Round #14

Ukraine is the new Olympiad Champion!


Ukraine 3-1 France
Russia 3-1 China
Armenia 3˝-˝ Georgia
Cuba 2-2 Israel
India 2˝-1˝ Bulgaria
USA 3˝-˝  Norway
Greece  2˝-1˝ Azerbaijan
Spain (A) 3˝-˝ Finland
Poland 2-2 Germany
Netherlands 3-1 Czech Republic
Ukraine - Men Olympiad Champions: (L-R) Vassily Ivanchuk, Ruslan Ponomariov, Andrei Volokitin, Alexander Moissenko, Sergey Karjakin, Pavel Eljanov, Vladimir Tukmakov (captain)

Ukraine - Men Olympiad Champions

(L-R) Vassily Ivanchuk, Ruslan Ponomariov, Andrei Volokitin, Alexander Moiseenko, Sergey Karjakin, Pavel Eljanov, Vladimir Tukmakov (captain). (Photo by Daaim Shabazz)

Vassily the Victor!

Ukraine started this tournament at seed #2 behind a powerful Russian squad. The main question for the team was which version of Vassily Ivanchuk is going to show up. Will it be the 2600 Ivanchuk or the 2800 Ivanchuk? After the 14th round, the answer was obvious as the world championship contender capped off a brilliant performance with a draw against Joel Lautier and a 2819 performance! Ivanchuk's 9˝-3˝ was supported by Andrei Volokitin's  8˝-3˝ on board #3 and Sergey Karjakin's 6˝-˝ as the 2nd reserve.

Ruslan Ponomariov appeared to lose focus after the first five rounds and lost to Rafael Vaginian (Armenia) and Lázaro Bruzón (Cuba). Fortunately, the Ukraine won these matches and survived his mediocre 4-4 performance.  Nevertheless, Alexander Moiseenko (5-3) and Pavel Eljanov (6-2) picked up the slack and registered solid performances. With such a youthful contingent, the Ukraine will certainly be contenders for many years to come.

Vassily Ivanchuk (Photo by Allen Beardsworth)

Vassily Ivanchuk
(Photo by Allen Beardsworth)

Russia picked up the silver medal perhaps signaling the end of total dominance of the Olympiad tournament. One can argue that if Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik had played then victory would be a foregone conclusion. Perhaps. Imagine a team with a 2700-player on board #6! The problem with this rationale is (1) Russia still had the strongest team and (2) all teams have similar lineup issues with players missing for a multitude of reasons. Russia was plagued by inconsistency losing three matches (Ukraine, Bulgaria and Georgia) with Alexander Grischuk losing in two of those losses.  There were incredible balance on this team (one player had 7 points and four players had 6˝), but perhaps they didn't dispose of weaker opponents winning most of their matches by 2˝-1˝. 

Armenia piled up points by punishing weaker teams by large scores. In seven of their victories, they scored three or more points. As with the Bled Olympiad tournament, Armenia stayed close  and made a run by leapfrogging a number of teams. The team was bolstered by the arrival of Vladimir Akopian in round #5 and the solid performances by the middle order of the lineup… Levon Aronian (8-5), Rafael Vaganian (9˝-2˝) and Smbat Lputian (8-4).

Final  Standings (Top 10)

1st: Ukraine-39˝
2nd: Russia-36˝
3rd: Armenia-36˝
4th: USA-35
5th: Israel-34˝
6th: India-34
7th: Cuba 33˝
8th: Netherlands-33
9th-11th: Bulgaria, Spain (A), Greece-32˝

South Africa wins African crown!

Trotting out its strongest team in history, South Africa capped off a solid tournament with a dominant 3-1 win over Venezuela. This victory gave South Africa a 29-point performance and a plus score (+7 -5 =2).  Both George Michelakis (7-5) and Watu Kobese (8-5) gave solid performances on the top two boards and edged Morocco (27˝ point) and Tunisia (27 points) for the African crown.

Botswana made a notable performance (4th place on the continent) and scoring 25˝ with Phemelo Khetho getting 7-3. Khetho beat Vietnam's Tu Hoang Thong (2392) and Lebanon's Abdo Somoff  (2330).  Angola and Uganda ended on 24˝ and were unable to win two consecutive matches at any point of the tournament. Uganda's top veteran Grace Nsubuga feel ill after the 7th round and sat out the rest of the tournament. Seychelles' Benjamin Hoareau had a strong tournament accounting for seven of his team's 11˝ points.

In the Caribbean,
Cuba (33˝ points) ran away with the regional crown followed by Dominican Republic (28˝) and Puerto Rico (26). Among the English-speaking countries, Barbados took the crown with 25 points followed by Jamaica (24˝) and Trinidad and Tobago (23). Many of the smaller Caribbean nations were mired at the bottom of the tables, but this Olympiad experience will be a building experience.

African-Caribbean scores

4-0 Angola; Monaco 4-0 Aruba; Malaysia 3˝-˝ Barbados; Bermuda 2-2 Fiji; Paraguay 2˝-1˝ Botswana; British Virgin Islands 3-1 Seychelles; Cuba 2-2 Israel; Iraq 3-1 Jamaica;  Kenya 3-1 Cyprus; Puerto Rico 2˝-1˝ Libya; Sri Lanka 3-1 Mauritius; Morocco 4-0 Trinidad & Tobago; Namibia 2˝-1˝  Suriname; IBCA 3˝-˝ Netherlands Antilles; Macao 3-1 Nigeria; Papua New Guinea 3-1 U.S. Virgin Islands; Afghanistan 4-0 Rwanda; South Africa 3-1 VenezuelaAndorra 2˝-1˝ Tunisia; Japan 3-1 Uganda

Report by Dr. Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum

Round #14 Information Center

Team Results

Selected Games

IM Watu Kobese (RSA) - IM Julio Ostos (VEN), 1-0
Roger Matoewi (SUR) - Charles Eichab (NAM), 0-1
GM Alexander Grischuk (RUS) - Bu Xiangzhi (CHN), 1-0
GM Alexander Volokitin (UKR) - GM Laurent Fressinet (FRA), 1-0
FM Alexander Hila Fier (BRA) - IM Plinio Gambarrotti Pazos (ECU), 1-0


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See Report from Ian Wilkinson (Jamaica)
See Report from Allan Herbert (Barbados)

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