Reports | September 09, 2012 16:59

Gold for Armenia and Russia at 40th Olympiad

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

Event Olympiad | PGN: Open & Women via TWIC
Dates August 28-September 9, 2012
Location Istanbul, Turkey
System Team Swiss, 11 rounds
Players Open, top 10: Aronian, Kramnik, Radjabov, Karjakin, Nakamura, Caruana, Ivanchuk, Grischuk, Topalov, Kamsky
Women, top 10: A.Muzychuk, Hou Yifan, Zhao Xue, Dzagnidze, Lahno, T.Kosintseva, Ju Wenjun, N.Kosintseva, Cmilyte, Zatonskih
Rate of play

90 minutes for 40 moves + 30 minutes to finish the game + 30 seconds increment from move 1

Tie-break 1) Match points 2) Sonneborn-Berger without lowest result 3) Game points
Extra No draw offers before move 30

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:

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Sergei Movsesian

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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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)

Rk. SNo   Team Team Rounds + = - TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4
1 3   Armenia ARM 11 9 1 1 19 397.0 29.0 155.00
2 1   Russia RUS 11 9 1 1 19 388.5 28.5 157.00
3 2   Ukraine UKR 11 9 0 2 18 363.0 29.5 147.00
4 6   China CHN 11 8 1 2 17 390.5 29.5 157.00
5 5   United States Of America USA 11 7 3 1 17 361.0 30.0 142.00
6 9   Netherlands NED 11 8 0 3 16 329.0 29.0 133.00
7 27   Vietnam VIE 11 6 4 1 16 313.5 29.0 126.00
8 25   Romania ROU 11 8 0 3 16 310.0 29.0 128.00
9 4   Hungary HUN 11 7 1 3 15 368.0 28.0 151.00
10 7   Azerbaijan AZE 11 6 3 2 15 344.0 29.0 144.00
11 15   Cuba CUB 11 7 1 3 15 338.5 30.5 130.00
12 14   Germany GER 11 6 3 2 15 334.5 26.0 148.00
13 16   Poland POL 11 7 1 3 15 313.5 27.5 138.00
14 20   Serbia SRB 11 6 3 2 15 307.0 28.5 126.00
15 22   Italy ITA 11 7 1 3 15 306.0 28.0 134.00
16 34   Sweden SWE 11 7 1 3 15 303.5 28.0 125.00
17 11   England ENG 11 6 3 2 15 300.5 26.0 137.00
18 39   Denmark DEN 11 7 1 3 15 270.5 27.0 121.00
19 23   Moldova MDA 11 6 2 3 14 348.5 29.5 129.00
20 10   Bulgaria BUL 11 7 0 4 14 321.5 28.0 134.00
21 35   Philippines PHI 11 6 2 3 14 321.0 26.0 152.00
22 29   Argentina ARG 11 6 2 3 14 316.0 25.0 146.00
23 8   France FRA 11 6 2 3 14 305.0 26.5 141.00
24 33   Uzbekistan UZB 11 6 2 3 14 303.0 27.0 138.00
25 28   Slovenia SLO 11 6 2 3 14 297.0 24.0 138.00
26 12   Israel ISR 11 5 4 2 14 296.0 25.0 136.00
27 19   Croatia CRO 11 6 2 3 14 295.5 25.0 137.00
28 30   Latvia LAT 11 7 0 4 14 295.0 26.0 136.00
29 32   Belarus BLR 11 6 2 3 14 289.5 27.0 127.00
30 42   Slovakia SVK 11 6 2 3 14 264.5 27.0 122.00

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)

Rk. SNo   Team Team Rounds + = - TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4
1 2   Russia RUS 11 8 3 0 19 450.0 33.0 155.00
2 1   China CHN 11 8 3 0 19 416.0 31.5 154.00
3 4   Ukraine UKR 11 7 4 0 18 408.5 30.5 154.00
4 6   India IND 11 8 1 2 17 336.0 28.0 148.00
5 10   Romania ROU 11 8 0 3 16 313.5 28.5 129.00
6 8   Armenia ARM 11 8 0 3 16 313.0 26.5 140.00
7 14   France FRA 11 7 1 3 15 347.5 29.0 147.00
8 3   Georgia GEO 11 6 3 2 15 344.0 28.5 144.00
9 26   Iran IRI 11 7 1 3 15 339.0 31.0 132.00
10 5   United States of America USA 11 6 3 2 15 326.0 29.5 133.00
11 9   Germany GER 11 7 1 3 15 316.0 27.0 144.00
12 22   Kazakhstan KAZ 11 6 3 2 15 309.0 27.0 138.00
13 21   Mongolia MGL 11 7 1 3 15 308.0 28.0 134.00
14 36   Belarus BLR 11 6 3 2 15 292.0 28.5 121.00
15 7   Poland POL 11 6 2 3 14 336.5 27.5 151.00
16 13   Bulgaria BUL 11 6 2 3 14 316.5 27.5 136.00
17 12   Hungary HUN 11 6 2 3 14 303.0 27.5 129.00
18 24   Latvia LAT 11 6 2 3 14 296.5 28.0 126.00
19 15   Cuba CUB 11 5 4 2 14 286.0 25.5 129.00
20 17   Netherlands NED 11 6 2 3 14 285.5 27.0 133.00



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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


adam's picture

congrats to the winners!

Ed Dean's picture

Second that, adam. Man, lotta good chess at this Olympiad.

Zeblakob's picture

Good !! they followed my recommendation and gave the gold medal to both Russia and Armenia.

noyb's picture

Uh, if Armenia edged out Russia on tie-breaks, doesn't that mean Russia won Silver?

Anonymous's picture

Yes, but they won Gold in the women's event!

irulats's picture

Yes, but they won Gold in the women's event!

Anonymous's picture

from official site:
"Russia finished equal first on match points but with weaker tie-breaks and thus is awarded with the silver medal."

Anonymous's picture

why am i anonymous? wtf?

Anonymous's picture

You've been sanctioned! lol

valg321's picture

i couldn't have been happier with the results, both teams i rooted for in open and womens won gold. Its a fine day

Creemer's picture

6th place for the dutch!
I feel so proud...

MamedyarovFan's picture

GM Mamedyarov is best player of 2012 Olympiad with rating performance 2880. He is followed by GM Navara (2869) and then GM Aronian (2849). See

tsia68's picture

11 rounds is just too short. Congrats to Armenian men and Russian women but I would have really preferred to see 14 rounds as it was some time ago. 11 rounds feels very much like lottery

redivivo's picture

Looking at the latest rating list 12 Russian players have a higher rating than the Armenian #2, that says something about what an accomplishment it is by Armenia to once again win the gold ahead of Russia.

S3's picture

No, it just shows how little rating means.

Thomas's picture

It mostly shows that the Olympiad isn't played on 12 boards ...

S3's picture

Hehe, that too yes.

valg321's picture

congrats also to David Navara for second best performance. It was about time he got back to 2700

Longyearbyen's picture

In western Europe the media largely ignored the event. Of course when in the final round no one knows who is winning it does not help. It is quite preposterous not to have a real final, which would draw much more attention to chess and would be much fairer. This tie-break madness has to stop. The Fide management is a disaster.

Thomas's picture

Is there more western media attention for the Chess World Team Championship, which can be considered "a real final" - with a limited number of teams that qualified beforehand?

tsia68's picture

Of course not.... IMHO the reason for chess being ignored from western media is that it's just too difficult for the average men and women out there. It's definitely easier to look at Sharapowa's legs or Bolt's muscles than to think. But don't worry, it's very good this way :-)

valg321's picture

its always been like this, but i like it this way, makes me feel kinda special. For your information i didn't know who Sharapowa was until i googled her 2 mins ago, so...

S3's picture

Oh boo-hoo-hoo. It's you who is the disaster. TB's aren't that much of a problem and not FIDE's fault either. Accept that chess isn't a regular sport and not for all.

Roger's picture

So proud of Indian girls !! ( Not only Tania Sachdev :P)

redivivo's picture

The Olympiad results mean that Anand will be down to his lowest world ranking in more than 21 years on the next rating list (7th place).

Thomas's picture

I was a bit surprised that Armenia has the better tiebreak than Russia, so I tried to find out why: In a way, it was decided already in the second round when Armenia won 4-0 against #48 Bangladesh and Russia just 3-1 against #21 Greece. Plus, Bangladesh somehow finished one match point ahead of Greece after facing much weaker opposition.
Then Russia played relatively better against the stronger teams - many results cancel out, then we are left with two 3-1 victories by both teams: Russia against China and Germany, Armenia against Uzbekistan and the Netherlands (hard to gauge their real strength, in a bizarre tournament they faced just one team from the top10). So if the tiebreak had been "without the two weakest opponents", Russia would have the edge.

Armenia won't care, and for Russia it's little if any consolation. But it seems hard to claim that Armenia was "better" from an objective point of view. "I like Armenia (or Aronian)" and/or "I don't like Russia (or Kramnik) aren't objective arguments.

Anonymous's picture

Come on man. Armenia won it fair and square. Just give them credit and move on. Every team was aware of the tie break rules when they agreed to participate.

Alfonso's picture

If the tie-breaks rules were "higher number of bishop moves" you would still claim that the winner is the right one because "everyone knew the rules"? I think it is perfectly possible to discuss the relative merits of Russia and Armenia despite the fact that Armenia won the tie-break.

Anonymous's picture

If the top-rated Russian men had only held the United States to a draw then they would have had no problem taking gold. They failed at that so they don't deserve higher than silver.

Anonymous's picture

Armenia was better because they won. One cannot be more objective than that.

Bert de Bruut's picture

They lost the match vs Russia, so the tie might easily have gone the other way...

Anonymous's picture

You are factually wrong. The match between Armenia-Russia was 2-2. But if you think Russia is better that's your opinion

Anonymous's picture

You are factually wrong. The match between Armenia-Russia was 2-2. But if you think Russia is better that's your opinion

Anonymous's picture

bloggers don't like winners

miguelanjelo's picture

Tomashevsky is the reason why Russia didn`t won the gold medal, he just played it safe and signed like 5 draws against much weaker players. I cannot understand why Russia choosed him, if anything Andreikin should have played not him.

Anonymous's picture

Well he is a clever fellow - he got a nice vacation in Turkey and didn't have to pay for it!

Thomas's picture

Another observation: at the two previous Olympiads (the only ones with 11 rounds and match point scoring), 19 points were enough for clear gold (no worries about tiebreaks), 18 meant silver and 17 with the best tiebreak bronze. This time it's 19, 19 and 18 points.
So "in the old days" one could afford a few slips and still win a medal. Israel had a slow start in 2008 and 2010 (just 4 points from the first 3 rounds) and still won silver and bronze - this time in any case they forgot their strong finish ... . Now Armenia and Russia had one slip each and a draw against each other, and Ukraine lost to both of them but beat everyone else they got.

JT's picture

Russia took draws too quickly on the black boards.
Had they beat Germany 4-0, they would have won on the tie-break. Very likely the Germans would have slipped up against higher rated Russians, like Fridman against Karjakin.
Wonder who decided their strategy in the last round?

Antonymous's picture

1. USSR 3 2. USSR1 3. USSR2

redivivo's picture

The reasons why Russia once again failed to win:

1. Svidler should have been picked among the five original members of the team. Not even ranking him sixth was a bad joke. He has been leading Russia to Olympiad gold, WTC gold and ETC golds, on first board in all of these events. His form 2011-12 is better than in a long time and he very much wanted to play.

2. First board. Aronian likes to work in a team and prepare with the others. Kramnik arrives when the first round starts, and even though he gets more whites than blacks +1 isn't much of a result. Aronian and Radjabov both scored +4 without having more whites than blacks. The last time Russia won Kasparov won all his games apart from three: a draw against Gelfand when all boards drew in the opening to secure gold, the other two against Leko and Akopian.

3. Too many short draws. Trying to win every game matters for the tiebreak. Some of the games drawn by Karjakin and Grischuk in the opening against much weaker players might have been winnable if they had tried harder.

S3's picture

How is this? They just "failed to win" because they lost against the USA. The absence of Svidler and those annoying short draws are of secondary importance.
And in the end they also didn't get first 'cause Armenia was playing strongly.

But the Russians did pretty well. The team was playing extremely solid apart from Grischuk (who got a lot of wins but also lost in the key matches Armenia and USA). It's just that those solid draws are gonna come back and bite you in the a** when it comes to TB's.

On a little sidenote: It's a pitty that Armenia didn't get to play the USA and the Azerbaijani, a few more rounds would have been interesting.

Thomas's picture

The main reason why Russia "failed to win" is because they lost the tiebreak lottery (it was a lottery because it all depended on the draw for round 2).

Trivia question: When was the last time that tiebreaks decided over silver and gold? Answer: It was 1980 when the Soviet Union and Hungary both had 39 board points (main criterion until 2008) over 14 rounds, and tiebreaks favored the Soviets (449.5 vs. 448). It's been a while, second reserve board for the Soviet Union was IM Kasparov.

As to Kramnik vs. Aronian: I wonder if Aronian was very involved in the Armenian pre-tournament preparations - like Kramnik he doesn't live in his home country. During the event Kramnik did help the others: for example, Karjakin attributed his key win against the Ukrainian Volokitin to opening preparation by Kramnik.
Regarding their scores, Kramnik faced far stronger opposition. Aronian had 3 players <2700 (including Rahman, Elo 2516), 5 rated 2700-2750 plus Ivanchuk and Kramnik (50% against the last two). Kramnik had Papaioannou, 4 players rated 2700-2750 plus all of Aronian, Radjabov, Ivanchuk and Nakamura (50% against the last four). This explains at least part of the difference in their final scores.

redivivo's picture

"The main reason why Russia "failed to win" is because they lost the tiebreak lottery (it was a lottery because it all depended on the draw for round 2)"

That's like Brazil blaming the "penalty lottery" for not winning the World Cup final against a much weaker team that they couldn't beat neither over 90 minutes nor in 30 minutes extra time. The better team should be able to decide things without trusting a "lottery" or blaming it for not being good enough to win.

"Kramnik faced far stronger opposition"

Slightly stronger, he scored +1 against opposition averaging 2738, Aronian +4 against opposition averaging 2700 (without having more whites). The difference is at least smaller than the one between the Russian and Armenian teams.

Thomas's picture

Wrong analogy: There was no "penalty shootout" (rapid or blitz tiebreak) between Russia and Armenia. It was rather like this: The World Cup final Brazil-Portugal ends with a tie, and rather than going for penalties Portugal is declared the winner because they won 5-0 against Saudi-Arabia in the group phase while Brazil only managed 4-0 against Austria. BTW to my knowledge Russia didn't even blame the tiebreak lottery, I am calling it a lottery - as a (relatively) neutral observer.

Kramnik vs. Aronian: if one instead uses the average TPR of their opponents which reflects form during the event, the gap becomes bigger (2678 for Aronian vs. 2748 for Kramnik).
That's a bit flawed and I wouldn't mention it if it didn't support my point :) - but you are pretty good in selective statistics, e.g. with respect to Svidler: You wrote that he won the World Cup and qualified for the candidates event (as if these were separate achievements but it's one and the same). You mention him playing board 1 in successful team events but that was fairly long ago: Olympiad 1998(!), World Team Championship 2005, European Team Championships 2003 and 2007. His latest team performances were at best so-so (Olympiads 2008 and 2010, European and World Team Championships 2011): always TPR below 2700, losses in several key matches. This may have played a role in his non-selection - Svidler himself said that apparently team results counted more than individual results, I would say 'fair enough'.

S3's picture

Rating averages are very misleading.

The real difference:
Kramnik played Radjabov, Nakamura Shirov and Papaioannou whereas Aronian played Giri, So, Pons, Kasimzhanov and Rahman.

miguelanjelo's picture

Kasparov was never IM

Thomas's picture - do you confuse Kasparov with Kramnik (who skipped the IM title and played his first Olympiad as a FM)?

Niima's picture


Those were interesting times. Just look at that list. So many giants on one team... :-)

Thomas's picture

And even this Soviet team (Karpov, Polugaevsky, Tal, Geller, Balashov, young Kasparov) wasn't dominant but "lucky with tiebreaks" ... plus two years earlier they were second behind Hungary. Putting the most recent Russian "failure" into perspective?

Another story: what if the Soviet Union had always sent regional teams, like Great Britain sending England, Scotland and Wales? Tal would have played for Latvia, maybe Polugaevsky for Belorussia and Kasparov (ten years before a pogrom made him leave Baku) for Azerbaijan.

redivivo's picture

"The team was playing extremely solid apart from Grischuk"

It was tough for Grischuk to play not only 7 blacks in 11 games, but also be the only player that didn't get to rest at all. Naturally he tired towards the end but won Russia the difficult matches against Hungary and Azerbaijan by being the only winner. I don't think he should be blamed too much. He did OK like the whole team, but for Russia only gold counts after all these years without it and OK is a big disappointment.


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