2012 Chess Olympiad Istanbul: Round three

8/30/2012 – In the first "clashes of the titans" we saw a number of board one wins that led to team victory. The dynamics of this are explained to us by GM Alejandro Ramirez, who has picked such a board one win for his game of the day – from the women's section. Andrew Martin shows us a loss by the veteran Alexander Beliavsky to the young Indian GM Pentala Harikrishna in his video analysis.

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The 40th Chess Olympiad is scheduled to take place in the Turkish metropole of Istanbul, from August 27 to September 10th, 2012. A record of 158 national chess federations have brought teams to Istanbul to participate in this prestigious event, which is being staged in the WOW Hotel and Convention Center, just minutes away from the airport.

Round three

This saw the first real clash of the intellectual titans, in which higher rated teams were pitted against each other. Many matches could have swayed in either direction, and the close contests made it a delightful joy for chess fans.

The Ukrainian team squeezed out a victory against Israel from a very suspicious position: GM Ruslan Ponomariov (above) was clearly worse against his Israeli counterpart GM Maxim Rodstein, but the former World Champion somehow turned the tables after the first time control and managed to win the game. GM Boris Avrukh ground down GM Pavel Eljanov, but...

... GM Andrei Volokitin (above) showed no mercy against GM Evgeny Postny. With Ivanchuk and Gelfand drawing on the top board, Ukraine won the match by 2.5-1.5.

Russia again played safely, scoring three draws and a win by Jakovenko (above) in their match against Latvia.

After yesterday's exhausting game with Lithuania, USA top board Hikaru Nakamura (above) played the necessary 30 moves to take a draw with GM Eduardo Iturrizaga of Venezuela. Nakamura's team-mates cleared the rest of the opposing team for the convincing 3.5-0.5 victory.


Levon Aronian (above with a fan) led the Armenian team to a narrow victory against Spain...


Aronian defeated Paco Vallejo with white, while the remaining three boards were drawn.


You guys miss me? This is the first Chess Olympiad for Spain without Alexei Shirov-

Azerbaijan readily dispatched the Faroe Island team with 3.5-0.5. England won the derby match against Cuba 3-1 with two full points by the most experienced players Adams and Short.

Thanks to a rook endgame win by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (above) against Veselin Topalov, France scored a victory against Bulgaria, as the remaining Frenchmen drew their games.

Round three: Top twenty team pairings – Open

No.
SNo
Team
Res.
Res.
Team
SNo
1
42
Slovakia
2
2
Bosnia Herzeg.
50
2
58
Venezuela
½
USA
5
3
74
Faroe Islands
½
Azerbaijan
7
4
8
France
Bulgaria
10
5
11
England
3
1
Cuba
15
6
2
Ukraine
Israel
12
7
3
Armenia
Spain
18
8
28
Slovenia
1
3
India
13
9
45
Iran
0
4
Germany
14
10
25
Romania
1
3
China
6
11
40
Kazakhstan
0
4
Philippines
35
12
29
Argentina
2
2
Canada
53
13
1
Russia
Latvia
30
14
4
Hungary
3
1
Switzerland
43
15
38
Mexico
2
2
Montenegro
44
16
16
Poland
3
1
Chile
46
17
73
South Africa
Turkey
31
18
17
Czech Rep.
Uzbekistan
33
19
19
Croatia
Sweden
34
20
47
Colombia
½
Serbia
20

In the Women's Section World Champion Hou Yifan took the helm of team China for one of the greatest challenges in the whole Olympiad – the match against the 4th seed Ukraine. IM Mariya Muzychuk won another nice game as she brought down the higher rated GM Zhao Xue, but Yifan struck back and defeated Kateryna Lahno on the top board. With the other two games drawn the match ended with a 2-2 score. Ukraine, a medal contender, neutralized one of their main competitors.


Women's World Champion Hou Yifan brought home a vital point in round three


Top Ukrainian women's player GM Kateryna Lahno in her game against Hou Yifan

Georgia and Germany traded punches but neither could deliver a knockout, ending their contest in a drawn match. Poland and France pushed ahead by defeating their respective opponents Hungary and Austria by a score of 3-1. Serbia demolished the higher rated Spain with 3.5-0.5, with Russia and Greece doing the same to Mongolia and Peru respectively. The Czech Republic edged the higher-seeded Romania.


India narrowly defeated Armenia, thanks to Tania Sachdev

A match that was not supposed to be exciting had people on the edge of their seats. The underrated Uzbekistan held the USA to a draw delivering losses to Foisor and Goletiani. When all looked lost or suspect at best, Zatonskih and Abrahamyan brought home the full points to tie the match and avert a devastating loss to a low seeded team. Team USA will have to regroup after this knowing that China, Russia, and Ukraine will show no mercy and give no opportunity to come back from behind.

Game of the day commentary by GM Alejandro Ramirez

For people watching the Olympaid, specially for the first time, it might seem that all boards are the same. After all, a point scored on board 4 is worth exactly the same as one scored on board 1. However, having played in different boards throughout my Olympic experience, I have always felt that this is not the case. There is a special prestige of playing board one, but it is not just that. Board 1 in many ways sets the pace. It's the game everyone is watching. And, usually, it is the closest game.

For this reason, many, many matches are not decided until board one finishes. In today's matches in the men's section, Spain was only slightly outrated against Armenia, and it was Levon Aronian on board one that took out Vallejo Pons to secure the 2.5-1.5 for the Armenians. After Adams sealed the deal against Dominguez, no one would have bet on a Cuban comeback no matter the odds. Indeed, England took the match comfortably. In matches where relatively weak countries face stronger ones, it is not unusual for their first board to be the one to take a half or even full point. For example, Venezuela is not a chess powerhosue, but Iturrizaga with his 2650 rating is a strong match for any player in the world. Today he was pressing but unable to create anything against USA's Hikaru Nakamura. Lastly, let us not forget the super classical match between Kramnik and Shirov, probably the only interesting game in the Russia-Latvia matchup.

The game I present to you was the last one played in the match, and the World Champion was in a must-win situation to tie the match after Muzychuk handily beat Zhao Xue.

[Event "40th Olympiad 2012 Women1"] [Site "Istanbul"] [Date "2012.08.30"] [Round "3"] [White "Hou, Yifan"] [Black "Lahno, Kateryna"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B47"] [WhiteElo "2599"] [BlackElo "2542"] [Annotator "Ramirez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "115"] [EventDate "2012.??.??"] [EventCountry "TUR"] [WhiteTeam "China"] [BlackTeam "Ukraine"] [WhiteTeamCountry "CHN"] [BlackTeamCountry "UKR"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 Qc7 6. g3 {Fianchetto setups against the Paulsen/Taimanov/Kan/Scheveningen set-ups are not the best scoring, but the always retain a serious amount of poison.} a6 7. Bg2 Nf6 8. O-O Nxd4 9. Qxd4 Bc5 10. Qd3 {Arguably an opening inaccuracy. I do believe it is accepted that the intermediate Bf4 is slightly slightly superior, but it's not a big deal. Maybe Yifan wanted to get Lahno out of book as soon as possible.} (10. Bf4 d6 11. Qd2 {the point is that the queen is better placed on d2 for a series of reasons.}) 10... d6 11. Na4 O-O $6 {I can't agree with this move. Whereas Qd3 was a stylistic choice, this seems to me to be a mistake. The pair of bishops will be a difficulty for Black the entire game. You just don't give the pair of bishops to a world champion...} (11... Ba7 12. Rd1 $2 Bd7 $1 13. Nc3 Ng4 $1 $15) 12. Nxc5 dxc5 13. Rd1 e5 14. Be3 Ng4 15. Bd2 Be6 16. Qe2 Nf6 17. a4 Rad8 18. f3 {White is only slightly better, but the Chinese player impressively makes her advantage stronger by the move. First, she controls the queenside activity possibilities, then she crushes the kingside.} Nd7 19. Be3 Nb8 $6 {I guess the Ukrainian superstar wanted to transfer the knight to c6 and d4 (?) at some point, but because of the weakness of c5 this is easier said than done.} 20. Qe1 a5 (20... b6 21. a5 $1 {Qe1's point. Nice prophylaxis. }) 21. f4 f6 22. f5 Bf7 23. g4 b6 24. Qh4 (24. g5 {seemed more exact to me. From now on Lahno has a couple of chances to defend better, as it seems that the opening of the h-file was not as dangerous as Yifan thought, but Black is still far from being out of danger.}) 24... Rxd1+ 25. Rxd1 Rd8 26. Re1 {Of course White doesn't want to trade rooks. She has a clear plan to advance on the kingside. For some reason computer's show this as equal. Practically I'm not feeling Black's position.} h6 27. Qf2 {h4-g5. Not a secret.} Kf8 28. h4 Ke7 {Lacking a clear continuation Lahno escapes the kingside before it blows up, but her king doesn't make it as far as she wants it to.} 29. g5 hxg5 30. hxg5 Rh8 31. Rd1 Rd8 32. Rc1 {weirdly, the rook on c1 is microscopically better on c1, because of potential c3-b4 as opposed to doing nothing on e1. Lahno doesn't want to go back to h8 with this improvement.} Nc6 33. c3 Rd6 34. Qh4 Qd8 {Black holds the open file, but it is irrelevant without a penetration spot. For this reason Bf3 seems very logical, preventing Rd1 and with the idea of Be2, covering all the squares. But Yifan sensed weakness, and she went for it.} 35. Qh7 Rd1+ (35... Qg8 {was better}) 36. Kh2 Rxc1 37. Bxc1 (37. Qxg7 $1 { Was actually quite interesting. But this is risky.} Rc2 $1 38. Qxf6+ Kf8 39. Qxc6 Qd3 40. Qh6+ Ke8 41. g6 Rxg2+ 42. Kxg2 Qxe4+ 43. Kh2 Bd5 $13) 37... Qd1 $2 (37... Qg8 {was now mandatory. Katja overestimates the chances with her lone queen.}) 38. Qxg7 $1 (38. Be3 $2 Qh5+ {would've left White in a miserable endgame.}) 38... Qxc1 39. Qxf6+ Kf8 40. Qh8+ Ke7 41. Qf6+ Kf8 42. Qh8+ $1 { Repeating moves like a champ before delivering the killing blow.} (42. Qxc6 $2 Qf4+ 43. Kh3 Qe3+ 44. Kh2 Qf4+ $11) (42. g6 Qf4+ 43. Kg1 Qe3+ 44. Kf1 Qd3+ 45. Kf2 Nd8 {is still rather unclear.}) 42... Ke7 43. f6+ $1 {Black is beautifully netted by the pawns and the diagonals. She has no defense.} Kd7 (43... Kd6 44. Qf8+ {drops all of Black's pieces with check, so there is no time for perpetuals.}) 44. Bh3+ Be6 45. Qg7+ Kd6 46. Qf8+ Kc7 47. Bxe6 {A little calculation shows that White has a escape route, and no reason to fear perpetuals. On the other side, she has devastating threats against Black's king.} Qf4+ 48. Kh3 Qf3+ 49. Kh4 Qh1+ 50. Kg4 Qxe4+ 51. Kh5 Qh7+ 52. Qh6 Qe4 53. Qg7+ Kb8 54. Qf8+ Ka7 55. Qf7+ Kb8 56. Qe8+ Ka7 57. Qd7+ Kb8 58. Bd5 { Black has no more than a couple of spite checks, so she resigned. Hou Yifan gave a great fight and a clear showing of why she is World Champion and the first board. She handily punished Lahno's overaggressiveness.} 1-0

Round three: Top twenty team pairings – Women

No.
SNo
Team
Res.
Res.
Team
SNo
1
1
China
2
2
Ukraine
4
2
3
Georgia
2
2
Germany
9
3
7
Poland
3
1
Hungary
12
4
43
Austria
1
3
France
14
5
19
Serbia
½
Spain
11
6
16
Slovenia
2
2
Kazakhstan
22
7
2
Russia
½
Mongolia
21
8
5
USA
2
2
Uzbekistan
35
9
8
Armenia
India
6
10
10
Romania
Czech Rep.
23
11
17
Netherlands
2
2
Latvia
24
12
20
Slovakia
Israel
25
13
29
Argentina
Turkey
45
14
13
Bulgaria
½
ICSC
56
15
15
Cuba
3
1
Indonesia
54
16
36
Belarus
Colombia
34
17
18
Greece
½
Peru
37
18
41
Moldova
2
2
Ecuador
32
19
51
Denmark
0
4
Azerbaijan
27
20
31
Italy
Venezuela
53

Top rankings after three rounds

# Open
+
=
Pts
1 USA
3
0
0
6
2 China
3
0
0
6
3 Germany
3
0
0
6
4 Azerbaijan
3
0
0
6
5 France
3
0
0
6
6 India
3
0
0
6
7 Hungary
3
0
0
6
8 Philippines
3
0
0
6
9 Ukraine
3
0
0
6
10 Russia
3
0
0
6
11 England
3
0
0
6
12 Poland
3
0
0
6
13 Armenia
3
0
0
6
14 Czech Rep.
2
1
0
5
15 Canada
2
1
0
5
16 Argentina
2
1
0
5
17 Turkey
2
1
0
5
18 Bosnia Herz.
2
1
0
5
19 Slovakia
2
1
0
5
20 Mexico
2
1
0
5
 
# Women
+
=
Pts
1 India
3
0
0
6
2 Russia
3
0
0
6
3 Czech Rep.
3
0
0
6
4 Slovakia
3
0
0
6
5 Serbia
3
0
0
6
6 Argentina
3
0
0
6
7 Poland
3
0
0
6
8 France
3
0
0
6
9 China
2
1
0
5
10 Georgia
2
1
0
5
11 Germany
2
1
0
5
12 USA
2
1
0
5
13 Latvia
2
1
0
5
14 Ukraine
2
1
0
5
15 Kazakhstan
2
1
0
5
16 Cuba
2
1
0
5
17 Slovenia
2
1
0
5
18 Uzbekistan
2
1
0
5
19 Greece
2
1
0
5
20 Belarus
2
1
0
5

Summaries from the official web site,
photos by David Llada, Arman Karakhanyan, Anastasiya Karlovich


Andrew Martin: Game of the Day Rd 3 – Harikrishna vs Beliavsky

Live video coverage of the Olympiad


Remaining schedule of the Olympiad

There is live commentary of the most interesting games on Playchess.com,
beginning around half an hour after the games have started.

31 August 2012 15.00 4th Round
Daniel King
1 September 2012 15.00 5th Round
Lawrence Trent
2 September 2012   Free Day
3 September 2012 15.00 6th Round
Daniel King
4 September 2012 15.00 7th Round
Yasser Seirawan
5 September 2012 15.00 8th Round
Daniel King
6 September 2012 15.00 9th Round
Yasser Seirawan
7 September 2012 15.00 10th Round
Yasser Seirawan
8 September 2012   Free Day
9 September 2011 11.00 11th Round, Closing
Daniel King
10 September 2011 Departure

Some hours after the end of each round we will be posting video summaries by Daniel King on our news page. If possible they will appear on the same night, otherwise early the next morning. We also expect best-game video commentary from Andrew Martin.


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