Round #1

No upset in round #1, but a few top teams struggle

Top Boards

Russia 3½-½ Andorra
Ukraine 4-0 Indonesia
Israel 4-0 South Africa
Armenia 3½-½  Mongolia
India 2½-1½ Uruguay

The first round of Olympiad tournaments generally field powerful against non-descript teams, but there is usually some stir created when either an upset occurs on an individual board or a surprising team result. Looking at the first round pairings, many teams are resting their top boards. In the men's competition, Russia started out on the first table with a team that would still have an average rating of 2680 without the top two players.

However, Russia gave up ½-half to Andorra while powerhouses Ukraine and Armenia won handily. In the South Africa-Israel match, the game between Watu Kobese and Emil Sutovsky attracted a lot of attention. Kobese employed the Sozin Attack and won material early in a wild position, but got his king stuck in the center where it perished in 19 moves. 

India and England squeezed out wins against less-heralded opponents by 2½-1½ scores. Many of the top teams rested key players for the stronger matches. The story of the round may be the Croatia-Iraq 2-2 match. The Iraqis, perhaps inspired by both holy month of Ramadan and patriotism, split the four-board match with the major upset being unrated Munir Saleh defeating GM Goran Dizdar.

IM Watu Kobese - GM Emil Sutovsky

In the wild Kobese-Sutovsky, the Israeli played 13...Bg5! Kobese replied with 14.f4?! and after 14…Bh4+ 15.Ke2 Bd7, white's king failed to find safety.

Other notable upset wins (on individual boards) were: Philip Corbin  of Barbados over IM Tadej Sakelsek of Slovenia,  Phemelo Khetho of Botswana over FM Dinh Duc Trong of Vietnam  and young star Marvin Dekker of Netherland Antilles over IM Cicero Braga of Brazil. Upset draws were registered by William Puntier of the Dominican Republic who held Boris Gulko of the USA. Ras Malaku Lorne of Jamaica barely missed winning his Olympiad debut against FM Nikola Vasovski of Macedonia. Ian Wilkinson described the scene:

"The fortunes swayed and fluctuated as Vasovski emerged a pawn up with a strong position in a tense middlegame but lost his way and allowed Lorne to queen a pawn. When the time trouble began the Macedonian had two rooks and two pawns to Lorne´s queen and one pawn but his nerves gave way first and after the dust settled Lorne had a queen against a rook in a winning position. The Jamaican blundered, however, and allowed the wily Nikola to sacrifice his rook resulting in stalemate."

Report by Dr. Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum

Round #1 Information Center

Team Results

Selected Games

IM Tadej Sakelsek (SLO) - FM Philip Corbin (BAR), 0-1
GM Vassily Ivanchuk (UKR) - IM Susanto Megaranto (INA), 1-0
IM Watu Kobese (RSA) - GM Emil Sutovsky (ISR), 0-1
GM Slim Belkhodja (TUN) - GM Alexei Shirov (ESP), ½-½
GM Michael Adams (ENG) - IM Kivanc Haznedaroglu (TUR), 1-0


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See Report #1a from Ian Wilkinson (Jamaica)
See Report #1b from Ian Wilkinson (Jamaica)

Olympiad Information Center