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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.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:
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
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.
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: