Figure 8-0 for US Teams in Round 1 of Baku Olympiad

DSC_0772 The 2016 Olympiad has seen its first battles, and things went more or less as expected. The organization continues to be top-notch even though the first round started somewhat late, which is quite common for Olympiads, as the tournament is certainly a complex machine. The American teams are at the top of the rankings, and in a big Swiss event like this one they are expected to be far higher rated than their opponents on the first round. The ladies played against the team from Tajikistan, and were favorites by a large margin on every single board. Most top teams rest their first board on the first round, but since Sabina Foisor had some problems with her flight, she arrived quite early in the morning of the first round and was given the day off. The first to strike was Katerina Nemcova. To put it bluntly, Kacka took all of her opponent's pieces following a nice exchange sacrifice. Black's defenses collapsed soon afterwards.
[pgn]

[Event "Women's Baku Chess Olympiad"]
[Date "2016.09.02"]
[White "Nemcova, Katerina"]
[Black "Odinaeva, Saodat"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2365"]
[BlackElo "1881"]
[PlyCount "45"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "Tajikistan"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "TJK"]
[WhiteClock "0:44:43"]
[BlackClock "0:11:57"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 c5 4. Ngf3 Nc6 5. exd5 exd5 6. Bb5 Bd7 7. O-O c4 8. b3
cxb3 9. Re1+ Be6 10. axb3 Bd6 11. Ba3 h6 12. Rxe6+ fxe6 13. Ne5 Nf6 14. Nxc6
bxc6 15. Bxc6+ Ke7 16. Bxa8 Bxa3 17. Rxa3 Qxa8 18. Qa1 Qc8 19. Rxa7+ Nd7 20.
Qa3+ Kf6 21. Qd6 Qxc2 22. Rxd7 Qxd2 23. Qe5+ 1-0[/pgn]
First board Irina Krush followed closely with her own win.
[pgn]

[Event "Women's Baku Chess Olympiad"]
[Date "2016.09.02"]
[White "Antonova, Nadezhda"]
[Black "Krush, Irina"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2015"]
[BlackElo "2444"]
[PlyCount "54"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "Tajikistan"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "TJK"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]
[WhiteClock "0:00:32"]
[BlackClock "0:21:09"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. e3 d5 4. Bd3 c5 5. c3 Nbd7 6. Nbd2 b6 7. Ne5 Bb7 8. O-O
Be7 9. f4 O-O 10. Qf3 Ne8 11. g4 Nd6 12. f5 f6 13. Nxd7 Qxd7 14. dxc5 bxc5 15.
e4 c4 16. Bc2 exf5 17. gxf5 Nf7 18. Re1 Bc5+ 19. Kf1 Rfe8 20. h4 Re5 21. exd5
Bxd5 22. Rxe5 Bxf3 23. Rxc5 Qd6 24. Rxc4 Bb7 25. Ne4 Qh2 26. Nf2 Qg2+ 27. Ke2
Re8+ 0-1[/pgn]
Her opponent, Nadezhda Antonova, was too aggressive with her pawn pushes and instead of creating a dangerous attack she simply exposed her king. The former U.S. Champion cleaned up without a problem. Anna Zatonskih played at her usual slow pace... while two of the boards had finished, Anna was barely out of the opening! Her pair of bishops gave her a slight edge that she managed to convert on the long run.
[pgn]

[Event "Women's Baku Chess Olympiad"]
[Date "2016.09.02"]
[White "Hotami, Mutriba"]
[Black "Zatonskih, Anna"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "1735"]
[BlackElo "2449"]
[PlyCount "90"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "Tajikistan"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "TJK"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]
[WhiteClock "0:12:33"]
[BlackClock "0:12:28"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 c5 4. Ngf3 Nc6 5. Bb5 a6 6. exd5 Qxd5 7. Bc4 Qd8 8.
dxc5 Bxc5 9. O-O Nf6 10. Nb3 Bd6 11. Nbd4 Qc7 12. Nxc6 Qxc6 13. Qe2 b5 14. Bd3
Bb7 15. Re1 h6 16. Bd2 Qd5 17. h3 O-O 18. c4 bxc4 19. Bxc4 Qh5 20. Ne5 Qxe2 21.
Rxe2 Ne4 22. Nd3 Nxd2 23. Rxd2 Rac8 24. b3 g5 25. Rad1 a5 26. a4 Rc7 27. Ne1
Bb4 28. Re2 Bc6 29. Rc2 Be4 30. Re2 Bc6 31. Rc2 Be4 32. Re2 Bg6 33. Nf3 Kg7 34.
Ne5 Bh7 35. Kf1 Re8 36. Ng4 Ree7 37. Ne5 h5 38. g4 hxg4 39. hxg4 Kf6 40. Nd3
Red7 41. Re3 Rd4 42. Rf3+ Kg7 43. Rg3 Bd6 44. Rg1 Rcxc4 45. bxc4 Bxd3+ 0-1[/pgn]
U.S. Champion Nazi Paikidze's game was not the cleanest.
[pgn]

[Event "Women's Baku Chess Olympiad"]
[Date "2016.09.02"]
[White "Paikidze, Nazi"]
[Black "Nasriddinzoda, Marvorii"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2366"]
[BlackElo "2073"]
[PlyCount "109"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "Tajikistan"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "TJK"]
[WhiteClock "0:23:29"]
[BlackClock "0:00:21"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Nf3 Be7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O dxc4 7. Qc2 a6 8. a4
b6 9. Qxc4 Bb7 10. Bf4 Bd6 11. Bg5 Nbd7 12. Nc3 h6 13. Bxf6 Nxf6 14. Ne5 Bxg2
15. Kxg2 c5 16. Nf3 Qc7 17. dxc5 Qxc5 18. Qa2 Qc6 19. Rac1 Qb7 20. Qb3 Rfd8 21.
Rfd1 Bc5 22. h3 Rac8 23. Rxd8+ Rxd8 24. Qc4 Rd4 25. Qb3 Rd7 26. Qc2 e5 27. Qf5
e4 28. Ne5 e3+ 29. f3 Rd2 30. Nc4 Nd5 31. Nxd5 Qxd5 32. Qxd5 Rxd5 33. f4 b5 34.
axb5 axb5 35. Ne5 f6 36. Nd3 Bd4 37. Kf3 f5 38. g4 g6 39. Rc7 Kf8 40. b3 Kg8
41. Nb4 Rd6 42. gxf5 gxf5 43. Nc6 Bb6 44. Ne7+ Kf8 45. Rb7 Re6 46. Nxf5 b4 47.
Ng3 Bc5 48. Ne4 Be7 49. Kxe3 Kf7 50. f5 Ra6 51. f6 Rxf6 52. Nxf6 Kxf6 53. Kd4
Ke6 54. Rb6+ Bd6 55. e4 1-0[/pgn]
She used a Catalan opening to which her opponent was quite well prepared, equalizing easily and perhaps seizing a slight initiative. However Nazi's positional understanding was simply superior: when Black pushed her e-pawn it looked aggressive, but much like in the Krush game this only left weaknesses. Nazi cleaned up in a one-sided endgame of rook and powerful knight vs. rook and awkward bishop. The 4-0 sweep is certainly welcome, and coach Robert Hess and captain Yasser Seirawan can be pleased with the result. Tomorrow the American ladies play against Norway, a balanced team that is approximately 2100. America's lineup is also relatively balanced, which means that Norway is outrated on every board by a big margin. I predict that USA should take this match without too many problems. DSC_0795 (1) In the Open section an interesting situation arose. Even though first rounds are normally easy, USA faced a very top-heavy team, which meant that while the last two boards were never in question, the first two could have a bit of a fight. Sam Shankland absolutely massacred his 2100 opponent by winning a piece by move 19, while Ray Robson won a pawn from the Grunfeld and nurtured it to victory without any effort.
[pgn]

[Event "Baku Chess Olympiad | Open"]
[Date "2016.09.02"]
[White "Shankland, Samuel L"]
[Black "Fernandez Lopez, Joan"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2679"]
[BlackElo "2142"]
[PlyCount "37"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "Andorra"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "AND"]
[WhiteClock "1:16:02"]
[BlackClock "0:27:41"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 g6 5. c4 Bg7 6. Be3 Nf6 7. Nc3 d6 8. Be2
Nxd4 9. Bxd4 O-O 10. O-O a5 11. b3 Bd7 12. Qd3 Bc6 13. a3 Nd7 14. Bxg7 Kxg7 15.
b4 Qb6 16. c5 Qc7 17. cxd6 exd6 18. Qd4+ Nf6 19. b5 1-0[/pgn]
[pgn]

[Event "Baku Chess Olympiad | Open"]
[Date "2016.09.02"]
[White "Garcia Paolicchi, Raul"]
[Black "Robson, Ray"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2153"]
[BlackElo "2674"]
[PlyCount "88"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "Andorra"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "AND"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]
[WhiteClock "0:21:34"]
[BlackClock "0:23:00"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 Bg7 7. Bg5 c5 8.
Rc1 O-O 9. Nf3 Bg4 10. d5 Qd6 11. Be2 Nd7 12. Nd2 Bxe2 13. Qxe2 e6 14. dxe6
Qxe6 15. Rc2 c4 16. O-O Nc5 17. Rb1 h6 18. Bf4 g5 19. Be3 Nxe4 20. Qxc4 Qxc4
21. Nxc4 b6 22. Bd4 Rac8 23. Re1 Rxc4 24. Rxe4 Rd8 25. Ree2 Bxd4 26. cxd4 Rdxd4
27. f3 Rxc2 28. Rxc2 h5 29. Kf2 Kg7 30. Ke3 Ra4 31. Kd3 h4 32. h3 b5 33. Re2
Kg6 34. Kc3 a5 35. Kb3 Rb4+ 36. Kc3 Kf5 37. Kd3 Kf4 38. Rc2 Rc4 39. Rb2 Rc5 40.
Kd4 Re5 41. Kd3 Rd5+ 42. Ke2 Kg3 43. Ke3 b4 44. Rc2 f5 0-1[/pgn]
Hikaru Nakamura, however, was playing no fish. Robert Aloma is a near 2500 player and he put up stiff resistance.
[pgn]

[Event "Baku Chess Olympiad | Open"]
[Date "2016.09.02"]
[White "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Black "Aloma Vidal, Robert"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2789"]
[BlackElo "2482"]
[PlyCount "91"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "Andorra"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "AND"]
[WhiteClock "1:00:48"]
[BlackClock "0:31:59"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. g3 b5 4. Bg5 Bb7 5. Nbd2 c5 6. e4 cxd4 7. Bxb5 Bb4 8. a3
Bxd2+ 9. Nxd2 h6 10. Bxf6 Qxf6 11. O-O O-O 12. Qe2 Nc6 13. Nb3 Rab8 14. Rad1 d3
15. cxd3 Nd4 16. Nxd4 Qxd4 17. b4 d5 18. e5 a6 19. Ba4 a5 20. Rb1 Ba6 21. b5
Qxa4 22. bxa6 Qxa3 23. d4 Qc3 24. a7 Ra8 25. Rb7 Qxd4 26. Qe3 Qc4 27. Qb6 d4
28. Rd7 Qb4 29. Qxb4 axb4 30. Rb1 d3 31. Rxb4 Kh7 32. Rbb7 Kg6 33. Rxd3 Rfc8
34. Rdd7 Rf8 35. Rbc7 h5 36. h4 Rae8 37. Rb7 Ra8 38. Kf1 Rac8 39. Ke2 Ra8 40.
Kd3 Rac8 41. Rbc7 Ra8 42. Kc4 Rae8 43. Kb5 Ra8 44. Ka6 Rae8 45. Kb7 Ra8 46. f3
1-0[/pgn]
Black sacrificed a pawn for counterplay, and it was easier to play Robert's position than Hikaru's for a couple of moves. But the ever-resourceful American managed to return the pawn and create a strong passer on a6. Even though Hikaru missed a win (23. Rxb8 and Qc2 instead of 23.d4) he was better throughout most of the game and the ensuing winning rook endgame was easy enough to convert. Arguably an even stronger game was seen on board two. Wesley So (with black) played established GM Oscar de la Riva Aguado.
[pgn]

[Event "Baku Chess Olympiad | Open"]
[Date "2016.09.02"]
[White "De La Riva Aguado, Oscar"]
[Black "So, Wesley"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2503"]
[BlackElo "2782"]
[PlyCount "100"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "Andorra"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "AND"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]
[WhiteClock "0:01:18"]
[BlackClock "0:07:45"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nxc6 bxc6 6. Qe2 Rb8 7. e5 Nd5 8.
c4 Bb4+ 9. Nd2 Nf4 10. Qe3 Ng6 11. a3 Be7 12. Nf3 c5 13. h4 Rb6 14. h5 Nf8 15.
Qc3 f6 16. h6 g6 17. Be3 Ne6 18. Bd3 fxe5 19. Qxe5 O-O 20. Rd1 Bb7 21. Rh3 Bd6
22. Qc3 Qf6 23. Qxf6 Rxf6 24. b4 cxb4 25. Bxb6 axb6 26. axb4 Bxb4+ 27. Kf1 Bd6
28. Rh4 Nf4 29. Be2 Rf5 30. Rd4 Kf7 31. Bd3 Nxd3 32. Rxd3 g5 33. Rg4 Kf6 34.
Rgd4 Bc6 35. Rxd6+ cxd6 36. Rxd6+ Ke7 37. Rd3 Bxf3 38. gxf3 Kd8 39. Kg2 Rf4 40.
Rb3 Kc7 41. Re3 Rh4 42. Re5 Rxh6 43. Rxg5 Rg6 44. f4 Kc6 45. Kf3 Rxg5 46. fxg5
d5 47. cxd5+ Kxd5 48. Kg4 b5 49. f4 b4 50. f5 b3 0-1[/pgn]
Wesley's handling of the Scotch was weird, clearly signaling that he wanted a fight and the full point. De la Riva kept finding good resources, and eventually a drawn rook endgame was reached. Unfortunately for Black, he miscalculated badly in the transition to a pawn endgame, which I believe is incredibly instructive, and ended up losing the game, giving America another 4-0. USA plays Scotland in round two, and even though the Scots will field much stronger players on board three and four, their ratings on boards one and two actually go down! America is again favorite in every board and anything but a team victory would be a huge upset. For the rest of the field, things went mostly as usual. The only big upsets in both sections was Sudan holding Bulgaria to a 2-2 draw in the Open while also in the Open Mexico lost to Ivory Coast (captained by GM Maurice Ashley) by forfeit. The reason? Their first board was scheduled to arrive tomorrow as he wasn't playing the first round anyway, while the federation  bought the fourth and fifth boards their flights for September 03 instead of September 01. Not the prettiest way to go! Tomorrow the action should heat up a bit, as matches will be much closer than they were today. Still, though, the top teams will be heavy favorites and few upsets are expected. Follow live games, results and find more photos at the tournament site. Photos in this report by GM Ramirez and Cristian Chirila. 

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