China made history by winning the 41st Chess Olympiad that concluded at Tromso, Norway on August 14, 2014. On the women’s front, Russia made it three in a row with a sweet hat-trick.
China defeated Poland 3-1 in the final round with wins in the middle boards of Ding Liren and Yu Yangyi. Wang Yue and Ni Hua drew in the top and bottom boards to wrap up the match.
China won eight matches and drew three to total 19 match points and win the title by a two point margin. World Junior champion Yu Yangyi (9.5/11) played all games and played the key role. They started as the seventh seed.
China drew Russia, Netherlands and Ukraine and beat the rest of the other teams. China had been silver medal winners previously in 2006. This should be historic for China and Asia.
It was way back in 1937 (USA) that a team from outside Europe won the Chess Olympiad. During the politically charged 1976 year, two Olympiads were held and many nations like the erstwhile USSR did not participate in both. When the Chinese lay their hands on the Hamilton Russell Trophy it will herald a new beginning. They did not lose a single match.
When China made their Olympic debut at Buenos Aires 1978, some of the Chinese players surprised well known western masters. Chinese won the Women’s Olympiad at Elista 1998.
India surprised one and all by winning the bronze medal. India has been playing chess Olympiad since Moscow 1956. This is our best ever showing so far. In 2010, when China dropped out of the World Team Championship, India replaced them and finished third. Having big stars always dont matter. Having performers do. Atleast this is what Russia has to learn from the Indian performance.
India came into this Olympiad without Anand and Harikrishna. The best ever placing recorded was sixth in Calvia 2004. It looked like an achievement even if they finished ahead of their 19th seeding.
India managed not to lose matches in the last seven rounds and it mattered in Swiss format competitions. Three Indians, Sethuraman, Sasikiran and Adhiban also remained undefeated. India’s 3.5-0.5 victory margin against Uzbekistan in the final round pushes us ahead into a tie for the second to fifth places for the first time. Our tie-break gave us bronze medal. Together with China, an Asian majority in the podium are things to ponder for world chess in the coming ages.
India won seven matches, lost one and drew three for this excellent showing. Here are our scores: Negi (6.5/10), Sethuraman (7.5/10), Sasikiran (7.5/10), Adhiban (7.5/11), Lalith Babu (2/3). Coach Grand Master R.B. Ramesh has used the available resources very well. Double medal winner for India was Krishnan Sasikiran. Sasikiran won the silver medal for his 7.5/10 in the third board, apart from the team bronze medal
Russia won the Vera Menchik Cup by defeating Bulgaria 2.5-1.5 in the final round. Despite losing the top (Ukrainian import Lahno lost) board, Russians won both middle boards and drew in the bottom board for their second title. Russia came into the women’s event with problems and both the Kosintseva sisters kept away as Rublevsky remained the coach. Lahno came from Ukraine and occupied the top board but it was the other Russian players who won them matches.
Indian women finished tenth on 15 match points after scoring six wins, three draws and two defeats. It is a slip from our all-time best of fourth place in 2012. In quick time, our players, on the black boards drew and the white boards also followed. India drew Romania 2-2. India rested Padmini Rout in the final round to protect her gold medal in board five.
Our women scored: Harika (7.5/10), Tania Sachdev (4.5/9), Eesha Karavade (5/8), Mary Ann Gomes (6/9), Padmini Rout (7.5/8). Plenty of positives come from Padmini Rout and Indian men in Tromso.
The next Chess Olympiad will be in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2016 and in 2018 Batumi (Georgia) will stage it.
Rating movement of some names:
Carlsen (Nor) 6/9 -7.30
Aronian (Arm) 6.5/10 -0.70
Grischuk (Rus) 6/10 -6.50
Nakamura (USA) 5.5/9 -5.20
Caruana (Ita) 6.5/9 -0.40
Hou Yifan (Chn) 7/9 +1.80
Judit Polgar who retired from Professional Chess after this Olympiad scored 4.5/6 and had a push -0.60 rating change.
Open: 1 China (gold) 19; 2-5 Hungary (silver), India (bronze), Russia, Azerbaijan 17 each; 6-11. Ukraine, Cuba, Armenia, Israel, Spain, Belarus 16 each.
Girls: 1 Russia (gold) 20; 2-3. China (silver), Ukraine (bronze) 18 each; 4-6 Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan 17 each; 7-9 Poland, USA, Germany 16 each; 10-18. India, Romania, France, Spain, Bulgaria, Netherlands, Mongolia, Slovakia, Lithuania 15 each.