “Robert Gwaze magic” this year, let’s hope we can see a breakout performance. Malawi’s Chiletso Chipanga did beat FM Annaberdi Esenov of Turkmenistan while Mesfin Leykun of Ethiopia beat FM Robert Smith of New Zealand. Keep an eye out for GM Pontus Carlsson of Sweden!

African-Caribbean scores (by board #): Russia 3½-½ Cuba; Serbia 3-1 Algeria; Argentina 2½-1½ Tunisia; Iceland 4-0 Angola; Scotland 4-0 Puerto Rico; Jamaica 0-4 Canada; Egypt 3½-½ Guatamala; Botswana 2-2 Estonia; Trinidad & Tobago 0-4 Finland; Bangladesh 3-1 Libya; Suriname 0-4 Ireland; Brazil 3½-½ Mauritius; Nigeria 1-3 Belgium; Mongolia 3-1 Mozambique; Ethiopia 1-3 New Zealand; Dominican Republic 4-0 Jersey; IPCA 4-0 Ghana; Turkmenistan 3-1 Malawi; Montenegro 3½-½ Zambia; Uganda 0-4 Latvia; Australia 4-0 British Virgin Islands; Qatar 4-0 Namibia; Papua New Guinea 1½-2½ Netherlands Antilles; Kenya 2½-1½ Honduras; Seychelles 0-4 Barbados; Rwanda 1-3 Guernsey; Aruba 3-1 Gabon; Macau 4-0 U.S. Virgin Islands; Madagascar 1-3 Bermuda

Video by Europe-Echecs.com.


  1. Im still of the view that Botswana mens Team is doing well especially Khetho,well do 2 ignatius who drew. Egypt are superb.

  2. What a game by IM Kobese.
    This still proves that you can do little about talent and class.
    Viva GM Kobese Viva, ok sometime ago a top GM declined to play against IM Kobese stating I will not Black in two rounds against GM’s. That GM knows something that we all know. GM’s Leko and Polgar will testify to that.

    KC in the Western Cape, South Africa.

  3. Kgomotso,

    That story was about Amon Simutowe, not Kobese. GM Anatoly Lein had made that statement to the Zambian after he had played black a previous round and refused to play Simutowe thinking he was already a Grandmaster. I have not heard of the Kobese story, but it would be something if this happened twice!

  4. Great result for Kobese…conogratulations to him…these are the kind of games we go to the olympiad for:-)

  5. Daaim,
    About Kobese – Nakamura:
    I may be a little comfused, at the end it is black winning though it seems he lost on time?!

  6. About China:
    here is one reason i believe they may have a harder time than usual..if i recall rightly…at the last olympiad, they benefited from beating 2 or 3 tough teams 4-0 or 3.5-.5 but with the new points system, a win is more or less a win:-) but good luck to them…Bu had better solidify like the last time when he was unbeaten by the likes of Carlsen, Kramnik, Aronian and Anand…

  7. Issac,

    I’m not sure what happened. Sometimes the players will analyze on the board after the game and ruin the score. I check the Internet Chess Club and the score is the same. We’ll find out soon. Nevertheless, great win for Kobese and all of Africa. I have a mixed feelings since I know Nakamura and he is a supporter of The Chess Drum! 🙂

    China is the real deal… match or board, but Bu played terribly against Lie. A loss is a loss. You’re right, if you lose, you get zero and cannot make up the difference by winning large. This is a match they win 8/10 times. I thought Wang Yue was going to equalize the match by beating Carlsen, but the pawns were a bit too weak. Don’t count out China just yet. They should let Wang Hao play every round if he has the energy. I believe he is the future of China. They are probably saving him for one of the other top teams.

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