Olympiad Opens with Stunning Ceremony as USA Wins Round 1 Matches

The 43rd Olympiad is under way in Batumi, Georgia, and it has already been turbulent. After a simply spectacular opening ceremony, which has been the best one so far from the six Olympiads I have attended, expectations were high for the start of the first round. There were, however, too many issues clouding the first round to call it successful, at least from an organizational perspective. As soon as players arrived, a huge security line was formed as the over 1500 players tried to all get into the playing hall at the same time. Being a sunny and hot day, it was very unpleasant for many of these teams to stand almost an hour trying to get into the playing hall. I say playing hall, but in reality there are two of them (one for the top-20 boards, open and women, and the other for the rest of the players). This was particularly important as it cost the American Open team a great deal of time. Trying to get into the wrong playing hall, Americans went through security on the wrong side, making them late for the game. The Americans arrived at 2:35 pm to the playing hall and weren’t allowed inside until 3:15! Captain John Donaldson told US Chess, "It took 50 minutes to go through the security check", adding that the team left the hotel at 2:15. The round started late by about 15 minutes, and the U.S. arrived another few minutes after that. The playing hall in which our teams were playing, called “playing hall one” which is for the top boards, was quite a disaster. The players are very close to each other, with little room to breathe. The main hall is always extremely crowded, it is noisy and hot. Hopefully these issues are solved in the near future. On to the chess.

The women’s team faced Uruguay, a team that proved to be a tougher cookie than the usual first round pairings. With only an 1839 rating average, on paper the U.S. team should have wiped them out without problems; but two hours into the round it was obvious that things were not going to be so easy, as the games were still relatively even. The first player to achieve a strong advantage was our board one, Anna Zatonskih:
[pgn]

[Event "Batumi Women's Chess Olympiad"]
[Date "2018.09.24"]
[White "Zatonskih, Anna"]
[Black "de Leon, Patricia"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C10"]
[WhiteElo "2431"]
[BlackElo "1929"]
[Annotator "Alejandro"]
[PlyCount "119"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[SourceVersionDate "2018.07.08"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "Uruguay"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "URU"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nd7 5. Bd3 Ngf6 6. Qe2 c5 7. Nxf6+ Nxf6
8. dxc5 Bxc5 9. Nf3 O-O 10. O-O b6 11. Bg5 Bb7 12. Rad1 Qc7 13. Bxf6 gxf6 14.
Be4 Rfd8 15. Bxb7 Qxb7 16. Rfe1 b5 17. Nd2 f5 18. Nb3 Bb6 19. c3 Rac8 20. Qe5
a5 21. Qf6 {The position is very complex. As long as the White rooks don't
enter the fray, it is difficult to make any tangible progress against Black's
exposed king.} Qa7 $2 {Underestimtaing the situation} (21... Rxd1 $1 22. Rxd1
Qe4 {and the power of the queen should be enough to pin down white, forcing
her to give a perpetual or risking being on the worse end of the position
after a move such as Qe2 or Qf4.}) 22. Nd4 $1 Bxd4 23. cxd4 {Black now finds
herself with difficulties stopping the simple, yet deadly, rook lift of Rd3.}
Rd5 24. Rd3 f4 25. Qxf4 Qe7 26. h3 {With an extra pawn and a better king
position, Anna had no problems converting.} Kh8 27. Re5 Rcd8 28. Rg3 Rxd4 29.
Qh6 Rd1+ 30. Kh2 f6 31. Rxe6 Qf8 32. Qxf6+ Qxf6 33. Rxf6 R1d2 34. Rb3 R8d5 35.
g4 Kg7 36. Rff3 Rc5 37. Kg3 Kg6 38. Rfd3 Re2 39. Re3 Rd2 40. Red3 Re2 41. Rd7
a4 42. Rb4 a3 43. bxa3 Rxa2 44. Rb3 Rcc2 45. Rf3 Rc5 46. Rb7 h5 47. Rb6+ Kg7
48. Rd3 Re2 49. Rd7+ Kf8 50. f3 Re7 51. Rdb7 Ree5 52. Rf6+ Kg8 53. Ra6 Kf8 54.
f4 Re8 55. Kh4 hxg4 56. hxg4 Re7 57. Rxe7 Kxe7 58. f5 Kf7 59. Kg5 Rc7 60. Rb6
1-0[/pgn]
Tatev Abrahamyan played her signature French defense, and just convincingly outplayed her opponent from start to finish, accumulating small advantages that gave her a winning endgame.
[pgn]

[Event "Batumi Women's Chess Olympiad"]
[Date "2018.09.24"]
[Round "1.2"]
[White "Silva Rosas, Natalia"]
[Black "Abrahamyan, Tatev"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C01"]
[WhiteElo "1833"]
[BlackElo "2361"]
[PlyCount "86"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "Uruguay"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "URU"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. exd5 exd5 5. Bd3 Nf6 6. a3 Be7 7. Bg5 Nc6 8.
Nge2 Be6 9. O-O Qd7 10. Bf4 Bd6 11. Qd2 a6 12. b4 Bxf4 13. Qxf4 Ne7 14. Rfe1
O-O 15. Ng3 Rfe8 16. Qg5 h6 17. Qf4 Ng6 18. Bxg6 fxg6 19. Re5 Qc6 20. Qd2 Nd7
21. Re2 Nb6 22. Qd3 Bf7 23. Rae1 Nc4 24. Rxe8+ Rxe8 25. Rxe8+ Qxe8 26. Nce2 Qa4
27. Nf4 Qxa3 28. Qxa3 Nxa3 29. c3 b6 30. Kf1 g5 31. Nd3 Nb1 32. Ne2 Be8 33. Ke1
Bb5 34. Ndc1 a5 35. Na2 Bc4 36. Nec1 a4 37. g4 Kf7 38. f3 Ke6 39. Kf2 Kd6 40.
Ke3 Kc6 41. f4 Kb5 42. f5 Bxa2 43. Nxa2 Kc4 0-1

[/pgn]
Jennifer Yu did something very similar, not being afraid of simplification and playing a nice technical win on the black side of a Najdorf Sicilian – a truly instructive game!
[pgn]

[Event "Batumi Women's Chess Olympiad"]
[Date "2018.09.24"]
[White "Malan, Lucia"]
[Black "Yu, Jennifer"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B92"]
[WhiteElo "1785"]
[BlackElo "2268"]
[PlyCount "138"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "Uruguay"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "URU"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 e5 7. Nb3 Be7 8. O-O
O-O 9. Be3 Be6 10. f4 exf4 11. Bxf4 Nc6 12. Kh1 d5 13. exd5 Nxd5 14. Nxd5 Bxd5
15. Bf3 Bxf3 16. Qxf3 Bf6 17. c3 Re8 18. Rad1 Qe7 19. Bg3 Qe2 20. Qxe2 Rxe2 21.
Rf2 Rae8 22. Rxe2 Rxe2 23. Re1 Rxe1+ 24. Bxe1 Ne5 25. Nc5 b6 26. Ne4 Nd3 27.
Nxf6+ gxf6 28. Bh4 Kg7 29. b4 b5 30. h3 Nc1 31. a3 Nd3 32. Kg1 Kg6 33. Kf1 Kf5
34. Ke2 Nb2 35. Kf3 Nc4 36. g4+ Ke6 37. Ke4 Nxa3 38. Kd4 Nc4 39. Ke4 Nd2+ 40.
Ke3 Nc4+ 41. Ke4 Nd6+ 42. Kf4 f5 43. Be1 fxg4 44. hxg4 h6 45. Bf2 Ne8 46. Ke4
Nf6+ 47. Kf3 h5 48. g5 Nd5 49. Kg3 Nxc3 50. Kh4 Nd5 51. Be1 Nf4 52. Bd2 Kf5 53.
Bc1 Ne2 54. Bd2 Kg6 55. Be3 Nc3 56. Bd2 Ne4 57. Be3 Nd6 58. Bd2 Nf5+ 59. Kh3 f6
60. gxf6 Kxf6 61. Kg2 Ke5 62. Kf3 Kd4 63. Kf4 Ne7 64. Kg5 Nd5 65. Kxh5 Kd3 66.
Be1 Kc4 67. Kg5 Nxb4 68. Kf5 a5 69. Ke4 a4 0-1

[/pgn]
Unfortunately things were not all rosy for the American team, as a big upset was scored by Uruguay on board three. Sabina Foisor lost the thread of the game, but the following move really put her in hot water:
[pgn]

[Event "Batumi Women's Chess Olympiad"]
[Date "2018.09.24"]
[White "Foisor, Sabina-Francesca"]
[Black "Quevedo, Andreina"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E67"]
[WhiteElo "2311"]
[BlackElo "1809"]
[Annotator "Alejandro"]
[PlyCount "88"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[SourceVersionDate "2018.07.08"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "Uruguay"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "URU"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. c4 Bg7 4. Nc3 O-O 5. g3 d6 6. Bg2 Nbd7 7. O-O e5 8. Qc2
a5 9. Rd1 exd4 10. Nxd4 Nc5 11. b3 Ne6 12. Ndb5 Ne8 13. Be3 c6 14. Na3 Qe7 15.
Rac1 N8c7 16. Nab1 f5 17. Qd3 Ne8 18. Na4 f4 19. Bd2 fxg3 20. hxg3 Nd4 21. Nbc3
Bf5 22. Qe3 Ne6 23. Be1 Nf6 24. Qd2 Rad8 25. e4 Bg4 26. f3 Bh5 27. Ne2 g5 28.
g4 Bg6 29. Bg3 Ne8 30. Qxa5 h5 {White has greedily gobbled a pawn on a5, so
Black launches her kingside counterattack. The game is double edged, and the
white pieces are a bit awkward.} 31. e5 $2 {A really strange move, as the
opening of the e-file is difficult for White to deal with.} (31. gxh5 Bxh5 32.
Rd3 {is a mess, in which black has plenty of compensation for her pawn. In
time trouble I would choose to be black, but antyhing can happen.}) 31... hxg4
32. fxg4 Nf4 {There really is no defense for white anymore, surprisingly.} 33.
Nxf4 (33. Bf3 Nd3 {isn't any prettier.}) 33... gxf4 34. exd6 Nxd6 35. Bf2 f3 {
is crushing} 36. Bh3 Ne4 37. Qe1 Qg5 38. Qe3 Nxf2 39. Qxf2 Bd4 40. Rxd4 Qxc1+
41. Kh2 Rxd4 42. Qxd4 f2 43. Kg3 Qg1+ 44. Kh4 f1=Q 0-1[/pgn]
Irina Krush, who is our board two, rested today. Tomorrow the American women play against Luxembourg. Due to the pairing system taking in consideration board points, the women will be playing in “playing hall two” which is, in my opinion, a blessing.
GMs Hikaru Nakamura and Wesley So at the start of USA-Panama, Photo David Llada
The games in the Open section against Panama were much smoother. Panama’s board one, IM Roberto Sanchez, gave Wesley So a run for his money in a complex Najdorf, but as soon as he lost the thread of the game Wesley was there to pounce on the position and took a swift win.
[pgn]

[Event "Batumi Chess Olympiad | Open"]
[Date "2018.09.24"]
[White "So, Wesley"]
[Black "Sanchez Alvarez, Roberto Carlos"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B90"]
[WhiteElo "2776"]
[BlackElo "2391"]
[PlyCount "67"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "Panama"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "PAN"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. f3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. Be3
Be7 9. Qd2 h5 10. Nd5 Bxd5 11. exd5 Nbd7 12. Na5 Qb8 13. c4 Bd8 14. Rc1 O-O 15.
Be2 Bb6 16. Bxb6 Nxb6 17. O-O Re8 18. b4 Qa7 19. Kh1 Nbd7 20. Bd3 Rac8 21. a4
e4 22. fxe4 Nxe4 23. Qf4 Ndf6 24. Bxe4 Rxe4 25. Qxd6 Qd4 26. Rcd1 Qb2 27. Qb6
Re2 28. Qxb7 Rce8 29. d6 R8e4 30. d7 Rxg2 31. d8=Q+ Kh7 32. Qxe4+ Nxe4 33. Qh4
Qe2 34. Rde1 1-0[/pgn]
Hikaru Nakamura made it look super easy as he crushed IM Jorge Baules with the black pieces. He played fast, confidently and strong and by move 20 he already had a decisive advantage. If Hikaru plays like this every game, I can’t imagine someone stopping him!
[pgn]

[Event "Batumi Chess Olympiad | Open"]
[Date "2018.09.24"]
[White "Baules, Jorge"]
[Black "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E32"]
[WhiteElo "2358"]
[BlackElo "2763"]
[PlyCount "50"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[SourceVersionDate "2018.07.08"]
[WhiteTeam "Panama"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "PAN"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 b6 5. e4 c5 6. e5 cxd4 7. a3 Bxc3+ 8. bxc3
Ng8 9. cxd4 Bb7 10. Nf3 Bxf3 11. gxf3 Nc6 12. Bb2 Nge7 13. Rg1 Rc8 14. Qe4 Nf5
15. Bh3 Nce7 16. d5 b5 17. dxe6 Qa5+ 18. Kf1 dxe6 19. Qb7 O-O 20. Rd1 bxc4 21.
Bc1 Qxe5 22. Rd7 Rcd8 23. Rxe7 Rd1+ 24. Kg2 Nh4+ 25. Kh1 Qe1 0-1[/pgn]
The Stonewall setup that black chose against the U.S. Champion, Sammy Shankland, on board three, was most unsuccessful. White obtained a small edge early in the opening, and kept building on it. A clean performance by our board four.
[pgn]

[Event "Batumi Chess Olympiad | Open"]
[Date "2018.09.24"]
[White "Shankland, Samuel"]
[Black "Leon, Orlando"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D30"]
[WhiteElo "2722"]
[BlackElo "2196"]
[PlyCount "77"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "Panama"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "PAN"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d5 3. c4 c6 4. e3 e6 5. b3 Bb4+ 6. Nbd2 Ne4 7. Bd3 f5 8. Ne5
O-O 9. O-O Nd7 10. Ndf3 Ndf6 11. Bb2 Bd7 12. Rc1 Be8 13. Be2 Bh5 14. Nd3 Bd6
15. Nfe5 Bxe2 16. Qxe2 Qe7 17. f3 Ng5 18. Qd2 a5 19. a4 Nf7 20. Bc3 Bc7 21. b4
axb4 22. Bxb4 Bd6 23. Bxd6 Nxd6 24. Qb4 Ra7 25. Ra1 Rfa8 26. Rfb1 Nd7 27. a5
Nxe5 28. dxe5 Nc8 29. cxd5 exd5 30. Qc3 Qc7 31. Nf4 Ne7 32. Ne6 Qc8 33. Nd4 Ng6
34. f4 Nf8 35. Ra2 Qd8 36. Nxf5 Rxa5 37. Rxa5 Qxa5 38. Qxa5 Rxa5 39. Rxb7 1-0[/pgn]
Ray Robson crushed his opponent from start to finish. Using a powerful Nimzo-Indian line, white soon found himself without space. Black’s knight dance caused weaknesses in his opponent’s camp and he was able to cash in, first with a pawn and then for the full point.
[pgn]

[Event "Batumi Chess Olympiad | Open"]
[Date "2018.09.24"]
[White "Ramos, Efren Andres"]
[Black "Robson, Ray"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E08"]
[WhiteElo "2244"]
[BlackElo "2682"]
[PlyCount "126"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "Panama"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "PAN"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]

1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. g3 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Be7 6. Bg2 O-O 7. O-O Nbd7 8.
Qc2 Ne4 9. Bf4 c6 10. Nbd2 g5 11. Be3 Nd6 12. cxd5 exd5 13. Nb3 Nb6 14. Rad1
Nbc4 15. Qc1 f6 16. Nc5 Nf5 17. b3 Ncxe3 18. fxe3 Bxc5 19. dxc5 Qe7 20. Rd3 Re8
21. Kf2 Nh6 22. Nd4 Ng4+ 23. Kg1 Nxe3 24. Rf3 Nxg2 25. Kxg2 Bg4 26. Rfe3 Qd7
27. Qe1 Bh5 28. Qf2 Bg6 29. Rxe8+ Rxe8 30. Rd1 Be4+ 31. Kg1 Kg7 32. Rf1 Rf8 33.
Qe3 h5 34. Rf2 Qh3 35. Nf3 Qg4 36. Kf1 Re8 37. Qc3 Bxf3 38. Rxf3 Re6 39. Qd2 h4
40. gxh4 Qxh4 41. h3 Qe4 42. Kf2 a5 43. a3 d4 44. b4 a4 45. Rd3 Qh1 46. Rf3
Qh2+ 47. Kf1 Re4 48. Qd3 Qe5 49. b5 Kh6 50. bxc6 bxc6 51. Qc4 Kg7 52. Qa6 Qxc5
53. Qxa4 Qc1+ 54. Kf2 Qe3+ 55. Kg2 Qd2 56. Rf2 Rxe2 57. Rxe2 Qxe2+ 58. Kg3 Qe3+
59. Kg2 d3 60. Qxc6 Qe2+ 61. Kg3 d2 62. Qc7+ Kg6 63. Qc2+ Kh6 0-1[/pgn]
Tomorrow our team will be facing against the third team of Georgia. The Olympiad takes place from September 24-October 5 with rounds everyday at 7 a.m. EDT (except for September 29, the rest day). Find more photos and information on the official website, as well as live games in the Open and Women's sections.  Make a donation of any amount to our ongoing Olympic team fundraising initiative using our secure online form.      

Comments

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Great coverage Alejandro!

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

[…] Tatev Abrahamyan, Photo Alejandro Ramirez Jennifer Yu, Photo Alejandro Ramirez […]

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

What countries did the compete against yesterday?

In reply to by Seth Seward (not verified)

Panama and Uruguay (Women)

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

[…] spacious. The newly built Batumi Sport Palace came in for criticism from various teams, with US Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez commenting for uschess.org: […]

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