News 2020

China, Hungary, Russia and USA top pools at Online Olympiad

China takes the lead in Pool A, closely followed by India

It is a close race between the two Asian chess superpowers in Pool A of the Online Chess Olympiad. For the second day in a row, China won all three matches, and India was on track to do the same and co-led the group. However, technical problems got in their way, as Vidit Gujhadhi and Humpy Koneru lost due to power failure and disconnection in their match against Mongolia. This unfortunate incident turned a very likely victory into a mere draw.

India's misfortune allowed China to become the sole leader, one point ahead of the Indians. However, it feels like the Chinese are still warming up and the overall favorites are not showing their full potential yet. Out of 36 games played so far, China has suffered 2 losses and conceded 15 draws.

China's first board, GM Ding Liren

Germany managed to keep the third place in the standings, but they are now 3 full points behind China. It was a long-and-not-so-good day at the office for them: they beat Vietnam by a minimal margin, but drew against Georgia and suffered a bitter defeat at the hands of China: 1½ - 4½. It must be noted that the German team is weakened by the clash with the "German Masters", the national championship, and some of the players in the team are taking part in both events at the same time.

Iran climbs to fourth place, as Vietnam lost all three matches today and goes down to 8th place.

Hungary advances to forefront in Pool B

As many anticipated, Pool B is proving to be the most balanced out of four. It was clear from the beginning that France, Norway, and South Africa wouldn't progress to playoffs, but this has been the only fulfilled prediction: other than that, everything is still open. Hungary is the unexpected leader, but no less than five teams still have a chance to advance to the next stage, or even to claim first place.

The day started well for Ukraine, defeating Azerbaijan in the first game of the day (Round 4) and taking the lead. However, the clash with Hungary in Round 5 was a real carnage: all six games reached a decisive result, and Ukraine took the worst part. The team led by Viktor Erdos scored a very important victory 4-2.

Members of the Hungarian team at the Batumi Chess Olympiad

The Hungarians were in high spirits since they had already whitewashed South Africa in Round 4. The Magyars rounded up their day with a third victory, 4-2 against their close neighbors of Slovakia, a result that put them on top of the table.

Kazakhstan and Spain did their part to turn the crosstable upside down: both teams won all the three matches, displacing Azerbaijan to the fifth position and tying with Ukraine for second place with 9 points.

Unstoppable Russia

The Russian team is cruising through Pool C. The Russians started the day with two clean 6-0 sweeps against Algeria and Morocco. In Round 6 the team faced a much tougher opponent, England, but had no problem whatsoever and scored another convincing victory 5-1. Luke McShane and Jovanka Houska drew against Grischuk and Lagno, respectively, but Russia won on the remaining four boards.

With these results, Russia reaches the last day of the competition with a 2-point gap over Armenia, which seems to be the only team that can keep pace with them. Today the Armenians won three lopsided matches: they beat Croatia 4½-1½ (despite Aronian's defeat against Ante Brkic), and then shut out both Algeria and Morocco 6-0.
Romania is third, tied with England and their match on the final day might be decisive one given that Romania is yet to play against Russia.

England, led by the seven-time British Champion Michael Adams, is having a pretty decent run so far. The team won four matches but unfortunately went down in flames against Russia and Croatia, scoring just 1 point each time.
The Croatians were the sensation on the first day of play, but today they lost two matches and only managed to draw against Bulgaria.

GM Vladislav Artemiev

Round 5 will also be remembered for a great display of sportsmanship by the Russian team. Morocco failed to provide the line up on time, and when that happens the team is supposed to play with their six starting players. However, Morocco's second board was not available today, so Russia would have won automatically by default on that board. Default time passed, but Vladislav Artemiev rejected the idea of being given the point without playing. So the arbiters managed to get him the game he was due to play (had Morocco submitted the team list in time) against the first reserve Nassim Zrikem.

USA leads with a perfect score

After two days of play and six rounds, only three teams can boast a perfect score: China in Pool A, Russia in Pool C, and the USA in Pool D. It will be hardly a surprise if the three of them make it to the semifinals.

Brazil, Cuba, and Argentina lost in succession today against the USA. The team led by Wesley So is so dominant that they not only have won their six matches, but they have done so giving away just a few points: out of 36 games, they have won 22, drew 13, and lost just 1 game.

Greece also won all their three matches today and climbed to second place, three points behind the leader, and one ahead of Peru. Taking into account that Greece has already played against the top teams, they will have relatively easier pairings on the last day and a very good chance to progress to the next stage.

Greek Grandmaster Dimitrios Mastrovasilis

Peru lost to Greece in Round 4 but then bounced back by beating Paraguay and Italy. Still, the Peruvians go down from second place at the end of Day 1, to third place at the end of Day 2. They still have a shot but at the very least Peru will win recognition as the best Latin-American team, since Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Cuba found themselves in the bottom half of the standings.

Poland lost a match today against an erratic Italy and drew with Brazil in a slightly disappointing performance.
Photo: David Llada and Lennart Ootes