Chennai R10: Uzbekistan and Armenia share the lead, heartbreak for Gukesh

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
8/9/2022 – Uzbekistan and Armenia are sharing the lead going into the final round of the Chess Olympiad’s open tournament. India 2 was inches away from replacing Uzbekistan as co-leader, as Gukesh could have given his team match victory had he not blundered a piece against Nodirbek Abdusattorov in a drawn position. In the women’s section, meanwhile, India retook the sole lead after convincingly beating Kazakhstan. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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Painful to watch

The most shocking moment seen (so far) in this year’s already-extraordinary Chess Olympiad was Gukesh’s final move in his game against Nodirbek Abdusattorov. Both youngsters, aged 16 and 17 respectively, are having a breakthrough in Chennai — especially Gukesh, who scored eight wins in a row in his first Olympiad outing — and they were paired up against each other in a crucial match for the final standings. Thanks to a win by Praggnanandhaa, India 2 had the lead while Gukesh and Abdusattorov continued playing a balanced queen and knight against queen and bishop endgame.

And then disaster struck for the Indian wunderkind.

 

72.Nf3 allowed 72...Qb7+, losing the knight. Gukesh could not believe his eyes, and saw his time on the clock run out in disbelief. Abdusattorov had collected the win that drew the match and left Uzbekistan in shared first place going into the final round of the Olympiad.

To rub salt into the wound, Gukesh later had to deal with the fact that he missed a couple of winning moves in the middlegame. The 16-year-old surely knew he was winning, but looking at the lines shown by the engines must have been painful in the aftermath of such a loss.

This defeat does not take away from the incredible performance Gukesh has shown in Chennai, though! Moreover, India 2 could still win the whole thing as the youthful squad is a point behind the leaders, which could even both lose their matches on Tuesday.

Ivan Sokolov, Ramesh

Extraordinary coaches and team captains — Ivan Sokolov (Uzbekistan) and Ramachandran Ramesh (India) | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Since Uzbekistan was in the sole lead going into the tenth round, the draw against India 2 allowed Armenia to again climb to the top of the tournament standings after getting an impressive victory over the sixth seeds from Azerbaijan.

Gabriel Sargissian and Robert Hovhannisyan scored for Armenia. Sargissian remarkably beat elite grandmaster Shakhriyar Mamedyarov with the black pieces.

 

Shakh misplayed the opening and found himself in this tough position early on. Sargissian’s 23...Bd6 cemented his advantage, as the bishop trade will make it impossible for White to keep his c-pawn alive. Mamedyarov kept playing in a losing position until move 67, when he finally accepted defeat.

Hrant Melkumyan, Gabriel Sargissian

Armenia’s Hrant Melkumyan and Gabriel Sargissian | Photo: Lennart Ootes

The standings after round 10 have Armenia and Uzbekistan sharing first place on 17 points, with India 1, India 2 and the United States a point back. Since the leaders have faced all three of their closest chasers, they are paired up against Spain and the Netherlands respectively — both teams have 15 points at the time.

So it is everything to play for in what will surely be a tense final round. Potentially, if both Spain and the Netherlands win, we might get to see an unlikely trio on the podium given how the tournament has gone so far. The two rating favourites, United States and India, play on board 4, something we could have hardly predicted before the event began — in first place, we would have imagined they would have already faced each other at this point.

These are the final-round pairings including teams with 14 or more match points (i.e. 3 points or fewer away from the leaders):

1 9
 
GER Germany 25½ 15   :   16 29½ India 2 *) IND
 
11
2 12
 
ARM Armenia 26 17   :   15 27 Spain ESP
 
4
3 14
 
UZB Uzbekistan 30½ 17   :   15 27½ Netherlands NED
 
7
4 2
 
IND India 27 16   :   16 24½ United States USA
 
1
5 48
 
MDA Moldova 26 15   :   15 26½ England ENG
 
10
6 6
 
AZE Azerbaijan 25 14   :   15 25 Serbia SRB
 
23
7 21
 
TUR Turkey 26½ 14   :   14 24½ Poland POL
 
5
8 8
 
UKR Ukraine 26 14   :   14 24 Lithuania LTU
 
35
9 13
 
IRI Iran 25½ 14   :   14 26 Hungary HUN
 
19
10 25
 
GRE Greece 26 14   :   14 26 France FRA
 
15
11 40
 
KAZ Kazakhstan 25½ 14   :   13 24 India 3 IND
 
16

*) This team is assigned to a fixed board.

Round 10 - Top 6 matches

 

Select an entry from the list to switch between games

India retakes the lead among the women

With a convincing victory over Kazakhstan, the Indian women retook the sole lead they had given up after losing to Poland in round 9. Bhakti Kulkarni, the reserve player of the rating favourites, was included in the lineup for the first time since round 3, and the 30-year-old delivered, as she defeated Gliskhan Nakhbayeva on board 4.

Tania Sachdev also won, as she continued her incredible run in the Olympiad. Thanks to her victory over Xeniya Balabayeva, she now has an 8/10 score and a 2492 rating performance.

 

Sachdev’s d-pawn turned out to be much stronger than Black’s passers on the queenside. Ten moves later, both the queens and the black pawns on the a and b-files had left the board, giving White a clearly winning position.

Tania Sachdev, Bhakti Kulkarni

Smiling — Tania Sachdev and Bhakti Kulkarni | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Much like in the open section, India is set to face the United States in the final round of the women’s tournament. The Americans stand two points behind the leaders, while other four teams — which India has already faced — are sharing second place on 16/20 match points.

Ukraine versus Poland and Azerbaijan versus Georgia are the other crucial matches in the fight for first place.

The final-round pairings:

Team Team Pts. MP Res. : Res. MP Pts. Team Team
IND India *) 28 17   :   15 28½ United States USA
UKR Ukraine 27½ 16   :   16 29 Poland POL
AZE Azerbaijan 28½ 16   :   16 26 Georgia GEO
KAZ Kazakhstan 25½ 15   :   15 25½ India 3 IND3
SVK Slovakia 22½ 15   :   15 28 India 2 IND2
INA Indonesia 27 14   :   14 26½ Germany GER
CRO Croatia 22 14   :   14 26 Armenia ARM
ENG England 23 14   :   14 26 Hungary HUN
ESP Spain 28 14   :   14 25½ Serbia SRB
BUL Bulgaria 26½ 14   :   14 25½ Israel ISR
FRA France 25 13   :   14 26 Mongolia MGL

...79 boards

*) This team is assigned to a fixed board.

Round 10 - Top 6 matches

 


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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.
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