Held By Uzbekistan, U.S. Survives Scare; Abdusattorov Shocks Caruana

India 2, Israel, England, Spain and Armenia lead with eight match points at the end of the fourth round of the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad. The US and India, the top two places, were held at a 2-2 draw by Uzbekistan and France respectively. Norway suffered another setback when they were detained by Mongolia. The India 2 team continued their impressive performance as they defeated Italy by a dominant 3-1 score.

India, Ukraine, Georgia, Poland, France, Azerbaijan, India 2 and Romania lead with eight full match points at the end of the fourth round of the 44th FIDE Women’s Chess Olympiad. Romania scored a 2.5-1.5 win over Germany, while Mongolia put on an impressive spectacle, as it did in the open section, keeping the higher-seeded Kazakhstan to a 2-2 draw. IM Tania Sachdev secured a crucial win for India in a tactical battle over Hungary’s WIM Zsoka Gaal, giving her team a much-needed victory to finish with a score of 2.5-1.5.

17-year-old GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov of Uzbekistan defeated former World Championship Challenger GM Fabiano Caruana of the USA in a major defeat.

Olympiad Emotions

It is fascinating to see players on the board. With their emotions, both masked and unmasked. When the games start, especially the professionals give everything for their country. Olympiad is where a player does not expect any financial reward: it is a mix of patriotism, camaraderie and pure pride to represent his country and gives a player the motivation to give him/her the best. Their presence of personalities on the board and determination to do their best is palpable. Hours spent in the olympiad arena is an enjoyable experience on many levels, watching them enjoy their favorite game. Photographers work overtime to capture them and present them to us, surprising us with the images:

Reminder: GM Arjun Erigaisi from India. Photo: FIDE/Stev Bonhage.

Amused? GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda from Poland. Photo: FIDE/Stev Bonhage

Press: GM Murali Karthikeyan from India 3. Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Cool: WGM Divya Deshmukh from India 2. Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Bite: GM Batsuren Dambasuren of Mongolia. Photo: FIDE/Lennart Ootes.

Nail biting: US GM Sam Shankland Photo: FIDE/Stev Bonhage.

Determined: GM Dronavalli Harika from India (R), who is in her eighth month of pregnancy. Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Looking for: GM Baadur Jobava from Georgia. Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Open section

At the top board, France kept India in a listless battle, with all four games ending in a draw with little action happening.

On the next board, it was also a 2-2 draw, but the young Uzbek team’s performance against the US was impressive. Uzbek child prodigy and reigning world champion Rapid Abdusattorov emerged as the winner of a top-board seesaw battle to triumph over seasoned Caruana, who had a bad day at the office:

Beginning of a crucial encounter: Caruana-Abdusattorov on the highest board. Photo: FIDE/Stev Bonhage.

GM Sam Shankland survived a scare to give his team a much-needed draw and avoid an upset loss. He fought hard from a dangerous looking position in a tower end to end the match in a draw:

Vakhidov missed a golden opportunity to take a crucial win over Shankland, as Dutch GM Ivan Sokolov points out. Photo: Maria Emelianova.

After GM Levon Aronian’s match ended without much action, it was GM Wesley So who saved the US by playing a notebook that snorted out of the Benko Gambit, thus giving his team a major win:

Wesley So, the savior. Photo: FIDE/Stev Bonhage.

World Champion GM Magnus Carlsen took a stunning victory over Mongolia’s GM Batsuren Dambasuren in a sacrificial top-board attack for Norway. Carlsen’s reckless play gives us the game of the day:

game of the day

Mongolia’s IM Sugar Gan-Erdene stole the show by beating Norway’s GM Frode Olav Olsen Urkedal to tie the score 2-2 for his team after the other two boards ended in a draw.

The young Indian second team is the crowd favorite in Chennai, and they once again captured the opportunity by beating Italy, the giant killers from the previous round. The main win was won by India’s new 2700, GM Dommaraju Gukesh:

Another Indian prodigy, GM Nihal Sarin, had a surprisingly easy second board win, beating GM Luca Moroni:

While visiting the press center, GM Baskaran Adhiban acknowledged the enthusiastic and clear public support for the India 2 team, especially as three members belong to the host state, Tamilnadu: Gukesh, GM Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa and Adhiban. When I asked him about the uniqueness of the young team members, he was enthusiastic in his praise for his young weapons: “They are not afraid of anything! …They are ready to take on anything and everyone – I have a lot to learn from them!”

The proverbial darlings of the masses, the India 2 team. Photo: Maria Emelianova.

20th-seeded Romania put on a creditable show by keeping fifth-seeded Poland to a 2-2 draw, while Turkey and Canada put in identical performances to keep sixth-seeded Azerbaijan and 13th-seeded Iran respectively.

The 22nd seed Israel caused a shock by beating the seventh seed the Netherlands in a creditable show. Similarly, 34th-seeded Slovakia defeated eighth-seeded Ukraine. Another notable performance came from Zambia, who defeated Egypt 2.5-1.5 after an impressive second-round win.

View the full results here.

women’s department

Sachdev scored the crucial win for India to beat Hungary 2.5-1.5:

A crucial victory for India: Sachdev, Humpy, Harika and Vaishali. Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Ukraine triumphed over Bulgaria thanks to GM Anna Ushenina’s win over FM Beloslava Krasteva’s mishandling of a tower-end draw. As they say, tower ends are never drawn!

GM Anna Ushenina: Smoke exits are never drawn. Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Romania shocked Germany with a score of 2.5-1.5. The crucial moment was the blunder of WGM Josefine Heinemann against WGM Mihaela Sandu:

View the full results here.

The 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad and the Women’s Chess Olympiad are over-the-board team events where national chess federations compete in classic 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 one national team plays against another player from the other 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 will be crowned champions of their section, with a third prize for the team with the most points from both sections combined.

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