News 2020

India advances to the final

India beats Poland to become the first finalist of the Online Chess Olympiad. India's rival will come out of the clash between Russia and the USA.

It wasn't an easy match for the winners, who had to come from behind after losing 4-2 in the first round. Jan-Krzysztof Duda managed to out-prepare Vishy Anand on the black side of a Sicilian and came out of the opening with a solid positional advantage that he didn't fail to convert. Vidit played very aggressively with black, resolutely advancing his h-pawn all the way to h3 and creating some problems to Radek Wojtaszek. However, after the Indian missed an interesting tactical solution (21…Rxe3) White contained the attack, the advanced pawn was captured, and the Polish GM took the whole point. India seemed to have good chances of tying the match thanks to their last two boards, where both Nihal Sarin and Divya Desmukh had better positions. But only Sarin managed to win his game, while Deshmukh fell into time trouble, ruined her little advantage and lost. 

It is not easy to bounce back right after a defeat, but that's exactly what India did in the second round of the day, winning on-demand to level the match. Poland decided to replace Wojtaszek for the second round, maybe with the hope to surprise the Indians and avoid Vidit's preparation, so it was Grzegorz Gajewski who played on board two. Out of the opening, the position was about equal, but the black king was more exposed and that tends to be an important factor in rapid chess. Vidit played 18.f4, went for the kill, and scored the whole point. Humpy Koneru completely outplayed Monika Socko, and Harika Dronavalli managed to defeat Karina Cyfka in an endgame where her Bishop was stronger than Black's knight. Vishy Anand took his revenge against Duda although by this time the match was already decided in India's favor. The final score was 4½-1½ for India.

Koneru Humpy won the Armageddon game against Poland Photo: David Llada

The match came down to the Armageddon tie-break where, like in the last of the quarterfinals played yesterday, Monika Socko had to represent the whole Polish team, fighting against Humpy Koneru for the spot in the finals. It was a fantastic clash between two experienced players and probably one of the best Armageddon games we have seen recently. Monika played aggressively - as the situation demanded - sacrificing a pawn right away to grasp the initiative. But Humpy kept her cool, immediately returned a pawn, gradually coordinated her pieces, and then exploited inaccuracies by Socko to score a well-deserved victory. Monika Socko showed once again great sportsmanship, smiling after the defeat and congratulating the winning Humpy. 

India's best result at a Chess Olympiads so far has been the third place in Tromsø 2014, but now the team is guaranteed a Silver Medal.

Match 1: India – Poland 2:4

Anand 0-1 Duda
Wojtaszek 1-0 Vidit
Koneru ½-½ Socko
Cyfka ½-½ Dronavalli
Nihal 1-0 Janik
Sliwicka 1-0 Divya

Match 2: Poland – India 1½:4½

Duda 0-1 Anand 
Vidit 1-0 Gajewski
Socko 0-1 Koneru
Dronavalli 1-0 Cyfka 
Janik 1-0 Praggnanandhaa
Vantika ½-½ Sliwicka

Tiebreak: Socko - Koneru 0:1