43rd Chess Olympiad: Halfway point

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Bobby Ang

Chess Piece

43rd Chess Olympiad
Batumi, Georgia
Sept. 23-Oct. 6, 2018

43rd Chess Olympiad Georgia
Total of 185 teams from 183 countries. Georgia as the host country was allowed to field 3 teams.

Time Control is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 30 minutes play-to-finish, with 30 seconds added to your clock after every move starting move 1.

Tie-Breaks: The standings will be on a match points system (2 points for a match win, 1 point for a draw and 0 for a loss). For the first tiebreak they will use the Olympiad Sonneborn-Berger system. This means that the match points of the teams against which you had played during the Olympiad are multiplied with the number of team points you scored in the match against that team, followed by dropping the result against the lowest-ranked team. If you are still tied after that then the second tiebreak, which is based on game points (totaling up all the points you scored against all the teams you played) will be used.

Games are played at 7 p.m. Manila time every day, except for the last round which will begin at 3 p.m., also Manila time. If you want to watch the games live and for free I can recommend the following sites:



In both cases you should go to the page indicated and follow the link to the live games. My experience is that the chess24 site is the easiest to follow but go ahead and try both of them.

After five rounds, or almost halfway through the 11-round event, Azerbaijan, the Czech Republic, Poland and Ukraine are tied for the lead.

The Azeri team features an in-form Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2820 (3/4), Teimour Radjabov 2751 (3/4), Arkadij Naiditsch 2721 (3.5/5), Rauf Mamedov 2699 (4.5/5) and Eltaj Safarli 2676 (2/2). As you know both Armenia and Azerbaijan, two countries still technically at war, have a deeply-ingrained chess culture and any match between the two is always a tense affair. In Batumi it was Azerbaijan which won 2.5-1.5, and the game between the two teams’ leaders was worthy of the occasion.

Aronian, Levon (2780) — Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar (2820) [C84]
43rd Olympiad 2018 Batumi GEO (5.1), 28.09.2018

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0 — 0 Nxe4 6.d4 Be7 7.Re1 b5 8.Rxe4 d5 9.Nxe5 Nxe5 10.Rxe5 bxa4 11.Qe1 f6 12.Re3 c5 13.Qd1 0 — 0 14.Nc3 Rb8 15.b3 cxd4 16.Qxd4 Bd6!?

Sacrificing his d- and a- pawns for a speculative attack. This is typical of Mamedyarov. Hard to see what compensation he will have for his pawns but slowly his pieces swing into position and he starts taking over.

17.Qxd5+ Kh8 18.Rd3 Qe8

The bishop on d6 cannot be taken because of a back rank mate.

19.Bb2 Be5 20.Nxa4 Rb5 21.Qf3 Bb7 22.Qe3

Looking forward to some piece exchanges on the e-file but Shakh has calculated farther.


This bishop is immune because 23.Qxe4 Bxh2+ wins the white queen.

23.Rd2 <D>



Admit it — you had no idea this move was coming.

24.Kxg2 Qg6+ 25.Kf1

[25.Kh1 Bxh2! 26.Kxh2 Rh5+]

25…Bxh2 26.Re1 Rg5 27.Ke2 Re8 28.Kd1 Rg1!

Aronian’s idea is that 28…Rxe3? is refuted by 29.Rd8+ with a back rank mate

29.Be5 Bxe5 30.Rde2 h5 31.Qd3 Qg2 32.Nb6 Rxe1+ 33.Rxe1 Qxf2 34.Nd5 Rd8 35.c4 Qxa2 36.Qf3 g6 37.Re3 Kg7 38.Qh3 Qf2 39.Rd3 Qg1+ 40.Kc2 Qh2+ 41.Qxh2 Bxh2 42.Rh3 Be5 43.Kd3 a5 44.Ke4 Kf7 45.Kf3 Rh8 46.Kg2 g5 47.Ne3 Ke6 48.Kf1 f5 0 — 1

Poland has always had a competitive team in the Olympiads but their current crop is performing wonders: Jan-Krzysztof Duda 2739 (1.5/4), Radoslaw Wojtaszek 2727 3.0/4, GM (Grandmaster) Kacper Piorun (you know this guy, he is a former problem-solving world champion) 2612 3.5/4, Jacek Tomczak 2614 4.0/4 and Kamil Dragun 2568 4.0/4. They have the distinction of bringing down title favorite Russia 2.5-1.5 in the 4th round and followed that up with another big win, this time over France 3-1.

Tomczak, Jacek (2614) — Kramnik, Vladimir (2779) [C45]
43rd Olympiad 2018 Batumi GEO (4.3), 27.09.2018

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.h4

Signature move of Dutch GM John Ver der Wiel.

8…Qe6 9.g3 Nb4 10.c4 Ba6

With the idea of 11…d5! White cannot capture en passant because of 12.exd6 Nc2+

11.Bf4 d5 12.a3 Bxc4 13.Qd1 Bxf1

[13…Qf5! is very strong here, threatening …Qe4+]

14.Kxf1 Na6 15.Nc3 Nc5 16.b4 d4 17.bxc5 dxc3 18.Qd4 Rd8 19.Qxc3 Qd5 20.Kg1 Bxc5 21.Rc1 Bb6 22.h5 0 — 0 23.h6 Rfe8 24.hxg7 Re6 25.Bg5 Qa2 26.Rh2 Rd5?

The losing move. 26…Rd4, preventing Qb4, still keeps the position very much alive.


Threatening mate on f8.

27…c5 28.Qh4

And to this there is no defense.

28…h6 29.Bxh6 Qb3 30.Bd2 Kxg7 31.Qh8+ Kg6 32.Qh7# 1 — 0

The big surprise is the Czech Republic (David Navara 2740 2.5/4, Viktor Laznicka 2662 3.0/4, Zbynek Hracek 2557 2/3, Jiri Stocek 2574 4.5/5 and Peter Michalik 2556 3.0/4). They started off with 3 unsurprising victories over Trinidad & Tobago, Tajikistan and Chile but then kicked into gear by defeating the highly-regarded Iranian squad and then routing the 3rd seed China. Stocek defeated Chinese GM Wei Yi, who is rated more than 150 points ahead of him.

Wei, Yi (2742) — Stocek, Jiri (2574) [B69]
43rd Olympiad 2018 Batumi GEO (5.3), 28.09.2018

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 d6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qd2 a6

Our readers will love this, a good ol’ Richter-Rauzer!

8.0 — 0 — 0 Be7 9.f4 Bd7 10.Nf3 b5 11.Bxf6 gxf6 12.Kb1

The text is considered the main line, but let me tell you that I have always considered 12.Bd3 as most dangerous for Black. The following game convinced me of that: 12.Bd3 Qb6 13.Rhe1 b4 14.Nd5 exd5 15.exd5 Na7 16.Qe2 Nc8 17.Nh4 Ra7 18.Bf5 h5 19.Rd3 Kd8 20.Bxd7 Rxd7 21.Nf5 Rc7 22.Re3 Qb7 23.Qf3 Qb5 24.Nd4 Qc4 25.Nc6+ Rxc6 26.dxc6 f5 27.b3 Qc5 28.Qe2 d5 29.Qxa6 Rg8 30.Qb7 Qd6 31.Rxe7 Nxe7 32.Rxe7! 1 — 0 (32) Khalifman,A (2645)-Svidler,P (2550) Tilburg 1994.

12…Qb6 13.g3 b4 14.Ne2 a5 15.f5 e5 16.Nc1 Rc8 17.Qd5 Na7 18.Nd2 Bc6 19.Qd3 a4 20.Nc4 Qc5 21.Qf3 Nb5 22.Qe3

Wei Yi and his aimless queen moves has obviously lost the thread of the game.

22…Nd4 23.Bd3?

[23.c3 to get rid of the d4 knight and force the exchange of queens is refuted by 23…bxc3 24.bxc3 Rb8+ and he has to give up a piece for 25.Ka1?? Nc2# is mate]

23…d5! 24.Nd2 a3 25.exd5 Bxd5 26.Ne4 Qc6 27.Nb3 0 — 0 28.Rhe1 Nxc2 29.Qh6

A last ditch attempt to mate his opponent. Wei Yi is just 1 move too late.

29…Bxb3 30.Ng5

[30.axb3 a2+ 31.Kc1 Rfd8 Black mates first as well]

30…Bxa2+ 31.Kc1 Nxe1+ 32.Kd2 Nf3+ 0 — 1

In the 2016 Baku Olympiad the Ukrainian team beat Russia and China and tied for 1st, narrowly losing the gold medals by tie-break to the USA. And they did this without their top player Vassily Ivanchuk. “Chucky” has since 1988 played in every Chess Olympiad, in 14 altogether. 1988 and 1990 he was part of the Soviet team, 1988 as a reserve player, but two years later, in 1990, he played on first board. From 1992 to 2014 Ivanchuk played twelve Olympiads for Ukraine, in eleven of them on board one. Why didn’t Vassily play? He preferred to participate in an open tournament in Poland — a draughts tournament!

Anyway, this year Ivanchuk is once again leading the Ukrainian chess charge. This team is composed of Vassily Ivanchuk 2710 3.0/4, Pavel Eljanov 2703 1.0/4, Yuriy Kryvoruchko 2695 3.0/4, former world champion Ruslan Ponomariov 2681 2.5/4 and Anton Korobov 2685 4.0/4. They haven’t met any of the top 10 teams yet but Ivanchuk is playing well, and that is bad news for their opponents.

The USA title retention bid was stalled when they were held to a draw by Israel (Sutovsky beat Sam Shankland) and Russia lost to Poland, but don’t count them out yet — there are still six rounds ahead of us!


Bobby Ang is a founding member of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and its first Executive Director. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), he taught accounting in the University of Santo Tomas for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.