Batumi Olympiad Round 9: Poland stuns USA

by Sagar Shah
10/4/2018 – Being the sole leader at the Olympiad is not an easy task. USA was the sole leader with 15.0/16 going into the ninth round. They were the clear favourites facing the Polish team. But the inspired Poles played out of their skins and beat the US with three draws and the decisive result being Piorun beating Nakamura. In the women's section China has taken the sole lead by beating Kazakhstan 3-1. We have round 9 report from Batumi by Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal with GM analysis by Surya Sekhar Ganguly.

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Initial moments of round 9 along with explanations of different openings that were played 

Results of Round 9 (Open)

Team Team Pts. MP Res. : Res. MP Pts. Team Team
POL Poland 22½ 14 : 15 23 United States of America USA
AZE Azerbaijan 22½ 13 : 13 21 China CHN
IND India 22½ 13 : 13 21½ Armenia ARM
GER Germany 21 13 2 : 2 13 22½ France FRA
ENG England 19½ 13 3 : 1 12 23 Norway NOR
ITA Italy 20½ 12 1 : 3 12 21 Russia RUS
AUT Austria 20½ 12 1 : 3 12 20½ Croatia CRO
NED Netherlands 22½ 11 3 : 1 12 19½ Moldova MDA
ISR Israel 21½ 11 3 : 1 11 19 Hungary HUN
ESP Spain 22 11 : ½ 11 20 Bangladesh BAN

Complete list

Round nine saw the clash of two of the best performing teams at the Batumi Olympiad 2018 — Team USA and Poland. Although players from both the sides are playing really well, there is a big difference in the way both the teams are made up. Team Poland has team spirit and unity which would be difficult to match for just about any team. They spend time together. They go to the swimming pool in the evening and have their meals together. USA on the other hand is powering ahead on the basis of individual brilliance. All of their players are big stars and team unity doesn't mean much when each one can do his best on the board. Yet, in team events sometimes it is this synergy which is developed from team bonding, the fact that the player sitting next to you gives you energy and encouragement to fight harder helps ordinary teams achieve extraordinary things.

Poland is by no means ordinary, but in front of USA they are clearly weak. Jan-Krzysztof Duda is young and talented but falls short of the World Championship Challenger Fabiano Caruana. Wojtaszek has played many super tournaments and has beaten the best, but when it comes to consistency Wesley So is miles ahead. The biggest mismatch was perhaps on board three where one of the finest players in the world Hikaru Nakamura was going to fight it out against Kacper Piorun. On the fourth board Jacek Tomczak, although has been having a great tournament, is weaker when compared to Sam Shankland.

Team spirit versus individual brilliance. Which one would triumph? | Photo: Niklesh Jain

The match became interesting in the first hour itself when Sam Shankland made a move to sacrifice his queen in the opening!


Tomczak was surprised and he had to move his bishop back to d7 as taking the queen would lose to Nxc6 with big threats. To Jacek's credit he didn't give up. He brought his bishop back to d7 and continued the fight as if nothing had happened. The game later ended in a draw. 

Nakamura tried the Scandinavian against Kacper Piorun, retreating his queen back to d8, and was in a slightly inferior position out of the opening. There were a few equalizing chances like the one below, but Naka wanted to win the game at all costs and that's the reason why he made certain poor decisions.


Black should have taken on d4 with his rook. After Bxf5 Rxd1! Qxd1 exf5 the position is round about even. Instead of Rxd4 Nakamura took Bxe4 and after Rxe4 White was better. Kacper managed to keep his cool and calmly converted the rook endgame where he had two extra pawns.

It must be reminded to our readers that Piorun is five-time World problem-solving champion!

Radoslaw Wojtaszek playing on board two had a very comfortable opening position out of the opening with the black pieces. However, towards the endgame, he didn't really play so well and soon landed in a difficult opposite coloured bishop endgame. Wojtaszek defended this very well and finally, the game was drawn after nearly five hours of play.

The focus of the entire match shifted to the top board clash between Fabiano Caruana and Jan-Krzysztof Duda. Out of the opening things progressed normally, but at some point, Duda moved into a tough position. Rather than defending passively he decided to sacrifice a piece and go for an active defence.


But the position is not at all drawn. 


Caruana had to play ...Be4!! and put his king on e3. He instead went for ...Bg4 and put his king on g3 which was incorrect. After that Duda defended really well and a draw was agreed.


With this draw, the Polish team managed to beat USA with a score of 2½-1½.

Jan-Krzysztof Duda speaks to ChessBase India after his historic draw

Final moments of the Polish team beating USA

The man who provided China with the win against Azerbaijan was Bu Xiangzhi on the last board against Eltaj Safarli | Photo: Amruta Mokal

If you want to learn what chess preparation is at the highest level, you must pay close attention to the game between Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Ding Liren | Photo: Amruta Mokal

This video gives you a flow of the entire game and also has a post game interview with Ding Liren at the end

Naiditsch had a completely better position against Wei Yi but messed it up towards the end | Photo: Amruta Mokal


Vishy failed to fire with the white pieces against Aronian. It was a quick draw under an hour. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

The key game that sealed India's fate at this event. Haik Martirosyan managed to beat GM Krishnan Sasikiran to give Armenia a 2.5-1.5 win over India. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Analysis by GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly

Germany managed to hold France to a 2-2 draw thanks to Liviu Dieter Nisipeanu beating Maxime Vachier Lagrave on board one. The equalizing win for France came from Christian Bauer on board four against Rasmus Svane. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Analysis by GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly

The English team beat Norway and with 15.0/18 have moved to fifth position | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The Russians have won their last two matches and are now on seventh position with 14.0/18. Are we looking at a strong comeback?

Ranking in the Open section (top 20)

Rk. Team Team
1 Poland POL
2 United States of America USA
3 China CHN
4 Armenia ARM
5 England ENG
6 France FRA
7 Russia RUS
8 Germany GER
9 Croatia CRO
10 Azerbaijan AZE
11 India IND
12 Vietnam VIE
13 Israel ISR
14 Netherlands NED
15 Spain ESP
16 Ukraine UKR
17 Czech Republic CZE
18 Kazakhstan KAZ
19 Serbia SRB
20 Georgia 1 GEO1

Complete list

Women's section

China is now the sole leader in the women's section with 16.0/18. They beat Kazakhstan. They are followed closely by USA and Armenia who are on 15.0/18.

Results of Round 9 (Women)

Team Team Pts. MP Res. : Res. MP Pts. Team Team
KAZ Kazakhstan 23 13 1 : 3 14 23½ China CHN
AZE Azerbaijan 22½ 13 2 : 2 14 23 Ukraine UKR
USA United States of America 22 13 : 13 22½ Hungary HUN
ARM Armenia 21 13 3 : 1 12 22 Iran IRI
RUS Russia 23½ 12 3 : 1 12 20 Romania ROU
MGL Mongolia 21½ 12 1 : 3 12 20 Georgia 1 *) GEO1
GEO2 Georgia 2 21½ 11 2 : 2 11 20 Serbia SRB
ITA Italy 20 11 2 : 2 11 21½ India IND
UZB Uzbekistan 20 11 2 : 2 11 21 France FRA
GEO3 Georgia 3 20½ 11 ½ : 11 23 Vietnam VIE

Complete list

The Kazakh women proved to be no match for the Chinese team as China won 3-1 | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Ukraine versus Azerbaijan was a hard fought match that ended in a 2-2 draw. Anna Muzychuk's win on top board was balanced by Gulnar Mammadova's win on board three! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The match between USA and Hungary was moving towards a draw, but Irina Krush showed some unparalleled tenacity to hold Ticia Gara and score a 2½-1½ win for America. | Photo: Amruta Mokal


Lilit Mkrtchian and the Armenian women lost to Ukraine yesterday but came back strongly to beat Iran with a score of 3-1 and keep their medal chances alive | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Ranking in the Women section (top 20)

Rk. Team Team
1 China CHN
2 Ukraine UKR
3 Armenia ARM
4 United States of America USA
5 Russia RUS
6 Azerbaijan AZE
7 Georgia 1 GEO1
8 Hungary HUN
9 Kazakhstan KAZ
10 Vietnam VIE
11 Spain ESP
12 Czech Republic CZE
13 Slovenia SLO
14 India IND
15 Georgia 2 GEO2
16 Iran IRI
17 Italy ITA
18 Mongolia MGL
19 Poland POL
20 Uzbekistan UZB

Complete list

Photo Gallery by Amruta Mokal

Can you guess who this famous chess personality is? | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The art gallery at the expo is definitely worth your time! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

Some very nice chess themed paintings | Photo: Amruta Mokal

It was a pleasure to be invited to the commentary room to replace GM Ivan Sokolov for a few hours and commentate with IM Sopiko Guramishvili | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The live commentary by IM Sagar Shah begins at 4 hours and 30 minutes.

That's the dining table at the Hilton hotel and of course, it is chess-themed! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

GM Maurice Ashley with Tania Sachdev. Can you give it a nice caption? | Photo: Amruta Mokal

New in Chess publishing director Remmelt Otten, DGT CEO Hans Pees and New in Chess Magazine Editor-in-Chief Dirk Jan Ten Geuzendam | Photo: Amruta Mokal


Team from Gabon! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

There is Gambia everywhere in that picture! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

That's Jamaica! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

In a team competition, you are quite often distracted by what is going on in your teammate's game! | Photo: Amruta Mokal

The passage that connects hall one to two has Georgian chess history on both its walls. It is really well done and a walk through the passage looking at the posters can give you all the information you need about Georgian chess history. | Photo: Amruta Mokal

A video that takes you back in time, into the Georgian chess history

Replay all the games from round 9 (Open)


Replay all the games from round 10 (women)


Pairings for Round 10 (Open)

Team Team Pts. MP Res. : Res. MP Pts. Team Team
CHN China 23½ 15   :   16 25 Poland POL
ARM Armenia 24 15   :   15 24½ United States of America USA
RUS Russia 24 14   :   15 22½ England ENG
FRA France 24½ 14   :   14 23½ Croatia CRO
VIE Vietnam 25½ 13   :   14 23 Germany GER
AZE Azerbaijan 24 13   :   13 21½ Ukraine UKR
NED Netherlands 25½ 13   :   13 24 India IND
KAZ Kazakhstan 23 13   :   13 24½ Israel ISR
CZE Czech Republic 23 13   :   13 25½ Spain ESP
NOR Norway 24 12   :   13 21½ Serbia SRB

Pairings for Round 10 (Women)

Team Team Pts. MP Res. : Res. MP Pts. Team Team
CHN China 26½ 16   :   15 24½ United States of America USA
UKR Ukraine 25 15   :   14 26½ Russia RUS
AZE Azerbaijan 24½ 14   :   15 24 Armenia ARM
VIE Vietnam 26½ 13   :   13 24 Hungary HUN
ESP Spain 23½ 13   :   13 24 Kazakhstan KAZ
GEO1 Georgia 1 *) 23 14   :   13 25½ Czech Republic CZE
BLR Belarus 24 12   :   13 21 Slovenia SLO
IND India 23½ 12   :   12 22½ Peru PER
ITA Italy 22 12   :   12 23½ Georgia 2 GEO2
ROU Romania 21 12   :   12 23 Iran IRI

Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India website, the biggest chess news outlet in the country.


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lajosarpad lajosarpad 10/6/2018 07:50
Caption: Let's play, you are Black, I start., my move is 1. e4
Edwin Meijer Edwin Meijer 10/5/2018 12:28
I've got a nice caption; Tania to Maurice: How many times do i have to log in to the chessbase website to download a fucking game? It is absolutely ridiculous! Besides a caption, this is also a question directed at the team behind the website.
Wis3boi Wis3boi 10/5/2018 01:32
In the Mamedyarov - Liren video, the Black and White pieces are from different chess sets!
rubinsteinak rubinsteinak 10/4/2018 08:05
In Duda:Caruana, after 64. gxh4 the game is not drawn, as indicated above. Black is winning with Rd2+, just as in the game, but as you noted, black must play 65...Be4, not Bg4.
Daniel Miller Daniel Miller 10/4/2018 08:02
It is amazing to me that Anita Gara did not play 107. Rg8 against Krush, with an easy win mating on the first rank before black queens, which is in every endgame book. Seriously, it is basic first level endgame theory and she is rated 2370. Worked out well for team USA though.
eloquence45 eloquence45 10/4/2018 06:20
Thanks for mentioning Wesley's "consistency". Another factor on the Team USA line-up is their cultural background or roots. Look at their names: very un-American.
Hhorse Hhorse 10/4/2018 04:52
Tania to Maurice: Yes I should have also just provided humor and eye candy to the team and they would have been a medal contender like the USA.
ngnn ngnn 10/4/2018 03:01
I admit this is just nitpicking, but why "15.0" and not just 15 in the sentence "The English team beat Norway and with 15.0/18 have moved to fifth position"? Team points can never be split anyways. Also when it comes to individual scores, I consider this .0 used by Chessbase unnecessary information – it could be just 5/7 instead of 5.0/7. But when it’s about team points, the .0 is even weirder.

To avoid whining too much about non-issues: Excellent article once again, thanks for that guys!
siamesedream siamesedream 10/4/2018 02:43
Tania to Maurice: "I told you Duda will hold against Fabiano. Now pay me my 100 bucks".
siamesedream siamesedream 10/4/2018 02:19
famous chess personality is Alina l'Ami?
VVI VVI 10/4/2018 02:03
Vishy Anand`s performance at the Olympiad is a disgrace. He hasn`t added any value to the team`s performance rather the team is better off without him. How many games at 30 move draws ? Ridiculous.
Glad they rested him for the 10th round.
neilparker62 neilparker62 10/4/2018 11:53
Thanks - am enjoying the coverage of this olympiad.