Gold for Armenia and Russia at 40th Olympiad
Armenia and Russia won the gold medals at the 40th Chess Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey. In the Open section Armenia, who also won in 2006 and 2008, edged out Russia on tie-break. Ukraine, the winner of 2010, finished in third place. In the women's section Russia surpassed China on tie-break; bronze went to Ukraine.
Levon Aronian wears the Armenian flag as his country wins Olympic gold | All photos by David Llada, Arman Karakhayan and Anastasiya Karlovich courtesy of FIDE & the official website
We'd like to start this report with a suggestion to the organizers of the 2014 Tromsø Olympiad. Please have someone write a script (we can do it for you!) that automatically creates the "live final standings" based on entering individual board results, so that throughout the day one can follow who is leading based on what tie-break exactly. And, Norwegians, invest in a big screen that will show these virtual standings in the playing hall.
Obviously we're referring to the weird situation that while the decisive games of the Olympiad's last round were about to finish, nobody was sure what the effect would be. Even after all the top boards were finished, nobody in the press room was absolutely sure who won the medals. Well Mr Usain Bolt, we'll tell you in an hour how fast you were this time.
Well, as you know by now it was Armenia who won their third gold medal ever. After clinching bronze in Manila '92, Bled '02 and Calvia '04 they emerged victorious in both Turin '06 and Dresden '08, and now again in Istanbul. It was Levon Aronian who led his team to its success, scoring the gold medal on board one with a score of 6.5/9. But it was mostly a team effort, as Sergei Movsesian immediately noted when we congratulated him with his game that decided the last match:
Before the start of the round China had the best tie-break of the three leading countries (besides Armenia and Russia). However, they also had the toughest opponents: Ukraine, who won gold in 2010. Vassily Ivanchuk's quick and pretty win on board one was a heavy blow for the Chinese:
Vassily Ivanchuk (r.) crushed Wang Hao on board one
With draws on board two and three, Pavel Eljanov's win meant a 3-1 final score:
Russia, however, did win their last match (3-1) and so they ended on the same number of match points as Armenia: 19. Sergey Karjakin beat Daniel Fridman and Vladimir Kramnik won against Arkadij Naidisch:
Silver for the Russian men
After their rollercoaster ride in rounds 9 and 10, the USA finished well with a 2.5-1.5 win over Poland. Radek Wojtaszek added another strong GM, Hikaru Nakamura, to his list of scalps (which got him the silver medal on board one) but Ray Robson and Gata Kamsky scored wins. The latter had a few scary moments:
Because the first tie-break was the sum of Sonneborn-Berger points (match points of each opponent, excluding the opponent who scored the lowest number of match points, multiplied by the number of game points achieved against this opponent) the medal distribution depended much upon the final round results of Armenia and Russia's opponents. For example, the Argentina vs Netherlands match (1-3) helped Armenia, because they beat the Netherlands while Russia won against Argentina.
Netherlands - Argentina: 3-1
In many countries certain fees for the players depend on their results in the Olympiad, and this also counted for the Netherlands. After their bad start the Dutch eventually finished on 6th place, which meant that they have achieved "Olympic A status" for another year. (Although Ivan Sokolov noted that the Dutch first need to await the result of Loek van Wely's doping test!)
Czech Republic's David Navara played in all rounds and won gold at board 2 with 9.5/11. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan was the best on board 3 with 8.5/10 while France's Vlad Tkachiev won gold for board 4. Officially he was board 5, but Dmitry Jakovenko played 9 games and scored 7 points to win the gold medal for reserve players.
Also in the women's section China missed out on the gold medals in the last round. They did win (2.5-1.5 against Bulgaria) but Russia's 4-0 sweep over Kazakhstan plus the scores of their opponents eventually resulted in a higher tie-break for the Russian ladies, who thus sucessfully defended their title. Among the ladies it was perhaps easier to accept the result, because here the medals wouldn't have been distributed differently if board points were the first tie-break.
Here's the last-round game by Nadezhda Kosintseva, who won the gold medal for board 3.
Team captain Sergei Rublevsky cheers for his girls
China won gold at boards 1 (Hou Yifan), 2 (Zhao Xue) and 4 (Huang Qian). The board 5 gold medal went to Russia's Natalija Pogonina.
And so the Russian men yet again started as the favorite but couldn't manage to repeat their last victory, in 2002 in Bled. The Armenians, who went through the event as cheerful as always, showed extreme happiness as they celebrated, together with the women's time, with a dinner at the Choppers bar right next to their hotel.
After a concert by Sertab Erener (which lasted a few songs too long) the closing ceremony started with the categories prizes. Some teams had no idea that they won such a prize, and nobody understood why the category A existed. This was basically a prize for numbers 4, 5 and 6 in the Olympiad, while the main idea of having gold, silver and bronze medals seems to be that 4, 5 and 6 don't get a prize! The prize giving ended with all individual board prizes and, last but not least, the team medals.
Tigran Petrosian, Gabriel Sargissian, Sergei Movsesian (behind FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov), Levon Aronian and team captain Arshak Petrosian
Although we have been focusing on the top players (as we always do here at ChessVibes), the Olympiad was so much more than that. With 158 different federations and close to 1500 in one playing hall, we have only been able to tell a fraction of what happened. However, thanks to some stories that were told at the after party (again at Choppers) we can end with two small anecdotes from the lower regions.
To start with, here's the wonderful story about Papua New Guinea's Craig Skehan as told by Shaun Press on his blog:
In the field of sporting achievement, there are a number of streaks that seem to go on forever. Cal Ripkin's consecutive game record in Baseball, Edwin Moses winning streak in Athletics, Australia's domination of the Ashes spring to mind. But eventually such streaks must come to an end, but when they do it is often considered an historical moment (or a sign that the world is about to be destroyed).
Within the world of chess, the name Craig Skehan isn't that well known, except for the collectors of Olympiad statistics (or readers of this blog). For Craig has held the record for the most number of games without a win in the Olympiad. This is a record that stretches back to 1986 and extends over 6 Olympiads. In that time he played 59 games (defaults not counting) for a record of 10 draws and 49 losses.
But game 60 was the charm, and the streak has come to an end. Merely minutes ago his opponent from Sao Tome resigned when faced with running a and h pawns, giving Craig his first ever over the board victory at the Olympiad. Significantly it also sealed the match win for the team, giving PNG its best finish in a number of years. There were some nervous moments towards the end (eg I was convinced he would go to the toilet and lock himself in), but before a crowd of interested spectators (including GM's Bojkov, Rogers and Speelman), he managed to play the right moves to end the game.
Credit for both the teams performance, and Craig's win, should go to GM Dejan Bojkov, who served as this years Captain and team trainer. I'm not sure he realised what he was getting himself into, but he applied himself in an enthusiastic and professional manner.
And then there was the very last match of the Olympiad: Sudan vs Botswana. While arbiters, cleaners and construction workers were waiting to clean up and empty the playing hall, these games just kept on going. Board four ended after 92 moves in stalemate, board three lasted 111 moves, board two 101 moves and board one 146 moves. At that top board, the Sudan player tried to win a drawn queen ending for well over fifty moves. At some point his opponent claimed wrongly, by first making his move and pressing the clock, so the game continued. Then the Sudan played blundered and even lost...
Olympiad 2012 | Top results round 11
|Bo.||2||Ukraine (UKR)||Rtg||-||6||China (CHN)||Rtg||3 : 1|
|1.1||GM||Ivanchuk, Vassily||2769||-||GM||Wang, Hao||2726||1 - 0|
|1.2||GM||Ponomariov, Ruslan||2734||-||GM||Wang, Yue||2685||½ - ½|
|1.3||GM||Volokitin, Andrei||2709||-||GM||Ding, Liren||2695||½ - ½|
|1.4||GM||Eljanov, Pavel||2693||-||GM||Bu, Xiangzhi||2670||1 - 0|
|Bo.||4||Hungary (HUN)||Rtg||-||3||Armenia (ARM)||Rtg||1½:2½|
|2.1||GM||Leko, Peter||2737||-||GM||Aronian, Levon||2816||½ - ½|
|2.2||GM||Almasi, Zoltan||2713||-||GM||Movsesian, Sergei||2698||0 - 1|
|2.3||GM||Polgar, Judit||2698||-||GM||Akopian, Vladimir||2687||½ - ½|
|2.4||GM||Berkes, Ferenc||2685||-||GM||Sargissian, Gabriel||2693||½ - ½|
|Bo.||1||Russia (RUS)||Rtg||-||14||Germany (GER)||Rtg||3 : 1|
|3.1||GM||Kramnik, Vladimir||2797||-||GM||Naiditsch, Arkadij||2712||1 - 0|
|3.2||GM||Grischuk, Alexander||2763||-||GM||Khenkin, Igor||2656||½ - ½|
|3.3||GM||Karjakin, Sergey||2785||-||GM||Fridman, Daniel||2653||1 - 0|
|3.4||GM||Jakovenko, Dmitry||2722||-||GM||Gustafsson, Jan||2610||½ - ½|
|Bo.||16||Poland (POL)||Rtg||-||5||United States Of America (USA)||Rtg||1½:2½|
|4.1||GM||Wojtaszek, Radoslaw||2717||-||GM||Nakamura, Hikaru||2778||1 - 0|
|4.2||GM||Bartel, Mateusz||2654||-||GM||Kamsky, Gata||2746||0 - 1|
|4.3||GM||Swiercz, Dariusz||2594||-||GM||Onishuk, Alexander||2666||½ - ½|
|4.4||GM||Macieja, Bartlomiej||2594||-||GM||Robson, Ray||2598||0 - 1|
Olympiad 2012 | Final standings (top 30)
|5||5||United States Of America||USA||11||7||3||1||17||361.0||30.0||142.00|
Women's Olympiad 2012 | Top results round 11
|Bo.||2||Russia (RUS)||Rtg||-||22||Kazakhstan (KAZ)||Rtg||4 : 0|
|1.1||GM||Kosintseva, Tatiana||2530||-||WIM||Nakhbayeva, Guliskhan||2291||1 - 0|
|1.2||IM||Gunina, Valentina||2507||-||WIM||Dauletova, Gulmira||2267||1 - 0|
|1.3||GM||Kosintseva, Nadezhda||2524||-||WIM||Saduakassova, Dinara||2216||1 - 0|
|1.4||GM||Kosteniuk, Alexandra||2489||-||WIM||Davletbayeva, Madina||2165||1 - 0|
|Bo.||13||Bulgaria (BUL)||Rtg||-||1||China (CHN)||Rtg||1½:2½|
|2.1||GM||Stefanova, Antoaneta||2502||-||GM||Hou, Yifan||2599||½ - ½|
|2.2||WGM||Videnova, Iva||2317||-||GM||Zhao, Xue||2549||0 - 1|
|2.3||WGM||Voiska, Margarita||2281||-||WGM||Ju, Wenjun||2528||1 - 0|
|2.4||WIM||Raeva, Elitsa||2313||-||WGM||Huang, Qian||2449||0 - 1|
|Bo.||4||Ukraine (UKR)||Rtg||-||9||Germany (GER)||Rtg||3½: ½|
|3.1||GM||Lahno, Kateryna||2542||-||IM||Paehtz, Elisabeth||2483||1 - 0|
|3.2||IM||Muzychuk, Mariya||2466||-||WGM||Melamed, Tetyana||2356||½ - ½|
|3.3||GM||Zhukova, Natalia||2442||-||WGM||Ohme, Melanie||2337||1 - 0|
|3.4||IM||Ushenina, Anna||2433||-||WGM||Michna, Marta||2380||1 - 0|
|Bo.||14||France (FRA)||Rtg||-||6||India (IND)||Rtg||1½:2½|
|4.1||IM||Skripchenko, Almira||2442||-||GM||Dronavalli, Harika||2503||0 - 1|
|4.2||IM||Milliet, Sophie||2411||-||IM||Sachdev, Tania||2379||½ - ½|
|4.3||WGM||Maisuradze, Nino||2284||-||WGM||Gomes, Mary Ann||2396||1 - 0|
|4.4||WIM||Bollengier, Andreea||2253||-||WGM||Soumya, Swaminathan||2271||0 - 1|
Women's Olympiad 2012 | Final standings (top 20)
|10||5||United States of America||USA||11||6||3||2||15||326.0||29.5||133.00|
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