The pre-tournament favourites are yet to impress in the Olympiad’s Open section, meaning that some surprise teams have a chance to claim the lead late on in the event. On table two 16th seeds Czech Republic and 32nd seeds Romania face each other, with a chance for one of them to hit the top if Azerbaijan and China cancel each other out.
Elsewhere much of the intrigue will be in seeing whether the favourites can continue their comebacks. Armenia have been on the rise since a third round loss to France, and can move up again if they beat 19th seeds India (Negi-Aronian on top board). Ukraine drew against Norway 2 and lost to Uzbekistan after Vassily Ivanchuk suffered two bad games, but he comes into a crucial game against Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) on the back of two wins.Third seeds France face a tough test against Poland – don’t let 16-year-old Jan-Krzysztof Duda’s 2576 rating fool you. The young star has 5 wins and 2 draws to his name, with a 2780 rating performance. Germany-Cuba is a close match where it’ll be interesting to see how Naiditsch-Dominguez goes after both players won fine games in the previous round.
6th seeds USA lost to the Netherlands and drew against Canada, making their battle against 5th seeds Hungary today absolutely crucial. As well as Leko-Nakamura on top board it’ll be fascinating to watch Polgar-Shankland on the 4th – the young American has 6/6, but he’s yet to face anyone approaching Judit’s class.
And then of course we have absolute favourites Russia. They find themselves three points off the pace with only four rounds to go, knowing that only perfect results from now on will give them decent chances of winning the event as a whole. The team that will try to put the last nail in their coffin today are Spain, with Paco Vallejo playing Black against Vladimir Kramnik.Top pairings:
Full pairings (with handy clickable flags to find your team) are available here.
In the women’s event the big teams playing catch-up are 3rd seeds Ukraine and 4th seeds Georgia, who are also three points off the pace. Their comebacks face a hitch today as they’ve been paired against each other, with Anna Muzychuk-Nana Dzagnidze on top board. Either one or both teams are likely to see their Olympiad hopes severely dented before the day’s out.
Elsewhere big match-ups are France-USA, China-Poland and of course the crucial encounter Russia-Hungary (Kateryna Lagno-Hoang Thanh Trang on top board). If Russia win again it’s going to be very hard for anyone to stop them!
One final note: After yesterday's press release it's been confirmed that the Burundi women's team has been excluded from the Olympiad. The open team will continue with three players.