Reports | September 08, 2012 3:12

Armenia, China and Russia lead Olympiad with one round to go

China, Armenia and Russia (in order of tie-break score) are sharing the lead at the Olympiad in Istanbul with just one round to go. In the 10th round China won against the USA, Russia was too strong for Argentina and Armenia defeated the Netherlands. In the women's section China and Russia are tied for first place. Saturday is a rest day; the final round will be played on Sunday.

An exciting match Russia-USA at the top boards | All photos by ChessVibes & 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

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. After their dramatic victory over Russia the day before, in the penultimate round USA lost their match with China and with it the hopes to clinch gold at the Olympiad. Although 2-2 wouldn't have been a good result for either team, the way Alexander Onischuk lost the only decisive game of the match was cruel:

PGN string

After the match Hikaru Nakamura sent out a tweet that many people interpreted as, well, not very positive for the team spirit:

The cruel and harsh reality of playing in a team chess event is that you are only as good as your teammates.

Ryan Emmett asked:

@GMHikaru was that tweet really necessary?

Ryan Philips put it more strongly:

@GMHikaru don't throw your teammates under the bus.

User @Squidditas tweeted:

@GMHikaru Bad form, old man. You're a true champion. Adopt a champion's magnanimity.

With some replies Nakamura then tried to explain that he didn't mean it that way.

@SonofPearl Funny how people seem to misconstrue certain comments as slights. We've had a great run, but we were hoping for more.

@ryannv I am simply making a general statement about team events. No need for everyone to freak out and assume there is more to it.

@Squidditas You need to calm down; I am making a general statement. Stop reading more into it.

In what seemed to be the easiest pairing for the leading teams, Russia could only win one game against Argentina. Diego Flores miscalculated at an early stage:

PGN string

Dmitry Jakovenko has been very important for the Russians so far. He won many games, and this time he held a difficult ending.

PGN string

Armenia also remained in shared first place by beating the Netherlands. Vladimir Akopian won against Ivan Sokolov and on board one Levon Aronian beat Anish Giri with Black:

PGN string

Ukraine, now one point behind the leaders, kept medal chances alive by beating Azerbaijan 2.5-1.5, thanks to this smooth win by Ruslan Ponomariov:

PGN string

After their loss USA finds itself in shared 5th place with Hungary, Germany and Poland. The last-round pairings at the top are Ukraine-China, Hungary-Armenia, Russia-Germany and Poland-USA.

Things are suddenly very exciting in the women's section as China surprisingly tied their match with the much weaker Kazakhstan ladies:

Bo. 1 China (CHN) Rtg - 22 Kazakhstan (KAZ) Rtg 2 : 2
1/1 GM Hou, Yifan 2599 - WIM Nakhbayeva, Guliskhan 2291 ½ - ½
1/2 GM Zhao, Xue 2549 - WIM Dauletova, Gulmira 2267 1 - 0
1/3 WGM Ju, Wenjun 2528 - WIM Saduakassova, Dinara 2216 ½ - ½
1/4 WGM Ding, Yixin 2424 - WIM Davletbayeva, Madina 2165 0 - 1

The game where the underdog won was actually quite spectacular, especially at the end:

PGN string

Russia crushed Armenia 3.5-0.5 but they're still second on tie-break. In the last round they'll have to show that they can do better against Kazakhstan, while China faces Bulgaria. The final round begins Sunday at 11:00 local time (10:00 CET or 04:00 EST). 

Olympiad 2012 | Top results round 10

Bo. 6 China (CHN) Rtg - 5 United States Of America (USA) Rtg 2½:1½
1/1 GM Wang, Hao 2726 - GM Nakamura, Hikaru 2778 ½ - ½
1/2 GM Wang, Yue 2685 - GM Kamsky, Gata 2746 ½ - ½
1/3 GM Ding, Liren 2695 - GM Onishuk, Alexander 2666 1 - 0
1/4 GM Bu, Xiangzhi 2670 - GM Akobian, Varuzhan 2617 ½ - ½
Bo. 29 Argentina (ARG) Rtg - 1 Russia (RUS) Rtg 1½:2½
2/1 GM Peralta, Fernando 2606 - GM Grischuk, Alexander 2763 ½ - ½
2/2 GM Flores, Diego 2589 - GM Karjakin, Sergey 2785 0 - 1
2/3 GM Felgaer, Ruben 2570 - GM Tomashevsky, Evgeny 2730 ½ - ½
2/4 GM Mareco, Sandro 2589 - GM Jakovenko, Dmitry 2722 ½ - ½
Bo. 9 Netherlands (NED) Rtg - 3 Armenia (ARM) Rtg 1 : 3
3/1 GM Giri, Anish 2711 - GM Aronian, Levon 2816 0 - 1
3/2 GM Van Wely, Loek 2691 - GM Movsesian, Sergei 2698 ½ - ½
3/3 GM Sokolov, Ivan 2696 - GM Akopian, Vladimir 2687 0 - 1
3/4 GM Smeets, Jan 2608 - GM Sargissian, Gabriel 2693 ½ - ½
Bo. 7 Azerbaijan (AZE) Rtg - 2 Ukraine (UKR) Rtg 1½:2½
4/1 GM Radjabov, Teimour 2788 - GM Ivanchuk, Vassily 2769 ½ - ½
4/2 GM Safarli, Eltaj 2620 - GM Ponomariov, Ruslan 2734 0 - 1
4/3 GM Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2729 - GM Volokitin, Andrei 2709 ½ - ½
4/4 GM Mamedov, Rauf 2634 - GM Moiseyenko, Aleksandr 2706 ½ - ½
Bo. 17 Czech Republic (CZE) Rtg - 16 Poland (POL) Rtg 1 : 3
5/1 GM Laznicka, Viktor 2683 - GM Wojtaszek, Radoslaw 2717 0 - 1
5/2 GM Navara, David 2691 - GM Socko, Bartosz 2635 1 - 0
5/3 GM Hracek, Zbynek 2619 - GM Swiercz, Dariusz 2594 0 - 1
5/4 GM Babula, Vlastimil 2595 - GM Macieja, Bartlomiej 2594 0 - 1
Bo. 39 Denmark (DEN) Rtg - 4 Hungary (HUN) Rtg 0 : 4
6/1 GM Hansen, Sune Berg 2577 - GM Leko, Peter 2737 0 - 1
6/2 GM Aagaard, Jacob 2517 - GM Almasi, Zoltan 2713 0 - 1
6/3 GM Rasmussen, Allan Stig 2496 - GM Polgar, Judit 2698 0 - 1
6/4 IM Glud, Jakob Vang 2498 - GM Berkes, Ferenc 2685 0 - 1
Bo. 32 Belarus (BLR) Rtg - 14 Germany (GER) Rtg 1½:2½
7/1 GM Zhigalko, Sergei 2667 - GM Naiditsch, Arkadij 2712 ½ - ½
7/2 GM Zhigalko, Andrey 2582 - GM Meier, Georg 2648 ½ - ½
7/3 GM Teterev, Vitaly 2528 - GM Fridman, Daniel 2653 ½ - ½
7/4 GM Stupak, Kirill 2523 - GM Gustafsson, Jan 2610 0 - 1
Bo. 35 Philippines (PHI) Rtg - 27 Vietnam (VIE) Rtg 2 : 2
8/1 GM So, Wesley 2652 - GM Le, Quang Liem 2693 ½ - ½
8/2 GM Barbosa, Oliver 2554 - GM Nguyen, Ngoc Truong Son 2639 ½ - ½
8/3 GM Torre, Eugene 2469 - IM Nguyen, Van Huy 2506 ½ - ½
8/4 GM Paragua, Mark 2508 - IM Nguyen, Doc Hoa 2505 ½ - ½
Bo. 13 India (IND) Rtg - 15 Cuba (CUB) Rtg 2 : 2
9/1 GM Sasikiran, Krishnan 2707 - GM Dominguez Perez, Leinier 2725 0 - 1
9/2 GM Harikrishna, Pentala 2685 - GM Bruzon Batista, Lazaro 2711 0 - 1
9/3 GM Negi, Parimarjan 2664 - GM Quesada Perez, Yuniesky 2626 1 - 0
9/4 GM Gupta, Abhijeet 2637 - IM Bacallao Alonso, Yusnel 2583 1 - 0
Bo. 12 Israel (ISR) Rtg - 26 Georgia (GEO) Rtg 2 : 2
10/1 GM Gelfand, Boris 2738 - GM Mchedlishvili, Mikheil 2659 ½ - ½
10/2 GM Rodshtein, Maxim 2642 - GM Gagunashvili, Merab 2578 ½ - ½
10/3 GM Postny, Evgeny 2638 - GM Pantsulaia, Levan 2575 1 - 0
10/4 GM Avrukh, Boris 2605 - GM Shanava, Konstantine 2569 0 - 1

Olympiad 2012 | Round 10 standings (top 30)

Rk. SNo Team Rounds + = - TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4
1 6 China 10 8 1 1 17 343,5 28,5 127
2 3 Armenia 10 8 1 1 17 336,5 26,5 132
3 1 Russia 10 8 1 1 17 321,5 25,5 132
4 2 Ukraine 10 8 0 2 16 292,5 26,5 121
5 4 Hungary 10 7 1 2 15 311,5 26,5 122
6 5 United States Of America 10 6 3 1 15 307 27,5 120
7 14 Germany 10 6 3 1 15 282 25 120
8 16 Poland 10 7 1 2 15 259 26 113
9 29 Argentina 10 6 2 2 14 270 24 118
10 33 Uzbekistan 10 6 2 2 14 269 26 114
11 35 Philippines 10 6 2 2 14 268 25 122
12 25 Romania 10 7 0 3 14 257,5 26 109
13 9 Netherlands 10 7 0 3 14 252 26 109
14 28 Slovenia 10 6 2 2 14 249,5 22,5 113
15 27 Vietnam 10 5 4 1 14 246,5 26 103
16 7 Azerbaijan 10 5 3 2 13 289 26,5 122
17 17 Czech Republic 10 5 3 2 13 284 25 115
18 15 Cuba 10 6 1 3 13 281 28 107
19 32 Belarus 10 6 1 3 13 270,5 25 109
20 13 India 10 3 7 0 13 266 24 120
21 26 Georgia 10 5 3 2 13 264 25,5 114
22 21 Greece 10 5 3 2 13 255,5 27,5 105
23 11 England 10 5 3 2 13 252 23,5 116
24 12 Israel 10 5 3 2 13 248 23 112
25 18 Spain 10 6 1 3 13 247,5 24 116
26 24 Brazil 10 6 1 3 13 247 23 109
27 20 Serbia 10 5 3 2 13 245,5 25,5 107
28 34 Sweden 10 6 1 3 13 234 25 101
29 22 Italy 10 6 1 3 13 227,5 24,5 109
30 42 Slovakia 10 6 1 3 13 218,5 25 102

Women's Olympiad 2012 | Top results round 10

Bo. 1 China (CHN) Rtg - 22 Kazakhstan (KAZ) Rtg 2 : 2
1/1 GM Hou, Yifan 2599 - WIM Nakhbayeva, Guliskhan 2291 ½ - ½
1/2 GM Zhao, Xue 2549 - WIM Dauletova, Gulmira 2267 1 - 0
1/3 WGM Ju, Wenjun 2528 - WIM Saduakassova, Dinara 2216 ½ - ½
1/4 WGM Ding, Yixin 2424 - WIM Davletbayeva, Madina 2165 0 - 1
Bo. 8 Armenia (ARM) Rtg - 2 Russia (RUS) Rtg ½ :3½
2/1 GM Danielian, Elina 2476 - GM Kosintseva, Tatiana 2530 0 - 1
2/2 IM Mkrtchian, Lilit 2454 - IM Gunina, Valentina 2507 0 - 1
2/3 IM Galojan, Lilit 2349 - GM Kosteniuk, Alexandra 2489 ½ - ½
2/4 WGM Kursova, Maria 2338 - WGM Pogonina, Natalija 2448 0 - 1
Bo. 4 Ukraine (UKR) Rtg - 7 Poland (POL) Rtg 2½:1½
3/1 GM Lahno, Kateryna 2542 - GM Socko, Monika 2467 ½ - ½
3/2 GM Zhukova, Natalia 2442 - IM Rajlich, Iweta 2412 1 - 0
3/3 IM Ushenina, Anna 2433 - WGM Zawadzka, Jolanta 2377 ½ - ½
3/4 IM Yanovska, Inna 2404 - WGM Szczepkowska, Karina 2375 ½ - ½
Bo. 27 Azerbaijan (AZE) Rtg - 14 France (FRA) Rtg 1½:2½
4/1 WGM Mamedjarova, Zeinab 2285 - IM Skripchenko, Almira 2442 0 - 1
4/2 WGM Mammadova, Gulnar 2324 - WGM Maisuradze, Nino 2284 1 - 0
4/3 WGM Mamedjarova, Turkan 2245 - IM Collas, Silvia 2261 ½ - ½
4/4 WIM Umudova, Nargiz 2208 - WIM Bollengier, Andreea 2253 0 - 1
Bo. 6 India (IND) Rtg - 25 Israel (ISR) Rtg 3½: ½
5/1 GM Dronavalli, Harika 2503 - WIM Porat, Maya 2295 1 - 0
5/2 IM Sachdev, Tania 2379 - WIM Efroimski, Marsel 2174 1 - 0
5/3 WGM Gomes, Mary Ann 2396 - IM Klinova, Masha 2317 ½ - ½
5/4 WGM Soumya, Swaminathan 2271 - WFM Shvayger, Yuliya 2202 1 - 0
Bo. 9 Germany (GER) Rtg - 11 Spain (ESP) Rtg 3 : 1
6/1 IM Paehtz, Elisabeth 2483 - WGM Matnadze, Ana 2422 1 - 0
6/2 WGM Melamed, Tetyana 2356 - IM Alexandrova, Olga 2417 ½ - ½
6/3 WGM Ohme, Melanie 2337 - WGM Vega Gutierrez, Sabrina 2355 ½ - ½
6/4 WGM Michna, Marta 2380 - WGM Calzetta Ruiz, Monica 2276 1 - 0

Women's Olympiad 2012 | Round 10 standings (top 20)

Rk. SNo Team Rounds + = - TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4
1 1 China 10 7 3 0 17 357 29 131
2 2 Russia 10 7 3 0 17 348 29 126
3 4 Ukraine 10 6 4 0 16 325 27 127
4 14 France 10 7 1 2 15 294 27,5 120
5 22 Kazakhstan 10 6 3 1 15 281 27 112
6 9 Germany 10 7 1 2 15 277,5 26,5 113
7 6 India 10 7 1 2 15 277,5 25,5 122
8 7 Poland 10 6 2 2 14 282 26 122
9 13 Bulgaria 10 6 2 2 14 260 26 107
10 8 Armenia 10 7 0 3 14 259,5 24 117
11 35 Uzbekistan 10 6 2 2 14 259 24 118
12 10 Romania 10 7 0 3 14 253,5 26 105
13 37 Peru 10 6 2 2 14 229,5 24,5 104
14 3 Georgia 10 5 3 2 13 280,5 26 119
15 25 Israel 10 6 1 3 13 264 25,5 112
16 26 Iran 10 6 1 3 13 261 27,5 107
17 5 United States of America 10 5 3 2 13 260,5 26,5 109
18 27 Azerbaijan 10 6 1 3 13 258,5 24,5 119
19 11 Spain 10 6 1 3 13 251 24 112
20 36 Belarus 10 5 3 2 13 245,5 26 101

 

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of ChessVibes.com, 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.

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Comments

Bigglesworth's picture

Crude calculation of the tiebreaks suggests that to win on tiebreak, Russia has to be at least a full board point ahead of Armenia, which has to be at least a half board point ahead of China.

Implications:

1. If China wins, Russia is out of contention for gold - they would have to score 4-0 against Germany to have a chance. Armenia would have to score one more board point than China to win.
2. If only Russia and Armenia win, Russia will need to win at least 3.5-0.5 to beat Armenia on tiebreak.

In short, Russia's chances of gold are very slim due to their poor tiebreaks. If China wins, it will take a strong but not implausible showing from Armenia to overcome them on tiebreak. Armenian fans should send Ivanchuk, Ponomariov, and the rest of the Ukranian team positive energy, as they're Armenia's best hope of winning gold.

Bigglesworth's picture

Note: the above assumes that on average, the previous opponents of the top 3 teams will do the same as each other on Sunday tomorrow, which may or may not be a realistic assumption.

redivivo's picture

"Russia's chances of gold are very slim"

Russia should beat Germany, while it's probable that Ukraine won't lose to China and Hungary won't lose to Armenia. So I still think Russia are the favourites to win the gold, even if I also still think they haven't been particularly impressive. Their players are so much higher rated then those in the other teams that they shouldn't be in third place before the last round, but with all their regular boards performing below their rating it isn't easy even for Russia.

Kenji Margono's picture

As I noticed, the Russians didn't under-perform until Round 8. They beat strong candidates like Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Hungary and China. Only Armenia could hold them to a draw. But after gaining a clear 2-point lead at Round 8 they became overconfident and a bit arrogant.

We can see how Karjakin quickly drew with Onishuk though his Elo is 100 over more than his opponent's. He must think his teammates could easily beat their American sides so he just drew it quickly to rest and didn't manage for a win. (On the other hand, Chinese Ding Liren played hard and pressed Onishuk from the beginning not giving him moment to breathe.)

Then why did Kramnik sacrifice his rook for Nakamura's bishop in the 27th move without getting any marked positional advantage?

And why did Grischuk play so carelessly in a must draw game between rook bishop vs rook game?

So I think Russia lost to USA because they were looking down at the Americans thinking that USA came to Round 8 without facing strong teams.

Thomas's picture

I agree with your first paragraph, but I don't think Russia's loss against the USA was due to arrogance. It was simply a day when everything went wrong - "when it rains it pours".

Would you really expect Karjakin to play on with rook and four pawns vs. rook plus four pawns on the same wing? Another story is if he could have tried harder before - but it isn't easy to get an advantage on the black side of the Catalan if white plays solidly, and a different opening choice (which isn't part of his normal repertoire) might have backfired. Ding Liren had white against Onischuk.

Kramnik's exchange sacrifice seemed correct - if not for an advantage then for full compensation. Mistakes came later.

Grischuk's endgame mistake certainly wasn't arrogance but tiredness. Losing rook against rook plus bishop happened to others before - including Kamsky:
http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1543371

Maybe Russia was arrogant the next day against Argentina, starting with giving Kramnik a rest. But such (mis)matches can go either way: it can be a 'predictable' walkover, or it can turn out to be unexpectedly tough.

Kenji Margono's picture

Karjakin exchanged pieces so quickly making the game simple. With each side with rook + 4 pawns at the same side, of course clearly it is a draw position. But he didn't play for a win from the beginning. By exchanging lots of pieces early in the game, he just intended to make a quick draw. Even in Catalan opening, he should try to win and not bring the game to draw so quickly.

Cannot see how Kramnik could gain advantage by that sacrifice. It is risky if you play like that against a strong player. Well, Kramnik has not lost one game in his previous participations at Olympiad. Maybe because of that he became over confident.

Of course losing rook against rook + bishop happened before but it was very rare. I didn't say Grischuk was arrogant in this game. I said he was careless.

middlewave's picture

Nope. Board points are NOT the tie-break criterion. It is Olympic Sonnenborn-Berger, much more complicated than that.

Kenji Margono's picture

Do you know how to calculate Sonnenborn-Berger?

Arjo's picture

Strange to see 4/5 Russians underperforming (TPR compared to rating) and still sharing 1st place.

Anonymous's picture

is there no better system than swiss?

Sergio's picture

Yes double round robin, only problem is that it takes a few months.

Sergio's picture

Yes double round robin, only problem is that it takes a few months.

Thomas's picture

Underperforming and still sharing first place is the "privilege" of the nominally strongest team. And Grischuk and Karjakin needed to score an impossible 0.04 and 0.13 points, respectively, to confirm their ratings.
It's another story for the relative underdog China: They share first place because all players overperfom.

As to "no better system than swiss": It exists (round robin) and is called World Team Championship. But that's not feasible with 150 teams.

redivivo's picture

If Russia stays in third place it will be the fifth Olympiad in a row where they don't win as big favourites, after twelve Soviet/Russia wins in a row up until Kasparov's last Olympiad in 2002.

The biggest rating difference between the winners and Russia was Dresden 2008. The Russian team had an average rating of 2756 while Armenia was 2677 (79 points weaker per player). Also then all four regular boards underperformed while Jakovenko as reserve overperformed.

AljechinsCat's picture

Nakamura remains an idiot. Who would NOT read kicking at his teammates into his tweet ?

valg321's picture

he even implied in his standing interview a couple of days ago, that he's teammates are not performing as much as they should...that boy will never learn

Ed Dean's picture

"... USA lost their match with China and with it the hopes to clinch their first ever gold at an Olympiad."

It's been a while since they last did it, but USA does actually have 5 previous golds at Olympiads (1931, 1933, 1935, 1937, 1976).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess_Olympiad#Total_team_ranking

Peter Doggers's picture

Thanks, removed that, should have checked it first.

damian's picture

IS KASPAROV SUPPORTING USA TEAM ?
Because I can see in the photo, Nakamura wearing a polo which shaw the name Kasparov on the sleeve.

Kronsteen's picture

Awesome job by H-Bomb. Would have been nice to see Big Vlad make him demonstrate the B+N mate!

Anonymous's picture

I don't think GM tweets to their fans, or their comments in chess forums should make the chessvibes News column. If Nakamura wants to mix it up with the patzers during his private time, let him.

jin's picture

i know MrH done many dumb things before but this time, I really lost my respect to him.

GoUSA!'s picture

RE: USA
I think the U.S team did awesome beating the Russians. Those guys are all 2700s and very scary.
But the highs have the lows. Losing to China was devastating (to me). I hope the team rebounds and wins enough points in the last round to get a medal.
RE: Naka's tweet.
I think it was not directed at anyone. He almost lost to China himself and only managed to draw. If he had won, yeah, that's pretty low to tweet that. Besides, drawing China or losing by a close margin is not a big difference.Thus, it's all overblown.
Good luck to both our USA teams tomorrow!

valg321's picture

a few weeks ago, when his live rating was toe to toe with Caruana's he tweeted complaining that Fabiano plays with many lower-rated GM's to catch up on him.
At that time i thought he outdid himself, but then i remembered he also said that Kasparov's only edge against his opponents were his openings.

GoUSA!'s picture

Well... I didn't know that. Not a way to win friends or respect, that's for sure.

He's our only top 5-player and hope for a US World Champion in the next five years. I'm trying to root for him. He sure makes it tough!

But think about it. If Fischer were alive, in his prime, and playing now, we'd have to put up with a whole lot more as fans!

I wish Naka would learn from Yasser Seirawan's classiness. One can hope!

Anonymous's picture

Why does Mamedyarov not play board 2? Many a match has now been lost by Azeris with a sole loss on board 2.

Anonymous's picture

Because Mamedyarov is a killer against weaker opposition. They put the other guy on board 2 to make a draw but sometimes not everything goes as planned. If only they had Gashimov here, they would have a really good chance of playing for the gold.

jin's picture

u allowed to to put stronger player at lower board?sounds unprofessional seeing all team put their best players at Table 1 , then 2 to 4. Is there like rule to put according to Elo?

Anonymous's picture

There's no rule for board placements. The disadvantage of having a stronger player at a lower board is that there is a weaker player at the higher board as the Azeri team has. We'll never know for sure, but I don't think this strategy was better. Especially since Safarli is much lower rated. Perhaps teams like Russia can try this more successfully as their lower boards are marginally lower than top boards.

Thomas's picture

Azerbaijan tried this strategy several times before: sometimes it worked (as at the European Team Championship 2009), sometimes it didn't. The 'conventional' strategy with the highest-rated players on the top boards at the last two Olympiads (2008 with Mamedyarov on board 2 behind Radjabov, 2010 with Mamedyarov on board 1 as he was the highest-rated player at the time) didn't work better.
The main weakening of Azerbaijan is that Gashimov doesn't play, but this time (unlike before) it wasn't a deliberate decision.

Ed Dean's picture

You can choose to put them in any order you like, but once you do it's set. You don't get to switch the order up between rounds to try and grab an advantage that way. Note, for example, that the Russian team played Grischuk above Karjakin this Olympiad (though the latter has is rated 20 points higher).

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