Big Round in Baku: US Defeats Ukraine and Turkey

There is a theory that the organization of an entire Olympiad is often reflected in how good the Bermuda party was. With an excellent venue, fantastic music and unique performances, it certainly was a great success, and the theory seems confirmed! Baku is an interesting city. The tall, soviet style buildings are adorned with neon signs, announcing products from Lamborghini to Ray Ban. You don't need to pay close attention to find similarities in the architecture with any other former soviet city, but the influx of oil money is palpable. The city has somehow built an outer shell that is completely modern, and it seems that Baku is trying to overcompensate with their new buildings. fabiinbakuinsta Old Town is one of the more popular touristic attractions here. This part of Baku certainly retains the old-world feeling, with merchants lining up their products on rugs by the street. Most of the American team took a stroll around Old Town during the rest day, taking pictures and listening to Yasser stories. Meanwhile the Russian team went to Amburan, a popular beach resort city 45 minutes away from Baku. With renewed energies, it was time for round six. After an hour and a half of play things looked pretty bad for Team USA in the Open section: Fabiano's position was murky, Nakamura's Benoni resulted him having a two-result type of position (and not in the good way) as Ponomariov had an extra pawn, Wesley was heading towards a dead draw and Shankland was struggling in a nearly drawn game. If anyone was going to win, hopes were definitely on Fabiano.

usateam01 Shankland and Korobov

Things improved greatly with time. First to finish was Shankland, solidly holding down his draw against Korobov.

[pgn] [Event "Baku Chess Olympiad | Open"] [Date "2016.09.08"] [White "Korobov, Anton"] [Black "Shankland, Samuel L"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [WhiteElo "2675"] [BlackElo "2679"] [PlyCount "87"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [SourceDate "2015.02.07"] [WhiteTeam "Ukraine"] [BlackTeam "United States"] [WhiteTeamCountry "UKR"] [BlackTeamCountry "USA"] [WhiteClock "0:26:08"] [BlackClock "0:52:31"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Bc4 c5 8. Ne2 Nc6 9. Be3 O-O 10. O-O Qc7 11. Rc1 b6 12. Bf4 e5 13. Be3 exd4 14. cxd4 cxd4 15. Nxd4 Bxd4 16. Bxd4 Nxd4 17. Qxd4 Qe7 18. Bd5 Bb7 19. h4 Rfe8 20. Rfd1 Rad8 21. h5 Bxd5 22. exd5 Qe4 23. Rc7 Qxd4 24. Rxd4 Re1+ 25. Kh2 Re5 26. h6 Rh5+ 27. Kg3 Rxh6 28. Rf4 Rf8 29. Rxa7 Rh5 30. Rd7 Kg7 31. a4 Re5 32. Rd4 Ra8 33. Rb7 Rg5+ 34. Kh3 Rh5+ 35. Kg3 Rg5+ 36. Kf3 Rf5+ 37. Ke2 Re8+ 38. Kf1 Rfe5 39. g3 Re4 40. Rd3 Rxa4 41. Rf3 Rf8 42. Rxb6 Rd4 43. Rd6 h5 44. Kg2 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
Meanwhile Ponomariov was unable to find a way to keep his pawn alive: Nakamura regained it and the resulting endgame was simply drawn.

nakamaurice01 GMs Maurice Ashley and Hikaru Nakamura

[pgn] [Event "Baku Chess Olympiad | Open"] [Date "2016.09.08"] [White "Ponomariov, Ruslan"] [Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [WhiteElo "2709"] [BlackElo "2789"] [PlyCount "80"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [SourceDate "2015.02.07"] [WhiteTeam "Ukraine"] [BlackTeam "United States"] [WhiteTeamCountry "UKR"] [BlackTeamCountry "USA"] [WhiteClock "0:32:46"] [BlackClock "0:40:22"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. d5 d6 5. Nc3 exd5 6. cxd5 g6 7. h3 Bg7 8. e4 O-O 9. Bd3 b5 10. Bxb5 Nxe4 11. Nxe4 Qa5+ 12. Nfd2 Qxb5 13. Nxd6 Qa6 14. N2c4 Nd7 15. O-O Nb6 16. Nxb6 Qxb6 17. Nxc8 Raxc8 18. Rb1 Rfd8 19. Bf4 Qb7 20. d6 Bf8 21. Qd3 Bxd6 22. Bxd6 Rc6 23. Rfd1 Qd7 24. Qa3 Rxd6 25. Rxd6 Qxd6 26. Qxa7 Qd3 27. Rc1 Qd2 28. Qxc5 Qxb2 29. a4 Ra8 30. Re1 Qd2 31. Re4 Rxa4 32. Re8+ Kg7 33. Qf8+ Kf6 34. Qe7+ Kg7 35. Qf8+ Kf6 36. Re3 Rf4 37. Qh8+ Kg5 38. Rg3+ Kh6 39. Qf8+ Kh5 40. Qc5+ Rf5 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
Wesley kept pressing with his knight against a bishop, but to no avail.
[pgn] [Event "Baku Chess Olympiad | Open"] [Date "2016.09.08"] [White "So, Wesley"] [Black "Kryvoruchko, Yuriy"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [WhiteElo "2782"] [BlackElo "2693"] [PlyCount "89"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [SourceDate "2015.02.07"] [WhiteTeam "United States"] [BlackTeam "Ukraine"] [WhiteTeamCountry "USA"] [BlackTeamCountry "UKR"] [WhiteClock "0:19:07"] [BlackClock "0:43:05"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 e6 4. O-O Be7 5. c4 O-O 6. b3 c5 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Bb2 Nc6 9. d4 cxd4 10. Nxd4 Bd7 11. Na3 Bf6 12. Nc4 Nxd4 13. Bxd4 Bb5 14. Rc1 Rc8 15. a4 Ba6 16. Re1 b6 17. Bxf6 Qxf6 18. Bxd5 exd5 19. Qxd5 Rfd8 20. Qe5 Qxe5 21. Nxe5 Rxc1 22. Rxc1 Bxe2 23. Nc6 Rd1+ 24. Rxd1 Bxd1 25. Nd4 Bg4 26. Kf1 Kf8 27. Ke1 Bd7 28. Kd2 Ke7 29. Kc3 Kd6 30. Kc4 a6 31. Nf3 Bc6 32. Nd2 Ke5 33. Kc3 Kd5 34. f3 g5 35. Nc4 b5 36. axb5 Bxb5 37. Ne3+ Ke5 38. Nc4+ Ke6 39. Kd4 Bc6 40. Nd2 Bb5 41. b4 Be2 42. Ke3 Bb5 43. Kd4 Be2 44. Ke4 Bb5 45. Kd4 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
And thus, it all came down the hero of the round, World number two Fabiano Caruana. The US Champ outplayed strong grandmaster Pavel Eljanov from an unclear position, reaching an endgame in which White's rook and queen were better coordinated than his opponent's, and the asset of the passed a-pawn was hard to stop. This combination proved to be lethal, and Fabi scored the decisive win, 2.5-1.5. America trumps Ukraine!
[pgn] [Event "Baku Chess Olympiad | Open"] [Date "2016.09.08"] [White "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Black "Eljanov, Pavel"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteElo "2808"] [BlackElo "2739"] [PlyCount "105"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [SourceDate "2015.02.07"] [WhiteTeam "United States"] [BlackTeam "Ukraine"] [WhiteTeamCountry "USA"] [BlackTeamCountry "UKR"] [WhiteClock "0:08:39"] [BlackClock "0:08:58"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 g6 4. Bxc6 bxc6 5. O-O Bg7 6. Re1 Nh6 7. c3 O-O 8. h3 f5 9. e5 Nf7 10. d3 Rb8 11. Na3 Ba6 12. Nc4 Bxc4 13. dxc4 d6 14. e6 Ne5 15. Nxe5 Bxe5 16. Bh6 Bg7 17. Bxg7 Kxg7 18. Rb1 Qa5 19. a4 Rf6 20. Re3 Qa6 21. b3 Qc8 22. Qe1 a5 23. b4 axb4 24. cxb4 cxb4 25. Rxb4 Ra8 26. Qa1 f4 27. Re4 f3 28. g4 Kg8 29. Qd1 Rxe6 30. Qxf3 Rxe4 31. Qxe4 Qc7 32. c5 dxc5 33. Qc4+ Kg7 34. Qc3+ Kg8 35. Qc4+ Kg7 36. Qxc5 Qd6 37. Qc3+ Qf6 38. Qe3 Rf8 39. Re4 Rf7 40. Re5 Qd6 41. a5 Qd1+ 42. Kg2 Qa1 43. Qe2 e6 44. a6 Qd4 45. Rxe6 c5 46. Re7 Qd5+ 47. f3 c4 48. Rxf7+ Qxf7 49. Qe5+ Kh6 50. Qe3+ Kg7 51. Qd4+ Kh6 52. a7 Qb7 53. h4 1-0 [/pgn]
Tomorrow will be a decisive match for the tournament. United States is currently in second place, one point behind the leaders, India, who dispatched the Netherlands mainly due to a huge blunder by l'Ami against Adhiban. The US is favorite on almost every board, but the Indians have shown incredible resilience and technique in this tournament.

krush06 GM Irina Krush

Meanwhile in the Women's section, USA left no doubt who was the boss in their match against Turkey. Even early on, strategically USA was killing it in every game! Irina Krush's preparation gave her the d5 square which in turn allowed complete domination over the d-file. This, combined with the superior knight against the bishop, was more than enough for our board one to take home the point.

[pgn] [Event "Women's Baku Chess Olympiad"] [Date "2016.09.08"] [White "Atalik, Ekaterina"] [Black "Krush, Irina"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteElo "2422"] [BlackElo "2444"] [PlyCount "82"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [SourceDate "2015.02.07"] [WhiteTeam "Turkey"] [BlackTeam "United States"] [WhiteTeamCountry "TUR"] [BlackTeamCountry "USA"] [WhiteClock "0:34:28"] [BlackClock "0:33:44"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e4 Nf6 4. e5 Nd5 5. Bxc4 Nb6 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. Ne2 Bg4 8. f3 Be6 9. Nbc3 Qd7 10. Ne4 Bd5 11. Nc5 Qc8 12. Bd2 Nc4 13. Bxc4 Bxc4 14. b3 Bxe2 15. Qxe2 e6 16. Qe4 Bxc5 17. dxc5 O-O 18. O-O Rd8 19. Be3 Rd5 20. f4 Qd7 21. Bf2 h6 22. b4 a6 23. h3 Ne7 24. a4 c6 25. Rab1 Rd2 26. Be1 Rd4 27. Qf3 Ng6 28. g3 Rd8 29. Bf2 Rd3 30. Qe4 Ne7 31. Kg2 Rd2 32. Rb3 Ra2 33. a5 Qd2 34. Kg1 Nf5 35. g4 Nd4 36. Re3 Ne2+ 37. Kh1 Rd4 38. Qg2 Rxf4 39. Rf3 Qd5 40. Rxf4 Nxf4 41. Qxd5 Nxd5 0-1 [/pgn]
Nazi Paikidze starting by outplaying her opponent, but a mistake gave Yildiz too much counterplay and put Nazi on the defensive. However, the US Women's Champ kept putting pressure on her opponent, making things complicated; eventually Nazi reached a defensible position and drew.
[pgn] [Event "Women's Baku Chess Olympiad"] [Date "2016.09.08"] [White "Paikidze, Nazi"] [Black "Yildiz, Betul Cemre"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [WhiteElo "2366"] [BlackElo "2369"] [PlyCount "117"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [SourceDate "2015.02.07"] [WhiteTeam "United States"] [BlackTeam "Turkey"] [WhiteTeamCountry "USA"] [BlackTeamCountry "TUR"] [WhiteClock "0:03:50"] [BlackClock "0:01:07"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Nf3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Be7 6. Bg2 O-O 7. O-O c6 8. Qc2 Nbd7 9. Rd1 b6 10. b3 Ba6 11. a4 Rc8 12. a5 b5 13. c5 Ne4 14. Be1 f5 15. Nc3 Bf6 16. Na2 Rc7 17. Nb4 Bc8 18. Nd3 Qe8 19. Nfe5 Ng5 20. Bd2 Nf7 21. f4 Ndxe5 22. dxe5 Be7 23. Be3 h6 24. h3 Nh8 25. Bf3 Bd8 26. Kh2 g5 27. Rg1 Rg7 28. g4 Ng6 29. gxf5 Rxf5 30. Bg4 Rf8 31. Bh5 Rf5 32. Nf2 gxf4 33. Bxg6 Rxg6 34. Bxf4 Bg5 35. e3 Kh8 36. Nd3 Bd7 37. Rg2 Rg7 38. Qe2 Qd8 39. b4 Be8 40. Rag1 Bf7 41. Bg3 Qe8 42. Nf4 Kh7 43. h4 Bxf4 44. Bxf4 Rxg2+ 45. Qxg2 Bg6 46. Qg4 Qf7 47. Qg3 d4 48. Rd1 dxe3 49. Bxe3 Bh5 50. Rd8 Rf3 51. Qg1 Bg6 52. Qd1 Qf5 53. Qd7+ Qf7 54. Qd4 Qf5 55. Qd7+ Qf7 56. Qxf7+ Bxf7 57. Bd2 Bg6 58. Rd7+ Rf7 59. Rxf7+ 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
Katerina's game was extremely one-sided. The opening advantages simply accumulated, and eventually black lost her way even further, resulting in material losses. Katerina swiftly and comfortably transitioned into a completely winning endgame.
[pgn] [Event "Women's Baku Chess Olympiad"] [Date "2016.09.08"] [White "Nemcova, Katerina"] [Black "Isgandarova, Khayala"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteElo "2365"] [BlackElo "2188"] [PlyCount "75"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [SourceDate "2015.02.07"] [WhiteTeam "United States"] [BlackTeam "Turkey"] [WhiteTeamCountry "USA"] [BlackTeamCountry "TUR"] [WhiteClock "0:01:32"] [BlackClock "0:01:24"] 1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nxf6+ exf6 6. c3 Bd6 7. Bd3 Qc7 8. Ne2 O-O 9. Qc2 h6 10. h3 Re8 11. O-O Nd7 12. Be3 Nf8 13. c4 c5 14. Nc3 cxd4 15. Bxd4 Ne6 16. Be3 Bf4 17. Nd5 Qb8 18. Rae1 Bd7 19. Qd2 Bxe3 20. Rxe3 Bc6 21. Rfe1 Qd8 22. Bf5 Nc7 23. Ne7+ Kh8 24. Rd3 Qxe7 25. Rxe7 Rxe7 26. Rd8+ Re8 27. Rd6 Ne6 28. b4 a6 29. h4 Rad8 30. f3 Rxd6 31. Qxd6 g6 32. Be4 Bxe4 33. fxe4 Kg7 34. Qd7 Rd8 35. Qxb7 g5 36. hxg5 hxg5 37. c5 Nf4 38. c6 1-0 [/pgn]
Anna Zatonskih played at her usual slower pace, but her positional domination of her opponent was clear. She played a dream Catalan with the Black pieces and was better the entire game. A great 3.5-0.5 victory for the USA Team against Turkey.
[pgn] [Event "Women's Baku Chess Olympiad"] [Date "2016.09.08"] [White "Ozturk, Kubra"] [Black "Zatonskih, Anna"] [Result "0-1"] [WhiteElo "2277"] [BlackElo "2449"] [PlyCount "138"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] [SourceDate "2015.02.07"] [WhiteTeam "Turkey"] [BlackTeam "United States"] [WhiteTeamCountry "TUR"] [BlackTeamCountry "USA"] [WhiteClock "0:02:51"] [BlackClock "0:03:10"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 dxc4 5. Nf3 a6 6. O-O Nc6 7. e3 Bd7 8. Qe2 b5 9. Nc3 Rb8 10. e4 Be7 11. d5 Nb4 12. Ne5 exd5 13. exd5 O-O 14. a3 Nd3 15. Nxd3 cxd3 16. Qxd3 Bd6 17. h3 Re8 18. Be3 Qc8 19. Kh2 Bf5 20. Qd2 Ne4 21. Nxe4 Bxe4 22. Bf4 Bxg2 23. Kxg2 Qd7 24. Rad1 h6 25. Bxd6 Qxd6 26. b4 Rbd8 27. Qc2 Re5 28. Kh2 Qe7 29. Rc1 Rdxd5 30. Qxc7 Qxc7 31. Rxc7 Rd3 32. Ra1 Re6 33. Ra2 Rb3 34. Kg2 g5 35. Rd7 Rc6 36. Rd4 Rf6 37. Rdd2 Kg7 38. Rdb2 Rff3 39. Rxb3 Rxb3 40. a4 Rxb4 41. axb5 axb5 42. Ra6 Rc4 43. Rb6 b4 44. Kf3 h5 45. Ke3 h4 46. Kf3 f5 47. Rb5 Kf6 48. Rb6+ Ke5 49. Rb5+ Ke6 50. gxh4 Rxh4 51. Kg3 Rf4 52. f3 Rd4 53. Kf2 Kf6 54. Kg3 Kg6 55. Kf2 Rc4 56. Kg3 Rd4 57. Kf2 f4 58. h4 gxh4 59. Kg2 Kf6 60. Kh3 Ke6 61. Kxh4 Kd6 62. Kg4 Kc6 63. Rb8 Kc5 64. Kf5 Kc4 65. Ke5 Kc3 66. Rb7 Rc4 67. Rb8 b3 68. Kd5 Rb4 69. Rc8+ Kd2 0-1 [/pgn]
With the top match ending in a completely miraculous draw for Russia in their match against Ukraine, there are now several teams trailing the leaders by one point. China is one of them, after a very disappointing draw against Romania due to Ju Wenjun's loss on board one (strangely, China rested Hou Yifan today). Besides these two, Poland, Azerbaijan, India and Netherlands are all on 10/12. USA is in this mix, and will face Romania in round seven. 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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