Chennai R6: Armenia (open) and India (women’s) still perfect

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
8/4/2022 – Going into the rest day at the Chess Olympiad, we have sole leaders in both categories for the first time in the event. Armenia beat India 2 to grab the lead in the open, while India defeated Georgia to keep its perfect score in the women’s tournament. Remarkably, Gukesh, playing for India 2, scored a sixth consecutive victory in Chennai. | Pictured: All eyes on Gabriel Sargissian and Gukesh. | Photo: Lennart Ootes

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India beats Georgia in the women’s event

While Gukesh kept his perfect score in the open section (more on that below), the Indian women’s team collected a crucial victory to grab the sole lead in the women’s tournament. The locals — and rating favourites — scored two wins with white and drew their black games to keep their undefeated run in Chennai.

The wins were obtained by team leader Humpy Koneru and Rameshbabu Vaishali, Praggnanandhaa’s sister. Importantly, the local squad defeated Georgia, a strong contender for the title. The Georgians had grabbed bronze medals in 2018 with four of the five players representing the team this year, while two of them — Nana Dzagnidze and Lela Javakhishvili — were part of the squad that won the event back in 2008.

Romania and Ukraine drew on the second board, while Azerbaijan defeated Kazakhstan on board 3, which means Romania and Azerbaijan are now sharing second place a point behind the leaders. The Azerbaijanis, led by Gunay Mammadzada, will get a chance to stop the Indians’ winning streak in Friday’s seventh round.

India’s Vaishali, aged 21, found an impressive resource to get an advantage against Javakhishvili in the middlegame.

 

Black’s 16...Nb7 was a blunder, but there is only one move that punishes the mistake. After thinking for a half hour, Vaishali played it — 17.b4 gives up the exchange on a1 to gain full control of Black’s hapless minor pieces on the queenside.

There followed 17...Bxa1 18.Qxa1 Qe7 19.b5, and White was in the driver’s seat. Pragg’s sister continued to play brilliantly in the remainder of the game, and was rewarded with a full point when her opponent resigned on move 36.

Rameshbabu Vaishali

Rameshbabu Vaishali | Photo: Lennart Ootes

In the match between Romania and Ukraine, draws were seen on boards 1 and 3 while Anna Muzychuk defeated Mihaela Sandu with white on the second board. As the confrontation progressed, Ukraine seemed to be heading to a win, as Yuliia Osmak had things under control in an equal endgame against Miruna-Daria Lehaci.

But the Ukrainian fell for a tactical trap on move 67.

 

White’s king has four escaping squares and only one of them is taboo. As fate would have it, instead of going to the f-file, Osmak erred with 67.Kd1. Lehaci apparently had seen the combination beforehand as she quickly entered the forced sequence 67...Re1+ 68.Kc2 Rc1+ 69.Kb3 (protecting the knight) Rc3+, and White is lost.

 

70.Kb2 Rxc4, and Black is a piece up while keeping the passer on the second rank. White cannot capture on c4 as the rook is protecting the d1 promotion square. Osmak resigned after 71.Rxc4 d1Q.

Irina Bulmaga, Mariya Muzychuk

Romania versus Ukraine, with Irina Bulmaga facing Mariya Muzychuk on the first board | Photo: Lennart Ootes

India v Georgia / Romania v Ukraine

 

Select an entry from the list to switch between games

Israel and the Netherlands score inspired wins

Two women’s squads scored remarkable upsets in round 6 to join an 8-team pack standing two points behind the leaders. The Netherlands (17th seeds) defeated France (5th), while Israel (19th) got the better of Germany (8th), both by a 3-1 score.

The Dutch team fielded two rising stars on top boards, with 16-year-old Eline Roebers beating Marie Sebag and 15-year-old Machteld van Foreest losing against 2-time French champion Pauline Guichard. Wins for Rosa Ratsma and the experienced Tea Lanchava on boards 3 and 4 gave the Dutch overall victory.

For those wondering, Machteld is Jorden and Lucas’ younger sister. In fact, their father taught her and all five of her brothers how to play chess at a young age. Machteld’s twin brother Nanne also plays competitively.

Marie Sebag, Pauline Guichard

The French team, led by Marie Sebag and Pauline Guichard | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Meanwhile, Israel beat Germany thanks to wins by Dina Belenkaya and Michal Lahav on boards 2 and 3. The latter correctly gave up an exchange to keep her kingside attack going against Dinara Wagner.

 

White’s marvellous bishops on c3 and d3 are enough justification to play 24.g4 here, allowing 24...Bxh1. Lahav continued to push her kingside pawns to open lines against the black king, and ended up collecting a crucial 40-move win.

Chennai Chess Olympiad 2022

Israel facing Germany | Photo: Lennart Ootes

Netherlands v France / Israel v Germany

 

Armenia stops India 2

Former co-leaders Armenia and India 2 were paired up against each other in round 6. The young Indian squad, naturally, fielded the in-form Gukesh on top board, and yet again the prodigious 16-year-old delivered — he defeated Gabriel Sargissian with white to go into the rest day with a perfect 6/6 score and a live rating of 2719.3 Elo points!

The youngster played his usual brand of creative chess to beat his experienced opponent.

 

Black is already in deep trouble, and things got from bad to worse once Gukesh uncorked the forcing 25.Bxb4, making way for his queen to transfer to the g-file along the second rank. There followed 25...Qxb4 26.Qg2 Qe4+ (what else?) 27.Qxe4 fxe4 28.e7 — the point.

 

28...Re8 29.Rg8+ Rxg8 30.Rxg8+ Kxg8 31.e8Q and White needed ten more moves to prove that his newly promoted queen is much stronger than Black’s rook and bishop in such an open position.

Gukesh

The (16-yer-old) man of the hour — Gukesh | Photo: Madelene Belinki

But the fighting Armenians hit back with wins on boards 3 and 4 to grab match victory. Samvel Ter-Sahakyan defeated Adhiban with white, while Robert Hovhannisyan got the better of Raunak Sadhwani with the black pieces.

Ter-Sahakyan showcased excellent technical understanding to convert his extra pawn into a victory in a minor-piece endgame.

 

32...Bc3 is the most precise here, as it all but forces 33.Kf1 Bxf1 34.Nxh3 gxh3, and Black has a clean path towards victory in the good knight versus bad bishop ensuing ending.

It has so far been an impressive showing by the team from the Caucasus. The Armenians have demonstrated the value of having a well-balanced team — their reserve player, Hovhannisyan, who is also the lowest-rated player in the lineup, is the only member of the team who has been fielded in all six rounds, and he has the best score in the team, with 5 out of 6 points.

Armenia will face a tough task after the rest day, though, as they are paired up against the favourites from the United States, who currently stand in sole second place. We will soon find out whether Armenian-born Levon Aronian will be included in the Americans’ lineup.

Samvel Ter-Sahakyan

Samvel Ter-Sahakyan | Photo: Madelene Belinki

Armenia v India 2

 

Team USA beats Iran, climbs to second place

For a second day in a row, long-time US team captain John Donaldson included the four highest-rated players in the team’s lineup — all rated 2754 or above! And for a second consecutive day they got a 2½-1½ victory after scoring three draws and a win.

The team’s hero on Wednesday was Fabiano Caruana, who beat the ever-dangerous Parham Maghsoodloo with the white pieces. Cautious play by the US players was the rule in the remaining three boards, as they apparently (and correctly) assessed that the Iranian players are capable of emerging on top in complex tactical struggles.

In the one decisive game, the Americans’ top board, in trademark style, combined excellent calculation with a fine-tuned intuitive feel to outplay Maghsoodloo in a position with castling on opposite sides. By move 44, the Iranian was completely lost.

 

Caruana played 44.Qh5 aware of the fact that after 44...Rxc2+ 45.Kxc2 d3+ 46.Ke1 Qg1+ 47.Rxg1 47.Bxh4 he has a comfortable edge in the ensuing endgame. The 30-year-old is not one to fall for tactical traps!

Fabiano Caruana, Parham Maghsoodloo

The match is about to begin | Photo: Stev Bonhage

United States v Iran

 

Other noteworthy results

Armenia is leading the United States by a single point, while no fewer than eleven teams stand a point behind the Americans. Cuba, Kazakhstan and Peru are the lowest-rated squads in this group. Here we present other noteworthy results from round 6:

  • Uzbekistan (14th seeds) drew India 1 (2nd) thanks to Shamsiddin Vokhidov’s win over Krishnan Sasikiran on board 4. Pentala Harikrishna defeated Nodirbek Abdusattorov on top board.
  • Cuba (32nd) drew Spain (4th). All four games finished drawn.
  • Serbia (23rd) upset Poland (5th) thanks to a win by Robert Markus over Kacper Piorun on board 3.
  • Peru (37th) upset Croatia (17th) with wins by Emilio Cordova and Cristhian Cruz on boards 1 and 2.
  • Kazakhstan (40th) upset the Czech Republic (18th) thanks to wins on boards 3 and 4, obtained by Arystanbek Urazayev and Kazybek Nogerbek respectively.

Emilio Cordova

Peru’s Emilio Cordova | Photo: Madelene Belinki

ChessBase India

The ChessBase India team, led by the indefatigable duo of Sagar Shah and Amruta Mokal | Photo: Stev Bonhage

All games from matches mentioned in this section

 

Round 7 pairings - Open

Team Team Pts. MP Res. : Res. MP Pts. Team Team
IND India *) 17 10   :   10 17 India 3 IND
ARM Armenia 17½ 12   :   11 16 United States USA
FRA France 18 10   :   10 18½ Netherlands NED
SRB Serbia 15½ 10   :   10 16½ Germany GER
CUB Cuba 17½ 10   :   10 19 India 2 IND
PER Peru 16 10   :   10 19 Uzbekistan UZB
ESP Spain 16½ 9   :   10 17½ Kazakhstan KAZ
AZE Azerbaijan 16½ 9   :   9 17½ Israel ISR
GRE Greece 17½ 9   :   9 17½ Ukraine UKR
BRA Brazil 16½ 9   :   9 16½ England ENG
IRI Iran 16 9   :   9 17½ Australia AUS
AUT Austria 15 9   :   9 16 Hungary HUN
POL Poland 15 8   :   9 16 Philippines PHI
CRO Croatia 16 8   :   8 16 Mongolia MGL
CZE Czech Republic 17½ 8   :   8 16½ Indonesia INA

...96 boards

Round 7 pairings - Women

Team Team Pts. MP Res. : Res. MP Pts. Team Team
AZE Azerbaijan 18½ 11   :   12 18½ India *) IND
GEO Georgia 16 10   :   11 16½ Romania ROU
UKR Ukraine 17½ 10   :   10 16½ Netherlands NED
POL Poland 19½ 10   :   10 18½ Bulgaria BUL
ARM Armenia 20 10   :   10 17 Israel ISR
KAZ Kazakhstan 16 9   :   10 16 Vietnam VIE
IND2 India 2 16 9   :   9 18 Greece GRE
ESP Spain 19 9   :   9 15½ Czech Republic CZE
MGL Mongolia 16½ 9   :   9 15½ Cuba CUB
IND3 India 3 15½ 9   :   9 16 Switzerland SUI
SVK Slovakia 14½ 9   :   9 16 Estonia EST
FRA France 16 8   :   9 14½ Croatia CRO
ARG Argentina 14½ 8   :   8 16½ United States USA
GER Germany 15½ 8   :   8 15½ Turkey TUR
HUN Hungary 16 8   :   8 16 Lithuania LTU

...78 boards

*) This team is assigned to a fixed board.



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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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