12th-seeded Armenia continued their remarkable run at the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad, defeating 12th-seeded India 2.5-1.5 and maintaining their sole lead with 15 match points at the end of Round 8. 11th-seeded India 2 defeated first-seeded USA 3-1.
India 2 is second and third on 14 match points, level on points with 14th-seeded Uzbekistan, who edged ninth-seeded Germany 2.5-1.5. The Netherlands, Iran and Azerbaijan rank fourth through sixth with 13 match points.
GM Gabriel Sargissian of Armenia continued to shine on the top board, defeating GM Pentala Harikrishna of India to earn the decisive victory for the Tournament Director. With the black pieces, GM Dommaraju Gukesh of India shocked 2 GM Fabiano Caruana of the USA by retaining a 100% score on the top board. Gukesh achieved a live rating of 2729 and entered the top 20 in the world. He is also now the second tallest Indian behind only GM Viswanathan Anand.
At the FIDE Women’s Chess Olympiad, the eighth-round clash between top-seeded India and Ukraine ended 2-2, with the former maintaining their sole lead with 15 match points. Third-placed Georgia jumped into second place with 14 match points, beating Armenia by a whopping 3.5-0.5. Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan and Mongolia are in third to seventh place with 13 match points each.
WIM Oliwia Kiolbasa of Poland maintained her 100 percent score of 8/8 by beating WGM PV Nandhidhaa of India 3 with a performance rating of 2984 and helped her team to beat India 3 with a 3-1 score. 16-year-old untitled Eline Roebers (2344) of the Netherlands defeated WGM Deysi Cori (2371) of Peru on top board by a score of 6.5/8 on a power rating of 2582, helping her country defeat Peru with a 2.5- 1.5 defeat score.
The Olympiad arena is not just about the chess game, nor is it just about the players. There are referees, team captains, spectators, volunteers, officials, photographers and media going about their business. The presence of fans is indeed a wow factor, stimulating the games played and making the Olympiad itself an admirable extravaganza. There is also a lot going on for the players themselves during the games. They like to walk around during games, watching their colleagues and rivals play. Even when they’re sitting on the board, they’re not really looking at the board all the time. Watching the arena is a pleasure in itself, observing the action away from the chessboard and being entertained.
The clash at the top between Armenia and India seemed even on all boards, and the encounter between GM on the second board Vidit Gujrathi and GM Hrant Melkumyan ended in a tie shortly after the end of the time control. GM Sunilduth Narayanan struggled against GM Robert Hovhannisyan but got away with a draw in 45 moves.
The game between GM Samvel Ter-Sahakyan and GM Arjun Erigaisi ended in a draw after 84 moves. This meant that the top board game between Sargissian and Harikrishna would decide the match. Sargissian had the classic double bishop advantage over Harikrishna’s bishop and knight. Although Harikrishna is known for his strong endgame, Sargissian fought valiantly, with players having less than a minute on their clock and a 30-second stride by the end of the game.
In Chess.com Live Commentary, GM Arturs colorfully commented on Neiksans; “Very, very unpleasant endgame, … these endgames – they don’t hold up in practice …. Every single move (Black is in front) is a mathematical problem that has to be solved in 30 seconds.” Eventually, Harikrishna collapsed under sustained pressure, handing the game to Armenia with a 2.5-1.5 lead:
The second board match between the US top seeds and 11th seeded India 2 was the game of the day. The American players had a rating advantage of more than 100 points over their rivals on all boards. Towards the end of the fourth hour of play, the match seemed to be going well for India 2. Only Caruana had a slight advantage over Gukesh on the top board, while GM Levon Aronian, GM Wesley So and GM Leinier Dominguez all seemed to be under pressure at some point.
After So eventually ended in a draw against GM R. Praggnanandhaa, Sarin, in an advantageous position, rejected Aronian’s draw offer around move 30, but then decided to end the game a few moves later in what was still a promising position for him. He had less than two minutes on his clock, however, and the other boards for his team were going well:
Soon Gukesh won his match against Caruana. It is analyzed as the game of the day:
Neiksans found dramatic words for Gukesh’s performance: “Eight out of eight? Are you kidding me!? And you’re doing that against Fabi Caruana with the black color?” Then Neiksans boasted, “The future is here!”
The future is here!
— GM Arturs Neiksans on Gukesh’s performance
— Chess.com (@chesscom) August 6, 2022
Neiksans had words of sympathy for Caruana: “He’s struggling. Something isn’t working for him. This isn’t Fabi we know. Something is wrong with him.”
Caruana (Elo 2783) had a tough time at this Olympiad, losing three games in total – with white to GM Nodirbek Abdusattarov and Gukesh and with black to Sargissian.
As momentum turned against Caruana on the top board, the game between GM Raunak Sadhwani and Dominguez developed dramatically towards the end of the first time control. Dominguez fell into a classic clock trap: a mistake on move 40:
Seeing that Caruana was in trouble on the top board, Dominguez probably wanted to fight harder for the US team, but his efforts proved counterproductive. Describing Dominguez’s breakdown, Neiksans said, “I’ve seen that before, especially in team events. Your team is doing badly. You ask the question, ‘Who’s going to win it? Who’s going to win it? … I’m going to do it .’ You keep playing, then everyone saves their games – except you!… The action turns against you.”
In other key matches of the day, 14th-ranked Uzbekistan surprised 14th-seeded Germany 2.5-1.5 with the victory of GM Nodirbek Yakubboev, who defeated GM Matthias Bluebaum:
The Netherlands scored a comfortable 3-1 win over Hungary. An important win came from GM Anish Giri on top board:
Another win for the Netherlands came from GM Max Warmerdam, who played a nice attacking game against GM Gergely Kantor:
Probably due to the absence of GM Maxime-Vachier Lagrave and GM Alireza Firouzja, 15th-seeded France was beaten by 13th-seeded Iran 2.5-1.5, with the only win for Iran coming from GM Pouya Idani:
The top board encounter between India and Ukraine ended in a relatively peaceful 2-2 draw. I AM R. Vaishali survived anxious moments against GM Anna Ushenina:
Georgia’s victory over Armenia was marked by an upside-down game that GM Nino Batsiashvili won against IM Lilit Mkrtchian:
IM Lela Javakhishvili (Georgia) scored a creative win over IM Anna Sargsyan (Armenia):
In a crucial win on top board over Cori, Roebers helped the Netherlands defeat Peru by a 2.5-1.5 score and propelled them toward possible title norms:
The full results can be found here.
The 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad and Women’s Chess Olympiad are over-the-board team events where national chess federations compete in classical games for gold medals, trophies and the title of the world’s strongest chess nation. The event consists of an 11-round Swiss tournament in which each player from one national team plays against another player from the opposing national team. Teams receive “game points” for winning or drawing and “match points” for winning or drawing a game. Teams with the most match points for each section become the champions of their section, with a third prize being awarded to the team with the most points from both sections combined.