The battle for the first places of the Chess Olympiad in Khanty Mansiysk becomes more and more intensive. Only three teams remain with full points – Armenia, Georgia, and Hungary. Many of the favorites could not overcome round 5, including the host teams of Russia 1 and Russia 2, and the strong team of China.
The defending champions from Armenia proved one more time that their secret is the team work. Two rounds in a row they win 2,5:1,5, but that is enough to keep them among the three teams with perfect score – 5 match victories out of 5 possible. Today the hero of the team in the match with Russia 2 was the 2009 Armenian champion Arman Pashikian, who scored the full point against the winner of Moscow open Artyom Timofeev.
Georgia are flying high with the unstoppable Baadur Jobava on board 1. After defeating Magnus Carlsen in round 4, Jobava continued with a victory against Le Quang Liem which inpired the team for a convincing 3,5:0,5 win against Vietnam. The better Sonneborn-Berger, which is the second tiebreak criteria at the Olympiad, gives Georgia the first place in the standings.
Ukraine were merciless against angainst Bosnia & Herzegovina. Ivanchuk played a quiet and solid game and left his opponent Ivan Sokolov to overpush the position. The coming victory calmed down Ponomariov and Eljanov, while the win of Efimenko on the last board gave Ukraine the convincing 3:1 final score.
One of the biggest surprises of the day was the defeat of the Russia 1 team to Hungary. On board 1 Grischuk did not dare to sacrifice a knight for two pawns with 17. …Nxa2 and this gave permanent positional advantage to Leko. The Hungarian grandmaster conducted precisely the game and after 25 moves had a good advantage. Several imprecise moves later on could turn the game into a draw, but finally it turned out to be a good endgame lesson and Hungary got the full point on board 1 (replay the game here). Almasi, Polgar, and Berkes drew on the other boards to confirm the good performance of Hungary at the Olympiad and stir the bookmaker odds for the rest of the event.
Azerbaijan finally rebounded and won against Sweden 2,5:1,5. Mamedyarov and Guseinov scored the full points for the Azeri team, while the good news for Sweden is the stable performance of the young talent Nils Grandelius.
The solid team of Slovakia may have put the end of the medal hopes for the 3rd seeded China. After 4 draws Slovakia managed to hold their 100+ average ELO stronger opponents. A similar rating difference proved to be too much in another match – the Czech Republic scored a perfect 4:0 victory against Mexico.
The 9th seeded USA are back in the game after a good 3:1 performance against Argentina. GM Nakamura and GM Kamsky were too much for their Argentinian opponents on the first boards.
India will be celebrating tonight after they defeated convincingly the 8th seeded Bulgaria. It was a remake of the World Championship earlier this year, but with the abs ence of Vishy Anand and 100 ELO points advantage of Bulgaria. Sasikiran was the hero of the team for holding Veselin Topalov, Harikrishna followed him with a draw against Cheparinov. Bulgaria opted for youth rather than experience, substituting Kiril Georgiev with Kiprian Berbatov, but one of the strongest U16 international masters lost against GN Gopal. Anand’s second, GM Ganguly, had no problems against Alexander Delchev, giving the full point to India and rising the hopes of the country for good performance even without the World Champion.
Standings (top 15 teams)
1 Georgia 10 MP
2 Hungary 10 MP
3 Armenia 10 MP
4 Ukraine 9 MP
9 MP 6 Russia 2
8 MP 7 Czech Republic
8 MP 8 Russia 1 8 MP
9 Azerbaijan 8 MP
10 United States 8 MP
11 Vietnam 8 MP
12 Russia 3 8 MP
13 Poland 8 MP
14 India 8 MP
15 Estonia 8 MP