Held By Uzbekistan, U.S. Survives Scare; Abdusattorov Shocks Caruana

India 2, Israel, England, Spain, and Armenia lead with eight match points at the end of the fourth round of the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad. The U.S. and India, the top two seeds, were held to 2-2 draws by Uzbekistan and France respectively. Norway suffered another setback when they were held by Mongolia. The India 2 team continued their impressive performance when they prevailed over Italy with a dominant 3-1 score.

India, Ukraine, Georgia, Poland, France, Azerbaijan, India 2, and Romania lead with full eight match points at the end of the fourth round of the 44th FIDE Women’s Chess Olympiad. Romania scored a 2.5-1.5 upset victory over Germany, while Mongolia gave an impressive display just as in the open section and held the higher-seed Kazakhstan to a 2-2 draw. IM Tania Sachdev scored a crucial victory for India in a tactical fight over WIM Zsoka Gaal of Hungary and gave her team a much-needed win to end with a 2.5-1.5 score.

The 17-year-old GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov of Uzbekistan defeated former World Championship Challenger GM Fabiano Caruana of the U.S. in a major upset. 

Open Section

On the top board, France held India in a listless battle, with all four games ending in draws without much action happening.

On the next board, it was also a draw with a 2-2 score, but the performance by the young Uzbekistan team against the U.S. was impressive. Uzbek prodigy and reigning World Rapid Champion Abdusattorov emerged as the winner of a see-saw battle on the top board to prevail over the seasoned Caruana, who had a bad day at the office:

Start of a crucial encounter: Caruana-Abdusattorov on the top board. Photo: FIDE/Stev Bonhage.

GM Sam Shankland survived a scare to give his team a much-needed draw and prevent an upset loss. He battled hard from a dangerous-looking position in a rook ending to force the match to end in a draw:

Vakhidov missed a golden chance to score a crucial win over Shankland as Dutch GM Ivan Sokolov observes. Photo: Maria Emelianova.

After GM Levon Aronian‘s game ended without much action, it was GM Wesley So who saved the U.S. by playing a copybook snuffing out of the Benko Gambit and thus giving his team an important victory:


Wesley So, the savior. Photo: FIDE/Stev Bonhage.

World Champion GM Magnus Carlsen scored a beautiful win over GM Batsuren Dambasuren of Mongolia in a sacrificial attacking game on the top board for Norway. Carlsen’s swashbuckling play gives us the game of the day:

Game of the Day

IM Sugar Gan-Erdene of Mongolia stole the show by defeating GM Frode Olav Olsen Urkedal of Norway to level the score 2-2 for his team, after the other two boards ended in draws.

The young Indian second team is the crowd favorite at Chennai, and they once again rose to the occasion by defeating Italy, the giant killers of the previous round. The most important win was scored by the new 2700 of India, GM Dommaraju Gukesh:

Another Indian prodigy, GM Nihal Sarin, had a surprisingly easy win on the second board and defeated GM Luca Moroni:

During a visit to the press center, GM Baskaran Adhiban acknowledged the enthusiastic and obvious crowd support for the India 2 team, especially as three members belong to the host state, Tamilnadu: Gukesh, GM Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, and Adhiban. When I asked him about the uniqueness of the young team members, he was enthusiastic in his praise for his young guns: “They are not scared of anything! …They are ready to face anything and anyone—I have to learn a lot from them!”

The proverbial darlings of the masses, the India 2 team. Photo: Maria Emelianova.

The 20th-seeded Romania came up with a creditable show by holding the fifth-seeded Poland to a 2-2 draw, while Turkey and Canada put up identical performances to hold sixth-seeded Azerbaijan and 13th-seeded Iran respectively.

The 22nd-seed Israel created an upset by defeating the seventh-seed The Netherlands in a creditable show. Similarly, 34th-seeded Slovakia beat eighth-seeded Ukraine. Another remarkable performance came from Zambia, who defeated Egypt 2.5-1.5, after an impressive victory in the second round.

See full results here

Women’s Section

Sachdev scored the crucial win for India to prevail over Hungary 2.5-1.5:

A critical win for India: Sachdev, Humpy, Harika, and Vaishali. Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Ukraine prevailed over Bulgaria, thanks to GM Anna Ushenina‘s win over FM Beloslava Krasteva‘s mishandling of a drawn rook ending. As they say, rook endings are never drawn!

GM Anna Ushenina: Rook endings are never drawn. Photo: Maria Emelianova.

Romania shocked Germany with a 2.5-1.5 score. The crucial moment was WGM Josefine Heinemann‘s blunder against WGM Mihaela Sandu:

See full results 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 strongest chess nation in the world. The event consists of an 11-round Swiss tournament where each player from a national team plays against another player from the opposing national team. Teams receive “game points” for winning or drawing games and “match points” for winning or drawing a match. Teams with the most match points for each section become the champions of their section, with a third award going for the team with the most points from both sections combined.

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