U.S. Team Beats Armenia & Women Draw China as Dramatic Friday Finale Set

The penultimate round in the Women's Olympiad: China vs. USA
After two weeks of good weather in the resort town of Batumi, it finally was a rainy day, a stormy one in fact. Just as the last few players entered the playing venue a torrential downpour started, with the crash of the rain in the playing hall setting the mood for the upcoming battles. The incoming opponents for our teams created very different expectations from both of our teams. In the Women’s section we faced the super power of China, while the open section saw itself forced to win against Armenia to keep gold medal chances. Team USA fielded their trusty line-up from the last three rounds in the women’s section. Resting Sabina Foisor, Jennifer Yu played her 10th game in a row. Hers was the first game to finish, as it was clear that China out prepared us in that board. Zhai Mo essayed the Queen’s Gambit Accepted, not something that she is used to playing. Our young player misremembered the move-order, and it allowed a simplification into a position that was headed towards an obvious draw. The ship could not be steered otherwise, and the first half point was split. Almost as if to counterbalance it, Anna Zatonskih played an extraordinarily solid game against Ju Wenjun.

[Event "Batumi Women's Chess Olympiad"]
[Date "2018.10.04"]
[White "Ju, Wenjun"]
[Black "Zatonskih, Anna"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "E07"]
[WhiteElo "2561"]
[BlackElo "2431"]
[PlyCount "62"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "China"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "CHN"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. g3 Be7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O c6 7. Qd3 b6 8. Nc3
Bb7 9. Rd1 Nbd7 10. e4 dxe4 11. Nxe4 c5 12. Nxf6+ Nxf6 13. b3 Qc8 14. Bb2 Rd8
15. Qe2 cxd4 16. Bxd4 Bc6 17. Ne5 Bxg2 18. Kxg2 Nd7 19. Qf3 Nxe5 20. Bxe5 Qc5
21. Bd4 Qc7 22. Qg4 Bf8 23. Bb2 Rxd1 24. Rxd1 Rd8 25. Rxd8 Qxd8 26. Qe2 Qd7 27.
h4 f6 28. Qe4 Bc5 29. Bc3 a5 30. Qa8+ Kf7 31. Qe4 Kg8 1/2-1/2

Despite being the second highest rated woman in the world, and the reigning World Champion, and with the white pieces, there was simply nothing Ju Wenjun could to today to even bother our first board. A solid Catalan with the black pieces forced White to trade into a completely equal endgame. The draw was reached, leaving the match up to the middle boards. Irina Krush played a great game against Huang Qian, a strong player in her own right and part of, arguably, the strongest chess couple in the world: she’s married to super-GM Bu Xiangzhi, who will be facing USA tomorrow for the gold medal!

[Event "Batumi Women's Chess Olympiad"]
[Date "2018.10.04"]
[White "Krush, Irina"]
[Black "Huang, Qian"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "E91"]
[WhiteElo "2423"]
[BlackElo "2446"]
[PlyCount "135"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "China"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "CHN"]

1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 g6 3. d4 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. d5 e5 6. dxe6 Bxe6 7. Nc3 Nf6 8. Be2
O-O 9. O-O Nc6 10. h3 a6 11. Bf4 Ne8 12. Qd2 Nd4 13. Nxd4 cxd4 14. Nd5 Bxd5 15.
exd5 Qb6 16. Bd3 Nf6 17. Rae1 Nd7 18. b3 a5 19. Bg5 Nc5 20. Re7 Qb4 21. Qxb4
axb4 22. Bb1 Rfe8 23. Rxe8+ Rxe8 24. Bd2 Na6 25. Re1 Rxe1+ 26. Bxe1 Bh6 27. Kf1
Kf8 28. Ke2 Ke7 29. Kd3 Bg7 30. g4 b6 31. f4 h6 32. h4 Bf6 33. g5 hxg5 34. hxg5
Bg7 35. Ke2 Kd8 36. Kf3 Bh8 37. f5 gxf5 38. Bxf5 Be5 39. Bd2 Bh2 40. Kg2 Be5
41. Kf3 Bh2 42. Ke2 Be5 43. Bd3 Kc7 44. c5 Nxc5 45. Bxb4 Bf4 46. g6 fxg6 47.
Bxg6 Nd7 48. Be8 Ne5 49. Bb5 Bc1 50. Kd1 Be3 51. Kc2 Bf2 52. Bd2 Bg3 53. a4 Kb7
54. Be2 Bf2 55. b4 Kc7 56. a5 bxa5 57. bxa5 Kb7 58. Bb4 Kc7 59. a6 d3+ 60. Bxd3
Nxd3 61. Kxd3 Kb6 62. Bxd6 Kxa6 63. Ke4 Kb7 64. Kf5 Kc8 65. Ke6 Be1 66. Bf4 Bb4
67. d6 Bxd6 68. Bxd6 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
Irina’s opening was excellent, tricking her opponent to accept an unfavorable position. It seemed that Irina had great chances of grinding down her opponent, but it was not to be. Perhaps she hurried a bit too much in the transposition to the bishops vs bishop and knight endgame, and her light-squared bishop was simply unable to join the fray, allowing black to escape with a draw. Tatev Abrahamyan played her trusty French defense against the match-up that, on paper, was most favorable to China. Being a grandmaster and with the white pieces, China must have been counting on this board for a win. Tatev played an amazing game, and it was simply one of the most complicated French positions I’ve seen.

[Event "Batumi Women's Chess Olympiad"]
[Date "2018.10.04"]
[White "Lei, Tingjie"]
[Black "Abrahamyan, Tatev"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C16"]
[WhiteElo "2468"]
[BlackElo "2361"]
[PlyCount "227"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "China"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "CHN"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 Qd7 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 b6 7. a4 Nc6 8. Bb5
Bb7 9. Ba3 a6 10. Bd3 O-O-O 11. Qe2 a5 12. Bb5 Nge7 13. Nf3 f5 14. c4 dxc4 15.
c3 h6 16. O-O-O Nd5 17. Qxc4 g5 18. Ne1 g4 19. Nd3 h5 20. Rd2 Rdg8 21. Re1 h4
22. g3 hxg3 23. hxg3 Rh2 24. Kc2 Rgh8 25. Ree2 Rh1 26. Kb3 Rb1+ 27. Kc2 Rbh1
28. Bb2 R8h3 29. Kb3 Rg1 30. Nf4 Rh6 31. Nd3 Rh3 32. Ka2 Rhh1 33. Rc2 Kb8 34.
Rc1 Rxc1 35. Bxc1 f4 36. gxf4 Qh7 37. Re1 Nce7 38. Rxh1 Qxh1 39. Kb2 Qf1 40.
Qb3 c6 41. Bc4 Ka7 42. Qc2 Nf5 43. Qd2 Bc8 44. Bb3 Ba6 45. c4 Nde7 46. Qc3 g3
47. fxg3 Nxg3 48. Ne1 Ne2 49. Qd2 Nxc1 50. Qxc1 Qf2+ 51. Kc3 Nf5 52. Nc2 Qf3+
53. Kb2 Qd3 54. c5 Nxd4 55. Nxd4 Qxd4+ 56. Qc3 Qxf4 57. Bxe6 Qxa4 58. Bb3 Qe4
59. e6 Bc8 60. Qg7+ Bb7 61. cxb6+ Kxb6 62. e7 Bc8 63. Qf8 Qe5+ 64. Ka2 Qh2+ 65.
Kb1 Qg1+ 66. Kc2 Qh2+ 67. Kd3 Bf5+ 68. Qxf5 Qd6+ 69. Kc2 Qxe7 70. Kb2 Qc5 71.
Qf4 Qe7 72. Qd4+ Kb7 73. Qf2 Qg7+ 74. Ka2 Qe7 75. Bc4 Qb4 76. Qe2 Qa4+ 77. Kb2
Qb4+ 78. Kc2 Qa4+ 79. Bb3 Qb4 80. Qe5 Qb5 81. Qe7+ Kb6 82. Qd8+ Kb7 83. Qd4 Qb4
84. Bc4 Qa4+ 85. Kd2 Qb4+ 86. Ke2 Qe7+ 87. Kf3 Qf8+ 88. Kg4 Qe7 89. Kf5 Qf8+
90. Kg6 Qe8+ 91. Bf7 Qe7 92. Kg7 Qc7 93. Kf6 Qb6 94. Qd3 Qb2+ 95. Ke6 Qb6 96.
Bg6 Qc7 97. Be4 Qc8+ 98. Kf7 Qc7+ 99. Kg6 Ka7 100. Qd4+ Kb7 101. Qc5 Qg3+ 102.
Kf5 Qc7 103. Qb5+ Qb6 104. Qd3 Qc7 105. Qc4 Qd7+ 106. Kf4 Qd6+ 107. Ke3 Qg3+
108. Bf3 Qe5+ 109. Kf2 Qb2+ 110. Be2 Qf6+ 111. Kg2 Qg5+ 112. Bg4 Qd5+ 113. Qxd5
cxd5 114. Bd1 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
After mutual mistakes in time trouble, including the miss of a win by our player, a crazy endgame arose.  Accurate play from both sides led to a position of Queen and Bishop vs. Queen and two pawns, and Lei Tingjie was not about to give up the draw. Playing an unbelievable 114 moves (again, after yesterday’s round!) team USA was the last board to finish in the women’s section yet again. The draw was never in doubt, and an important 2-2 split for team USA. Team USA is currently third place, and a win tomorrow against second seed Ukraine would guarantee a medal. However, with the Muzychuk sisters, Ushenina and Zhukova, that is a tough task ahead! The Open section saw the much awaited match up of Levon Aronian vs. Fabiano Caruana finish in a lifeless draw, a success for our team with the black pieces.

[Event "Batumi Chess Olympiad | Open"]
[Date "2018.10.04"]
[White "Aronian, Levon"]
[Black "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C42"]
[WhiteElo "2780"]
[BlackElo "2827"]
[PlyCount "55"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "Armenia"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "ARM"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Nc3 Nxc3 6. dxc3 Be7 7. Be3 O-O
8. Qd2 Nd7 9. O-O-O c6 10. h4 d5 11. Kb1 Re8 12. Bd3 Bc5 13. Rde1 Bxe3 14. Rxe3
Rxe3 15. Qxe3 Nf6 16. Re1 Qd6 17. Qe8+ Qf8 18. Qxf8+ Kxf8 19. Kc1 Bd7 20. c4
dxc4 21. Bxc4 Re8 22. Rxe8+ Bxe8 23. Kd2 Ke7 24. Ne5 Nd7 25. Nf3 Nf6 26. Ne5
Nd7 27. Nf3 Nf6 28. Ne5 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
Wesley So put some pressure on Gabriel Sargissian, but the Armenian proved to be too solid.

[Event "Batumi Chess Olympiad | Open"]
[Date "2018.10.04"]
[White "So, Wesley"]
[Black "Sargissian, Gabriel"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C45"]
[WhiteElo "2776"]
[BlackElo "2691"]
[PlyCount "61"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "Armenia"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "ARM"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nxc6 bxc6 6. e5 Qe7 7. Qe2 Nd5 8.
Nd2 Rb8 9. c4 Nb4 10. Nf3 c5 11. g3 Bb7 12. Bg2 Qe6 13. O-O Be7 14. b3 O-O 15.
Bb2 d5 16. cxd5 Bxd5 17. Rfd1 Rfd8 18. Bc3 a5 19. Ne1 a4 20. Bxb4 cxb4 21. Bxd5
Rxd5 22. Rxd5 Qxd5 23. Rd1 Qe6 24. Nf3 axb3 25. Nd4 Qg6 26. axb3 Rd8 27. Nf3
Rxd1+ 28. Qxd1 Qe4 29. Qd7 Qxf3 30. Qxe7 Qd1+ 31. Kg2 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
Our win came on the third board:
Grandmaster Sam Shankland. Photo David Llada

[Event "Batumi Chess Olympiad | Open"]
[Date "2018.10.04"]
[White "Melkumyan, Hrant"]
[Black "Shankland, Samuel"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D44"]
[WhiteElo "2660"]
[BlackElo "2722"]
[Annotator "Alejandro"]
[PlyCount "74"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[SourceVersionDate "2018.07.08"]
[WhiteTeam "Armenia"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "ARM"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 c6 5. Bg5 dxc4 6. e4 b5 7. e5 h6 8. Bh4 g5
9. Nxg5 hxg5 10. Bxg5 Be7 11. exf6 Bxf6 12. Bxf6 Qxf6 13. g3 Bb7 14. Bg2 Na6
15. Ne4 Qe7 16. O-O O-O-O 17. h4 c5 18. a4 Rxd4 19. Qe2 b4 20. Rac1 (20. Rad1 {
is the common idea, and has been played by Yu Yangyi, Matlakov and Ju Wenjun.
Sam must have had an original idea, because this line scores very well for
Black.}) 20... Bd5 21. Rfd1 Rxd1+ 22. Rxd1 Rd8 23. Rc1 Nb8 (23... Qb7 {would
be a very strange transposition to a game of Kramnik and Aronian! Even with
modern engines it is difficult to say who is better.}) 24. Qe3 Nc6 25. Nxc5 {
White gets his material back, but his coordination suffers a bit for.} Qf6 26.
b3 $2 (26. Bf1 Nd4 27. Bxc4 Nf3+ 28. Kh1 {is some kind of computer draw, but
it looks like White is just getting mated after} Qf5 29. Kg2 $1 Nxh4+ $1 $11)
26... c3 $1 {Black is afraid of no ghosts!} 27. Qe2 Qd4 $1 28. Qb5 (28. Qa6+
Kc7 29. Qb7+ Kd6 {and the king is perfectly safe on d6, the passed pawn on c3
is the real winner of htis position.}) 28... Kc7 29. Na6+ Kd6 30. Bxd5 exd5 (
30... Qxd5 {was slightly more precise, but the move in the game is also good.})
31. a5 Re8 $1 32. Qb7 Re7 $1 33. Qc8 Qd2 {White lacks firepower. He cannot
create threats, and more importantly, cannot stop the c-pawn.} 34. Nb8 Qxc1+
35. Kg2 Nxb8 36. Qxb8+ Kc5 37. Qc8+ Kd4 0-1[/pgn]
After seeing this result, Ray Robson accepted that his game was not going anywhere, took the draw and with that the important victory. With these results team USA plays for the gold medal against China. Tomorrow the round starts 4 hours earlier than usual, at 11 am Batumi time, so I recommend you set your alarms. This is for all the marbles! Follow the U.S. action live on chess24 (Open Section), and find the Women's match here starting at 3 AM ET. More info and pictures on the official site. 

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