Chennai R4: Uzbekistan draws the US as Abdusattorov beats Caruana

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
8/2/2022 – The big rating favourites in the open section of the Chennai Olympiad were held to a draw in Monday’s fourth round: Uzbekistan drew the United States thanks to a remarkable victory by Nodirbek Abdusattorov over Fabiano Caruana on top board. Meanwhile, five teams scored a fourth consecutive victory and are now sharing the lead — the most surprising member of this group is Israel, which beat the Netherlands on Monday. In the women’s section, eight teams are sharing the lead on 8 out 8 match points. | Photo: Stev Bonhage

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Five co-leaders, upsets galore

Monday’s round in Chennai was certainly eventful, as many rating underdogs either beat or drew their nominally strong opponents. Once the dust had settled, five teams remained on top of the standings with 8 match points: India 2, Armenia, Israel, England and Spain. Given the non-attendance of Russia and China, these (and other) traditionally strong chess countries — albeit not as strong as the absentees — have a great chance to collect medals.

As noted in our tournament’s preview, the United States, with the addition of Levon Aronian to their already formidable lineup, arrived in Chennai as clear favourites. However, they have already stumbled in round 4, as Uzbekistan’s young squad held them to a draw. Thorsten Cmiel had warned us about the potential of the Central-Asians, which fielded players aged 17, 20 and 16 on the top three boards on Monday.

While the implacable Wesley So beat Javokhir Sindarov with white on board 3, it was world rapid champion Nodirbek Abdusattorov who was the star of the day for the Uzbeks, as he took down world number 5 Fabiano Caruana on top board.


True to his style, Caruana played dynamic chess throughout, looking for the initiative at the expense of losing a pawn or two. Abdusattorov responded in kind, finding one precise move after the other until reaching this position with two extra pawns.

At this point, it is White who needs to be meticulous to keep the balance, and Caruana failed to notice that 44.Rd7 was the best alternative here, preparing to give a check from d6 to keep the tension in the position. His 44.Qxf5 gave Black a tempo to activate his pieces and later force a queen exchange, which left him in a winning rook endgame with two extra pawns.

Abdusattorov gained 6.3 rating points in this game alone, and has collected a total of 12.9 in the Olympiad. He is currently the fourth highest-rated junior player in the world, with a remarkable 2689.9 Elo rating — doubtlessly, this is a strong generation of players!

Fabiano Caruana, Nodirbek Abdusattorov

Fabiano Caruana facing Nodirbek Abdusattorov | Photo: Stev Bonhage

Things could have gone even worse for team USA, as Jakhongir Vakhidov failed to convert from a completely winning position against Sam Shankland on board 4.


White wins here with 52.axb4 axb4 53.Rh6+ Kg7 54.Rb6, and the d-pawn is impossible to deal with for Black. Vakhidov instead went for 52.a4, giving Black a key tempo to advance his passer with 52...b3.

Shankland saved the draw from a position which might have even been resignable for other strong grandmasters. Of course, that is why players continue making moves in losing positions in team tournaments.

Wesley So

Wesley So has won his two white games in Chennai | Photo: Stev Bonhage

Uzbekistan vs. United States


Select an entry from the list to switch between games

India 2 and Israel impress

The young players who make up India’s second team continue to impress in Chennai. They had a perfect 12/12 on individual games until round 3, and continued their great run of form by beating Italy by a convincing 3-1 score in the fourth round.

We mentioned above that Abdusattorov is the fourth highest-rated junior player in the world. Above him stand two absentees in Chennai — Alireza Firouzja (1st) and Andrey Esipenko (3rd) — and Gukesh (2nd), who is having a remarkable year. The Indian rising star is playing in his hometown, and has collected four wins in as many games so far in the Olympiad.

Gukesh beat Daniele Vocaturo on board 1 of the India 2 vs Italy match. Vocaturo came from drawing world champion Magnus Carlsen in the previous round.


White is winning here, and Gukesh found the most efficient way to wrap up the game — 29.Bxf7+ Kf8 30.Bh5, planning to increase the attacking power with Qg6 later on.

[Ed. As pointed out by Albert Silver, after 30.Bh5 it is worth noting that the bishop on h5 is hanging but cannot be captured. If 30...Qxh5, then 31.Rxf6+ gxf6 32.Rxd8+. If Black plays 30...Rxd1, White captures with 31.Bxd1 and is winning.]

Nihal beat Luca Moroni with black on board 2. The 18-year-old also has a perfect score so far in the tournament.

Praggnanandhaa, Luca Moroni

Praggnanandhaa and Luca Moroni on consecutive boards | Photo: Lennart Ootes

The team with the lowest rating average among the co-leaders is Israel. Fielding a lineup with experienced players, the Israelis upset the Netherlands in round 4. The one decisive game of the match was seen on board 3, where 54-year-old Ilia Smirin defeated Erwin l’Ami with the white pieces.


Material is even, but White has the extremely dangerous pair of rooks on the seventh rank. Engines think Black’s best alternative here is 28...Rxa7, but it is somehow understandable that L’Ami went for 28...Rb6 instead, trying to keep more pieces on the board to keep better chances of creating complications.

Smirin was ruthless in conversion, though, as he obtained a 49-move victory which kept his team’s ambition to leave Chennai with a medal very much alive.

Jan Smeets

The Netherlands’ captain Jan Smeets apparently worried about Erwin L’Ami’s game | Photo: Lennart Ootes

India 2 vs. Italy / Israel vs. Netherlands


More upsets

The United States’ team was not the only one suffering against lower-rated opposition in the fourth round. Other remarkable upsets are listed below:

  • Romania (20th seeds) tied with Poland (5th) by collecting draws on all four boards.
  • Turkey (21st) drew Azerbaijan (6th) thanks to Sahal Vanap’s win over Gadir Guseinov on the third board.
  • Canada (44th) drew Iran (13th) after Razvan Preotu beat Pouya Idani with the white pieces on board 2.
  • Slovakia (34th) beat Ukraine (8th) thanks to wins by Jergus Pechac and Viktor Gasik on top boards.
  • Cuba (32nd) defeated Hungary (19th) by a convincing 3-1 score, thanks to wins by Yasser Quesada (currently on 4/4) and Omar Almeida.
  • Mongolia (45th) held Norway (3rd) to a draw despite Magnus Carlsen quickly winning his game on top board. Sugar Gan-Erdene won his game on board 4, while Gundavaa Bayarsaikhan accepted a draw in a winning position against Aryan Tari.

Gundavaa Bayarsaikhan

Mongolia’s Gundavaa Bayarsaikhan | Photo: Madelene Belinki

All games from matches mentioned in this section


Eight co-leaders in the women’s section

Rating favourites had a better day in the women’s tournament. Out of the eight teams sharing the lead on 8 out of 8, six are among the top-10 in the starting rank. Only India 2 (11th seeds) and Romania (20th) do not meet this criterion.

The Romanians, led by Irina Bulmaga, defeated the eight seeds from Germany in round 4, with wins by Mihaela Sandu and Alessia-Mihaela Ciolacu on boards 2 and 3 respectively. Ciolacu (rated 2163) outplayed Hanna Marie Klek in a rooks and knight versus rooks and bishop endgame. GM Karsten Müller analysed the position and shared instructive advice.


Alessia-Mihaela Ciolacu

Alessia-Mihaela Ciolacu | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Much like their male counterparts, the women’s squad from Mongolia grabbed a crucial draw against a strong team in round 4, as they traded wins on boards 2 and 4 with the tenth seeds from Kazakhstan. Davaakhuu Munkhzul defeated Nazerke Nurgali with the black pieces.


White has a bishop for two pawns, but Black’s passer in the centre and the white king’s vulnerable position mean Nurgali needs to find precise defensive resources to keep the balance. The one move that draws for White here is 35.Rxf7, while Nurgali’s 35.Bg4 loses to the subtle 35...Qe4, which the Mongolian found in less than a minute.

If White had tried to save her bishop, mate would have followed quickly — e.g. 36.Bh3 Qd3+ 37.Ka4 Qxc4+ and mate next move. In the game, the Kazakh WIM went for 36.Bxe6, giving up her bishop, and resigned four moves later.

Oliwia Kiolbasa

Poland’s Oliwia Kiolbasa — her team is sharing the lead | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Romania vs. Germany / Mongolia vs. Kazakhstan


Round 5 pairings - Open

Team Team Pts. MP Res. : Res. MP Pts. Team Team
IND India *) 12½ 7   :   7 12 Romania ROU
ESP Spain 13 8   :   8 15 India 2 IND
ENG England 13 8   :   8 12½ Armenia ARM
ISR Israel 14 8   :   7 11 United States USA
FRA France 13½ 7   :   7 11½ Poland POL
AZE Azerbaijan 12 7   :   7 13 Cuba CUB
IRI Iran 11½ 7   :   7 13 Turkey TUR
UZB Uzbekistan 13 7   :   7 12 Slovakia SVK
NED Netherlands 12 6   :   7 12½ Canada CAN
SLO Slovenia 12 6   :   6 11 Germany GER
CHI Chile 11 6   :   6 11 India 3 IND
CRO Croatia 11½ 6   :   6 10½ Iceland ISL
CZE Czech Republic 12½ 6   :   6 11½ Mongolia MGL
INA Indonesia 11 6   :   6 10½ Serbia SRB
GEO Georgia 12½ 6   :   6 12½ Paraguay PAR

...96 boards

Round 5 pairings - Women

Team Team Pts. MP Res. : Res. MP Pts. Team Team
FRA France 13½ 8   :   8 13 India *) IND
UKR Ukraine 13½ 8   :   8 13½ Azerbaijan AZE
IND2 India 2 13 8   :   8 12 Georgia GEO
POL Poland 14 8   :   8 12 Romania ROU
KAZ Kazakhstan 12 7   :   7 12 Cuba CUB
GER Germany 11½ 6   :   7 13 Mongolia MGL
USA United States 11 6   :   6 12½ Peru PER
INA Indonesia 13 6   :   6 13½ Armenia ARM
HUN Hungary 11 6   :   6 12½ Sweden SWE
COL Colombia 11½ 6   :   6 13 Spain ESP
IRI Iran 12½ 6   :   6 13 Bulgaria BUL
IND3 India 3 10½ 6   :   6 11½ Brazil BRA
PHI Philippines 11½ 6   :   6 11 Netherlands NED
SRB Serbia 11½ 6   :   6 11 Argentina ARG
TUR Turkey 12 6   :   6 10½ Israel ISR

...78 boards

*) This team is assigned to a fixed board.


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.