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.
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.