News 2020

India, Azerbaijan, Russia and USA lead in their pools

India leads Pool A, ahead of China and Germany

China, India, and Germany won all three matches on the first day of play at the Top Division of the Online Chess Olympiad.

Santosh Gujrathi Vidit won both his games for the Indian team playing on the first board

Since India won its matches by a bigger score, the team tops the group, ahead of the rating favorite, China. India only conceded one defeat and three draws in the 18 games played so far.
China and Germany won't cross swords until Round 6 (Saturday), while another decisive match India - China will be played in the final round (Sunday). 

 Azerbaijan is the sole leader of Pool B

Azerbaijan was the only team in this Pool to win all the three matches on the first day of play in the Top Division. They faced the main obstacle in the first round facing Netherlands in a match that they won by a minimal margin (3½ : 2½) although Anish Giri defeated Shakhriyar Mamedyarov on board one. After that, Azerbaijan went on to smash Hungary and South Africa, and now tops the leaderboard with a 1-point margin over Ukraine.

Radjabov, Mamedyarov and Mamedov, at the Batumi Chess Olympiad

The Ukrainians had a bumpy start, conceding a draw in their first match of the day against Spain. In fact, the Spaniards had them against the ropes, but a mistake by the young Marta Garcia turned a winning endgame into a draw and the victory just slipped out of their hands.

Slovakia and Hungary took 3rd and 4th positions, respectively, ahead of Kazakhstan & Spain. Slovakia's result is a bit surprising, but this is one of the most balanced groups in the Top Division, and it will probably be a very tight affair.

Norway, playing without Magnus Carlsen, and France, that did not enlist most of the top guns, will have hard time making it to the top half of the table. Netherlands’ performance on the first day was a negative surprise: despite featuring Anish Giri on the first board, the team only managed to draw one match and lose the other two.

Russia leads Pool C with a comfortable margin

Russia is the top seed in the Online Olympiad and the team didn't disappoint, ending the day on top. The squad headed by Alexander Grischuk (pictured below)  and Ian Nepomniachtchi was the only one in Pool B to win all three matches today.

Russia's first board Alexander Grischuk

However, the main sensation so far is the performance of the Croatian team, which was leading after the first two rounds. The “Checkered” started the day with a 6-0 victory over Algeria, then stunned England 5:1, and only in the third round the team was stopped, losing to almighty Russian squad by a minimal margin. 

Five teams share the second position, but Croatia is the best positioned among them, having scored 13,5 points in 18 games (as many as the leaders). Besides, Croatia already played against the leader team Russia.

Armenia suffered an unexpected defeat against Bulgaria in the second round, but still has all the chances to qualify for the playoff, but in the following rounds, the team should bring its A-Game.  

Group C features three African teams, and Egypt confirmed one more time that they are the dominant chess nation in Africa: the team comfortably defeated Algeria and Morocco, and these wins allowed them to join the pursuing pack despite a loss to Romania. The Egyptians are now third, and they are dreaming big, but the key matches lie ahead of them.

USA takes command of Pool D

The United States is off to a great start in the first-ever Online Olympiad. The winners of the gold medal in Baku 2016 are on track to repeat this great success, as today they won the first three matches against Greece, Paraguay, and Italy. The USA leads with a two-point gap over a group of three nations: Peru, Poland, and Italy.

Wesley So plays on board 1 for Team USA

Wesley So leads the team, playing on board one, with Samuel Shankland defending the second board. The US is missing two of its main players, Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura, but is still a firm candidate to win the event, along with Russia and China.

On paper, Poland and Cuba were the two other teams in this pool that should be fighting for one of the two spots to advance to the next stage of the competition. However, Cuba performed way below expectations, biting the dust in the first two rounds, while Poland suffered a defeat in the third round against Greece that might complicate matters for them.

On the other hand, Peru and Italy showed their teeth, scoring two important victories each, and they are in the pack with four points, two behind the leader.