2016 Chess Olympiad: Round #7

2016 Chess Olympiad: Round #7
Friday, 9 September 2016

Open Section

India ½-3½ USA
Latvia 3-1 Netherlands
Russia 3½-½ Czech Republic
Croatia ½-3½ Azerbaijan 1
Georgia 3-1 Romania

Full Results

The USA brutally crush India… Russia back in hunt,
USA-Russia showdown on tap!

The USA is sending a loud message that the hype surrounding the “Dream Team” is real. They dismantled a very determined India team for a sole lead in the tournament. Hikaru Nakamura got a quick pawn advantage on Baskaran Adhiban to immediately put pressure on the Indian side. Wesley So was pressing in his game against an undefeated Santosh Vidit and took the first point.

On board four was the game of the round… Shankland-Sethuraman was turning into a “Fire on Board” battle with white’s king on d3 and black rooks doubled behind it on the 2nd rank. Meanwhile, white had conjured up an attack of his own. None of the commentators could figure out what was going on. Can you? Never mind GM Alejandro Ramirez takes us through this crazy game!

What a ride! Evgeny Miroshnichenko and Dirk jan ten Geuzendam of New in Chess had quite a time trying to figure out what was going on, but fortunately Shankland had everything under control. So had won, Caruana drew which meant both Indian players had to keep fighting. Both Adibhan and Sethuraman were tortured in those endings and may have used up valuable energy. However, giving their “fitness videos” they may be in shape enough to make a run in the last four rounds.

Netherlands was riding high the entire tournament and for the time in a long time was vying for the top board. Unfortunately, they had another thought after Alexei Shirov led Latvia to a crucial team win with an IM playing board four. IM Nikita Meskovs beat Benjamin Bok in a Sicilian Taimanov and Ivan Kovalenko beat Loek van Wely for the margin of victory. Who would have predicted that Latvia would be making a deep run for a medal? They will play Azerbaijan 1 next.

The Azeris beat Serbia 3½-½ to get back into the hunt for the medal stand. Russia also won 3½-½ with Ian Nepomniachtchi winning his seventh straight game! It is often better to lose a match in the first half instead on the last few rounds and perhaps Azerbaijan and Russia will muster up enough energy to make a strong push. Tomorrow’s USA-Russia battle will be epic.

On another note, World Champion Magnus Carlsen was playing his game against Turkey and created a stir. No… he did not play 1…g5. He played the Pirc, but that wasn’t the sensation… it was his shirt!

The jokes were swift. Many were critical of the World Champion for wearing a hoodie more suited for a teenager, but at least the slogan wasn’t “Pimpin’ ain’t easy,” or “Bi!%^ better have my money!”

Women’s Section

Russia 2-2 Poland
China 2½-1½ Ukraine
USA 2½-1½ Romania
Azerbaijan 1 2½-1½ India
Netherlands 2½-1½ Georgia

Full Results

Russia held… China, USA, Azerbaijan wins.. USA-Russia tomorrow!

The Russians have finally been caught, but they are so far ahead on board points that it will take a head-to-head victory to prevent them from getting their fourth consecutive medal. Who will be that team? Tomorrow the USA will get a crack after beating Romania.

Despite not having Tatev Abrahmayan (native Armenian), the USA team has been steady since losing to the Ukraine in round three. The top three boards have played every match with national champion Nazi Paikidze on board two. It has been Anna Zatonskih who has bee the star with 5½/7. It will be a tough task to unseat the Russians without Abrahamyan, but stranger things have happened.

Azerbaijan’s Zeinab Mamedjarova
Photo by Lana Afandiyeva

Azerbaijan is now third and in the running for a medal after beating India. They will have a tough test in facing China who needs to win big to make up ground on board points. Zeinab Mamedjarova will most likely be facing the World Champion Hou Yifan. There was talk as to whether this would be Hou Yifan’s last Olympiad since she has ambitions to compete at the highest levels. She has already hinted that she will no longer compete primarily in the women’s circuit, including the world championship cycle. Her strength has stagnated a bit since approaching 2700. She has only played in four matches thus far, but will no doubt be in the Chinese side tomorrow.

Daaim Shabazz

Daaim Shabazz is the founder of The Chess Drum, while serving as a tenured faculty member of Global Business & Marketing at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. He holds a B.S. Computer Science from Chicago State University, an MBA in Marketing and a Ph.D. in International Affairs & Development, both from Clark Atlanta University. He has served the journalist community for more than 30 years and still competes in tournaments occasionally.

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