The Ukraine wins gold! Russia 1 gets silver on strength of Karjakin.
Israel 2-2 Ukraine
Russia 1 2-2 Spain
Poland 1½-2½ Hungary
France 2-2 Armenia
Russia 2 2½-1½ Greece
China 3-1 Italy
Medal Standings (Open)
Round #11 Analysis: The Ukraine only needed a draw in round #11 to clinch the gold medal, so the match with Israel was one where neither side took unnecessary chances. The match was drawn and the Ukraine would bag their second gold medal and the first since 2004. Vassily Ivanchuk started at 6/6 and coasted to 8/10. What is interesting is that Sergey Karjakin’s switching to play for Russia had no effect on the optimal result.
Karjakin had been a big part of the Ukrainian side on the 2004 medal team, but the emergence of Zahar Efimenko and Pavel Eljanov seem to compensate for the loss. Karjakin carried his talents to Russia 1 and led the team in performance with 8/10 and a silver medal. Russia still has not found the formula to win gold despite having such talented players.
In 2012, perhaps we will see a shakeup in the lineup with some or all of the senior players being replaced by members of Russia 2 and Russia 3. Russia 2 did not medal, but what they have shown is tremendous balance. Here is the result of the five players: Nepomniachtchi (6½/9), Alekseev (6/9), Vitiugov (6/9), Tomashvesky (5/8), Timofeev (6/9). On Russia 3, Jakovenko (6/10) is another talent to possibly move to Russia 1.
Israel took the bronze and moved into the the top echelon without much fanfare. They won the first round by forfeit, was held by Indonesia and France and then lost to Russia 2. After five rounds, Israel stood in 46th position. They then went on a five-match winning streak including consecutive wins over the Netherlands, Hungary and the USA. Israel had a harder road in 2008 when they won silver; however, it shows that one can never lose hope in the early stages.
Stanley Chumfwa led Zambia to a Category E gold medal. He scored 7½/10.
Photo by ugra-chess.com.
As for the less-fancied teams, Zambia overachieved by coming in a stellar 47th place despite missing their top player, GM Amon Simutowe. Ranked 121st, they were led by Stanley Chumfwa who scored 7½/10. Zambia won a team gold medal for coming in 1st place in Category E.
Despite good tournament conditions, several top players were out of form resulting in poor team performances. Norway’s Magnus Carlsen (4½/8), Bulgaria’s Veselin Topalov (5/9) and England’s Nigel Short (4/8) all struggled perhaps for different reasons. Bassem Amin of Egypt scored 8½/10 and boasted the highest win percentage on board #2.
Top Boards (Women)
Russia 1 ends with exclamation point… blitzes field with 11/11!
Russia 2 1½-2½ Russia 1
China 3-1 Ukraine
Poland 2-2 Georgia
Croatia 1½-2½ Cuba
USA 2½-1½ India
Vietnam 1½-2½ Azerbaijan
Medal Standings (Women)
Round #11 Analysis: The only thing in question about the Russia 1 team is whether they were going to cede a point to their compatriots. However, they sent a clear message by beating Russia 2 2½-1½ capping a perfect 11/11 tournament. While Alexandra Kosteniuk was not in top form, the bottom boards Alisa Galliamova (5½/7) and Valentina Gunina (6½/7) amassed points to bolster the lineup.
Russian women celebrating their gold medal by posting messages on Twitter. Valentina Gunina, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Tatiana Kosinteva and Nadezhda Kosinteva. Photo by Alexandra Kosteniuk.
China took the bronze on the stellar play of Hou Yifan (8/11) and 19-year old star Ju Wenjun (9½/11). The Chinese may have done a bit better with Shen Yang on the team, but perhaps she did not qualify for the team. Neverthless, China has won a medal after being shut out in 2008. Ju will emerge as a top national player along with several young players beginning to shine. Of course 16-year old Hou Yifan may one day threaten Judit Polgar’s top rating for women.
Georgia won a well-deserved bronze despite their legendary leader Maia Chiburdanidze not making the trip. Having already lost to Russia 1, the Georgians had a key win over China to get back into contention. They promptly lost to Serbia and were never able to string together wins in the last half of the tournament. Nevertheless, they also avoided losing another match while other competitors were busy beating each other. Good result for the Georgians who seems to have a strong leader in Nana Dzagnidze.
From all accounts the organization of the Olympiad was first-class and certainly an event to remember. This was certainly a pleasant outcome given the early reports on the apparent lack of readiness in Khanty-Mansiysk. All of those concerns were put to rest almost immediately. The players were well-received and it will be an Olympiad to remember. Well done Khanty-Mansiysk! Congratulations!