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Reports Jul 30, 2022 | 10:54 PMby Colin McGourty

Chennai Olympiad 2: Magnus grinds out win as Zambia and Bulgaria post upsets

Magnus Carlsen beat Georg Meier in an 80-move grind as Norway defeated Uruguay 4:0, while top seeds USA edged a 2.5:1.5 win over Paraguay in Round 2 of the Chess Olympiad in Chennai. We got the first upsets, with 17th seeds Croatia put to the sword 3.5:0.5 by Bulgaria, while 73rd seeds Zambia shocked 27th seeds Denmark. All six Indian teams have won all their matches, with India 2 above India 1 after a perfect 8/8 start. Gukesh crossed 2700, again!

Magnus vs. Uruguay in Round 2 of the Chess Olympiad in Chennai | photo: Lennart Ootes, FIDE

Round 2 in Chennai still saw almost all the favourites winning, but there more struggles along the way. Top seeds USA defeated Paraguay by the smallest possible margin, 2.5:1.5.

Fabiano Caruana made a quiet draw on his 30th birthday, while Sam Shankland scraped a draw in a difficult position against FM Ruben Zacarias, rated 545 points below him. Leinier Dominguez got the win the US needed, however, and Wesley So was able to settle for a draw from a position of strength against Neuris Delgado.

Wesley So finally settled for a draw that confirmed team victory for the USA | photo: Stev Bonhage, FIDE

The highest rated clash of the day didn’t disappoint, as Magnus Carlsen took on Georg Meier, representing Uruguay. 

Norway-Uruguay and the other Olympiad Round 2 matches begin | photo: Stev Bonhage, FIDE

Initially Georg seemed to have things under control, but when he dropped a pawn in time trouble Peter Svidler predicted the queen endgame would eventually be won by Magnus in 120 moves.

The prediction wasn't far off, even if Georg at times seemed about to seal a draw. Near the end he missed a beautiful way to hold with a stalemate trick.

As late as move 78 it was still a draw with another stalemate trick, 78…Qc7!!, preparing Qf7+, but Meier finally cracked and Magnus had got his Olympiad campaign off to a good start.

There were adventures on the other boards as well, but in the end Norway made it a 4:0 win.

Just 9 teams have now won all 8 games so far in the Open section, including Ukraine and India 2, who can boast that they’re above India 1 in the standings. Praggnanandhaa won on his debut while fellow 16-year-old Gukesh moved back above 2700 on the live rating list.

India 3 needed to battle hard against Mexico, but in the end all six Indian teams would again win their matches | photo: Stev Bonhage, FIDE

Some of the top teams, such as England (vs. Singapore) and Netherlands (vs. Portugal) had tough matches, but found a way to win, but 17th seeds Croatia were destroyed by 63rd seeds Bulgaria.

Perhaps the most impressive result of the day, however, was Zambia taking down Denmark 2.5:1.5.

As you can see, three IMs drew against three GMs on the top boards, and while Allan Stig Rasmussen might have won, Gillan Bwalya was winning in the final position against Jonas Bjerre, while Chitumbo Mwali made a draw a pawn up. The match was decided on the bottom board, where FM Nase Lungu checkmated Martin Haubro.

Other upsets included Guatemala defeating Peru and Tajikistan taking down Kazakhstan, while one of the youngest players in the event, 13-year-old Poh Yu Tian, defeated one of the oldest, Lubomir Ftacnik, as Malaysia drew with Slovakia.

The favourites remained even more dominant in the Women’s section, with the first team upset occurring in the 26th match, where 65th seeds Ecuador beat 26th seeds Slovenia. 

16-year-old Umida Omonova from Uzbekistan beat 18-year-old Carissa Yip, but the USA won the remaining three games | photo: Stev Bonhage, FIDE

There were some minor shocks at the top, however, with Argentinian WIM Marisa Zuriel holding India’s Humpy Koneru to a draw, while Ekaterina Atalik defeated Mariya Muzychuk.

Anna Ushenina, Nataliya Buksa and Yuliia Osmak nevertheless ensured 2nd seeds Ukraine scored a comfortable 3:1 win over Turkey.

59-year-old chess legend Pia Cramling needed just 9 moves as Sweden beat Lebanon 4:0.

The resignation wasn't premature, as Pia has just captured a piece on h3 and White can't capture back due to Nxf3+, forking her queen and king.

Saturday’s Round 3 of the Olympiad is likely to see more top clashes, with Georgia-USA potentially meaning Jobava-Caruana, while Sweden-Netherlands might mean Grandelius-Giri, and Czech Republic-Canada could see Navara-Hansen. The exact board pairings will be announced in the morning.

Don’t miss live commentary from Peter Leko & Peter Svidler from 15:00 IST (11:30 CEST): Open, Women.

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