Olympiad is Over

by admin on August 14, 2014

The last round of the Chess Olympiad is in the books and, no surprise, China won. They beat Poland, 3-1, making any discussion of tiebreaks academic. As I mentioned in my previous entry, they completed the event with only one loss out of 44 games, a truly dominating performance.

Hungary (the only team to even win a game off the Chinese, although they lost their match) tied Ukraine 2-2 in the last round and won the silver medal on tiebreaks over India, by the narrowest possible margin (½ point). India took the bronze, which was quite impressive given that their best player (Anand) did not play. They demolished Uzbekistan in the last round, 3½-½, which was probably very good for their tiebreak score. Russia and Azerbaijan also were in the four-way tie for second place, but they finished fourth and fifth on tiebreaks. Russia, the highest-rated team as usual, continued their run of disappointing Olympiads, although a run of match victories at the end almost got them on the podium.

The U.S. came a cropper at the finish line, losing to Azerbaijan 2½-1½. I wrote yesterday that Board 4 was the most important, but I was wrong. Hikaru Nakamura lost to Shakhriyar Mamedyarov on board 1, and the other three boards were all draws. Sam Shankland played on fourth board and completed his amazing performance at this tournament with 8 wins and 2 draws. After the tiebreaks were worked out, the Americans were in 14th place.

Other teams of interest? France was tied for first with two rounds to go but then had a brutal finish, having to play China and Russia and losing both matches. Norway, the host, had a very disappointing tournament, finishing 29th in spite of having Magnus Carlsen on board one.

If you’re looking for teams that did well, there were several Western Hemisphere teams that had good tournaments: Cuba in the tie for 6th through 11th; the U.S., Argentina, Peru and Brazil all in the tie for 12th through 23rd places. Also let me give a shout out to Kyrgyzstan, which somehow won seven matches with a FIDE master on board one, an IM on board two, a 2200 player on board 3 and a 2100 player on board four. They finished in 34th, tied with many, many teams like Norway (!), England and Germany that had four GM’s.

Addendum: Shankland won a gold medal for his spectacular performance as alternate; in fact, he had clinched the gold medal with a round to go! He also may have beaten Judit Polgar in her last tournament game, because she surprisingly announced her retirement at this event. (However, as with all retirements, let’s wait and see if this one sticks.) On the downside, he writes on Facebook that he “faltered and drew a much better position in the most critical moment, when we could have a team medal and qualification to the 2015 World Team Championship on the line.” Still, as I wrote last time, we wouldn’t have even been close without him, so I don’t think anybody is going to criticize him!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

TV August 14, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Good point about retirement. Shankland himself once announced his retirement from chess and look where he is now!

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