Georgia’s Baadur Jobava stuns the big names to strike Olympiad gold
Leonard Barden
Friday 23 September 2016 16.33 EDT

The coveted board one individual gold medal in the 170-nation Olympiad at Baku went to a surprise outsider. In an online poll just before play began the world champion, Magnus Carlsen, the US No1, Fabiano Caruana, and France’s world No2, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave were the popular choices.

Not a single vote went to Georgia’s Baadur Jobava, who in the event had both the best rating performance of 2926 and the best percentage result with 8/10. In hindsight it was less of a shock, for the 32-year-old had already won Olympiad gold in 2004 and is well known as a momentum player who is formidable on a winning streak, though his career also shows some losing runs. Cuba’s Leinier Domínguez Pérez took silver and Caruana bronze. Carlsen, with too many draws, was sixth and Vachier-Lagrave eighth.

How did Jobava do it? He has an inventive and original style and piled up the points with his favourite opening 1 d4 2 Nc3 and 3 Bf4, which some now call the Jobava System. In the Georgia v Ukraine match he beat one of the most solid elite GMs in 21 moves.

Ruslan Ponomariov was ready and his 7…e6 was a solid variant on the normal 7…Bg4 but it all went wrong for the Ukrainian with 14…Rfc8? allowing the obvious tactic 15 Nf5! Pono’s idea was to trap White’s e7 rook but he missed the brilliant sequel 17 Bh6! when 17…gxh6 18 Qxh6 is a winning attack.

Pono was not done and his 18…Rxc3 planned to meet 19 Qxf6? by Rc7! when Black is safe. Yet again Jobava saw deeper and his 19 Qg5+! put the BK on f8 so that, if 20 Qxf6, Rc7 21 Bxf5! Rxe7? 22 Qh8 mate. At the end Re1 and Bxf5 are coming so that Black is helpless.

Baadur Jobava v Ruslan Ponomariov

1 d4 Nf6 2 Nc3 d5 3 Bf4 c5 4 e3 cxd4 5 exd4 a6 6 Bd3 Nc6 7 Nge2 e6 8 Qd2 b5 9 O-O Be7 10 a3 Bd7 11 h3 O-O 12 Rfe1 Na5 13 Rad1 Qb6 14 Ng3 Rfc8? 15 Nf5! exf516 Rxe7 Be6 17 Bh6!! gxh6 18 Qxh6 Rxc3 19 Qg5+! Kf8 20 Qxf6 Rxd3 21 cxd3 1-0

Full article here.

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