The last missing stars appeared as more evenly matched teams faced off against each other. Hikaru Nakamura's painfully slow trip to Tromsø was over, and he led the USA against the Netherlands. Although his duel against Anish Giri was over relatively quickly, it was tense while it lasted.
by GMs Jonathan Tisdall (text) and Einar Gausel (analysis)
Nakamura may have regretted putting off his exertions as the match took a dramatic turn after the USA went out in front thanks to GM Alexander Onischuk downing Dutch colleague Loek van Wely. First GM Erwin L'Ami evened the match with a nice technical grind over the nearly indestructible Gata Kamsky and then GM Robin van Kampen completed the comeback by cracking GM Varuzhan Akobian.
The defending champions and 4th seeds Armenia stumbled in today's round, losing 1.5-2.5 to 3rd seeded France. World number two Levon Aronian was again held to a draw, despite pressing long and hard against rapidly rising star Maxime Vachier-Lagrave. The only decisive result came on board three, where sometime Magnus Carlsen second Laurent Fressinet defeated Sergei Movsesian with black.
31. b4 ♗f5 32. ♗e4 fxg3 33. hxg3 ♘e6 34. ♗xf5 ♖xf5 35. ♖e4 ♘xd4 36. ♘xd4 ♖xe5 also leads to an ending where Black will be a healthy pawn up, but White might have some practical drawing chances after 37. ♖axe5 ♗xe5 38. ♖xe5 ♖xd4 39. ♖e8+ ♔f7 40. ♖b8
33... cxd5 34. c6 ♘xf4 35. c7 ♖d6 36. ♘b4 ♖e8 37. ♘bd3 ♘xd3 38. ♘xd3 ♗d4+ 39. ♔h1 ♖xe1+ 40. ♘xe1 ♗b6 41. ♖xd5 ♖xd5 42. ♗xd5+ ♔g7 43. ♘d3 White continues his resistance, but he is unable to escape his fate. Black will soon be a pawn up, and White's doubled pawns will be an obvious target for the two bishops.
43... ♔f6 44. ♔g2 ♗xc7 45. h4 ♗d6 46. ♔f3 b6 47. ♘f2 ♗e7 48. ♔f4 ♔g7 49. ♔g3 ♗f6 50. ♘d3 ♗f5 51. ♘f4 ♗xb2 52. ♔f3 ♗f6 53. h5 ♗e5 54. ♘e6+ ♔f6 55. ♘f8 gxh5 56. ♗e4 ♗g4+ and White finally decided to throw in the towel.
Laurent Fressinet appeared on the official broadcast after the game:
The other grudge match on the top boards was Germany-England, and while not reaching football fever pitch, it was a tense affair. The 10th seeded English held two Berlin Defences with the black pieces, but could only trade wins in their white games.
While attention was focused on the top clashes, the quirks of the pairing system had floated the powerhouse Russian team down the table, where they met - and blanked - Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Sergey Karjakin was also a guest of the live show:
The only other team to post a huge win in the upper levels was Uzbekistan, who won 3.5-0.5 over very slightly higher seeded Brazil, and will rise high up the standings.
Bulgaria moved up to 10 game points by edging out Spain 2.5-1.5. Former World Champion Veselin Topalov, playing his first game of the event, won a nice game against Spanish top gun Francisco Vallejo Pons despite the distraction of still waiting for his suitcase to arrive.
China pulled a narrow 2.5-1.5 win out of a magician's hat - Hungary's Zoltan Almasi was a safe pawn up in an ending but managed to fritter away the full point in tragic fashion.
81. ♔e2? This slip allows Black to force a winning pawn ending.
Other news: The Czech Republic edged out Iran 2.5-1.5 in a match that featured plenty of spectator-friendly play, including a neat finish by GM Viktor Laznicka after a blunder by GM Elshan Moradiabadi.
1. ♘f3 d5 2. d4 ♘f6 3. c4 c6 4. e3 a6 5. ♗d3 ♗g4 6. ♘bd2 e6 7. ♕c2 dxc4 8. ♕xc4 ♘bd7 9. h3 ♗h5 10. b4 ♗d6 11. 0-0 ♕e7 12. ♖b1 0-0 13. e4 e5 14. dxe5 ♗xe5 15. ♘h4 ♖ad8 16. ♘f5 ♕e8 White now turns up the heat by setting his kingside pawn majority in motion.
18. ♘f3? After
18. ♖xf4 ♘e5 White has the incredible resource 19. ♕c5‼ ♘xd3 20. ♘xg7! You would expect someone to have a forced win with so many pieces hanging, but all lines seem to lead to fairly balanced positions. For example 20... ♘xc5 (20... ♔xg7 21. ♕g5+ ♗g6 22. ♕xf6+ ♔g8 23. ♘f3! ) 21. ♘xe8 ♖fxe8 22. bxc5
20. ♘3h4 The text move allows Black to execute a devastating attack on the dark squares.
Norway's World Champion shrugged off yesterday's disappointment of a draw, winning against Montenegrin GM Nikola Djukic. Norway 1 finally recorded a business-like result, winning 3-1 after GM Jon Ludvig Hammer also won with white for the Norwegians.
Norway's second team followed up their spectacular 2-2 result against Ukraine with another split decision, this time against Bosnia & Herzegovina. This too was an upset, but one of only minor proportions. One notable shocker of the day was Sudan's victory over Ireland, where the hugely outrated African team's margin of victory was CM Samir Nadir's win over GM Alexander Baburin on board one.
The battle at the top of the Women's event sharpened as well, with the favorites having to work hard at last. Second seed Russia looked to be struggling against 9th seed France, but former world champion Alexandra Kosteniuk squeezed out the only win of the match for the favorites. Not only was it a slender victory, but French IM Sophie Milliet agreed a draw in an extremely promising position against GM Valentina Gunina - who is well known to the locals as a frequent tournament visitor from Murmansk.
The USA put up stiff resistance against mighty China, who finally played their ace, World Champion Yifan Hou. Hou, who is closing in on Judit Polgar's top spot on the women's rating list, was the last to finish, after her teammates established a 2-1 lead, with WGM Wenjun Ju supplying the only win up till then. US top board Irina Krush finally had to abandon her grim defensive task, and Hou maintained China's position as pace-setters by making it 3-1.
The sensation of the women's event was also hidden slightly below what appeared to be the focus of attention. Iran's 4-0 demolition of Bosnia & Herzegovina catapulted them to the top of the table. WGM Sarasadat Khademalsharieh's display of aggressive attacking chess against WIM Elena Boric was a highlight of both the match, and the round.
6. e4 was also tempting.
13-year-old Elise Sjøttem Jacobsen from Norway 3 - and Tromsø - made local Olympiad history in round three - the youngest ever Norwegian women's player, and today, also the youngest ever to win a game in the event.
The fourth round pairings will see the upstart
Iranian team on first board against 18th seed Slovakia. China will face 22nd
seed Azerbaijan, Russia meets 12th seeds Germany and third seeded Ukraine have
33rd ranked Turkey to overcome.
The standout pairings in the men's event include 3rd seeds France vs. 8th seeds Azerbaijan and the battle of the superpowers, 1st seeds Russia vs. 7th seeded China.