News 2020

India, Russia, USA and Poland advance to semifinals

Match 1: 3½-2½
Match 2: India wins by default

The first match of the day turned out to be a very eventful one, with a very unfortunate outcome. The first game to come to an end was the clash of the giants - Vishy Anand and Levon Aronian They played until only the bare kings where left on the board and split a point. Humpy Koneru pressed too hard in an equal endgame and lost, while Lilit Mkrtchian fell for a little tactical trick and lost to Harika Dronavalli.

It was in this moment when, in barely five minutes, a lot of unexpected things happened: Vankita Agrawal overlooked a double-check which cost her a rook, Gabriel Sargissian blundered his Queen in the most spectacular fashion, and in the decisive moment, Haik Martirosyan got disconnected when he only had 53 seconds left on his clock, losing on time. This left the final score at 3½-2½ for the Indian team. 

Following the disconnection of Haik Martirosyan, the Armenian team filed an official appeal that was rejected by the Appeals Committee, formed by the FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich, Michael Khodarkovsky, and Sava Stoisavljevic. Not satisfied with this decision, Armenia defaulted the second match, and as a result India is through to the semifinals. You can read the Appeals Committee resolution here.

Match 1: 5-1
Match 2: 3-3

Russia was just too strong for Hungary in their first match, winning by a convincing score: 5-1. Viktor Erdos made a fatal mistake against an attacking player like Ian Nepomniachtchi: playing Black, he didn't castle on time. As soon as Ian got the chance (16…Nh5?) broke through in the center, launched a smashing attack and quickly scored a victory. Dubov and Esipenko drew their games, but the Russian ladies did the rest of the work to round up the result: Goryachkina, Kosteniuk, and Shuvalova took home three points.

The second match was kind of a moral victory for Hungary, which proved to be a very worthy quarter-finalist. The Hungarians say goodbye to the Online Olympiad after a 3-3 draw against Russia. Nepomiachtich won again, this time with the black pieces and against a different rival: Tamas Banusz instead of Viktor Erdos. On the sixth board, Polina Shuvalova demonstrated one more time that there are not many girls in her age group who can play at her level. Polina was the 2019 World Girls U-20 Champion, as well as the World Girl's U18 Champion in 2018 and 2019, and her results in the Online Olympiad show why. However, for the second match, the Russian team decided to field Lagno and Gunina instead of Kosteniuk and Goryachkina, and these substitutions didn't work quite well. Both Russian stars lost to Petra Papp and Ticia Gara, who turned in an excellent performance. 

Match 1: 4½-1½
Match 2: 4-2

Vassily Ivanchuk is always unpredictable, and today it wasn't one of his good days. He went for a French defense against Wesley So, came out of the opening with a worse position, and then simply lost on time on move 27. The game between Anton Korobov and Sam Shankland was a spectacular battle, but it ended in a draw. Carissa Yip and Annie Wang sealed the result in favor of the American team, beating Julia Osmak and Mariia Berdnyk, respectively.

The second match didn't go much better for the Ukrainians. This time they decided to play without Ivanchuk, but nevertheless they lost on the first board, where Wesley So proved to be stronger than Anton Korobov, despite playing with Black. The game between Shankland and Shtembuliak looked balanced, but as soon as the complications arose, Samuel showed his class and outplayed his young opponent. Annie Wang scored another decisive point for her team, against Nadiia Shpanko. For the second time in a row, Kirill Shevchenko drew against Jeffery Xiong, but the way he did it, with a very beautiful resource (31.Bg7!), only reinforces his candidacy as the most valuable player of the Online Olympiad 2020.

Match 1: 4-2
Match 2: 1½-4½
(Poland wins the tie-break)

Very much like it happened yesterday in the preliminary round Poland was unstoppable in the top two boards. Jan-Krzysztof Duda extended his streak to a sensational 10/11, beating Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in a very fine game with the black pieces. His level of play and accuracy could be comparable to what you would expect from a game played under classical time control. Wojtaszek - Mamedov was a great fight, where the Azerbaijani player had an absolutely winning position at some point (apparently Radoslaw overlooked 29…Rxf3), but then lost the thread of the game and missed not only a win but even a draw. Gulnar Mammadova went all-in to the attack against Karina Cyfka, correctly sacrificing a knight to leave the white King naked and exposed but was not precise enough -  Karina consolidated her position and forced a Queen exchange: with this, the game and the first match was over, but the quarterfinals - not yet!

Azerbaijan added some drama to the last clash of the day, striking back in the second match, which they won by a wide margin: 4½-1½. To begin with, this time Radjabov played on the first board, and that helped to hold the unstoppable Duda to a draw. On the rest of the boards, Azerbaijan scored one point after another: Radek Wojtaszek, Monika Socko, Karina Cyfka, and Szymon Gumularz, they all lost. It was the young Alicja Sliwicka the only player to score a full point for the Polish team: her first victory in playoff so far.

The Armageddon game was a face-off between the two top women of both teams, Monika Socko and Gunay Mammadzada, with the 7-time Polish champion playing White. As it is expected under the circumstances, Monika played very aggressively, and we could say that Black came out of the opening slightly better, but White succeeded in creating some complications. In the end, the opponents reached a balanced endgame, but somehow Gunay missed some obvious moves and got entangled in very basic mate net. With just a couple second left on her clock Monika checkmated her opponent and Poland got the ticket to the semifinals.