Round #9

France beats Russia… … China edges closer with 4-0 rout of Georgia

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Armenia 2½-1½ Ukraine
France  2-2 Russia
China 4-0 Georgia
USA 2-2 Czech Republic
Cuba 2½-1½ Germany

Things just got a bit more tense in the 37th Olympiad as China torched a strong Georgia team 4-0 to draw within one point of Armenia.  It appeared that China would fade into oblivion after poor results against Russia (3-1 loss), India (2-2 tie) and the USA (2½-1½ loss). The team came with a renewed focused and have scored big in the last three matches.

This match showed the Chinese Dragons breathing fire and all of the games showed tremendous ferocity. Bu Xiangzhi played a nice attacking game and mated 23-year old Baadur Jobava. Zhang Zhong  sacrificed his queen and unleashed a virulent attack on the black king. Kachieshvili tried to find counterplay with his queen, but ended up getting her trapped.

Wang Yue won due to his enterprising exchange sacrifice and steamrolling central pawns. He is now at +6. The wildest game of the match has Ni Hua-Temaz Gelashvili. In a complicated game in which the Georgian mounted a promising attack, he sacked his queen, but the two rooks never had a chance to work together. The 4-nil outcome puts China is medal position with four rounds remaining. Ni gets some redemption for his last-round loss in the World Team Championship one year ago.

France slipped past Russia 2½-1½ and in doing so, claimed the third position with Russia dropping into fourth. Etienne Bacrot has rejuvenated the French side which struggled early. The winning margin came on the strength of  Laurent Fressinet's win over a beleaguered Sergei Rublevsky who has lost three in a row.

In the position on the left the Russian misses Fressinet's 23.Nxe6! and fell prey to a vicious attack which would net a piece in the end. The loss leaves a flustered Russian team three points back of the field with four rounds remaining. There is still a chance for a medal, but the chances of catching Armenia are ever remote.

In Nybäck-Matthews, white apparentlyplayed 47.Kf4 which would lose immediately to 47…b2. After realizing that the move loses immediately, he grabs the piece and “adjusts” it, then moved the bishop.

Fressinet uncorked 23.Nxe6! shattering black's army.

India struggles once again after a 2-2 draw with Uzbekistan. Chances for a medal are slipping as India cannot seem to get key victories in the latter rounds (as was the case in Calvia). There has been some unfair criticism of Anand's inability to break through on board one, but fatigue has to be a factor in this. The Czech Republic held the USA when Robert Cvek beat Varzhun Akobian in a battle that went from strategic to tactical. After 32.Nxe6! White shattered black's position, ending in a mating attack.

When analyzing USA's chance for a medal,  one would say that the chances are fair to good.  Each player has played an equal number of games are should be rested for the home stretch. The team captain seems to have decided that either Gata Kamsky and/or Hikaru Nakamura will be in the lineup in each round. With the tremendous balance, the USA has not lost a match, but have yet to face Armenia, Russia or the Ukraine.

Egypt continues to impress!

Egypt has been the strongest chess federation on the African continent for a number of years and in Turin, they have continued to play solid chess and have only lost two matches. In an exclusive interview with The Chess Drum, Ali Frhat contends that Egypt has a cadre of young players (including teenagers Ahmed Adly and Bassem Amin), so the future appears to be bright for the "Valley of the Kings."

Ironically, Egypt has the same match record (six wins, one loss, two draws) as
Cuba, but the difference is that Cuba has won by larger margins and is vying for a medal.  Cuba has ridden the strength of the top two boards, Lazaro Bruzon (4½-2½; 2711 TPR) and Lenier Dominguez (5½-2½; 2702) while  Yuniesky Quezada has shined in a reserve role (6-2; 2578 TPR).

Other developing nations from Africa and the Caribbean have been struggling with consistency. Traditional powerhouses Nigeria and Angola have shown good form in some matches, but have suffered far too many 3½-½ and 3-1 losses to mount any momentum.  The Caribbean tripartite of Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago have also been up and down.

African and Caribbean nations heavily populate the lower third of the chart which would make evident that there is much to be done in terms of chess development in these regions. In interviews conducted of some African and Caribbean players, one comment appearing as a consensus was that there was not local support for the chess development.

Both parties have made a pledge to improved chess in developing regions through CACDEC, but it is not enough. One would hope that the two political parties running for Presidency will make good on their campaign promises to invigorate chess in these regions.

African Diaspora Spotlight
Uganda's Steven Kawuma (Africa)
(Photo by Daaim Shabazz)

African-Caribbean scores

Algeria 2-2 Wales; Angola 2½-1½ Sri Lanka; Aruba 3-1 Rwanda; Bermuda 2-2 Jersey; Barbados 2½-1½ Bahrain; Botswana 4-0 British Virgin Islands; Cuba 2½-1½ Germany; Canada 2½-1½ Dominican Republic; Egypt 2½-1½ Australia; Guatemala 4-0 Ethiopia; Haiti 2-2 Mozambique; Ecuador 3½-½ Jamaica; Kenya 2-2 Malawi; Libya 3½-½ San Marino; Mauritius 2½-1½ Suriname; Malawi 2-2 Kenya; Morocco 3½-½ South Africa; Mozambique 2-2 Haiti; Yemen 3½-½ Namibia; Palestine 3½-½ Netherlands Antilles; Nigeria 2-2 Iraq; Krygzstan 3-1 Puerto Rico; Fiji 2½-1½ Rwanda; Seychelles 2-2 Papua New Guinea; South Africa ½-3½  Uruguay 3-1 Sudan; Mongolia 2½-1½ Trinidad & Tobago; Tunisia 2-2 Finland; Japan 3½-½ Uganda; Fiji ½-1½ US Virgin Islands;  Zambia 3-1 Cyprus

Reporting from Chicago, USA  -  Dr. Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum

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Posted by The Chess Drum: 31 May 2006