Uzbekistan Jumps To Lead In Open; Four Share Lead In Women’s; Kiolbasa Advances To 9/9


The 14th-seeded young Uzbekistan team with an average age of 20 prevailed over the overnight leader, 12th-seeded Armenia, by a strong 3-1 score to jump into sole lead with 16 match points at the end of the ninth round of the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad. The 11th-seeded India 2 held sixth-seeded Azerbaijan to a 2-2 draw to share the second spot with Armenia on 15 match points. The top two seeds, U.S. and India, are in a tie with others for fourth-tenth places with 14 match points each.

GM Jovokhir Sindarov (rating 2629, performance rating 2716) and GM Jokhongir Vakhidov (rating 2564, performance rating 2821) scored crucial wins for Uzbekistan to gain a critical victory over Armenia. IM Conor Murphy (rated 2402) of Ireland defeated GM Lorenzo Lodici (rated 2553) of Italy to reach an individual score of 7.5/8 and a performance rating of 2856.

In the FIDE Women’s Chess Olympiad, fourth-seeded Poland defeated top-seeded India by a 2.5-1.5 score to join them in a four-way shared lead with 15 match points. Third-seeded Georgia held second-seeded Ukraine 2-2 to join the leaders with 10th-seeded Kazakhstan who defeated 15th-seeded Bulgaria by a 3-1 score. Indonesia, Armenia, Ukraine, Germany, and Azerbaijan are tied for the fifth-ninth places with 14 match points each.

WIM Oliwia Kiolbasa (rated 2376) continued her dream run with a ninth straight victory. The win over IM R. Vaishali (rated 2442) provided Poland a crucial victory against India on the top table.


Olympiad Sunday

The ninth round of the Olympiad was on a Sunday, and it attracted a huge number of chess lovers of Chennai. The enthusiasm of the spectators—young and old, professionals and amateurs, friends and families, all cheering for the players—had to be seen to be believed. The greetings of the crowds for the arriving teams were heartwarming, as they were not reserved for only the Indian players. The global participants were cheered with enthusiasm, and they were often acknowledged with smiles and waves by players, Indians, and foreigners alike. Then they stood in long lines patiently just to get inside the tournament hall—the lines stretched to more than 100 meters on Sunday.

Spectators, young and old together, wait to see the arriving teams of participants. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.

But it is always special when we see those tiny tots! Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.


This little one was happy to see not just the players but the mascot as well, ‘Thambi’. Photo: Stev Bonhage/FIDE.

Autographs are a fan’s delight, and what better way than to have them on a chessboard? Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE. 


Without a doubt, the players were thrilled to see the crowds and acknowledged them with smiles and waves. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.


Some got loud cheers, such as GM R.B. Ramesh, a popular and respected coach in India. Photo: Maria Emelianova/


Then they bought their tickets, and stood in long lines to get into the tournament hall and see the action. They weren’t disappointed. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.


Open Section

Olympiads are invariably characterized by the scramble to the top of the points table in the final stretch of the competition, almost undeterred by early leads and initial performances. Thus, as the tournament entered the final three rounds, the chess lovers of Chennai were delighted to be served with high-voltage clashes on Sunday.

The high-voltage clash: Uzbekistan-Armenia. Photo: Maria Emelianova/


Tournament leader Armenia’s clash with the Uzbekistan team was well-fought on all boards, and the bottom boards proved to be the clincher for the latter. Sindarov prevailed over GM Samvel Ter-Sahakyan with a sacrificial attack in a well-conducted game:

GM Javokhir Sindarov of Uzbekistan. Photo: Maria Emelianova/


In contrast, GM Robert Hovhannisyan vs. Vakhidov was a long, protracted struggle. The young Uzbek prevailed in a complicated endgame:

GM Jakhongir Vakhidov of Uzbekistan. Photo: Maria Emelianova/


Although India 2 has done much better than their initial seeding in the tournament so far, it was never going to be easy for them to face a higher-seeded team. The top board game between GM Dommaraju Gukesh and GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov never seemed to cross the equal mark, but the GM Rauf Mamedov vs. GM Nihal Sarin encounter was more uneven:

GM Nijat Abasov gave Azerbaijan the first break by defeating GM Raunak Sadhwani in a complicated ending:

GM Nijat Abasov of Azerbaijan. Photo: Maria Emelianova/


Then it was left to GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu to score the equalizer for India 2 in a cliff-hanger of a struggle against GM Vasif Durarbayli. It is analyzed as our game of the day:

Game of the Day

After an upset loss against Israel in the fourth round, the seventh-seeded Netherlands has steadily come back into the tournament scoring wins in all the rounds except for a draw against France in the seventh round. It was expected that the Dutch would push for a podium finish in the final stretch for a much-needed victory against 13th-seeded Iran in this round.

Iran has had an uneven event, as they were held by the 44th-seeded Canada in the fourth round and beaten by the top-seeded U.S. in the sixth round. They came back into the tournament with a much-needed win against the 15th-seeded France in the eighth round. It was expected that the Iranians also would try for a win in the crucial ninth round. And it looked very much possible at one point.

After the bottom-table games—GM Benjamin Bok vs. GM Pouya Idani and Max Warmerdam vs. IM Seyed Khalil Mousavi—ended in draws, the other two boards looked equal for a long time. Though GM Anish Giri sacrificed an exchange against GM Parham Maghsoodloo, he couldn’t progress in the resultant locked endgame:

GM Parham Maghsoodloo of Iran. Photo: Maria Emelianova/


Thus, it was left for the cliff-hanger game between GM Amin Tabatabaei and GM Jorden van Foreest where the Iranian made an interesting exchange sacrifice in the opening, an invention of GM Vladimir Kramnik. Further, Tabatabaei even tortured his opponent in that familiar nightmare of a chess player—rook and bishop vs. rook endgame, but van Foreest defended steadily to force a draw:

Tabatabaei vs. van Foreest. Photo: Maria Emelianova/


Another interesting clash of the day was between the top-seeded U.S. and 25th-seeded Greece. On the top board, after his uneven performance in the tournament so far, GM Fabiano Caruana showed his aggressive intentions by adopting the sharp Sveshnikov variation of the Sicilian Defense and scored an impressive victory:

But on the second board, GM Levon Aronian mishandled a promising position and lost to GM Nikolas Theodorou:

Greece vs. the U.S. in progress. Photo: Maria Emelianova/


Finally, in an advantageous rook ending, GM Wesley So pressured his opponent to give the U.S. a winning advantage:

Ireland’s Murphy continues to impress and defeated his fourth grandmaster opponent for a score of 7.5/8 in the tournament:

The Ireland team in action with GM Alexander Baburin and IM Conor Murphy (from right) on the top two boards. Photo: Maria Emelianova/


Women’s Section

In the top-table encounter between erstwhile leader India and Poland, GM Harika Dronavalli seemed to build up a clear advantage against GM Monika Socko:

GM Harika Dronavalli of India. Photo: Stev Bonhage/FIDE.


The match turned in Poland’s favor when in-form Kiolbasa prevailed over Vaishali in a drawish ending when the latter tried to overpress:

Thus, Poland managed to defeat the tournament leader India 2.5-1.5.

On the second table, in a battle of heavyweights on the top board, former world women’s champion GM Mariya Muzychuk missed an opportunity to gain a significant advantage against GM Nana Dzagnidze:

The Georgian team in action. Photo: Maria Emelianova/


In another all-GM encounter on the second board, GM Nino Batsiashvili defeated GM Anna Muzychuk in a tactical encounter:

On the fourth board, IM Nataliya Buksa equalized the scores for Ukraine by defeating IM Meri Arabidze in a kingside attack:

Kazakhstan’s win over Bulgaria featured a well-played game by GM Zhansaya Abdumalik:

Germany stays in the medal hunt with 14 match points, in the second group of countries behind the leaders. Their best scorer has been WGM Jana Schneider (rated 2342) who has played in every round of the tournament and has scored an impressive 8.5/9 so far with a performance rating of 2453. In the ninth round, she defeated WCM Zoe Varney of England:

The German team: IM Elisabeth Paehtz (seated), (l-r) WGM Josefine Heinemann, GM Yuri Yakovich (captain), WGM Hanna Marie Klek, and WGM Jana Schneider. Photo: Maria Emelianova/


See full results here.

The 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad and Women’s Chess Olympiad are over-the-board team events where national chess federations compete in classical games for gold medals, trophies, and the title of strongest chess nation in the world. The event consists of an 11-round Swiss tournament where each player from a national team plays against another player from the opposing national team. Teams receive “game points” for winning or drawing games and “match points” for winning or drawing a match. Teams with the most match points for each section become the champions of their section, with a third award going for the team with the most points from both sections combined.

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Armenia, Uzbekistan Share Lead In Open; India Leads In Women’s


The 12th-seeded Armenia defeated the sixth-seeded Azerbaijan with a convincing 3-1 victory to reach 17 match points and become the joint leaders at the end of the 10th and penultimate round of the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad. Dramatic developments in the fifth hour of play enabled the 14th-seeded Uzbekistan to save a 2-2 draw against the 11th-seeded India 2 to join Armenia in lead.

The top-seeded U.S., which defeated 21st-seeded Turkey by a 3-1 margin, and second-seed India, which defeated 13th-seeded Iran by a 2.5-1.5 margin, join India 2 on 16 match points to keep their medal hopes alive.

India defeated Kazakhstan by a 3.5-0.5 margin to continue to lead the FIDE Women’s Chess Olympiad with 17 match points. Going into the last round, Poland, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and Georgia are tied for second-fifth places with 16 match points.

Because the Open and Women’s leaders are separated by just one match point from their second-place competitors, a high-pressure last round is in the offing in both sections.


Olympiad Captains

It is difficult to define the role and impact a captain can have on a team. An active captain can do a lot: pre-tournament training, deciding the board order, everyday opening preparation, attending to everyone’s individual needs, psychological consultations (counselings!), presence during the games and finally, a pat on the back after a game. But all of this is generally subtle: the outside world never knows the full extent of the work of a captain unless we see it at the playing arena. The penultimate round brought it all in the open, as the battle for medals took dramatic proportions:

The captain of the Netherlands, GM Jan Smeets. His team needed a good score to stage a comeback in the tournament. Photo: Lennart Ootes/
GM Arman Pashikian, captain of Armenia. His team has been doing excellent in the event. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
GM Abhijit Kunte, captain of the Indian women’s team, with IM Bhakti Kulkarni. His team did well in the penultimate round. Photo: Lennart Ootes/
GM Narayanan Srinath, captain of the first Indian team. It was a critical day for his team. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
But nothing could meet the intensity of these two gentlemen, GM R.B.Ramesh and GM Ivan Sokolov, captains of India and Uzbekistan, respectively. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
When tension mounts, it becomes one of the most intense jobs in the world, watching your players’ games. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Your job goes beyond chess—your role requires gestures beyond the chessboard. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
…even if it attracts attention! Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.
But it was a really tough day in the office for these two captains. Photo: Maria Emelianova/
If a picture is really worth a thousand words, the intensity has been unthinkable. Photo: Lennart Ootes./
Your words mean a lot to your players. Photo: Lennart Ootes/FIDE.
Gestures even go beyond being just a coach or a captain. It makes chess itself more than just a game. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Open Section

With the black pieces, GM Gabriel Sargissian scored a fine victory over GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov on the top board when the latter erred in the early stages of the game:

Gabriel Sargissian defeated a strong opponent on the top board with black pieces. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

GM Robert Hovhannisyan defeated GM Nijat Abasov to enable Armenia to continue its fine run in the tournament:

The clash between two teams of youngsters, India 2 and Uzbekistan, was the highlight of the round. The early sparks came from GM Baskaran Adhiban, who decided to let his hair down and play a highly risky opening probably backed up by deep engine-aided preparation:

Adhiban, letting his hair down. Photo: Stev Bonhave/FIDE.

After GM Nodirbek Yakubboev vs. Nihal Sarin also ended in a draw, India 2 seemed to be sailing smoothly, as they held winning positions in the remaining two games. GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu indeed converted his advantage. The curious part of his game is that it featured a complicated rook and pawn vs. bishop ending that every coach in the world teaches to a promising youngster, while secretly knowing it would never pop up in practical play:

Praggnanandhaa, dealing with an important but never encountered ending. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The fateful encoounter between GM Dommaraju Gukesh and GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov is the most dramatic game of the round and our game of the day, and it ended tragically for the former:

Game of the Day

After his blunder on the last move of the game, Gukesh kept his hands on his eyes, and just let the clock run. It was a distraught Gukesh who signed the scoresheets and left the arena, while Abdusattarov was overjoyed with his effort.

The Uzbekistan team was overjoyed with their young player. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The U.S. seemed to be too strong for Turkey, as both GM Fabiano Caruana and GM Leinier Dominguez gained advantages and seemed to cruise to their wins:

India defeated Iran mainly due to the pivotal game between GM Vidit Gujrathi and GM Amin Tabatabaei, where the uneven play near the time control resulted in a lost ending for Black. This is Vidit’s first victory after a win in the first round and seven straight draws in this tournament:

GM Viktor Erdos (rated 2586) of Hungary scored a 19-move victory over GM Anton Korobov of Ukraine in 19th-seeded Hungary’s 2-2 draw against eighth-seeded Ukraine:

Crucial matches in Open in round 11

Open standings after round 10

See full results here.

Women’s Section

Top-seeded India defeated another new joint leader, 10th-seeded Kazakhstan, comprehensively by a 3.5-0.5 score. IM Tania Sachdev‘s game is the most spectacular:

IM Tania Sachdev achieved a spectacular victory. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

In the second-table battle against Georgia, Poland seemed to gain the upper hand when FM Maria Malicka defeated IM Salome Melia in a clean game:

But Georgia equalized the score to 2-2 thanks to a late blunder by GM Monika Socko, thus enabling India to become the sole leader again:

Nino Batsiashvili of Georgia. Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Crucial Women's matches in round 11

Women's standings after 10 rounds

See full results here.

The 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad and Women’s Chess Olympiad are over-the-board team events where national chess federations compete in classical games for gold medals, trophies, and the title of strongest chess nation in the world. The event consists of an 11-round Swiss tournament where each player from a national team plays against another player from the opposing national team. Teams receive “game points” for winning or drawing games and “match points” for winning or drawing a match. Teams with the most match points for each section become the champions of their section, with a third award going for the team with the most points from both sections combined.

Previous Coverage:


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