Uzbek children lead the 44th Chess Olympiad
India B vs Uzbekistan, the clash of young people
The battle for the medal was all the rage in the ninth round of the Olympiad, played this afternoon at the Sheraton Four Points Convention Center in Mahabalipuram. Neither team moves an inch and the matches are fast and furious.
Uzbekistan’s young side, led by teenager Abdusattorov and coached by veteran Dutch grandmaster Ivan Sokolov, convincingly beat the Armenian leaders 3-1, with wins for Sindarov and Vakhidov on both last chessboards.
Vakhidov’s feat is even more commendable – he beat Robert Hovhannisyan (undefeated to date) with the black pieces. With this victory, the Uzbekistan team is now the sole leader of the Olympiad with 16 points with two rounds remaining. Plus, they’re the only undefeated team in the tournament – a huge surprise.
As if that wasn’t enough, the Uzbeks were greatly favored by the other round results. Azerbaijan couldn’t get past a 2-2 draw with Indian junior Bs – Praggnanandhaa beat Durarbayli on board three but young gun Sadhwani fell to experienced grandmaster Abasov on board four.
India B and Armenia now share the second third places with 15 points, trailing the leaders by just one point.
In the day’s other key match, the Netherlands and Iran also tied the points in a game that ended in four draws, leaving both teams with 14 points. The other teams did not miss the opportunity to keep their options open for the podium.
Despite Levon Aronian’s unexpected loss to Theodorou with White, the United States beat Greece by the minimum score of 2.5-1.5, thanks in large part to Wesley So’s key victory – he is still undefeated. Nevertheless, the hero of the day in the American camp was Fabiano Caruana.
After two consecutive defeats, he beat the Greek number one player Mastrovasilis in a big game with the blacks in the Sicilian defense Sveshnikov. The spectacular move 21…Bh6 was the start of a winning attack against the white king – a game for the ages.
India A clawed back positions at the expense of Brazil, who played at a high level in the tournament. Erigaisi and Sasikiran, on the third and fourth boards, were the heroes for the national team, securing a 3-1 win for the home side.
With only two rounds to go and three medals on the line, tomorrow’s duets are already quite significant. India B (15) will face Uzbekistan (16) in a youth clash.
The second match will see an Olympiad classic: Azerbaijan (14) against Armenia (15). While a draw could be a decent result for Armenia, Azerbaijan need to go broke to have a chance of challenging for the gold medal.
USA (14) v Turkey (14), Iran (14) v India A (14) and Serbia (14) v Netherlands (14) are the other three pairs that will decide without doubt of the podium – a victory is needed, so a huge fight is expected.
Along with the Chess Olympiad, the General Assembly of the International Chess Federation – and general elections – took place in Chennai.
Arkady Dvorkovich was re-elected today for a second term as FIDE President with 157 votes, against 16 for his electoral opponent, Ukrainian chess grandmaster Andrii Baryshpolets. The third candidate, Bachar Kouatly from France, withdrew his candidacy before the start of the vote.
Five-time world chess champion Viswanathan Anand, who was part of Dvorkovich’s ticket, is FIDE’s new vice-president.
Round 10 will be played on August 8 at 3 p.m. sharp and can be watched live on the tournament website.
For a full list of results, please visit the official website at https://chessolympiad.fide.com/open-results/
Text: IM Michael Rahal, FIDE Press Officer, Chennai
Photos: Lennart Ootes, Mark Livshitz and Stev Bonhage