Reports | August 31, 2012 10:35

Olympiad R3: Favorites still on top

The playing hall during the third round

After three rounds all the big favorites for gold in Istanbul can still be found at the top of the leaderboard. Armenia, China, Russia, Ukraine and USA won their first three matches, and so did Azerbaijan, England, Germany, France, India, Hungary, Philippines and Poland. In the women's section Russia has six match points as well, but three of their biggest rivals (China, Georgia and Ukraine) have dropped a match point.

The playing hall during the third round | 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

After two rounds full of "mismatches", the Olympiad has finally begun for real with countries of similar strength facing each other and bringing great fights on the four boards. Several matches in the third round could have ended differently, and one of these was Ukraine-Israel. Vassily Ivanchuk and Boris Gelfand drew on board one, Andrei Volokitin beat Evgeny Postny on three and Boris Avrukh defeated Pavel Eljanov, with a nice finish:

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The defending champions won with 2.5-1.5, but Ruslan Ponomariov had been clearly worse against his opponent Maxim Rodstein.

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Ruslan Ponomariov won a game that he could have easily lost

Russia's victory over Latvia was also a narrow 2.5-1.5. One of the three draws was a fascinating rook ending between Vladimir Kramnik and Alexei Shirov:

PGN string

This match was decided on board four. The white player might need to work a bit on his opening repertoire – the author of this report managed to draw with him last year when he noticed that Samolins always plays the Closed Sicilian. Instead of enjoying the Greek sun I prepared the main line (how crazy are we chess players?) and held the resulting ending. Against a much stronger opponent the French Exchange won't get you a draw...

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Now that Shirov plays for Latvia again, Spain's top board is obviously Paco Vallejo. He faced none other than Levon Aronian on Thursday and went down in a rook ending that was objectively drawn but hard to defend:

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The other three games ended in draws, so also Armenia won their match 2.5-1.5.

Hikarua Nakamura drew an uneventful game with Eduardo Iturrizaga but with two IMs and an FM on the other three boards, Venezuela didn't stand a chance against the USA. In the final phase of his game Gata Kamky had two queens:

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Like Kamsky, young gun Ray Robson won his first three games. On Thursday he really crushed his opponent:

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Azerbaijan beat the Faroe Islands 3.5-0.5 (John Arni Nilssen managed to hold a draw against Eltaj Safarli) and in this match Teimour Radjabov played an interesting (and known) piece sac in the French Advance:

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Teimour Radjabov, board one for Azerbaijan

In the match between France and Bulgaria Christian Bauer, who tragically lost his 4 month old baby a week ago, played his first game. He drew with Momchil Nikolov. The game on board one decided matters - the third win for the Frenchman with two names.

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Maxime Vachier-Lagrave beat Veselin Topalov in round 3

England played the "perfect" team match against Cuba: two draws with Black and two wins with White. Mickey Adams won a nice game in his typical positional style against Leinier Dominguez:

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The Netherlands lost their second consecutive match, this time against Georgia and again with three draws and one loss:

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In the fourth round the Dutch will surely be able catch some breath as they play against Sri Lanka, whose best player is rated 2110. Anish Giri is still not in the line-up but reportedly there are positive developments regarding his passport issues...

Turkmenistan had a good day and beat higher rated Austria 2.5-1.5. In the match Scotland-Denmark, FM Alan Tate beat Scottish resident and Quality Chess co-founder GM Jacob Aagaard, who blundered terribly:

PGN string

25...Rc7?? 26.Qxe5 and Black resigned. Apparently he didn't feel like defending the ending after 26...dxe5 27.Rxd8+ Qf8 (although the horror of missing a back rank mate sometimes blurs vision so much that even a GM can miss that the queen can go to f8).

Let's look at the most interesting pairings of round 4, where where we mention the board one clashes. In the open section there's USA-India (Nakamura-Sasikiran), Russia-China (Kramnik-Wang Hao), Azerbaijan-Germany (Radjabov-Naiditsch), France-England (Vachier-Lagrave - Adams) and Ukraine-Poland (Ivanchuk-Wojtaszek).

Unfortunately the official website doesn't allow us to download the PGN of the live games and even on Friday morning the round 3 games are still not available. (Needless to say, the above fragments could easily be given thanks to a PGN at TWIC). Therefore we'll have to limit ourselves to the top results of the women's section, but we'll give links to the place where you can replay these games.

The top match, China versus Ukraine, ended in 2-2. Mariya Muzychuk opened the score against Zhao Xue on board two but later Hou Yifan beat Kateryna Lahno on board one, while the other two games were drawn. Another 2-2 tie was seen in Georgia-Germany. While Russia crushed Mongolia 3.5-0.5, the USA disappointed with a 2-2 against Uzbekistan. IMs Foisor and Goletiani lost on boards two and three against WFMs Irina Gevorgyan and Hulkar Tohirjonova. Tania Sachdev's win over Lilit Galojan decided the India-Armenia match.

Tania Sachdev board 3 for India



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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.


Someitsi's picture

Radjabov's sacrifice was in the French Advcance (not Exchange!). E.Berg also sacrificed a piece in the French Winawer, but not as successfully... Anyway, its always great when there is a reason to put Tania Sachdev's picture in an article!

Peter Doggers's picture

Thx, Exchange --> Advance corrected.

Erik Fokke's picture

What are these mysterious passport issues that Giri Anish is facing? Strange...., to say the least.

columbo's picture

good question !

nil maglas's picture

Giri has several nationalities, that's why.

Jochem's picture

incredibly, but with a queen up, Kamsky's 58.Qe8 is a huge blunder, allowing Qf1+ (Kg3 h4+ with black mating..)

Born's picture

Tania Sachdev is so hot! I would really like to check that Queen with my Knight and mate with my Rook!

CR's picture

Wonderful prose, and bold metaphors never heard of, Mr. Born. Think about self-mate. Haha. Hahaha. Or think about taking a cold shower.

Rini Luyks's picture

Absolutely unacceptable this blundering about Giri's passport. Should have been foreseen ofcourse by the Dutch organization.
Now the team could as well go home, with two losses and a hopeless tiebreak for the rest of the tournament. So sloppy...

Thomas's picture

Not sure if the Dutch organization (federation?) can be blamed, isn't it the player's own responsibility?
It's actually deja vu: two years ago (?) team captain Chuchelov couldn't travel to the Olympiad because his Russian passport had expired, and van Wely had to take the awkward role of playing captain.

Thomas's picture

It doesn't show up in a report mentioning just the result, but the women's match Georgia-Germany could have ended 0.5-3.5 (favoring the underdog). Who was more (un)happy with the eventual match draw?

valg321's picture

can't connect to live games server since it just me?

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