Round Two in Baku: US Teams Beat Scotland and Norway

DSC_0824Things were already somewhat rocky for the American teams in the strong Olympiad in Baku. Even though the rating advantage for both the Open and Women's section was significant, there were some serious troubles over the board. After all, even the “weaker” teams are fielding their best players! In the Open section it was Nakamura that struck aggressively and decisively. His very fast play combined with pressure all over the board quickly toppled his opponent. Despite playing board two, it was Nakamura that was facing Scotland's highest rated player: GM John Shaw. The game, however, barely lasted 21 moves and Black's resignation was far from premature.
[pgn]

[Event "Baku Chess Olympiad | Open"]
[Date "2016.09.03"]
[White "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Black "Shaw, John"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2789"]
[BlackElo "2454"]
[PlyCount "41"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "Scotland"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "SCO"]
[WhiteClock "0:47:58"]
[BlackClock "0:05:04"]

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 4. d4 Nf6 5. Bc4 a6 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bxf6 exf6 8.
Nf3 Bb4 9. O-O Bxc3 10. bxc3 O-O 11. Re1 Nc6 12. Nh4 Na5 13. Bd3 Be6 14. Ng6
Re8 15. Qh5 c5 16. Nf4 c4 17. Be4 Qc7 18. g3 Rad8 19. Re3 b6 20. Rae1 Qd6 21.
Bd5 1-0

[/pgn]
Fabiano Caruana came in as America's first board after resting yesterday.
[pgn]

[Event "Baku Chess Olympiad | Open"]
[Date "2016.09.03"]
[White "Greet, Andrew N"]
[Black "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2455"]
[BlackElo "2808"]
[PlyCount "74"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "Scotland"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "SCO"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]
[WhiteClock "0:00:43"]
[BlackClock "0:01:42"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Be2 d5 5. exd5 Nxd5 6. O-O Nxc3 7. bxc3 e4 8.
Ne1 Bd6 9. f3 f5 10. fxe4 fxe4 11. d4 Be6 12. Rb1 Na5 13. g3 Qd7 14. Rb5 Nc4
15. Rxb7 Nb6 16. c4 Qc6 17. c5 Qxb7 18. cxd6 cxd6 19. Bb5+ Bd7 20. Ng2 O-O-O
21. Rf7 Qd5 22. Ba6+ Kb8 23. Rxg7 Qxa2 24. Be2 Ba4 25. Ne3 Rc8 26. Qe1 Bxc2 27.
Bg4 Rc6 28. Nf5 e3 29. Ne7 Be4 30. Nxc6+ Bxc6 31. Qe2 Qd5 32. Bxe3 Rf8 33. Bf4
Rxf4 34. gxf4 Qxd4+ 35. Kf1 Qxg7 36. f5 Nd5 37. Bf3 Qa1+ 0-1

[/pgn]
His game was hard to describe, and his overly aggressive style today created a very double edged situation. It is possible that the Scottish player was much better at some point in the game, but with the complicated nature of the position anything could happen. Caruana bravely sacrificed his b7 pawn in order to trap his opponent's rook, but with accurate play White could defend his trapped piece and continue the initiative. When he was unable to find the correct continuation, White found himself down the exchange and struggling for compensation. Caruana did the 2800 thing, took the material, consolidated, and won. The truly scary part of the round was Sam Shankland's game. His brazen decision to castle long perhaps did not get him in trouble, but it really went downhill after that:
[pgn]

[Event "Baku Chess Olympiad | Open"]
[Date "2016.09.03"]
[White "McNab, Colin A"]
[Black "Shankland, Samuel L"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2434"]
[BlackElo "2679"]
[Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"]
[PlyCount "101"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "Scotland"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "SCO"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]
[WhiteClock "0:11:55"]
[BlackClock "0:57:07"]

1. Nf3 c5 2. c4 Nf6 3. g3 Nc6 4. Bg2 d5 5. cxd5 Nxd5 6. Nc3 Nc7 7. b3 e5 8. Bb2
f6 9. Rc1 Bg4 10. d3 Qd7 11. Na4 b6 12. a3 O-O-O $6 {There is no reason to
castle queenside. As flashy as this move is, it simply creates too many
resources for White based on the weak king.} 13. Qc2 Nd5 14. b4 cxb4 {Based on
a miscalculation, it is hard to believe that this really works for Black...}
15. Qxc6+ Qxc6 16. Rxc6+ Kb7 17. Rc4 $1 {An excellent move!} (17. Rc2 bxa3 18.
Ba1 Bb4+ {was probably Shnakland's idea. Here Black has compensation for being
down a piece, two pawns and White's king is uncomfortably placed at the moment.
}) 17... Bxf3 (17... bxa3 18. Bxa3 {is just winning.} Bxa3 (18... Bxf3 19. Bxf3
Bxa3 20. Nc3 {and the knight on d5 is lost for free.}) 19. Rxg4 $18) 18. Bxf3
b5 19. axb4 bxa4 20. Kd2 $6 (20. O-O $1 Ka6 21. Ra1 {was much stronger. The
king on d2 isn't as well placed as McNab thought.}) 20... Ka6 21. Bxd5 Rxd5 22.
Bc3 Kb5 {White is much better, nearly winning, but somehow Shankland held on.}
23. Rc7 Rd6 24. Rc5+ Kb6 25. Ra1 Kb7 26. Rxa4 Rb6 27. Rd5 Bd6 28. b5 Rd8 29.
Rc4 Be7 30. Rxd8 Bxd8 31. Ba5 Rd6 32. Bxd8 Rxd8 33. Kc3 Kb6 34. Kb4 Rd6 35. h4
h5 36. g4 hxg4 37. Rxg4 Rd5 38. Rxg7 Rd4+ 39. Kc3 Rxh4 40. Rf7 Rf4 41. f3 Kxb5
42. Rxa7 Kc6 43. Rg7 Kd6 44. Rg4 Rf5 45. Ra4 Rh5 46. f4 Rh2 47. Ra6+ Ke7 48.
fxe5 fxe5 49. e4 Rh8 50. Kc4 Rd8 51. Rh6 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
Ray Robson had no problems with the White pieces. He simply outplayed and strategically destroyed his opponent. The final tactic was cute, but by that point any move was winning.
[pgn]

[Event "Baku Chess Olympiad | Open"]
[Date "2016.09.03"]
[White "Robson, Ray"]
[Black "Gourlay, Iain"]
[Result "1-0"]
[WhiteElo "2674"]
[BlackElo "2393"]
[PlyCount "63"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "Scotland"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "SCO"]
[WhiteClock "0:10:09"]
[BlackClock "0:00:34"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. d3 d6 6. c3 g6 7. O-O Bg7 8. Nbd2
O-O 9. Re1 Re8 10. h3 h6 11. d4 b5 12. Bc2 exd4 13. cxd4 Nb4 14. Bb1 c5 15. a3
Nc6 16. d5 Na5 17. Nf1 Ra7 18. Ng3 Rae7 19. Bc2 c4 20. Bf4 Nb3 21. Bxb3 cxb3
22. Qd3 Bb7 23. Re2 Qb6 24. Rae1 Nd7 25. Qxb3 Nc5 26. Qd1 b4 27. axb4 Nd7 28.
Qd2 Kh7 29. Be3 Qc7 30. Bd4 Bxd4 31. Nxd4 Qb6 32. Ngf5 1-0[/pgn]
DSC_0852 The women certainly had a lot of trouble. Irina Krush was devastating her opponent, but a bad blunder allowed Black to find a tactic that almost turned the tables. Luckily for Irina there was still a drawing mechanism.
[pgn]

[Event "Women's Baku Chess Olympiad"]
[White "Krush, Irina"]
[Black "Sahl, Sheila Barth"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2444"]
[BlackElo "2181"]
[PlyCount "71"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "Norway"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "NOR"]
[WhiteClock "0:00:39"]
[BlackClock "0:02:24"]

1. Nf3 f5 2. d4 Nf6 3. g3 e6 4. Bg2 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. c4 d6 7. Nc3 Ne4 8. Nxe4
fxe4 9. Ne1 d5 10. f3 dxc4 11. Be3 Nc6 12. fxe4 Rxf1+ 13. Kxf1 Bd7 14. Nf3 Qf8
15. Kg1 Rd8 16. Qc2 b5 17. b3 Nb4 18. Qc3 c5 19. bxc4 cxd4 20. Bxd4 Bc5 21.
cxb5 Rc8 22. Bxc5 Rxc5 23. Qd2 Bxb5 24. Bh3 Rc2 25. Bxe6+ Kh8 26. Qg5 Bxe2 27.
Ne5 Qf6 28. Rb1 Rb2 29. Rc1 Rc2 30. Bb3 h6 31. Qe3 Qb6 32. Ng6+ Kh7 33. Nf8+
Kh8 34. Ng6+ Kh7 35. Nf8+ Kh8 36. Ng6+ 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
Katerina Nemcova definitely played for the team. Despite facing a player rated hundreds of points below her, she went for a very drawish line from the opening, securing the half point with the black pieces. If she can also do this against Russia, Ukraine or China, it would be most welcome!
[pgn]

[Event "Women's Baku Chess Olympiad"]
[Date "2016.09.03"]
[White "Machlik, Edit"]
[Black "Nemcova, Katerina"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2056"]
[BlackElo "2365"]
[PlyCount "61"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "Norway"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "NOR"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]
[WhiteClock "0:24:13"]
[BlackClock "0:12:02"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 d5 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. Qxc3 Ne4 7. Qc2 c5 8.
dxc5 Nc6 9. e3 Qa5+ 10. Bd2 Nxd2 11. Qxd2 dxc4 12. Qxa5 Nxa5 13. Rc1 b5 14.
cxb6 Bb7 15. bxa7 Ke7 16. Ne2 Rxa7 17. Nc3 Rb8 18. Na2 Bd5 19. Nb4 Nc6 20.
Nxc6+ Bxc6 21. Rxc4 Ba4 22. Bd3 Rxb2 23. O-O Rb3 24. Bc2 Rxa3 25. Bxa4 R3xa4
26. Rxa4 Rxa4 27. Rb1 h5 28. g3 h4 29. Kg2 g5 30. Rb8 f5 31. Rh8 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
Anna Zatonskih was much better most of the game. She netted an extra pawn, but was unable to convert it into a win and had to settle for the half point.
[pgn]

[Event "Women's Baku Chess Olympiad"]
[White "Zatonskih, Anna"]
[Black "Hagesather, Ellen"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[WhiteElo "2449"]
[BlackElo "2139"]
[PlyCount "111"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "Norway"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "NOR"]
[WhiteClock "0:03:36"]
[BlackClock "0:14:34"]

1. d4 f5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. g3 e6 4. Bg2 d5 5. O-O Bd6 6. c4 c6 7. Qc2 O-O 8. Nc3
Ne4 9. Rb1 Qe7 10. b4 Nd7 11. b5 Ndf6 12. Bf4 Bxf4 13. gxf4 Bd7 14. bxc6 Bxc6
15. Ne5 Rac8 16. Nxe4 fxe4 17. c5 Rc7 18. e3 Nd7 19. Nxc6 bxc6 20. f3 exf3 21.
Bxf3 Qh4 22. Kh1 Rf6 23. Rg1 Rh6 24. Rg4 Qd8 25. Rg2 Rh3 26. Rxg7+ Kxg7 27.
Qg2+ Kh8 28. Qxh3 Qf6 29. Be2 Qg6 30. f5 Qxf5 31. Qxf5 exf5 32. Bd3 Nf6 33.
Bxf5 Re7 34. Rb3 Kg7 35. Kg2 Kh6 36. h4 Kh5 37. Kg3 Ne4+ 38. Bxe4 Rxe4 39. Ra3
a5 40. Kf3 Rxh4 41. Rxa5 Kg5 42. Ra6 Rh6 43. Ra7 Rf6+ 44. Ke2 h5 45. Rh7 h4 46.
a4 Rf8 47. Rg7+ Kh5 48. a5 h3 49. a6 Kh4 50. a7 h2 51. Rh7+ Kg3 52. Rg7+ Kh3
53. Rh7+ Kg2 54. Rg7+ Kh3 55. Rh7+ Kg2 56. Rg7+ 1/2-1/2

[/pgn]
The true hero of the round was the U.S. Champion. After a shaky start in yesterday's game, today she was back and with a vengeance. Her Caro-Kann obliterated Dolzhikova's defenses and White resigned after a mere 21 moves.
[pgn]

[Event "Women's Baku Chess Olympiad"]
[White "Dolzhikova, Olga"]
[Black "Paikidze, Nazi"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "2167"]
[BlackElo "2366"]
[PlyCount "42"]
[EventDate "2016.??.??"]
[SourceDate "2015.02.07"]
[WhiteTeam "Norway"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "NOR"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]
[WhiteClock "0:00:32"]
[BlackClock "0:25:35"]

1. e4 c6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Nf3 Bg4 4. h3 Bxf3 5. Qxf3 e6 6. d3 Nf6 7. Bd2 Nbd7 8.
O-O-O d4 9. Ne2 Qb6 10. g4 h6 11. Qg3 O-O-O 12. f4 Nc5 13. Qe1 Qb5 14. e5 Nd5
15. b3 Na4 16. Kb1 Bc5 17. Ka1 Nac3 18. Bxc3 dxc3 19. d4 Qa5 20. Rh2 Ne3 21.
Rc1 Qa3 0-1

[/pgn]
The tournament continues to be a success in most fronts, but a couple of hiccups were seen in round two. The transmission for several matches simply stopped working, while the press continues to have complaints about lack of access to the playing hall. Tomorrow's round is proving to already be quite exciting! The USA is already facing the full-GM line up of Argentina in the Open section, a match that is favored to the Americans, but certainly not by that much. This will be the first real challenge of the top trio, and we will see if the Americans decide to line up Robson or Shankland. In the Women's section the USA is facing... Ukraine: The number two seed. A tough pairing for sure as Ukraine is one of the favorites to win the event. A fight to the death will ensue! Robert Hess and Yasser Seirawan, team coach and team captain, are already working relentlessly to make sure the ladies are properly prepared for their match. Follow live games, results and find more photos at the tournament site.

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