Favorites Continue With All Wins


At the end of the second round of the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad, 43 teams have four match points, and nine teams won clean 4-0 victories and thus have eight game points. In the 44th FIDE Women’s Chess Olympiad, 40 teams have four match points; 11 teams with 4-0 victories have eight game points at the end of this round.

In significant games of the open section, World Champion GM Magnus Carlsen debuted for Norway with a trademark endgame squeeze after a long-drawn battle of nerves, while GM Dieter Nisipeanu, on the German team, played a peach of a game. The 73rd-seeded Zambia created a significant upset when they defeated the 27th-seeded Denmark with a score of 2.5-1.5.

In the women’s section, significant upsets occurred when 65th-seeded Ecuador defeated 26th-seeded Slovenia with a 2.5-1.5 score and former women’s world champion GM Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine was defeated by lower-rated IM Ekaterina Atalik of Turkey.


The Olympiad Flavor

With such a huge sea of ​​humanity, it is not just the chess on the board that you want to observe—you are also enthralled with the players’ attires, contrasts, ages, and poses. As the players are engrossed in playing their games, the colors of the Olympiad showcased in their dresses and headgear command your attention.

A pre-game ritual? Photo: FIDE/Madelene Belinki.

Colors on her hat, a smile on her face, and chess in her soul—Ellen Kakulidis of Denmark. Photo: FIDE/Lennart Ootes.
The foremost desire of every chess player, a rich and clean head during play—IM Semetei Tologen tegin of Kyrgyzstan. Photo: FIDE/Steve Bonhage.
That which brings a smile to all of us: the innocence of youth—Mazen Fandi of Syria. Photo: FIDE/Mark Livshitz.

Lines of wisdom, the focus of experience: FM Rupert Jones of Papua New Guinea. Photo: FIDE/Mark Livshitz.

Because GM Viswanathan Anand has a huge fan following in India, he has commanded a lot of attention at the Olympiad. On Friday, he interacted with a large group of enthusiastic young children. They are part of the “Chalo Chennai” (‘Let’s Go Chennai’) initiative and were selected to attend the Olympiad as spectators from chess tournaments conducted all over the country by the All India Chess Federation:

Spreading wisdom: Vishy Anand. Photo: FIDE/Lennart Ootes.

Open Section

Teams that scored complete 4-0 victories in both rounds are Ukraine, India 2, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Georgia, Argentina, Cuba, Montenegro, and Canada—thus scoring four match points and eight game points. However, medal favorites the US, India, Norway, Spain, Poland, Azerbaijan, and the Netherlands also won their matches to gain four match points.

Carlsen, in a hallmark 80-move endgame squeeze against GM Georg Meier of Uruguay, employed his favorite methods of playing chess: consistently applying pressure even with limited material on the board, giving the opponent all the chances to go wrong, and demonstrating his famous reputation as a tireless “squeezer”:

GM Dieter Nisipeanu of Germany, playing in his true style, unleashed complex tactics to finish with a checkmate in the middlegame. Our Game of the Day lasts just 28 moves:

Nisipeanu. File photo: Peter Doggers.

The top-seeded US scraped through with a 2.5-1.5 margin against 47th-seeded Paraguay, with the former being superior by rating on all boards. The decisive win came from GM Leinier Dominguez who clinically outwitted GM Fernando Cubas on the third board. Birthday boy GM Fabiano Caruana started his campaign for the US in this round, but he never had any chances during his game.

GM Wesley So’s game was a curious affair, as the American grandmaster seemed to be consistently building an advantage, which was considerable at one point:

Wesley So assesses the risk at a decisive moment. Photo: Maria Emelianova.

The US suffered mildly anxious moments when GM Sam Shankland seemed to have difficulties in the endgame even though he outranked his opponent, FM Ruben D Zacarias, by 545 Elo points:

India scored a 3.5-0.5 victory over Moldova with GM Pentala Harikrishna leading the way and showing his famed endgame prowess. The game is a textbook example of efficient practical endgame play with Hari’s fluent and effective play in a simple-looking position:

Harikrishna: seemingly simple and effective play. Photo: FIDE/Steve Bonhage.

In addition to the top India team, the other two teams in the open section and all three women’s teams of the host country also won their matches, thus pleasing the home crowd, which obviously showed massive support:

The Indian players obviously enjoy massive home-crowd support. Here, Raunak Sadhwani gets the spectators’ attention. Captain of the India 2 team, GM RB Ramesh, stands behind Sadhwani. Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Women’s Section

France, Azerbaijan, and Armenia are among the 11 teams that scored complete 4-0 victories in both rounds, thus scoring four match points and eight game points. However, medal favorites the US, India, Norway, Spain, Poland, Azerbaijan, and the Netherlands also won their matches to gain four match points.

For top-seeded India, GM Koneru Humpy, showing unusual hesitancy in her game against WIM Marisa Zuriel, got into difficulties in an advantageous position on the top board:

Humpy’s timely draw sacrifice in an inferior position prompted GM Arturs Neiksans on the Chess.com live commentary to quip, “Koneru just pulled the old trick!”

The major upset of the day was IM Ekaterina Atalik’s victory over GM Mariya Muzychuk. Atalik seemed to conduct the game fluently, keeping a good grip on the proceedings throughout:

The encounter between Atalik and Muzychuk. Photo: Maria Emelianova.

A surprise happened in the Lebanon-Syria match when veteran GM Pia Cramling won her game in just nine moves against WIM Knarik Mouradian who blundered early:

Pia Cramling, a long presence on the chessboard. Photo: Maria Emelianova.

It was a special moment at the press center after the second round. The youngest participant of the Olympiad, eight-year-old Randa Seder (Elo 1442) of Palestine, who won her game against unrated Mohamed Fahima Ali Mohamed of Comoros, spoke to the press corps along with her teammates.

Eight-year-old Randa Seder of Palestine, the youngest participant of the Olympiad, with her teammates. Photo: FIDE.

See full results here.

The 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad and Women’s Chess Olympiad are over-the-board team events where national chess federations compete in classical games for gold medals, trophies, and the title of strongest chess nation in the world. The event consists of an 11-round Swiss tournament where each player from a national team plays against another player from the opposing national team. Teams receive “game points” for winning or drawing games and “match points” for winning or drawing a match. Teams with the most match points for each section become the champions of their section, with a third award going to the team with the most points from both sections combined.


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