Friday, 2 September 2016
USA 4-0 Andorra
Kosovo 0-4 China
Azerbaijan 4-0 Zimbabwe
Ukraine 4-0 Jordan
Favorites dominate, but Sudan draws Bulgaria…
FM Tagelsir crushes GM Nikolic in a mating attack!
First round matches in the Olympiad are usually character-building experiences for lower-rated teams and players. Many of the scores are summarily 4-0 or 0-4 depending on the color. However, in the opening round of the 2016 Chess Olympiad, 10 underdogs out of the top 25 boards escaped a whitewash. There are usually a number of upset draws and every now and then there is a shocker! It seems like these upsets are increasingly meted out by African players, largely overlooked.
— Baku Chess Olympiad (@bakuchessol2016) September 2, 2016
Even in the tournament reports, the upset by Sudanese player FM Abubaker Tagelsir (2216) over Bulgarian Grandmaster Momchil Nikolov (2585), barely got a mention. Even the usually astute GM Daniel King missed this one in his video wrap-up! In fact, the double-upset was that Sudan actually drew Bulgaria when Mohamed Abdelazeez beat IM Martin Petrov!
As mentioned many times on these pages, African players often play above their level at the Olympiad since they are eager to play strong competition. In addition, their strength is not clear so it is no surprise that these upsets occur, but a 400-point scalp is rare. Sudan’s neighbor South Sudan was on the verge of a similar upset, but after going up 1-0, their only rated player got overzealous in a winning position against GM Helgi Dam Ziska and collapsed. The final count was 3-1 Faroe Islands.
According to Peter Doggers’ report, Rehan Deng Cypriano (1899) was offered a draw. He confidently stated, “I refused because I was winning — even a beginner would win.” Unfortunately, the game got out of control and he ceded the full point. The article also pointed out that South Sudanese team came on micro-financing loans from their compatriots and only brought four players with no captain or coach.
There was not only one major upset… in fact, there were two! Trinidadian FM Kevin Cupid scored a victory over Serbian GM Nikola Sedlak. A few months ago, Cupid had traveled to the US to play in the World Open and had an abysmal result. Perhaps that poor showing was enough motivation to study harder. Although Trinidad & Tobago lost 3-1 to Serbia, this win will show that the aura of invincibility is all but gone. There are simply too many examples and players from smaller federations are no longer afraid of their highly-fancied opponents.
China 4-0 Luxembourg
Portugal 0-4 Ukraine
Russia 4-0 Scotland
Nicaragua 0-4 Azerbaijan 1
ICCD 0-4 Georgia
No team upsets, but a 500-point scalp by Lankan player!
Most of the other matches (in both sections) were dominated by the favorites, but the real fun starts tomorrow when regional rivals face off and top players will take their boards. For the women, the favorites bludgeoned the underdogs, but there was a 500-point victory in Sri Lanka-Greece. The Sri Lankans are known more for cricket and here Zainab Saumy scores a run… totally outplaying her opponent in a Sicilian Najdorf.
Video by GM Daniel King.