Big News in Baku: Women Topple Russia; Both Teams Tied for Lead

krushkosteniuk01-1 GMs Krush and Kosteniuk at the start of today's US-Russia battle
The titanic struggle between the number one and number two seeds in the Open section caught the attention of the entire World. Despite the numerous interesting matches at the top of the stage, every single camera lens was focused on the duel between America and Russia. The match was as interesting as promised. Nakamura was the first game to finish. He seemed surprised by Kramnik's 16...Qg5, after which he went into the tank: 45 minutes of thought for one move! He achieved nothing with his think, unfortunately, as he saw the game simply trade down into a drawn endgame. Kramnik had no problem holding his opponent with the Black pieces, a slight disappointment, but not a serious blow to our chances.
[pgn]

[Event "Baku Chess Olympiad | Open"]
[Date "2016.09.10"]
[White "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Black "Kramnik, Vladimir"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2789"]
[BlackElo "2808"]
[PlyCount "84"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "Russia"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "RUS"]
[WhiteClock "0:50:45"]
[BlackClock "0:53:46"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bg5 h6 6. Bh4 O-O 7. e3 Nbd7 8. Qc2
c5 9. cxd5 Nxd5 10. Bxe7 Qxe7 11. Nxd5 exd5 12. dxc5 Nxc5 13. Be2 Bg4 14. O-O
Rac8 15. Nd4 Ne6 16. Qd2 Qg5 17. Bxg4 Qxg4 18. Ne2 Rfd8 19. Rac1 Rxc1 20. Rxc1
d4 21. Nxd4 Nxd4 22. exd4 Qxd4 23. Qc2 h5 24. h3 g6 25. b3 b5 26. Qe2 a6 27.
Qe7 Kg7 28. Rc7 Qd1+ 29. Kh2 Qd6+ 30. Qxd6 Rxd6 31. Ra7 h4 32. a4 Kf6 33. Rb7
bxa4 34. bxa4 Ke6 35. g3 hxg3+ 36. Kxg3 f6 37. h4 Ke5 38. Ra7 Rc6 39. f3 Kf5
40. Ra8 Ke5 41. Re8+ Kf5 42. Ra8 Ke5 1/2-1/2

[/pgn]
On board four, Ray Robson was visited by his perennial enemy: time trouble. Even though Grischuk is also known as a time trouble addict, the Russian handled the frenzy in a much superior manner. In the most quiet of Berlins, the variation with Re1, an equal position arose that many commentators disregarded as a probable draw. Out of nowhere, Grischuk installed a powerful knight on e4. When traded, it gave him a protected passed pawn. In a horrendous position already, Robson inexplicably transitioned into a completely lost pawn endgame. Grischuk, won, 1.5-0.5 Russia.
[pgn]

[Event "Baku Chess Olympiad | Open"]
[Date "2016.09.10"]
[White "Robson, Ray"]
[Black "Grischuk, Alexander"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2674"]
[BlackElo "2754"]
[PlyCount "92"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "Russia"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "RUS"]
[WhiteClock "0:24:15"]
[BlackClock "0:34:12"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. Re1 Nd6 6. Nxe5 Be7 7. Bf1 Nxe5
8. Rxe5 O-O 9. Nc3 Ne8 10. Nd5 Bd6 11. Re1 c6 12. Ne3 Bc7 13. Nf5 d5 14. Ne7+
Kh8 15. Nxc8 Rxc8 16. g3 Qf6 17. Bh3 Rd8 18. d4 Nd6 19. Bf4 Bb8 20. Be5 Qh6 21.
Bg2 Nc4 22. Bxb8 Rxb8 23. b3 Nd6 24. Qd3 Qg6 25. Qd2 Rfe8 26. Re5 f6 27. Rxe8+
Rxe8 28. Qb4 f5 29. Re1 Rxe1+ 30. Qxe1 Qf6 31. Qe3 g5 32. f4 h6 33. a4 $2 {
Letting the knight install itself on e4 before the queen goes to e5 is a big
mistake.} (33. Qe5 Kg7 34. Kf2 {is probably just equal.}) 33... a5 $2 34. Kf1
$2 Ne4 35. c4 Kg7 36. c5 gxf4 37. gxf4 Qh4 {White's position is probably
unpleasant, but holdable.} 38. Bxe4 $2 fxe4 39. Qf2 {The position was probably
already losing, but this is just throwing in the towel.} Qxf2+ 40. Kxf2 Kf6 41.
Kg3 Kf5 42. h3 h5 43. h4 e3 44. Kf3 e2 45. Kxe2 Kxf4 46. Kd3 Kg4 0-1

[/pgn]
Karjakin was pressing hard against Caruana from the opening, with a deep preparation in the English that netted him a slight edge. However, the American's defense was very clever, defending on the kingside with ….Kh8! and …Rg8! Karjakin was unable to make real progress, and the resulting endgame was simply drawish. 2.0-1.0 Russia.
[pgn]

[Event "Baku Chess Olympiad | Open"]
[Date "2016.09.10"]
[White "Karjakin, Sergey"]
[Black "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Result "*"]
[WhiteElo "2769"]
[BlackElo "2808"]
[PlyCount "83"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "Russia"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "RUS"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]
[WhiteClock "0:32:36"]
[BlackClock "0:30:35"]

1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 e6 6. a3 Bc5 7. Nb3 Bb6 8. c5
Bc7 9. g3 O-O 10. Bg2 b6 11. O-O Be5 12. a4 bxc5 13. Nxc5 d5 14. e4 Bd4 15.
exd5 exd5 16. Nb3 Bxc3 17. bxc3 Bg4 18. f3 Be6 19. Nd4 Nxd4 20. Qxd4 Qa5 21.
Be3 Rfc8 22. Qb4 Qd8 23. Bd4 {White's powerful bishop on d4 gives him the edge,
so Caruana dances with his knight in order to eliminate it.} Ne8 24. Qb2 Nd6
25. g4 Nc4 26. Qf2 Na5 27. f4 Nb3 28. f5 Bd7 {The dance is complete, but White
has now had time to put pressure on the kingside. Fabiano is holding, but
thanks to some creative play.} 29. Rad1 Nxd4 30. Rxd4 Qf6 31. Qg3 Qb6 32. f6
Be6 33. Qe3 Kh8 $5 34. Kh1 $6 (34. fxg7+ Kg8 {might not be so bad, but it's
obviously better for White.}) 34... Rg8 $1 35. c4 Rad8 36. a5 Qxa5 37. Qe5 Rde8
38. cxd5 Bd7 39. Qd6 Qd8 40. h3 Bb5 41. Qxd8 Rxd8 42. fxg7+ *

[/pgn]
Wesley So came through huge for the United States. He was better the whole game, which meant that for a long time USA was hoping for a 2.5-1.5 result. He extinguished all of Nepomniachtchi's play, and his superior piece placement and pawn structure allowed him to target White's pawns. He started by winning the a4-pawn. Wesley's advantage grew and grew, eventually transitioning into a completely won queen endgame. USA draws their match against Russia 2.0-2.0.
so08-1 GM Wesley So
[pgn]

[Event "Baku Chess Olympiad | Open"]
[Site "chess24.com"]
[Date "2016.09.10"]
[Round "8.3"]
[White "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"]
[Black "So, Wesley"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2740"]
[BlackElo "2782"]
[PlyCount "100"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "Russia"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "RUS"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]
[WhiteClock "0:26:29"]
[BlackClock "0:25:09"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. O-O Nf6 5. d3 O-O 6. a4 d6 7. c3 a6 8. h3 Ba7
9. Re1 Ne7 10. d4 Ng6 11. Bd3 c6 12. Be3 Nh5 13. Nbd2 Nhf4 14. Bf1 exd4 15.
Bxd4 Bxd4 16. cxd4 d5 17. e5 f6 18. Ra3 $6 {Allowing Black to take on e5 gives
So a strong initiative.} fxe5 19. dxe5 a5 20. Qc1 Qe7 21. Rb3 Bf5 22. Nd4 Ne6
23. Nxf5 $6 {This was simply the wrong piece to take. Notice how powerful
Wesley's knight ends up being.} Rxf5 24. Bd3 Rf4 25. Bxg6 hxg6 26. Qd1 {A sad
necessity to defend a4.} Raf8 27. Rf3 Qb4 28. Rxf4 Rxf4 29. Nf3 Qxa4 30. Qd3
Rf5 31. Qb1 Qf4 32. Qc2 Kh7 33. Re3 Qc4 34. Qd1 Rf4 35. Rc3 Qb4 36. Qc1 a4 37.
h4 Kg8 38. Qb1 Qe4 39. Qd1 Nd4 {Black is dominating and has an extra pawn. The
rest is easy...} 40. Re3 Nxf3+ 41. gxf3 Qf5 42. e6 Rxh4 43. Re4 Rxe4 44. fxe4
Qxe4 45. Qd2 Qxe6 46. Qa5 Qg4+ 47. Kf1 b5 48. Qc7 g5 49. Qb8+ Kh7 50. Qd6 b4
0-1[/pgn]
Before the round the US would surely not have been too unhappy with a draw, but considering how good Wesley's position was and Ray’s general solidity, they were certainly hoping for a key victory. Ukraine and India won their matches,against Georgia and England respectively, and catch the US at the top. Standings Open After Eight Rounds 1 United States of America USA  14  2  India IND 14 3  Ukraine UKR  14 4 Russia RUS  13 5 Azerbaijan AZE 13 6 Norway NOR 13 But that was not the best part of the day! Though the US women were underdogs against the defending Olympic Champions, we pulled through against Russia in an amazing fashion. The first game to finish was certainly a topsy-turvy one. A risky preparation by coach GM Hess and Katerina Nemcova landed the American with an extra two pawns, but Black had an imminent attack. Perhaps figuring that Girya's strength isn't attacking, the Russian player mishandled the position very badly. White suddenly not only kept her pawns, but solidified her position and began her own initiative. Katerina wiped the board with Girya and gave USA a 1-0 start.
[pgn]

[Event "Women's Baku Chess Olympiad"]
[Date "2016.09.10"]
[White "Nemcova, Katerina"]
[Black "Girya, Olga"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2365"]
[BlackElo "2452"]
[Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"]
[PlyCount "73"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "Russia"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "RUS"]
[WhiteClock "0:09:04"]
[BlackClock "0:01:19"]

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nd2 e6 5. Nb3 Ne7 6. Be2 Nd7 7. Nf3 h6 8. O-O
Qc7 9. Bd2 g5 10. h4 Ng6 11. hxg5 hxg5 12. Bxg5 f6 13. exf6 Bd6 14. Re1 Kf7 $2
(14... Ndf8 {would have put White in a great deal of trouble.} 15. Bd3 Bg4 $1 {
with the idea of Qh7 is very powerful.}) 15. Bd3 Bg4 16. Bxg6+ Kxg6 17. Qd3+ $1
Kf7 18. Qe3 Bh2+ 19. Kf1 e5 $6 20. Nxh2 Rxh2 21. f3 $1 Be6 22. Bf4 $1 {A nice
finesse, completely repelling Black's threats.} Rh5 23. Bxe5 Qb6 24. Kf2 Re8
25. Rh1 Reh8 26. Rxh5 Rxh5 27. Re1 Qd8 28. Nc5 Nxc5 29. dxc5 Qg8 30. Bd4 Qc8
31. Qf4 Qd7 32. Re5 Rxe5 33. Qxe5 Bf5 34. c3 Bg6 35. g4 Bd3 36. Kg3 Bg6 37. f4
1-0

[/pgn]
The second game to finish was not as successful. Nazi Paikidze kept playing strange moves straight out of the opening against Gunina, granting Black a strong initiative. White's pawn sacrifice on c5 was not on-spot, and Black simply emerged up a pawn with a good position. Gunina's technique was far from precise, but it was good enough against an off-form Nazi in today's game. 1-1, the match was even.
[pgn]

[Event "Women's Baku Chess Olympiad"]
[Date "2016.09.10"]
[White "Paikidze, Nazi"]
[Black "Gunina, Valentina"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2366"]
[BlackElo "2520"]
[PlyCount "100"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "Russia"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "RUS"]
[WhiteClock "0:02:40"]
[BlackClock "0:12:41"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Nf3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Be7 6. Bg2 O-O 7. O-O Nbd7 8.
Qc2 c6 9. Rd1 b6 10. b3 Ne4 11. Be1 Bb7 12. Nc3 f5 13. e3 Qe8 14. Ne2 g5 15.
Ne5 Nxe5 16. dxe5 g4 17. Nf4 Bg5 18. b4 Rd8 19. Rab1 Rf7 20. Qe2 Rfd7 21. c5
bxc5 22. bxc5 Nxc5 23. Rdc1 Ba6 24. Qd1 Bc4 25. Bf1 Bh6 26. Bxc4 dxc4 27. Qe2
Nd3 28. Rxc4 Nxe5 29. Rc5 Nf3+ 30. Kg2 Rd6 31. h4 Bf8 32. Ba5 R8d7 33. Rbc1 e5
34. Qc4+ Qf7 35. Ne2 Rd5 36. Rxd5 cxd5 37. Qc8 Kg7 38. Bc7 d4 39. exd4 Ba3 40.
Rc3 Bb4 41. Rc1 Ba3 42. Rc3 exd4 43. Rxa3 Rxc7 44. Qb8 Rb7 45. Qd6 Rd7 46. Qc5
Rc7 47. Qa5 Re7 48. Qc5 Re5 49. Qxa7 Rxe2 50. Qb6 Re1 0-1

[/pgn]
Anna Zatonskih was a very solid performer. She equalized from the opening against Pogonina  and even though White got some slight chances at some point, the result was never really in question. 1.5-1.5, the entire match resting on board one.
[pgn]

[Event "Women's Baku Chess Olympiad"]
[Date "2016.09.10"]
[White "Pogonina, Natalija"]
[Black "Zatonskih, Anna"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2484"]
[BlackElo "2449"]
[PlyCount "122"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "Russia"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "RUS"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]
[WhiteClock "0:00:46"]
[BlackClock "0:01:08"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 b6 4. g3 Bb7 5. Bg2 Be7 6. O-O c6 7. Nc3 d5 8. b3 O-O
9. Bb2 Na6 10. Ne5 c5 11. cxd5 exd5 12. e3 Nc7 13. dxc5 bxc5 14. Qc2 Rb8 15.
Rfd1 Bd6 16. Na4 Ne6 17. Nd3 Rc8 18. Be5 Bxe5 19. Nxe5 Qc7 20. Nf3 d4 21. exd4
Bxf3 22. Bxf3 Nxd4 23. Qd3 Nxf3+ 24. Qxf3 c4 25. b4 Rfd8 26. Nc5 Rxd1+ 27. Rxd1
Rd8 28. Rc1 Nd5 29. Rxc4 Nxb4 30. Qb7 Nd5 31. Qxc7 Nxc7 32. Nb7 Rd7 33. Ra4 Nb5
34. Nc5 Rc7 35. Na6 Rc1+ 36. Kg2 g6 37. Ra5 Nc3 38. Nb4 Rb1 39. a3 Rb2 40. Rxa7
Nd1 41. Nd3 Rd2 42. Rd7 Nxf2 43. Ne5 Ra2 44. Nxf7 Ng4+ 45. Kh3 Nf2+ 46. Kh4
Rxa3 47. Nh6+ Kh8 48. Re7 Ra4+ 49. Kg5 Nh3+ 50. Kf6 Ra6+ 51. Ke5 Ra5+ 52. Ke4
Rh5 53. Ng4 Rf5 54. Ke3 h5 55. Ne5 Rf6 56. Nf7+ Kg8 57. Ne5 Ng5 58. h4 Nh7 59.
Nf3 Rf8 60. Nd4 Nf6 61. Kd3 Re8 1/2-1/2

[/pgn]
Kosteniuk, simply put, got a dream position. With an extra passed pawn on the a-file, good technique should have been enough to convert it into a win. However, good technique was not what Kosteniuk had today. She allowed Krush to set up some powerful blockading knights, and suddenly Black's position didn't look all that bad. Kosteniuk kept pressing on and pressing on, until at some point she declined a repetition but got herself into an endgame where Black actually had more chances. White kept pressing, until at some point she found herself down the exchange and struggling to survive. With seconds on the clock, the Russian player blundered a piece and victory went to the Americans.
[pgn]

[Event "Women's Baku Chess Olympiad"]
[Date "2016.09.10"]
[White "Kosteniuk, Alexandra"]
[Black "Krush, Irina"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2538"]
[BlackElo "2444"]
[PlyCount "134"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "Russia"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "RUS"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]
[WhiteClock "0:00:38"]
[BlackClock "0:01:13"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. O-O Qc7 7. Qe2 d6 8. a4
b6 9. f4 Nbd7 10. b4 d5 $2 {Premature.} 11. e5 Ne4 12. Ba3 a5 13. Nb5 Qc6 14.
bxa5 Bc5+ 15. Bxc5 Ndxc5 16. Na7 Qc7 17. axb6 $2 (17. Nxc8 Rxc8 18. Bxe4 Nxe4
19. Qb5+ {was very obviously winning.}) 17... Qxb6 18. Nxc8 Rxc8 19. Bb5+ Nd7+
20. Kh1 Qa7 21. Bd3 Ndc5 22. Qe3 Rc7 23. Na3 Qa5 24. Nb5 Rc8 25. Nd4 (25. Bxe4
Nxe4 26. Qa3 {was still almost winning.}) 25... O-O 26. Bb5 Ra8 27. Rf3 Qb4 28.
Bc6 Ra6 29. f5 Rc8 30. Bb5 Raa8 31. c3 Qb2 32. Raf1 Qd2 33. fxe6 fxe6 34. Nc6
Rc7 35. Qd4 h6 36. Qb4 Qg5 37. g3 Qd2 38. Nd4 Qg5 39. Nc6 (39. Rf8+ Rxf8 40.
Rxf8+ Kh7 {is not clear.} (40... Kxf8 41. Nxe6+ $18)) 39... Qd2 40. Nd4 Qg5 41.
Bc6 Rac8 42. c4 Qd2 43. Qxd2 Nxd2 44. cxd5 Nxf3 45. Rxf3 exd5 46. Bxd5+ Kh7 {
If anyone is pushing for a win here, it is Black. When White pushes for a win,
bad things can happen to her.} 47. Rf4 Rd7 48. Bc4 g5 49. e6 gxf4 50. exd7 Nxd7
51. Bd3+ Kh8 52. Bf5 Rc1+ 53. Kg2 Nc5 54. gxf4 Nxa4 55. Kg3 Nc5 56. Ne6 {White
should suffer out a draw here most of the time. However, with time pressure
and team pressure, Kosteniuk did not hold.} Nd7 57. Nd4 Nf6 58. Nf3 Rc3 59. h3
Kg7 60. Bb1 Rc4 61. Ne5 Rb4 62. Bg6 Nd5 63. Bf5 Nxf4 64. Ng4 Ne2+ 65. Kh4 Nd4
66. Be4 Ne6 {White is probably already losing, but her next move finishes the
game on the spot.} 67. Bg2 $4 h5 0-1

[/pgn]
2.5-1.5 and the US women’s team are now tied for first with China! Women's Standings After 8 Rounds  1 CHN 14 2 USA 14 3 POL 13 4 ISR 13 5 UKR 12 6 RUS 12 Sunday will be another huge round here in Baku. Fabiano Caruana will (probably) play against Magnus Carlsen with the white pieces in the epic USA vs. Norway match, a very accessible opponent for the Americans: even though Magnus obviously outrates Fabiano, USA is favored on the other three boards. USA is currently tied for first with India and Ukraine. In the Women's, it is the time for the big boss. After losing to Ukraine and beating Russia, team USA finally plays the number one seed, China, led by Hou Yifan. A win by the US would shake the Olympiad and would put them on a great position for gold, but even a draw would keep them in strong running for first place. USA is using all of their resources in these rounds, and the coaches have not gotten much (or any!) sleep. Let's hope that their continued hard work here keeps paying off!  
yasser07-1 US Women's team captain, GM Yasser Seirawan
Follow live games, results and find more photos at the tournament site. Thanks to the Chess Club & Scholastic Center of St. Louis and to the Kasparov Chess Foundation for their continued generous support.

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