Online Chess Olympiad
Ukraine knocks down China, advances to Quarter-Finals
Ukraine and China were the top seeds in their respective groups at the top division, but both failed to claim the first place and, as a result, they had to battle each other for a spot in Quarter-Finals against the USA.
The clash between these two chess giants came down to an Armageddon game after the two regular matches reached a 3-3 result.
In the first round, Ukraine got to be temporary two points down, because the Chinese victories came early in the match. But despite these early setbacks, Ukraine was actually very close to winning. Ivanchuk lost to Ding Liren with Black, while Shevchenko and Berdnyk took the whole point. Both Irina Gaponenko and Natalia Zhukova had a much better position against Hou Yifan and Ju Wenjun respectively. However, Gaponenko lost the thread of the game and lost, while Zhukova missed a forced checkmate and agreed to a draw. The resulting 3-3 tasted like a lucky save by the Chinese team.
The second match was also very balanced, but again the chances of Ukraine looked a bit better. Four of the six games ended in a draw, while Julia Osmak took down a very dangerous rival in rapid chess: Tan Zhongyi.
This is where 17-year-old Kirill Shevchenko decided to spice things up adding some drama to the clash. The young prodigy, who had won all his 7 games so far in this competition, conceded his first draw in this round, after failing to find a decisive blow that could have given him the whole point – and a team victory.
However, Kirill was given an immediate opportunity to make things right, since it was decided that the Armageddon game for this duel between Ukraine and China would be a clash between the two junior boards. For the third time in the day, Shevchenko and Liu Yan crossed words, and for the third time too they produced a decisive result. The Ukrainian rising star demonstrated stamina and nerves of steel and, in a favorable endgame, he created enough problems for his opponent to make him lose on time.
The Quarter-Finals clash between Ukraine and the United States will take place tomorrow, Saturday (August 28).
The elimination is an important setback for the Chinese team, winner of two of the last three Olympiads (Tromsø 2014 and Batumi 2018), as well as the recent Online Nations Cup. Their low performance can’t be attributed to the absence of key players, since they lined up all their top guns – with the only exception of Wang Hao.
China 3 : 3 Ukraine
Ding Liren 1 : 0 Ivanchuk
Wei Yi ½ : ½ Korobov
Hou Yifan 1 : 0 Gaponenko
Ju Wenjun ½ : ½ Zhukova
Liu Yan 0 : 1 Shevchenko
Ning Kaiyu 0 : 1 Berdnyk
Ukraine 3 : 0 China
Ivanchuk ½ : ½ Ding Liren
Korobov ½ : ½ Yu Yangyi
Osmak 1 : 0 Tan Zhongyi
Gaponenko ½ : ½ Lei Tingjie
Shevchenko ½ : ½ Liu Yan
Berdnyk 0 : 1 Jiner Zhu
Tie Break (Armageddon)
Shevchenko 1 : 0 Liu Yan