News & Reports Aug 10, 2014 | 9:13 PMby Tromso Olympiad 2014

Round 8 report: Trading blows

In the Open section, second seeds Ukraine got tough when they needed it most, turning what looked like impending defeat and the end of medal hopes into a crucial victory over 18th ranked Bulgaria. It was the opposite story for Russia, who fell out of contention for gold after suffering a demoralising draw against Spain, with Vladimir Kramnik losing with White to Paco Vallejo.

by GMs Jonathan Tisdall (text) and Einar Gausel (chess analysis)

Ukraine scored a crucial and at one stage unlikely victory over Bulgaria| photo: Paul Truong

In the Ukraine-Bulgaria match Pavel Eljanov strung together a long series of crisp tactics to hand Valentin Iotov his first loss of the event, and to bring Ukraine level after Ivan Cheparinov had punished Ruslan Ponomariov on board two.

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. ♘f3 ♘f6 4. e3 a6 5. ♘bd2 ♗f5 6. ♘h4 ♗e4 7. ♗e2 e6 8. 0-0 ♗d6 9. g3 ♘bd7 10. ♘xe4 ♘xe4 11. ♗d3 ♘ef6 12. b3 0-0 13. ♗b2 c5 14. cxd5 ♘xd5 15. dxc5 ♘xc5 16. ♗c2 With both bishops ready for action, White is looking to strike before Black has time to reinforce his kingside.

16... ♗e7?

16... ♕c7 was preferable, since Black would then be able to answer 17. ♕h5 with 17... g6

17. ♕h5 f5 Black gets mated in record time after

17... g6 18. ♘xg6 fxg6 19. ♗xg6

18. ♘xf5! exf5 19. ♖ad1 ♕d6 20. b4! ♘e6

20... ♘e4 runs into 21. ♖xd5 ♕xd5 22. ♗b3

21. ♗xf5 ♘g5

21... ♖xf5 22. ♕xf5 ♘ec7 23. e4 ♖f8 24. ♕g4 ♗f6 (24... ♘f6 25. ♖xd6 ♘xg4 26. ♖d7 ) 25. ♗a3 and White wins his piece back with two extra pawns in the bank.

22. ♖xd5! ♕xb4

22... ♕xd5 23. ♗xh7+ ♔h8 24. ♗e4+ ♔g8 25. ♗xd5++−

23. ♗d4 ♖ad8 24. ♖xd8 ♗xd8 25. ♕g4 ♕c4 26. h4 ♕d5 27. ♗xh7+ ♔xh7 28. hxg5 ♕xg5 29. ♕e4+ ♕g6 Black resigned, since after

30. ♕xb7 he has nothing to show for the missing pawns.


On first board Vassily Ivanchuk successfully weathered sustained pressure from Veselin Topalov to lessen the pressure on his team, and Anton Korobov delivered the decisive blow on board four, downing Bulgarian Krasimir Rusev to edge a vital 2.5-1.5 win.

26. ♕xd7 ♕e5 27. ♕d3 ♗d4 This monster bishop certainly outclasses the white knight on the rim, but the game is far from over.

28. ♕xa6 h5 29. ♕d3 ♖e6 30. b4? True, Na4 is not a happy horsey, but panicking only makes matters worse. Black wins by force after

30. h3 ♖f6 31. ♖f1 ♖xf2! , but White can still put up a fight after

30. ♖f1 h4 31. h3

30... ♕f4 31. ♕f3 ♕d2! 32. g3

32. ♖xd2 ♖e1#

32... ♕xb4 33. ♕b3 ♖e1+ 34. ♖xe1 ♕xe1+ 35. ♔g2 ♕xf2+ White resigned.

36. ♔h3 ♕f1+ 37. ♔h4 ♗f6+ 38. ♔xh5 ♕f5#


The high-flying Czechs could not repeat the form that downed the Russians the day before, and with four draws against 32nd seed Romania, they dropped a valuable match point.

Boiling point

Wang Yue drew with Shakhriyar Mamedyarov on top board to enable his team to move into the sole lead | photo: Georgios Souleidis, chess24

China-Azerbaijan was on a slow simmer after quick and peaceful results on the top two boards. Black was on the defensive in the remaining games, but what looked like an even match exploded in the fifth hour of play. Yangyi Yu ground down Eltaj Safarli to put China in front, and then Azeri Gadir Guseinov overpressed in a tricky endgame, allowing Hua Ni to cement a surprisingly convincing 3-1 win and move the Chinese team into sole first place.

44... ♔d5 45. ♔xf6

45. a4 may have been an improvement. White is in full control, and there's no need to initiate complications before conditions to do so are optimal.

45... ♔e4 46. ♔g6 b5 47. a4 b4 48. ♔f6 ♗g5+ 49. ♔g6 ♗d2 50. ♘e1? White could have secured a draw with

50. ♔g7 ♔d3 51. ♘xb4+ axb4 52. a5 ♔c3 53. a6 ♗e3 54. ♔f7 ♔xb3 55. g5 ♔c4 56. gxh6 b3 57. h7 b2 58. h8Q b1Q 59. ♕c8+ , but since China were 2-1 up at this stage, I imagine Guseinov felt obliged to press for a win at all costs.

50... ♗xe1 51. ♔xh6 ♗d2+ 52. ♔g6 ♔f4 53. g5 ♔g4 54. h6 ♗c3 55. ♔f7 ♔xg5


Although this could be an unusually even Olympiad, 19/22 match points have been necessary historically to take the gold medals. Using this as a benchmark, ambitious teams needed to make it to 13 today to keep pace. With that in mind, the multitude of incredibly even matches were even more nerve-wracking. France edged out Poland thanks to a steady win from second board Etienne Bacrot, the only decisive game of the match.

Vlad Tkachiev has 3 wins and 3 draws on bottom board for France | photo: Georgios Souleidis, chess24

Falling short

Germany-Cuba and India-Armenia also began with three draws, and Hungary-USA was also tense, with an early win from Rapport looking likely to be erased by another rescue by American Sam Shankland, who was poised to maintain his perfect personal score by beating Judit Polgar on board four - and he did.

In the chess24 studio, Shankland revealed that he had actually prepared for this event with Wesley So and... Judit, and said he had been completely open since he did not anticipate that Polgar could be so far down the Hungarian team line-up, and that they might be discussing variations that could occur against each other.

Hikaru Nakamura was held to a draw by Peter Leko | photo: Paul Truong

Unfortunately for both of these teams, the 2-2 result left both Hungary and the USA short of the magic 13-point mark.

India-Armenia ended with four draws, and left the defending champions - and India - a point off traditional gold pace. GM Parimarjan Negi held world no. 2 Levon Aronian to a draw and later made a surprise announcement about his chess career:

Serbia shattered England 3-1 to revive their medal hopes – Michael Adams' win on board one kept him in the lead for the top individual gold medal, but his team's chances for metal must be more or less over.

The top standings after round 8 are:

Rk.SNo TeamTeamGames  +   =   -  TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 
516Czech RepublicCZE861113194.022.575.00

Full standings here.

Tomorrow’s top bout will be between China and the resurgent Ukraine. Local underdog lovers will doubtless find Russia-Norway 2 to be the day’s focal point.

Other news: Former world champion Vladimir Kramnik's recent run of poor form continued. With Russia already needing more or less perfection the rest of the way, his loss to Spanish number one Francisco Vallejo Pons did nothing to raise spirits for him or the team.

Perhaps the man of the day - Paco Vallejo claimed the scalp of none other than Vladimir Kramnik | photo: Georgios Souleidis, chess24

24... ♘d5 25. ♘f6+ White's best was probably

25. ♗d4 ♖xa2 26. ♘xb7 ♕d7 27. ♘bd6 with some piece activity for the pawn.

25... ♗xf6 26. exf6 g6 27. ♗d4 ♖xa2 28. ♕h4 White's attack is looking dangerous, but Black is just in time with counterplay along the second rank.

28... ♗c6 29. ♘e4 ♖e2 30. ♘g3 ♘xf4! 31. ♕xf4

31. ♕h6 ♖xg2+ 32. ♔f1 ♗b5+ 33. ♔e1 ♕f8 34. ♕xf4 ♕b4+ 35. ♖c3 ♖g1+ 36. ♔d2 ♖d8 and White loses the farm.

31... ♕d5 32. ♘e4 As mate on g2 was threatened, White had no other choice but to return the piece.

32... ♕xe4 33. ♕xe4 ♖xe4 34. ♗b6 g5 Black is three pawns up and should win easily as long as he avoids tricks on the back rank.

35. ♖d2 h6 36. ♗d8 a5 37. ♗e7 a4 38. ♖c3 ♔h7 39. h3 ♔g6 40. ♔h2 ♖f4


Sergey Karjakin responded for the favorites by winning a brawl of a game against GM Ivan Salgado Lopez to level the match, leaving the decision to fall on board two. Alexander Grischuk split the point, and the 2-2 result means that the top seeds have dropped a shocking five match points in the first eight rounds - medals of any valor will now be a big ask.

Local news

Norway 1 hammered Bosnia & Herzegovina 3-1 in a drawless match. Magnus Carlsen resumed his business-like ways and ground down GM Borki Predojevic, as Norway swept the top three boards, winning both blacks.

The Women’s section

Buoyed by their win over China yesterday, Russia maintained their match point lead with an imperious 3.5-0.5 result, though not without some nervous moments, as former world champion Alexandra Kosteniuk was in real trouble for a while against Hungarian IM Anita Gara.

Ju Wenjun was held to a draw by Jolanta Zawadzka, but Guo Qi and Hou Yifan did the business - it's notable that both world champions who lost the day before hit straight back with wins today! | photo: David Llada 

Top seeds China can only hope that the Russians stumble now. They turned in a solid 3-1 win over tough 8th seed Poland, but needed a bit of time to get their engines running at top speed.

This was a good day for Ukraine, as the third seeded women also bounced back into serious medal contention by edging out 4th seed rivals Georgia 2.5-1.5. Ninth seeds France swept the bottom boards to beat the 7th ranked USA 2.5-1.5 in a match filled with violent games.

Tatev Abrahamyan came to the chess24 studio to talk about her impressive attacking effort against France’s Sophie Milliet:

Armenia bashed Colombia 3.5-0.5 to vault back into the hunt.

Top standings after Round 8:

Rk.SNo TeamTeamGames  +   =   -  TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 

Full standings here.

Tomorrow’s top action: Armenia get the chance to create more drama for the event, getting a shot at the triumphant Russians on top board. France will face the top seeds China, the rebounding Ukrainians also have interesting opponents, having drawn fifth seeds India.


Doping Control: The Chess Olympiad in Tromsø has made preparations for the Norwegian Antidoping Association to perform doping tests. According to Olympiad Press Officer Morgan Lillegård, the checks may be performed on Monday and Tuesday after the round:

Players may be contacted shortly after their game and taken to a room on the 4th floor.

For obvious reasons, it is not known which players will be asked to submit a sample, but in other sports they select some of the top performers and some others chosen randomly.

The Qatar Masters Open raffle: The first lucky winners of flights and accommodation to attend the 2014 Qatar Masters Open in Doha are WGM Ticia Gara (rated 2321, Hungary) and GM John Paul Gomez (2526, Philippines). Our congratulations! Olympiad participants can still enter the draw by using the boxes in the players' entrance.

The colour of the boxes may involve some gender-stereotyping :) | photo: Maria Emelianova, Qatar Masters Instagram

Round 8 bulletin

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:

Useful links:

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