US Defeats Croatia, Women Falter Against Armenia

Seventh round of the 43rd World Chess Olympiad was an exciting event, full of surprises and upsets. The playing hall is packed as always, but now also the expo hall and press center are booming. The interest in the rounds is obviously increasing as we head towards the finish line, but another important event is taking place here in Batumi: with the FIDE Chess Congress taking place, people are flying in from all over the world to attend the different chess commissions, have the continental meetings, and, perhaps most importantly, elect the new FIDE leadership. This has caused more than one quarrel in Batumi, but this report will focus on our chess players, so I leave you to read some of the excellent general reports on Chess.com for the results of other teams and news from the Congress.
India vs. USA in round 6. Photo: David Llada
In the women’s section, we continue having problems on board three. Sabina Foisor returned to the board replacing Tatev Abrahamyan after her loss against India. Tatev was born in Armenia, today’s opponents! Sabina, unfortunately, had an absolutely terrible game. Straight from the opening it was difficult to even move pieces, and White’s attack on the kingside crashed through with absolutely no counterplay. Despite being one of the last games to finish, the result was the first one to be clear.
[pgn][Event "World Chess Olympiad 2018"]
[Site "Batumi"]
[Date "2018.10.01"]
[Round "7.3"]
[White "Sargsyan Anna M."]
[Black "Foisor Sabina-Francesca"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E21"]
[WhiteElo "2331"]
[BlackElo "2311"]
[PlyCount "127"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:41:37"]
[BlackClock "0:02:28"]1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 b6 4. Nc3 Bb7 5. Bg5 Be7 6. Qc2 d6 7. Rd1 h6 8. Bh4
Nh5 9. Bxe7 Qxe7 10. e3 O-O 11. Be2 Nf6 12. Rg1 e5 13. g4 e4 14. Nd2 Re8 15. h4
Nh7 16. d5 Qxh4 17. Ndxe4 Nd7 18. Ng3 Ne5 19. Rh1 Qd8 20. f4 Ng6 21. Kf2 Bc8
22. Nf5 Bd7 23. Rdg1 Ngf8 24. Bd3 Bxf5 25. Bxf5 Qe7 26. Qd3 f6 27. Nb5 Qf7 28.
Nd4 Kh8 29. Ke2 Qg8 30. g5 fxg5 31. fxg5 Re5 32. gxh6 g5 33. Nf3 Rae8 34. Nxe5
Rxe5 35. Rf1 Nf6 36. Rhg1 N8h7 37. Kd2 Qe8 38. Bxh7 Nxh7 39. Rf5 Qh5 40. Rxe5
Qh2+ 41. Kc3 Qxe5+ 42. Qd4 Nf6 43. Qxe5 dxe5 44. Kd3 g4 45. Rf1 Ng8 46. Ke4
Nxh6 47. Kxe5 Kg7 48. Kf4 Kg6 49. e4 Nf7 50. Rg1 Kf6 51. Rxg4 Ne5 52. Rg8 Nxc4
53. Rc8 Nxb2 54. e5+ Ke7 55. Rxc7+ Kd8 56. Rxa7 Nd3+ 57. Kf5 Nb4 58. Ke6 Kc8
59. d6 Kb8 60. Rh7 b5 61. Rh8+ Kb7 62. d7 Nc6 63. d8=Q Nxd8+ 64. Rxd8 1-0[/pgn]
Anna Zatonskih was, unfortunately, again on the receiving end of a simply great game by her opponent. Repeating black against Elina Danielian, Anna saw herself in a slight disadvantage in an isolated queen pawn’s position. It is hard to praise Elina’s game enough in this game: it was masterful, and her slight advantage grew until uncontrollable levels.
[pgn][Event "World Chess Olympiad 2018"]
[Site "Batumi"]
[Date "2018.10.01"]
[Round "7.1"]
[White "Danielian Elina"]
[Black "Zatonskih Anna"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D37"]
[WhiteElo "2409"]
[BlackElo "2431"]
[PlyCount "91"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:16:35"]
[BlackClock "0:18:49"]1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 c5 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8.
cxd5 exd5 9. Be2 Nc6 10. O-O Be6 11. Rc1 Rc8 12. a3 a6 13. b4 Be7 14. Nd4 Nxd4
15. Qxd4 Qd7 16. Rfd1 Rfd8 17. Be5 Qe8 18. h3 Qf8 19. Qf4 h6 20. Bd3 Rc6 21.
Ne2 Rxc1 22. Rxc1 Rc8 23. Rd1 Nd7 24. Bc7 a5 25. bxa5 Bxa3 26. Nd4 Nc5 27. Bb1
Qe8 28. Qg3 Ne4 29. Bxe4 dxe4 30. Rb1 Bd5 31. Nf5 Bf8 32. Bd6 Kh7 33. Bxf8 Qxf8
34. Qe5 Bc6 35. Nd6 Rc7 36. Rc1 f6 37. Qf4 g5 38. Qf5+ Kh8 39. Qc5 Qe7 40. Nxb7
Qxc5 41. Nxc5 Bd5 42. Rc3 f5 43. Nxe4 Ra7 44. Rc8+ Kg7 45. Nd6 Be6 46. Rc7+ 1-0[/pgn]
Irina Krush’s game was topsy-tuvy. She had excellent chances out of the opening, especially with a mass of pawns rolling on the kingside. She allowed a bit too much counterplay on the queenside, and her pawns started falling there, but it seemed that her attack on the flank in which the kings resided might be extremely dangerous. In time pressure, accuracy from both players took a strong hit. In the chaos, a draw was reached, but the game could really have gone either way.
[pgn][Event "World Chess Olympiad 2018"]
[Site "Batumi"]
[Date "2018.10.01"]
[Round "7.2"]
[White "Krush Irina"]
[Black "Mkrtchian Lilit"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D11"]
[WhiteElo "2423"]
[BlackElo "2384"]
[PlyCount "81"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:32:26"]
[BlackClock "0:32:14"]1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Qb3 dxc4 5. Qxc4 Bf5 6. g3 e6 7. Bg2 Be7 8. O-O
Nbd7 9. e3 O-O 10. Qe2 h6 11. Rd1 Qc7 12. Nc3 Ne4 13. Ne1 Nxc3 14. bxc3 e5 15.
e4 Bh7 16. f4 Qa5 17. dxe5 Qxc3 18. Bb2 Qc5+ 19. Kh1 Rfd8 20. a4 Qa5 21. Nf3
Nc5 22. Nd4 Bf8 23. Nf5 Rxd1+ 24. Rxd1 Rd8 25. Nd6 Nxa4 26. Ba1 Qb4 27. Qc2
Bxd6 28. exd6 Rxd6 29. f5 Nb6 30. h3 Rxd1+ 31. Qxd1 Qe7 32. g4 f6 33. Bc3 Kh8
34. Qa1 Nd7 35. Qxa7 Qc5 36. Qxb7 Qxc3 37. Qxd7 Qc1+ 38. Kh2 Qf4+ 39. Kg1 Qe3+
40. Kh1 Qc1+ 41. Kh2 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
Jennifer Yu’s game today was not as clean as her performances in the previous rounds, but it was yet another victory for our teenaged reserve board. Achieving a pleasant advantage from the opening and a huge time advantage on the clock, things took a turn for the worse in the middle game. White’s advantage slowly dissipated and time pressure loomed heavily on both. After both players were down to seconds, move 40 was reached, and Jennifer had a pleasant advantage. Black’s 41st move was a horrible blunder that allowed a superb finish.
[pgn][Event "World Chess Olympiad 2018"]
[Site "Batumi"]
[Date "2018.10.01"]
[Round "7.4"]
[White "Yu Jennifer"]
[Black "Kursova Maria"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E39"]
[WhiteElo "2268"]
[BlackElo "2289"]
[PlyCount "93"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:04:34"]
[BlackClock "0:01:25"]1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 c5 5. dxc5 O-O 6. a3 Bxc5 7. Nf3 b6 8. Bg5
Be7 9. Rd1 Nc6 10. e4 h6 11. Bh4 Nh5 12. Bxe7 Nxe7 13. g3 a6 14. Bg2 Qc7 15.
Qd3 Ng6 16. O-O Rb8 17. b3 Rd8 18. Qd6 Qa7 19. e5 Bb7 20. Qd4 f5 21. Ne2 Qa8
22. Ne1 d6 23. exd6 e5 24. Bxb7 Qxb7 25. Qd3 e4 26. Qd4 Nf6 27. Ng2 Re8 28. Kh1
Ne5 29. Ng1 Rbd8 30. Ne3 Nf7 31. c5 bxc5 32. Qxc5 Re5 33. Qc3 Rb5 34. b4 Rxd6
35. Rxd6 Nxd6 36. Rd1 Nf7 37. Ne2 Ng4 38. Kg2 Nxe3+ 39. fxe3 Kh7 40. Nf4 Ng5
41. h4 Nf3 42. Ne6 Kg6 43. Rd6 Qe7 44. h5+ Kxh5 45. Nf4+ Kg4 46. Rg6+ Ng5 47.
Qc2 1-0[/pgn]
Despite this loss, USA still ranks quite well. Tomorrow, they face the strong team of Italy, though our women are still the slight rating favorites.
Fabiano Caruana and Wesley So. Photo: David Llada
Our open section pairing was somewhat strange, even with the fact that pairings are done by board points rather than ratings. With Poland and Azerbaijan as the only teams with perfect score, their pairing was obvious, but since we were clear third it was not as clear who we would “float up”. Bosnia yesterday seemed like an odd choice, and Croatia again was not the toughest pairing we could have gotten from a pool that included Russia, China, Ukraine, Germany, etc. Our white pieces really made quick work of our opponent’s black pieces. Wesley So’s handling of the Najdorf was again superb, and quite creative. He threw in a wrench in his opponent’s preparation with the interesting move 9.h4!?, which created chaos in the position. The inclusion of the h-pawns in the fray severely worsened Black’s chances on the kingside. White was able to destroy black on that flank, with a strong f5 break that was met with zero counterplay. Yet again, Wesley shows no mercy to his opponent!
[pgn][Event "World Chess Olympiad 2018"]
[Site "Batumi"]
[Date "2018.10.01"]
[Round "7.2"]
[White "So Wesley"]
[Black "Bosiocic Marin"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B90"]
[WhiteElo "2776"]
[BlackElo "2600"]
[PlyCount "53"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:20:21"]
[BlackClock "0:39:19"]1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. Be2
Be7 9. h4 h5 10. Nd5 Bxd5 11. exd5 Nbd7 12. c4 g6 13. g3 b6 14. Nd2 a5 15. f4
Qc8 16. O-O Nc5 17. Kg2 Ra7 18. Qc2 Bd8 19. f5 Rg8 20. fxg6 Rxg6 21. Rf5 b5 22.
Raf1 Rc7 23. Bxh5 Nxh5 24. Rxh5 Rg8 25. Qh7 Qg4 26. Rg5 Rxg5 27. Bxg5 1-0[/pgn]
Sam Shankland returned from his rest last game with plenty of energy! In another sharp Sicilian, Sam dominated the light squares over Ante Brkic. The game became extremely messy, with tremendous complications, and both kings under serious threats. The transition from the opening was not good for Black, in which the opposite colored bishops gave White serious attacking chances. Once this position was reached, Sam’s technique was flawless.
[pgn][Event "World Chess Olympiad 2018"]
[Site "Batumi"]
[Date "2018.10.01"]
[Round "7.4"]
[White "Shankland Samuel"]
[Black "Brkic Ante"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B51"]
[WhiteElo "2722"]
[BlackElo "2565"]
[PlyCount "81"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "1:13:08"]
[BlackClock "0:31:23"]1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Nd7 4. d4 Ngf6 5. Nc3 cxd4 6. Qxd4 e5 7. Qd3 h6 8.
a4 a6 9. Bc4 Nc5 10. Qe2 Bg4 11. h3 Bh5 12. O-O Be7 13. g4 Bg6 14. Nh4 Bh7 15.
Nf5 O-O 16. Rd1 Rc8 17. a5 Ne6 18. Be3 Bxf5 19. gxf5 Nf4 20. Bxf4 exf4 21. e5
f3 22. Qf1 Ne8 23. Bd5 Rc5 24. Ne4 Rxa5 25. f6 gxf6 26. exd6 Nxd6 27. Rxa5 Qxa5
28. Nxd6 Bxd6 29. Qd3 Kg7 30. Qxf3 Re8 31. Qg4+ Kf8 32. Qh5 Qc7 33. Qxh6+ Ke7
34. Qh7 Kd8 35. Bxb7 Qxb7 36. Rxd6+ Ke7 37. Rd3 Qc6 38. Re3+ Kd8 39. Qd3+ Kc7
40. Rxe8 Qxe8 41. Qxa6 1-0[/pgn]
Fabiano Caruana. Photo: David Llada
The Berlin defense has been a trusty way of playing for the World elite for the past decade, and Caruana saw no reason not to trust it today against Ivan Saric. The Croatian chose the d3 variation and was unable to get very much. Caruana wasn’t really able to achieve an advantage at any point, and the draw seemed like a fair result.
[pgn][Event "World Chess Olympiad 2018"]
[Site "Batumi"]
[Date "2018.10.01"]
[Round "7.1"]
[White "Saric Ivan"]
[Black "Caruana Fabiano"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C65"]
[WhiteElo "2689"]
[BlackElo "2827"]
[PlyCount "107"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:16:44"]
[BlackClock "0:20:32"]1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. Bxc6 dxc6 6. Nbd2 Be6 7. O-O Nd7 8.
Nb3 Bb6 9. Ng5 Bxb3 10. axb3 f6 11. Nf3 Nf8 12. Nd2 Qd7 13. Nc4 Ne6 14. Kh1 O-O
15. Qg4 Qf7 16. Be3 Bd4 17. b4 a6 18. Rad1 Rfd8 19. c3 Bxe3 20. fxe3 Qe7 21. d4
Nf8 22. Na5 Rab8 23. h3 Qe6 24. Qxe6+ Nxe6 25. h4 Nf8 26. d5 cxd5 27. exd5 Ng6
28. h5 Ne7 29. e4 f5 30. exf5 Nxd5 31. Rfe1 Nf6 32. Kg1 Kf7 33. Rxd8 Rxd8 34.
Nxb7 Rd2 35. Rxe5 Ng4 36. Re1 Rxb2 37. Nc5 Rc2 38. Ne4 h6 39. Rd1 Ke7 40. g3
Nf6 41. Rd4 Nxe4 42. Rxe4+ Kf6 43. Rc4 Kxf5 44. Kf1 Kg5 45. g4 Kh4 46. Ke1 Ra2
47. Rxc7 Kxg4 48. Rxg7+ Kxh5 49. c4 Ra4 50. Rb7 a5 51. bxa5 Rxc4 52. a6 Ra4 53.
a7 Kg6 54. Kf2 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
Last to finish was Hikaru Nakamura; unfortunately, again he was unable to bring a full point. He tried very hard with the black pieces to outplay his opponent, but it just didn’t happen. Still, a draw is a good result for the team and the 3-1 was certainly convincing.
[pgn][Event "World Chess Olympiad 2018"]
[Site "Batumi"]
[Date "2018.10.01"]
[Round "7.3"]
[White "Stevic Hrvoje"]
[Black "Nakamura Hikaru"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B18"]
[WhiteElo "2579"]
[BlackElo "2763"]
[PlyCount "107"]
[EventDate "2018.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:12:46"]
[BlackClock "0:41:17"]1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Bf5 5. Ng3 Bg6 6. Nf3 e6 7. Bd3 Qa5+ 8.
Bd2 Bb4 9. Bxg6 Bxd2+ 10. Qxd2 Qxd2+ 11. Kxd2 hxg6 12. Ne4 Ke7 13. Ne5 Nd7 14.
Nd6 Nxe5 15. dxe5 b6 16. h3 g5 17. Rad1 Nh6 18. Ke2 f6 19. Rd3 g4 20. hxg4 Nxg4
21. Rxh8 Rxh8 22. exf6+ Nxf6 23. Nc4 Rh4 24. Ne5 Re4+ 25. Re3 Ra4 26. Nxc6+ Kd6
27. b3 Rxa2 28. Nb4 Ra5 29. Rg3 Re5+ 30. Kd1 g5 31. Nd3 Rf5 32. Rh3 g4 33. Rh8
e5 34. Ke2 e4 35. Nb2 Nd5 36. Nc4+ Kc5 37. Rc8+ Kb4 38. Ne3 Nxe3 39. Kxe3 b5
40. Re8 Kc3 41. Rc8+ Kb4 42. Re8 Kc3 43. Rxe4 Kxc2 44. b4 Rg5 45. f4 gxf3 46.
Kxf3 Kc3 47. g4 a5 48. bxa5 b4 49. a6 Ra5 50. Re6 b3 51. Rc6+ Kd2 52. Rb6 Kc2
53. Rc6+ Kd2 54. Rb6 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
Tomorrow will be a decisive round for the open section. The first board pairing is Team USA vs. Azerbaijan! The two highest rated players in the event will face each other (at least, very likely, it is hard to imagine either team resting them!): Fabiano Caruana with the white piece vs. Shakhriyar Mamedayrov!

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