2012 Chess Olympiad: Women's Teams in Istanbul

by ChessBase
8/26/2012 – The Russians dominated the last Olympiad with a perfect score, followed by China four points behind. This time, with the two highest rated players on boards one and two, the Chinese women are going to mount a serious challenge. But we mustn't forget Georgia, which monopolised the Women’s World Championship for 30 consecutive years. Olympiad preview by Yorkshire Chess.

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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. The Olympiad is a biennial chess tournament in which teams from all over the world compete against each other. The event is organised by FIDE, which selects the host nation. The previous Olympiad was held in 2010 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, the next will be in Tromsø, Norway. The first was held in Paris, France, in 1924, with 16 nations participating. The last Olympiad had 143 nations, 1294 competitors, and included no fewer than 254 grandmasters, 65 WGMs, 159 IMs, and 90 WIMs. This time the organisers are expecting even more.

The chess web site of the Yorkshire Chess Association will be providing daily coverage of 2012 Olympiad in Istanbul. Naturally they will be keeping track of all the British participants and their performances at the premier international team competition, but you can expect many interesting tidbits from Rupert Jones, a representative of Papua New Guinea, who will be writing a running blog on the event. You can read his interesting Olympiad preview here.

Yorkshire Chess is also introducing a new competition run by the Fantasy Chess Olympiad. For £5 you can select your dream team of Olympians and win the top prize of £150! The website has hints and tips that assist you in making your selection, as will the preview below by Yorkshire Chess.

Preview of the Women's Section of the 2012 Chess Olympiad


Seed: 1, Average Rating: 2500, Members: Tatiana Kosintseva (2530), Valentina Gunina (2533), Nadezhda Kosintseva (2516), Alexandra Kosteniuk (2472), Natalia Pogonina (2447). 2010 Olympiad (Russia 1): 1st Place (+11 =0 –0). Last year was Russia’s first ever Olympiad triumph (Post-USSR).

Russia truly dominated the last Olympiad with a perfect score and will be looking for similar success this year. To underline their dominance, Tatiana and Nadezhda Kosintseva won individual Gold medals on boards 1 and 2 respectively. Russia bring back four of the 2010 squad with Natalia Pogonina replacing Alisa Galliamova. Trying to predict Women’s chess results is notoriously difficult, but all of Russia’s players have vast experience and talent and will be the team to beat.


Seed: 2, Average Rating: 2494, Members: Hou Yifan (2623), Zhao Xue (2549), Ju Wenjun (2529), Huang Qian (2417), Ding Yixin (2353). 2010 Olympiad: 2nd Place (+9 =2 –2). Won four consecutive Olympiads from 1998-2004.

China will likely be Russia’s main challengers and can trot out 18 year old Women’s World Champion Hou Yifan on Board 1. They will need a strong performance from the top boards as their bottom boards are lower-rated than most of their rivals. China also bring back four of their squad from Khanty-Mansiysk with Ding Yixin replacing Wang Yu. Much like the men’s team, all the women have been playing a lot of chess recently, four of the squad have played over 60 games since May (Ju Wenjun has “only” played 50 games).


Seed: 3, Average Rating: 2494, Members: Nana Dzagnidze (2547), Bela Kohtenashvili (2500), Lela Javankhishvili (2449), Nino Khurtsidze (2456), Nino Batsiashvili (2436)
2010 Olympiad: 3rd Place (+7 =2 –2). Georgia won 3 consecutive Olympiads from 1992-1996 headed by the great Maia Chiburdanidze with the squad including Scotland’s Ketevan Arakhmia-Grant.

A lot of you will be familiar with Georgia’s long tradition with strong female chess players, particularly Nona Gaprindashvili and Maya Chiburdanidze, who monopolised the Women’s World Championship for 30 consecutive years. Georgia are always strong medal contenders and will be looking for more success this year with a solid if unspectacular line-up.


Seed: 4, Average Rating: 2460, Members: Kateryna Lahno (2546), Maria Muzychuk (2456), Anna Ushenina (2454), Natalia Zhukova (2442), Inna Yanovska (2404). 2010 Olympiad: 9th Place (+7 =1 –3). Won the 2006 Turin Olympiad in dominant style.

The Ukraine have generally peformed well at Olympiads, with 2010 being a blot in the copybook. This squad are full of proven winners with all four of the 2006 Turin Olympiad Gold medallists representing Ukraine with Maria Muzychuk being the only addition to the 3-board team of 6 years ago. Look for Kateryna Lahno to continue her fine form from the final Women’s Grand Prix event in Jermuk where she defeated Hou Yifan in fine style.


Seed: 5, Average Rating: 2402. Members: Anna Zatonskih (2510), Irina Krush (2464), Sabina Foisor (2364), Rusudan Goletiani (2341), Tatev Ambrahamyan (2329)
2010 Olympiad: 5th place (+7 =2 –2). Competed in 22 out of the 24 Olympiads with a highest finish of 2nd place in 2004.

The USA will be looking to emulate their performance in last year’s Olympiad, and it will be tough for them to medal with the strength of Russia, China, and Georgia. None of the American squad were born in the USA (admittedly Krush’s family moved to America when she was five) and one hopes that in future years that home-grown talent will perform well in the US Women’s team.


Seed: 39, Average Rating: 2131. Members: Anya Corke (2254), Maria Yurenok (2087), Sarah Hegarty (2120), Sabrina Chevannes (2090), Kanwal Bhatia (2103). 2010 Olympiad: 21st Place (+6 =2 –3). England have won one medal in their Olympiad history, a Silver in Haifa 1976.

Last time out England far peformed above their seeding with an excellent 21st place finish. However only 2 of that team are in the current squad and sadly 5-time British Champion Jovanka Houska is not among them. The squad are being captained by British Champion runner-up Stephen Gordon and will undoubtedly provide great advice and create a good atmosphere in the team!


Seed: 46, Average Rating: 2096. Members: Kubra Ozturk (2296), Betul Cemre Yildiz (2333), Emel Kaya (1992), Kardelen Cemhan (1941), Nezihe Ezgi Menzi (1916). 2010 Olympiad: 38th Place (+6 =0 –5). Turkey have played in every Olympiad since 1982.

Like the Open team, Turkey will be hoping to surpass their highest finish of 24th in the 2006 Olympiad. With famous Soviet coach Adrian Mikhalchishin at the helm, dramatic improvement has been seen with Yildiz defeating World Champion Hou Yifan with the Black pieces earlier this year in Kazan. However with three sub-2000 players on the bottom 3 boards, this task may be too much to ask. Turkey has also entered a Turkey 2016 and a Turkey 2023 with juniors in the same vein as the Open competition.

– Source: Yorkshire Chess. We will bring you a preview of the Women's Section shortly –

Schedule of the Olympiad with Playchess commentators

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

27 August 2012 Arrival, Opening
Playchess commentary
28 August 2012 15.00 1st Round
29 August 2012 15.00 2nd Round
Daniel King
30 August 2012 15.00 3rd Round
Valery Lilov
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.

Pre-Olympiad reports

2012 Chess Olympiad: teams and players
26.08.2012 – The biggest chess event of the year is just two days away, with teams arriving and preparing for round one on Tuesday. The top seeds are Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Hungary, Azerbaijan, China, USA. One of these teams has won four consecutive Golds in the past – can you guess which? Learn more about the leading teams in the Yorkshire Chess Association's excellent Olympiad preview.

Kramnik and Klitschko: heavyweight preparation
25.08.2012 – The chess Olympiad starts on Monday, the teams will be swarming into Istanbul from their various training camps. One of the players had a somewhat unusual session: Vladimir Kramnik spent some days in Austria with his old friend and WBA Heavyweight Boxing Champion Vitali Klitschko, who himself was preparing for a tough match. We bring you a photo report of the unusual training session.

2012 Istanbul Chess Olympiad preview
21.08.2012 – After the London 2012 Olympics, in which we saw a number of records fall with participants from 204 nations, the upcoming Chess Olympiad in Istanbul, Turkey, should be no less impressive. Players hailing from over 160 countries are expected. The official website is already up with a list of the many teams and their makeups, and expect to enjoy photos and videos as well. Here is a preview.

Istanbul Chess Olympiad – Turkish teams youngest ever
20.06.2012 – At a Chess Olympiad the host nation has the right to field three teams. Typically the third team will have 2500+ GMs. Not so in Istanbul, where the Turkish Chess Federation is giving youngsters a chance. The average age in the third Open Category team is – 8.2 years! They may get clobbered by the likes of Morozevich and Grischuk in the first round, but watch them playing lesser countries.
Chess Olympiad in Istanbul – officials from seven countries banned
09.06.2012 – At a recent FIDE meeting the Turkish Chess Federation, which is host to the 40th Chess Olympiad, was given a list of arbiters for the event. TCF President Ali Nihat Yazici rejected any officials from seven countries – England, France, Georgia, Germany, Switzerland, Ukraine and the USA – for supporting court cases against FIDE and causing financial damage. The affected federations have protested.
Chess Olympiad in Istanbul – official web site up
06.04.2012 – The 40th Chess Olympiad is scheduled to take place in the Turkish metropole of Istanbul, from August 27 to September 10th, 2012. With just over four months to go the national federations will have to make haste with the arrangements. The official web site, launched this week, provides information on rules, travel and accommodation. Details, contacts, videos.

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