by GMs Jonathan Tisdall (text) and Einar Gausel (chess analysis)
What makes China's result even more remarkable - their team line-up in Tromsø omits three players with ratings over the 2700 mark - Hao Wang, Xiangzhi Bu, and Chao Li.
Round ten offered a chance for the top seeded women's team - from China - to resurrect their dreams of gold. The Ukrainian women continued a storming comeback with a win over Russia, in what had to be the grudge match of the entire event, after their acrimonious pre-Olympiad battle over who would get to field Kateryna Lagno in Tromsø. The match ended 2.5-1.5 after three draws and GM Natalia Zhukova's win on fourth board against WGM Olga Girya.
45... ♘g5 White resigned.
Despite the misstep against Ukraine,
Russia enter the final round with a one match-point lead over the field, with
18/20, and Ukraine has caught China on 17. Germany is the sole team on 16 points.
In the final round Ukraine meets China, while Russia faces Bulgaria and Georgia plays Germany in the matches most likely to decide the medals. Full team pairings here.
In the Open event, 5th seeds Hungary found themselves alone in second place, a point behind China. They did this by puncturing the incredible Romanians, who started the day fighting for silver position despite being seeded only 32nd. Another overperformer bit the dust today - the high-flying Bulgarians were edged out 2.5-1.5 by the 15th seeds, Poland. Former World Champion Topalov kept his hot streak going, beating Wojtaszek on first board, but his teammates could not maintain the pace. Poland struck back on the middle boards, Gajewski and Duda beating Cheparinov and man-in-form Iotov, respectively.
Top seeds Russia returned to the chasing pack with a 2.5-1.5
win over Serbia, Kramnik winning after a horrendous opening from Ivanisevic,
and with the teams trading wins with White on the bottom two boards. The 6th
seeds USA also made a late reappearance, edging out Argentina 2.5-1.5 thanks to
wins by anchor Nakamura and the unstoppable Sam Shankland, who now has 8.5/9.
India handed Germany their first team defeat of the event, winning 2.5-1.5 on the strength of GM Krishnan Sasikiran’s victory with the black pieces over Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu. Uzbekistan are the clear positive surprise after ten rounds, thanks to another upset, this time 2.5-1.5 over 11th ranked Netherlands, with IM Jahongir Vakhidov supplying the only decisive result, beating GM Robin van Kampen on board four.
The round's battles produced a log-jam of teams on 15 points, and since Hungary has already faced - and lost - to China, one of these must float up to first board. If the Chinese can be vanquished at the final hurdle, the destination of the medals will be an incredibly exciting and complicated affair. The protagonists with an uphill battle in the potentially wild final round are, all on 15 points: USA, Russia, Ukraine, France, Azerbaijan, Poland, rising India, and the latest high-fliers, 33rd seeded Uzbekistan.
The final showdowns: Poland-China, Hungary-Ukraine, Russia-France, Azerbaijan-USA, and India-Uzbekistan – these heavyweight matches will decide the medals. Full pairings are here.
Announcement: Today's Qatar Masters Open golden ticket winners are GM Aleksandar Indjic (Serbia, 2539) and WGM Sabina Foisor (USA, 2252)
Norway 1's Open match against Croatia was exciting, eventful and ultimately unfortunate. The world champion summed up his loss on board one:
Today I deserved to be punished.
We included a mini-interview which his conqueror Ivan Saric in our interim report, while GM Einar Gausel has now annotated the game:
1-0GMs Hammer and Lie seemed to have attractive positions, but both eventually went astray in radically different ways - Hammer being methodically rolled back, while Lie's sacrificial melee with Kozul was arguably the most spectacular and interesting game of the tournament, but in one of the oddest resulting material imbalances I have ever seen in my life, the Norwegian's king turned out to be frighteningly exposed and impossible to defend in time trouble.
1. e4 c5 2. ♘f3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. ♘xd4 a6 5. c4 ♘f6 6. ♘c3 d6 7. ♗d3 ♕b6 8. ♗e3 ♕c7 9. 0-0 ♘bd7 10. f4 b6 11. ♖c1 ♗e7 12. ♕f3 0-0 13. g4 g6 14. g5 ♘h5 15. b4 White has staked claims in the center and on both wings. Black either needs to counter with a pawn break or remain passive and hope White overextends.
15... ♖e8? This sets the stage for later tactics on f7. Continuing development with
15... ♗b7 seemed more logical.
16. e5! White grabs his chance to strike before Black has managed to mobilize his forces.
34. ♔h1 ♗xc1 35. ♖xc1 ♗d3 36. ♖e1 ♗e4+ 37. ♖xe4 ♘xe4 38. ♕xe5+ ♘hf6 39. ♕f5 ♖g7 40. ♕f4 ♘e8 41. h3 ♘c7 Black has a slight material advantage, but he needs to keep White's c-pawn at bay. And should his rook stray from the kingside, then White will probably be able to obtain perpetual check.
Norway 2 drew with Colombia 2-2, and though this was a very slightly disappointing result, they have now tied Norway 1 in match points. Norway 2 has 23 game points – Norway 1 only 21.5.
@nvmea posted an interesting question on Twitter, wondering
Our @TarjeiJS came up with the answer:
Karjakin also won an individual gold, scoring 6.5/7.
You can download and enjoy our free PDF bulletin, including GM Einar Gausel's "Blunders, upsets and knockouts" section and now the interim as well as the final report, by clicking the link below:
Tomorrow is another rest day before Thursday's final round, when the games start three hours earlier at 11am EST. We'll of course be covering the action live, but you may want to use the rest day to catch up on some of today's commentary - for instance, the segment when Australian GM David Smerdon joined the show:
More videos here.
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