Olympiad Round 6: Narrowest Victory, Widest Victory

The sixth round of the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad saw the American teams emerge victorious in both sections, although in very different ways — by the narrowest possible margin in the Open section, and by the widest possible margin in the Women’s section.

 

Open

 

In the Open section, U.S.A. faced 13th-seed Iran, which had so far in the tournament only been playing down against lower-seeded teams.

Team U.S.A., likely but not necessarily intentionally, adopted a cautious strategy versus Iran, with second board GM Levon Aronian and third board GM Wesley So making relatively early draws against Iran’s GM Amin Tabatabaei and GM Pouya Idani respectively. Somewhat longer, but still decidedly solid, was the draw on fourth board between GM Lenier Dominguez Perez and Iran’s IM Bardiya Daneshvar.

 

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Caruana and Maghsoodloo shake hands
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Caruana and Maghsoodloo shake hands (courtesy FIDE / Stev Bonhage)

 

This allowed the match result to be determined on first board, where GM Fabiano Caruana left behind yesterday’s shaky form to deliver a strong win against Iran’s GM Parham Maghsoodloo in the sharp, theoretical English Attack of the Sicilian Najdorf:

 

 

This finished the match 2½-1½ in favor of the United States.

Meanwhile the leaders’ matchup between India 2 and Armenia resulted in a win for the latter, despite India 2’s first board Gukesh D winning his individual game and continuing a perfect run so far in the tournament. This has sent his live rating skyrocketing, as he currently stands at 26th (and counting) in the live FIDE rating list.

With the Uzbekistan-India and Cuba-Spain matches both ending in 2-2 ties, the result is that Armenia is the only team with six match points after six rounds, and Team U.S.A. is the only team with at 5½. After tomorrow’s rest day, the two teams will face off in round seven on Friday in what is sure to be a critical encounter. Behind those teams, there is a large chasers’ pack with five match points, including all three (!) Indian teams.

 

Women

The U.S. Women’s team, who have stumbled against lower-seeded teams Mongolia and Peru, posted a cathartic perfect 4-0 victory against 58th-seed Venezuela.

 

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Team USA vs Venezuela
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Team USA at the board (courtesy FIDE / Lennart Ootes)

 

Two of the games, by third board IM Carissa Yip and by first board WGM Gulrukhbegim Tokhirjonova, featured the same, rather unusual variation of the Center Game:

 

 

On second board GM Irina Krush earned the point against Annyd Gabriela Otazo Sanchez, and on fourth board by IM Anna Zatonskih made it 4/4 versus WFM Vicmary Perez Hernandez.

 

 

Among the leaders, India won 3-1 against Georgia, while Romania drew 2-2 with Ukraine. India is now the sole team with 6 match wins out of 6, while Azerbaijan and Romania are the only teams with 5½ match points. The U.S. team remains multiple score groups back with 4 match wins, but in round 7 on Friday will play down to 40th-seed Argentina, continuing their “South American tour.”

 

Rest Day

An entirely different kind of event will occur on tomorrow’s rest day: the “Bermuda party,” a traditional Olympiad extravaganza hosted by the famously Dionysian representatives from Bermuda. CLO will not provide any coverage of this party, but there are sure to be glimpses offered on various social media accounts, and perhaps an ensuing special report by the World Health Organization.


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