Round #1

Morocco upsets India 3-1!

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Russia 4-0 Kazazkhstan
Morocco 3-1 India
Armenia 3-1 Venezuela
Ukraine 3˝-˝  ICBA
France 3˝-˝ Bolivia

It is inevitable. Inevitable that there would be an upset in a chess world where the weaker nations are now balancing the scales a bit.  While the Russian juggernaut pasted  Kazakhstan, India was upended by an overachieving Morocco putting India in a position where they will have to roll up big scores to make up lost ground.  No other upset were present although several strong teams were nicked for one or more draws.

India squaring off against Morocco. In foreground, GM Pentala Harikrishna faces Africa's #1 GM Hichem Hamdouchi. That game was drawn. Morocco would go on to upset India 3-1. Photo by Daaim Shabazz.

In Russia-Kazakhstan, Morozevich got another battle and fell into a complicated position against Kurill Kuderinov. The Kazakh playing 28.Nd5!? netting the exchange, but black had counterplay drove home the point. India suffered a crushing 3-1 loss at the hands of Morocco when both Sandipan Chanda and DP Singh were beaten. Anand may play earlier than expected to makeup lost ground. The Achilles heel of India has always been consistency.

The drawback of first-round game is that they are usually filled with tension and nervousness… especially with players making Olympiad debuts. Karen Asrian of
Armenia dropped his game on board #1 to Rafael Prasca of Venezuela, but his team won 3-1. Vassily Ivanchuk of the Ukraine was nicked for a draw from the IBCA's Sergey Krylov.
Ignatius Njobvu held
Serbian Grandmaster, Dragan Kosic. Angola's Armindo Sousa beat Rune Djurhuss of Norway for the team's only tally. Fiji's Asheesh Gautum upended Aco Alvir of Austria.

The  USA eked out a win against unfancied New Zealand as Gregory Kaidanov's win creating the victory margin. Another "upset" saw Mongolia with two FMs in its lineup holding Azerbaijan to a 2-2 draw. Ethiopia held a Tunisian team lead by two Grandmasters. There is a consensus that in the age of technology, players are coming better prepared and no points can be taken for granted.

From the Africa, most teams were on the wrong side of lopsided match scores, but
Nigeria came to Turin with guns blazing with a 3˝-˝  pasting of the Sudan. Nigeria is listed as having unrated players, but of course, a quick search will reveal several titled players… very talented players. They will certainly be one of the highest scoring African teams.

In the Caribbean region, there were a couple of individual upsets which turned out to be the brightest news from the region.
Trinidad's Christo Cave toppling Grandmaster Tiger Hillarp-Person of Sweden. Finally, Philip Corbin of Barbados claimed another first round victim with a thrashing of Moldova's Ruslan Soltanici. Jamaica's Shane Matthews held Uzbekistan's Aleksey Barsov.

African Diaspora Spotlight
Afriany Velery of Haiti (Caribbean)
(Photo by Daaim Shabazz)

African-Caribbean scores

Norway 3-1
Angola; Moldova 3-1 Ecuador 3˝-˝ Aruba; Moldova 3-1 Barbados; Columbia 4-0 Bermuda; Serbia-Montenegro 3˝-˝  Botswana; Cuba 2˝-1˝ Algeria; Hungary 3˝-˝ Dominican Republic 3˝-˝; Sweden 2˝-1˝ Egypt; Ethiopia 2-2 Tunisia; Italy 3˝-˝ Haiti; Uzbekistan 3˝-˝ Jamaica Qatar 4-0 Kenya; Finland 4-0 Libya; Costa Rica 3˝-˝ Malawi; Philippines 4-0 Mauritius; Morocco 3-1 India; Luxembourg 4-0 Mozambique; Indonesia 4-0 Namibia; Mexico 4-0 Netherlands Antilles; Nigeria 3˝-˝ Sudan; Belgium 3˝-˝ British Virgin Islands; Singapore 4-0 Rwanda; Albania 4-0 Seychelles; Germany 4-0 South Africa; Switzerland 3˝-˝ Puerto Rico; Sweden 3-1 Trinidad & Tobago Tunisia 2-2 Ethiopia; Latvia 4-0 Uganda; Andorra 4-0 U.S. Virgin Islands

Reporting from Turin, Italy -  Dr. Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum

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Posted by The Chess Drum: 23 May 2006