Breaking: Uzbekistan and Ukraine take gold

by André Schulz
8/9/2022 – Uzbekistan grabbed gold in the open section of the Chess Olympiad after defeating the Netherlands, ahead of Armenia and India 2. In the women’s tournament, India gave away the lead in the last hurdle with a loss against the United States. Gold thus went to Ukraine thanks to a final-round win over Poland. Georgia and India completed the podium. | Photo: Stev Bonhage

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One of a kind

A full report with photos from the closing ceremony will follow shortly

The 44th Chess Olympiad was very special for a number of reasons. Because of the Covid 19 pandemic, it was held with a delay of two years, and because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it was not held in Russia as planned, but in India. Chess returned home, one could say, given the Indian roots of the game.

Chess acquired its relevance mainly in Europe, but the successes of Viswanathan Anand, who is a folk hero in India, have made chess a popular sport in India. Chess education for children is now almost standard in well-off families, and the country, with its more than 1 billion people, has already produced a multitude of outstanding talents. The enthusiasm of the numerous Indian chess fans at this Chess Olympiad, supported by the government, was tremendous in every respect.

Russia, internationally outlawed and sanctioned because of its war against Ukraine, was not allowed to participate. China abstained. Thus, in both competitions, the Open and the Women’s Olympiad, two top teams were missing.

In the open tournament, the US team, strengthened by Levon Aronian, was the overwhelming favourite according to the average rating. As the host, India had the right to send two teams each to the competitions. Since the number of participants was odd, a third Indian team was also allowed to play in both tournaments.

The US did not live up to expectations in the open tournament. This was mainly because Fabiano Caruna was not in good form. Instead, the Indian junior team, or India 2, caused a sensation, as did the also youthful Uzbek team.

The decisive battle between the two leaders took place in round 10. Gukesh was the shining hero in the Indian team. He had started the tournament with 8 out of 8 before conceding his first draw in round 9. But everything went wrong against Nodirbek Abdussatorov. Gukesh was clearly winning, but blundered in the end and lost. Instead of 3-1, the final score was 2-2 and the chances to get gold were vastly reduced.

Before the final round, Uzbekistan and Armenia were leading, both with 17 points and the better tiebreak score for Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan won its last match against the Netherlands, while Armenia won against Spain.

That meant gold for Uzbekistan and silver for Armenia.

The German team played India 2 and lost 1-3.

Vincent Keymer entered the tournament a little later due to illness, remained undefeated on board one and was the best player on his team. However, he was the only one whose performance was above his Elo expectation.

India 2 won the bronze medal with the match victory.

Final standings

Rg. Team Team
1 Uzbekistan UZB
2 Armenia ARM
3 India 2 IND2
4 India IND
5 United States of America USA
6 Moldova MDA
7 Azerbaijan AZE
8 Hungary HUN
9 Poland POL
10 Lithuania LTU
11 Netherlands NED
12 Spain ESP
13 France FRA
14 England ENG
15 Greece GRE
16 Israel ISR
17 Kazakhstan KAZ
18 Germany GER
19 Cuba CUB
20 Serbia SRB

...188 teams

All games - Round 11

 

Women’s tournament

In the women's tournament, India 1, who were also favourites to win the tournament according to the rating average, had a 1-point lead before the final round and faced the United States in the last match of the tournament. The Indians surprisingly lost 1-3.

This gave the chasing teams the chance to move past the locals. Ukraine beat Poland and Georgia defeated Azerbaijan. Thus, the Ukrainian women won gold medals after finishing the tournament undefeated.

Georgia took home silver after getting as many match points as the winners. The Indian women, who had led the field throughout the event, ‘only’ took bronze.

Final standings

Rg. Team Team
1 Ukraine UKR
2 Georgia GEO
3 India IND
4 United States of America USA
5 Kazakhstan KAZ
6 Poland POL
7 Azerbaijan AZE
8 India 2 IND2
9 Bulgaria BUL
10 Germany GER
11 Hungary HUN
12 Armenia ARM
13 Serbia SRB
14 Slovakia SVK
15 Mongolia MGL
16 Czech Republic CZE
17 India 3 IND3
18 Lithuania LTU
19 Cuba CUB
20 Netherlands NED

...162 teams

All games - Round 11

 

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André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.
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