U.S. Team Silver in Open, Caruana, Yu & Krush Earn Board Medals!

The last round of the Olympiad is always a hectic affair. As has become traditional, it starts four hours earlier than the rest of the rounds, at 11 am instead of 3 PM. This allows the closing ceremony to be scheduled the same day, and for most delegations to depart either the same day (skipping the ceremony to save money) or the day after with comfort. It does, however, severely disrupt the routine that the players and coaches have gotten accustomed to. With the round starting so early, board pairings were due at midnight, and published only fifteen minutes later. Coaches had sleepless nights, preparing files and variations for their players. The players themselves either tried to sleep, usually earlier than they are used to for this event, or stayed up reviewing their own lines. Our team, staying in the Hilton, gathered downstairs at 10:30 am, some of them with water still dripping from their heads from their rushed shower, others gulping down the last remainder of the breakfast buffet. Again, rain welcomed the players to the playing hall for their last bout in Batumi. Both of our teams came to face incredibly strong opposition. In the Women’s, after an excellent tournament and a wonderful draw against China yesterday, we were matched against Ukraine, the only team to field four grandmasters, two of which were at some point World Women’s Champions. Things really went badly for us in this match quickly. Jennifer Yu played her only bad game in the tournament, and even with many blunders by her opponent she was still always lost.
[pgn]

[Event "Batumi Women's Chess Olympiad"]
[Date "2018.10.05"]
[White "Zhukova, Natalia"]
[Black "Yu, Jennifer"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D17"]
[WhiteElo "2403"]
[BlackElo "2268"]
[PlyCount "95"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "Ukraine"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "UKR"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. Ne5 Nbd7 7. Nxc4 Qc7 8.
g3 e5 9. dxe5 Nxe5 10. Bf4 Nfd7 11. Bg2 f6 12. Ne3 Be6 13. O-O O-O-O 14. Qc2
Nc5 15. b4 Nb3 16. Rad1 Nd4 17. Qb2 g5 18. Bxe5 Qxe5 19. b5 c5 20. b6 a6 21.
Rd2 f5 22. Rfd1 Bg7 23. Qa3 f4 24. Nf1 Bc4 25. e3 Nb3 26. Bh3+ Be6 27. Rd5 Rxd5
28. Rxd5 Qxc3 29. Bxe6+ Kb8 30. Rd7 Na5 31. Qa2 Qe5 32. Bh3 Rf8 33. Qd2 Nc6 34.
Rc7 g4 35. Bxg4 fxe3 36. fxe3 Qb2 37. Qxb2 Bxb2 38. Nd2 Ne5 39. Be6 Bc1 40. Nf1
Nf3+ 41. Kg2 Ne1+ 42. Kh3 h6 43. Bd5 Rxf1 44. Rxb7+ Kc8 45. Ra7 Rf2 46. Bc6 Kd8
47. Rd7+ Kc8 48. b7+ 1-0

[/pgn]
Natalia Zhukova kept missing chances to end the game, but never gave away her advantage completely. The game ended just after time control. Irina Krush was unable to defend the black pieces against Mariya Muzychuk, and an unpleasant endgame, which was played with many inaccuracies, went the way of the Ukrainian.
[pgn]

[Event "Batumi Women's Chess Olympiad"]
[Date "2018.10.05"]
[White "Muzychuk, Mariya"]
[Black "Krush, Irina"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B48"]
[WhiteElo "2533"]
[BlackElo "2423"]
[PlyCount "121"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "Ukraine"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "UKR"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. Be3 a6 7. Qf3 Bd6 8.
O-O-O Be5 9. Nxc6 bxc6 10. Bd4 Bxd4 11. Rxd4 Nf6 12. Qg3 Qxg3 13. hxg3 d5 14.
Ra4 h6 15. f3 a5 16. b4 Kd8 17. Rxa5 Rxa5 18. bxa5 Kc7 19. exd5 cxd5 20. Rh4
Bb7 21. a6 Bc6 22. Rb4 Ne8 23. Nb5+ Bxb5 24. Bxb5 Nd6 25. Bd3 Ra8 26. g4 Kc6
27. Kd2 Kc5 28. Kc3 e5 29. a4 g6 30. a5 f5 31. gxf5 gxf5 32. Rh4 e4 33. fxe4
dxe4 34. Be2 Nb5+ 35. Bxb5 Kxb5 36. Rxh6 Rxa6 37. Rh5 Rg6 38. Rxf5+ Ka6 39. Rf2
Kxa5 40. Kd4 Rg4 41. Ke5 Kb4 42. Kf5 Rg8 43. Kxe4 Kc3 44. Ke5 Re8+ 45. Kd5 Rg8
46. Ke6 Rg7 47. Kf6 Rg8 48. Re2 Kd4 49. Kf5 Rf8+ 50. Kg4 Rg8+ 51. Kh4 Rh8+ 52.
Kg3 Rg8+ 53. Kf2 Kc3 54. Re4 Kxc2 55. g4 Kd3 56. Kf3 Rf8+ 57. Rf4 Rg8 58. Ra4
Rf8+ 59. Kg3 Rg8 60. Kf4 Rf8+ 61. Ke5 1-0

[/pgn]
Anna Zatonskih was just outplayed by a strong grandmaster: Anna Muzychuk showed her strength in all aspects of the game.
[pgn]

[Event "Batumi Women's Chess Olympiad"]
[Date "2018.10.05"]
[White "Zatonskih, Anna"]
[Black "Muzychuk, Anna"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D78"]
[WhiteElo "2431"]
[BlackElo "2555"]
[PlyCount "84"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "Ukraine"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "UKR"]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. d4 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 d5 5. O-O O-O 6. c4 c6 7. Nbd2 a5 8. b3 a4
9. Ba3 Bf5 10. Nh4 Be6 11. e3 Re8 12. h3 Ne4 13. Nxe4 dxe4 14. f4 f5 15. Rf2
Nd7 16. Bf1 axb3 17. axb3 c5 18. b4 Nb6 19. bxc5 Nxc4 20. Bxc4 Bxc4 21. Ng2 b5
22. cxb6 Qxb6 23. Rb2 Qa5 24. Qc1 Bd3 25. Qd1 Rec8 26. Ne1 Bc4 27. Kf2 Bf6 28.
Rbb1 Qd5 29. Bb4 Rcb8 30. Rxa8 Rxa8 31. Ra1 Rb8 32. Qd2 Bxd4 33. exd4 e3+ 34.
Qxe3 Rxb4 35. Qe5 Rb2+ 36. Kg1 Rd2 37. Rc1 Rxd4 38. Qxe7 Re4 39. Qb4 Qd4+ 40.
Kh1 Rxe1+ 41. Qxe1 Bd5+ 42. Kh2 Qb2+ 0-1

[/pgn]
The bright spot of the match was that Tatev Abrahamyan steamrolled over former World Champion Anna Ushenina’s Caro-Kann.
[pgn]

[Event "Batumi Women's Chess Olympiad"]
[Date "2018.10.05"]
[White "Abrahamyan, Tatev"]
[Black "Ushenina, Anna"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B19"]
[WhiteElo "2361"]
[BlackElo "2451"]
[PlyCount "107"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "Ukraine"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "UKR"]

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. h4 h6 7. Nf3 e6 8. h5
Bh7 9. Bd3 Bxd3 10. Qxd3 Nf6 11. Bd2 Qb6 12. O-O-O Qa6 13. Qxa6 Nxa6 14. Rhe1
Be7 15. c4 O-O 16. Bc3 Rfd8 17. Ne5 Bb4 18. Bxb4 Nxb4 19. a3 Na6 20. Re2 Kf8
21. b4 Nc7 22. a4 a6 23. a5 Nce8 24. Kc2 Nd6 25. f3 Rac8 26. Kc3 Rc7 27. Rh1
Ke7 28. Nd3 Kd7 29. Nf1 Ke7 30. g4 Kf8 31. Ng3 Nc8 32. Ne5 Nd7 33. f4 Ne7 34.
Ne4 Ng8 35. Nc5 Nxc5 36. bxc5 Nf6 37. g5 Nd7 38. Nf3 hxg5 39. fxg5 Ke7 40. h6
gxh6 41. gxh6 Rh8 42. Ng5 e5 43. dxe5 Nxc5 44. h7 Rd7 45. Rf1 Ke8 46. Ref2 Re7
47. Kc2 Ne6 48. Ne4 Kf8 49. Nf6 Ng5 50. Rg2 Nxh7 51. Rh1 Re6 52. Rxh7 Rxh7 53.
Rg8+ Ke7 54. Re8# 1-0

[/pgn]
Alas, it was not sufficient, the 3-1 loss was significant and it made team USA drop considerably in the standings. From 3rd rank before the start of the round, we finished in a respectable but disappointing 7th (starting as 10th seeds). Before the tournament started, team USA would be satisfied with this result, but after the heroic tournament they had, I’m sure it is not the place they wanted. “Chess is so cruel” was Tatev’s remark after the game. A mostly bitter feeling for the team afterwards despite fantastic performances. Especially remarkable were those of Jennifer Yu, who scored an IM norm and earned a bronze medal, Tatev Abrahamyan who finished 5th on her board, and Irina Krush, who takes home an Individual Silver! China took home the gold in this section after a miraculous save against Russia in the last round. That could easily have been 3-1 for the Russians, which would have given Ukraine the gold. Alas, chess is so cruel, and Russia themselves were knocked off the podium. In the Open section we faced China, the team that took out Duda’s Poland. The openings attracted attention from the start, as it was clear that Wesley So and Sam Shankland had prepared together. They played the same line against Yu Yangyi and Li Chao, respectively, in a long Catalan. 17 moves in, both of our players were still in preparation, and the Chinese finally deviated from each other. Neither of them proved an advantage and the draw was a clear result in both games.
[pgn]

[Event "Batumi Chess Olympiad | Open"]
[Date "2018.10.05"]
[White "Yu, Yangyi"]
[Black "So, Wesley"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "E05"]
[WhiteElo "2765"]
[BlackElo "2776"]
[PlyCount "97"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "China"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "CHN"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 Be7 5. Nf3 O-O 6. O-O dxc4 7. Qc2 a6 8. a4
c5 9. dxc5 Bxc5 10. Nbd2 b5 11. axb5 Bb7 12. Nxc4 axb5 13. Rxa8 Bxa8 14. Nce5
Bd6 15. Rd1 Qc7 16. Qxc7 Bxc7 17. Bg5 h6 18. Bxf6 gxf6 19. Nd3 Bxf3 20. Bxf3
Nd7 21. Rc1 Bd6 22. Rc6 Bb8 23. Ra6 Ne5 24. Rb6 Nxd3 25. exd3 Be5 26. Rxb5 Rb8
27. Rxb8+ Bxb8 28. b4 f5 29. b5 Ba7 30. Kg2 Bb6 31. Bh5 Kf8 32. f4 Ke7 33. Kf3
Bg1 34. h3 Bb6 35. g4 fxg4+ 36. hxg4 f6 37. Ke4 Kd6 38. Bg6 e5 39. Be8 Bg1 40.
Kf5 Be3 41. Kxf6 exf4 42. Bc6 Kc5 43. Bf3 Kxb5 44. Kg6 Kb4 45. Kxh6 Kc3 46. g5
Kxd3 47. g6 Bd4 48. g7 Bxg7+ 49. Kxg7 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
[pgn]

[Event "Batumi Chess Olympiad | Open"]
[Date "2018.10.05"]
[White "Li, Chao b"]
[Black "Shankland, Samuel"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "E05"]
[WhiteElo "2708"]
[BlackElo "2722"]
[PlyCount "75"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "China"]
[BlackTeam "United States"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "CHN"]
[BlackTeamCountry "USA"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 Be7 5. Nf3 O-O 6. O-O dxc4 7. Qc2 a6 8. a4
c5 9. dxc5 Bxc5 10. Nbd2 b5 11. axb5 Bb7 12. Nxc4 axb5 13. Rxa8 Bxa8 14. Nce5
Bd6 15. Rd1 Qc7 16. Qxc7 Bxc7 17. Bf4 Nd5 18. Nd4 Nxf4 19. gxf4 Bxg2 20. Kxg2
g5 21. Nxb5 Bxe5 22. fxe5 Nc6 23. Rc1 Nxe5 24. Rc5 f6 25. Nd4 Rb8 26. Nxe6 Rxb2
27. Nxg5 Rxe2 28. Rc8+ Kg7 29. Rc7+ Kg6 30. Nxh7 Nd3 31. Rd7 Nxf2 32. Nf8+ Kg5
33. Kf3 Re8 34. h4+ Kxh4 35. Rh7+ Kg5 36. Rh8 Rxf8 37. Rxf8 Nd3 38. Ke4 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
Also quickly drawn was the top board and fight for Olympic Individual Gold Medal between Ding Liren and Fabiano Caruana. With the White pieces, our player essayed the same variation that Duda used against him with white in the English! A slight misstep in the opening, placing the rook on e1 rather than on f1, allowed Ding Liren to calculate a perpetual.
[pgn]

[Event "Batumi Chess Olympiad | Open"]
[Date "2018.10.05"]
[White "Caruana, Fabiano"]
[Black "Ding, Liren"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A28"]
[WhiteElo "2827"]
[BlackElo "2804"]
[PlyCount "45"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "China"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "CHN"]

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. e3 Bb4 5. Qc2 Bxc3 6. Qxc3 Qe7 7. d4 Ne4 8.
Qd3 exd4 9. Nxd4 O-O 10. Be2 Qb4+ 11. Kf1 Qe7 12. f3 f5 13. Qd1 Nc5 14. Kf2 d6
15. Re1 Qh4+ 16. Kg1 Rf6 17. g3 Rg6 18. Nxc6 Rxg3+ 19. hxg3 Qxg3+ 20. Kh1 Qh3+
21. Kg1 Qg3+ 22. Kh1 Qh3+ 23. Kg1 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
White had to accept the draw or run incredible risks, and in a team tournament that was certainly unacceptable. With these results Ding Liren clinched Individual Gold and Fabiano Caruana clinched Individual Silver on board one. The last game to finish was Hikaru Nakamura against Bu Xiangzhi.
[pgn]

[Event "Batumi Chess Olympiad | Open"]
[Date "2018.10.05"]
[White "Nakamura, Hikaru"]
[Black "Bu, Xiangzhi"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D17"]
[WhiteElo "2763"]
[BlackElo "2712"]
[PlyCount "81"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteTeam "United States"]
[BlackTeam "China"]
[WhiteTeamCountry "USA"]
[BlackTeamCountry "CHN"]

1. c4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. Ne5 Nbd7 7. Nxc4 Nb6 8.
Ne5 a5 9. h4 e6 10. f3 h6 11. e4 Bh7 12. Be3 Nfd7 13. Nd3 Bd6 14. Ne2 O-O 15.
Qb3 Kh8 16. Nef4 Nc8 17. Rd1 Qc7 18. Kf2 b6 19. e5 Be7 20. g4 c5 21. Qc3 Qb7
22. dxc5 bxc5 23. Nxc5 Nxc5 24. Bxc5 Bxc5+ 25. Qxc5 Qxb2+ 26. Kg3 Qb4 27. Qxb4
axb4 28. Rd4 Rxa4 29. Bb5 Ra7 30. Rxb4 Rb7 31. Rb3 Na7 32. Ba4 Rxb3 33. Bxb3
Nc6 34. Re1 Ra8 35. Re3 Ra3 36. Rc3 Nd4 37. Rc8+ Bg8 38. Bd1 Ra1 39. Be2 Ra5
40. Bd3 Rxe5 41. h5 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
Playing an enterprising idea suggested by Fabiano Caruana in the team meeting (9.h4!), Nakamura obtained the pressure that he wanted, outplaying his opponent in the opening and early middle game. Things turned south right after that, however, when Nakamura didn’t put as much pressure on his opponent, either by taking a sacrificed pawn (17. Qxb7!?) or going for the all-out attack (17.g4!?), instead he allowed the opponent fully back into the game. The resulting endgame even seemed a bit unpleasant for him, as he found himself down a pawn in a 4 against 3 endgame with knight, bishop and rook, but it was only visual. White’s piece activity was much better than black’s, and it compensated for the pawn. With the draw, it again came down to tiebreaks and waiting for Poland and Russia. Poland was the only team that could catch USA in match points, and was ahead of us in tiebreaks going into the round. Poland, however, did not beat India. Russia did catch up with USA and China for match points after beating France, but their tiebreaks were not strong going into the round. After hours of waiting in the open section, the tiebreaks were finally revealed: China edged us out, and USA took silver, with Russia earning the bronze. Our World Championship challenger was gracious in congratulating the gold medalists. https://twitter.com/FabianoCaruana/status/1048206323115065344 Tonight is the closing ceremony, which will certainly produce spectacular pictures. Look for those here soon! Thanks to Grandmaster Alejandro Ramirez for his timely and colorful reports during the Olympiad. Find them all here. 

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