Round #8

Ukraine marks time… opens 3-point bulge

Top Matches

Ukraine 3½-½ Bulgaria
India 2½-1½ Spain (A)
Russia 2½-1½ Armenia
France 2-2 Poland
USA 2½-1½ Azerbaijan

As the tournament wears on, pairing peculiarities emerge, so it's important to keep pace. What happens in later rounds is that the top teams will have played each other, so they are left to play teams low in the standings. Thus, lopsided scores result and teams are able to leap quickly toward the top. Armenia came out of nowhere in the Bled Olympiad to win the bronze medal… scoring win after win.

Bulgaria had a good stretch beating a number of strong team including Russia (without Veselin Topalov!).  However, a solid lineup, team chemistry and sound leadership are the recipes for success and that's what makes the Ukrainian team an inside favorite to win the tournament.  Ivanchuk appears to be strong enough to play the remaining rounds, but may be able to take a breather if they beat Armenia.

Ukraine sent a strong message by trouncing Bulgaria 3½-½… Karjakin has suddenly become a silent force on the team after destroying Julian Radulski with a nice mating attack. Ruslan Ponomariov is still resting and should be present to hold off any late runs by teams in the shadows. Ukraine faces a strengthened Armenia next. Akopian will be looking to come off of a tough loss to Morozevich.

In Karjakin-Radulski, white finished with the knight sortie Nh5+!

In Karjakin-Radulski, white finished with 38.Nh5+! gxh5 39. gxh5 Ng5 40. Nxd8 Qb8 41. Ne6+ 1-0.

One of those teams in the shadows (besides Russia)  is India.  After beating the home team from Spain 2½-1½, India climbed into joint 3rd place with Armenia with 21 points. Pentala Harikrishna is an intriguing talent, but nothing in particular stands out about his play.  One thing is evident is the work he puts in over the board. In his game against Miguel Illescas Cordoba he showed impeccable technique in a bishop ending to win the point.

USA is putting together some strong performances and beat Azerbaijan who decided to rest Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Alexander Shabalov took advantage of a naked white king and beat Vugar Gashimov mercilessly… the 18-year old Azerbaijani player never had a chance. Thus, the USA stands to do much better than their 41st place showing in Bled. In other action, France drew Poland 2-2 with Joel Lautier on board #1; Israel 2-2 Moldova; Georgia 2½-1½ Netherlands; China 2½-1½ Cuba; Uzbekistan 2½-1½ Kazakhstan.

In a match of interest,
Iraq beat Palestine 2½-1½ with Bulgarian émigré GM Evgeny Ermenkov continuing his pillage of the lower echelon players with an undefeated 7/8. He has caused some raised eyebrows and some whispers because the legendary GM has decided to represent the repressed nation. No interviews are available as of yet.

African and Caribbean Regions

The lead for the African crown has now formed into a three-way tie between
South Africa, Morocco and Tunisia with 15½ points each. Morocco, who stormed into the lead, was duly crushed by Switzerland 4-0. Neither team fielded their top players. Tunisia dropped their match to New Zealand and South Africa drew with Nicaragua 2-2. Angola smashed Suriname 3½-½ to pull within ½-point of the continent lead. 

Other African teams have performed below expectations and are mired at the lower part of the pairing chart.  Unfortunately, there are no stories such as the electrifying performance of
Zimbabwean Robert Gwaze, but there is still a distance to travel yet. Maybe we will see a magical run to the finish line! Unfortunately, only the games from the top boards are available (from the official site), so we may already be missing something.

Morocco’s Hichem Hamdouchi

Morocco's Hichem Hamdouchi

In Caribbean action, Cuba is among the tournament's elite teams and they will make a stretch-run for a top ten post.  Barbados is in a good position as Philip Corbin continues to terrorize his opposition with his brash style of play. He is currently on 6/7 and in 3rd place for a board medal. Coming to Mallorca without their National Champion and several of their best, Jamaica will attempt to close on a high note.  Trinidad and Tobago has also hit the skids in what is apparently a problem with their board order. Christo Cave, the team's strongest player is on board #3 and Bled's bronze-medallist Ravishen Singh (as a reserve) is now on board #1. Cecil Lee, who has only recently returned to active play is on board #2.

Many other teams in the Caribbean are small island nations where chess is primarily a leisure activity and not a competitive sport. In fact, many of the teams at the bottom tier are beautiful islands dotted throughout the globe. These are places that we only associate with vacationing and beautiful sandy beaches.
Bermuda is one of the more successful islands (north of the Caribbean) in terms of attracting chess activity. Their GM tournaments have been a stopping ground for top players from around the world. This is definitely a start to a more suitable and competitive chess environment. Who wouldn't want to play chess in a place like Seychelles, Aruba, Guernsey or  Fiji?

Report by Dr. Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum

Round #8 Information Center

Team Results

Selected Games

GM Sergey Karjakin (UKR) - IM Julian Radulski (BUL), 1-0
GM Andrei Volokitin (UKR) - GM Aleksander Delchev (BUL), 1-0
GM Miguel Illescas Cordoba (ESP-A) - GM Pentala Harikrishna (IND), 0-1
GM Alexander Morozevich (RUS) - GM Vladimir Akopian (ARM), 1-0
GM Vugar Gashimov (AZE) - GM Alexander Shabalov (USA), 0-1
GM Michael Adams (ENG) - GM Zoltan Almasi (HUN), 1-0


| Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3 | Round 4 |
| Round 5 | Round 6 | Round 7 | Round 8 | Round 9 |
| Round 10 | Round 11 | Round 12 | Round 13 | Round 14 |
| Olympiad News | Final Report | Photo Galleries |

See Report from Allan Herbert (Barbados)

Olympiad Information Center