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Chess Olympiad 2014 – the ELO Preview (open section)

Tromso 2014 logoChess Olympiad 2014 in Tromso is going to be without a doubt the most exciting team competition in chess this year.

It is a celebration for 180+ countries and a joy for the spectators from all over the world, with the competition boasting a true Olympic spirit.

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Total statistics for top 10 teams
Average rating: 2707,8 ELO
ELO change since last event: + 1,5 ELO per team
Highest rated player average: 2759,4 ELO
Lowest rated player average: 2637,1 ELO

Looking at the ELO points of the top 10 teams, the Tromso Chess Olympiad will be stronger than the previous edition in 2012 in Istanbul. The teams add an average of 1,5 ELO points per board. While some teams remain unchanged, others undergo amazing transformations in just two years.

Read on for team by team analysis, following the major changes and improvements in each of the national squads.

Note: the analysis is completed using the July rating list. FIDE will publish an August rating list the days before the start of the Olympiad. If there are major rating swings, they are noted below. However, the general picture, in comparison with 2012, will remain practically unchanged.

Russia

Russia is the team with the highest average rating for the event. With ELO 2777, Russia brings additional 8 ELO points compared to the Olympiad in Istanbul, where the team had 2769 ELO.

The team of Russia for Chess Olympiad 2014 will be composed of Vladimir Kramnik, Alexander Grischuk, Sergey Karjakin, Peter Svidler, and Ian Nepomniachtchi.

For the past Olympiads the team of Russia has had a clear leader – Vladimir Kramnik. Around the time of Istanbul 2012 Kramnik was at his best with steady 2800 rating. For Tromso 2014 Kramnik will be out of the World’s top 10 for the first time in this millennium and will actually be the 3rd highest rated on the team.

The big question for the captain Yuri Dokhoian will be the board order for this Olympiad. Top rated in August will be Grischuk with 2795 ELO, followed by Karjakin with 2786. Kramnik is with 2760, very close to Svidler with 2751, while Nepo is “only” with 2713.
(Note: RCF CEO Mark Glukhovsky said that Dmitry Jakovenko will play instead of Nepomniachtchi)

Summary:
ELO average rating: 2777
ELO change since last event: +8
Highest rated player: 2795
Lowest rated player: 2713

Ukraine

Ukraine is the second team according to the average rating for the Chess Olympiad 2014. With 2730 ELO, captain Oleksandr Sulypa will have 8 ELO points less per board compared to Istanbul 2012.

Vassily Ivanchuk is still the highest rated player on the team with 2735 ELO, which is 34 points less than two years ago. Ruslan Ponomariov and Pavel Eljanov each have 2732 ELO, with Eljanov having added 30 points to his rating. The fourth rated player is Alexander Moiseenko with virtually no rating change. The last board is for the European blitz golden medalist Anton Korobov, substituting earlier reserve Andrei Volokitin.

Summary:
ELO average rating: 2730
ELO change since last event: -8
Highest rated player: 2735
Lowest rated player: 2690

France

Can this be the year of France at the Chess Olympiad? The French team played Istanbul 2012 as 8th seeded with 2684 ELO average. In Tromso 2014 Chess Olympiad France will be with +34 ELO per board (!!), the average ELO of 2718 makes them 3rd seeded at the event.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave is the clear leader of the French team. Adding 80 ELO points in the last two years, MVL is set to shine in Tromso 2014. Etienne Bacrot, with ELO 2720 is back on the team, after missing the Istanbul Olympiad. Carlsen’s second Laurent Fressinet is number three in the list with 2714, while the ever stable Romain Edouard and Vladislav Tkachiev complete the team.

France captain for the event will be Sebastien Maze.

Summary:
ELO average rating: 2718
ELO change since last event: +34
Highest rated player: 2760 (note: MVL will be 2773 in August!)
Lowest rated player: 2625

Armenia

The 2012 Chess Olympiad Champions of Armenia can never be underestimated. The numbers put them as the 4th seeded team with 2705 ELO, but history always puts them among the gold medal contenders.

Armenia do not change their winning strategy and once again use the system – the four top players + the national champion. Therefore, we will once again see Levon Aronian, Sergei Movsesian, Gabriel Sargissian, Vladimir Akopian, and to them we will add the national champion Tigran Kotanjian. Exactly from this addition comes the average rating drop of Armenia as Kotanjian is ELO 2500, but no one should underestimate him, as he finished ahead of Petrosian, Pashikian, Melkumyan, Grigoryan, and Ter-Sahakyan.

No change at the captain seat – Arshak Petrosian will once again lead Armenia.

Summary:
ELO average rating: 2705
ELO change since last event: -19
Highest rated player: 2805
Lowest rated player: 2500

United States

United States add 2 ELO points per board for a rating average of 2704. Once again they are among the top five seeded teams, and once again expectations are high.

The leader of the team Hikaru Nakamura comes with additional 9 rating points compared to Istanbul, boasting an ELO rating of 2787. The core of the team remains unchanged, with Gata Kamsky, Varuzhan Akobian, and Alexander Onischuk playing again. However, USA drop one of their best performer of 2012 – Ray Robson with 5,5/8 is substituted by Samuel Shankland. This change will certainly change the dynamics of the team – for better or for worse we are yet to see.

USA also change a captain, with Yuri Shulman substituted by John Donaldson.

Summary:
ELO average rating: 2704
ELO change since last event: +2
Highest rated player: 2787
Lowest rated player: 2632

Hungary

Chess Olympiad 2014 will have Hungary as the 6th highest rated team. With average ELO of 2702, six points less than during the last Olympiad, Hungary have higher hopes for Tromso.

The team continues to rely on Peter Leko, Judit Polgar, Zoltan Almasi, and Csaba Balogh. There is only one change, but it can be a key one. The 5th board of the team is substituted by the rising star GM Richard Rapport, who will actually be the second highest rated player of Hungary with 2707 points.

Currently Rapport is participating at the Politiken Cup 2014, so his rating can fluctuate until the start of the Olympiad. But one thing is sure, his performance can be the difference between a medal and no medal of his country.

Hungary will be led by Tamas Horvath, who will have to prove why his country is the 6th and last in the list of countries with average ELO of 2700+

Summary:
ELO average rating: 2702
ELO change since last event: -6
Highest rated player: 2737
Lowest rated player: 2637

China

China add two points to their average ELO and will start with 2696 in Tromso. Even though as strength the team seems to be at the same level as last time, the internal dynamics of the team are totally different and the team’s performance will be one of the big questions of the Chess Olympiad 2014.

The leader of the 2012 event Hao Wang is not listed in this year’s team. Nor are Bu Xiangzhi and Li Chao. Besides the regulars Wang Yue and Ding Liren we have three new names on the Chinese team.

Ni Hua (2674) won his place on the team with very stable performances and direct clashes, shining with first place at the recent Montacada tournament.

Yu Yangyi and Wei Yi is the young lions bet of China. Yu Yangyi is Asian Continental Champion for 2014 and World Junior Champion for 2013.

Wei Yi became the world’s youngest GM last year and has shown great performances since then.

China also change their captain from Li Wenliang to Xu Jun.

Summary:
ELO average rating: 2696
ELO change since last event: +2
Highest rated player: 2726
Lowest rated player: 2636

Azerbaijan

The team of Azerbaijan come to the 2014 Chess Olympiad in Tromso with exactly the same team as to the Olympiad in Istanbul.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Teimour Radjabov, Rauf Mamedov, Eltaj Safarli, and Gadir Guseinov will defend their country’s honor one more time, aiming for more than the 10th place achieved last time.

The team has an average ELO of 2694, a point more than last time. The major change comes at the captain seat – Vladimir Tukmakov is substituted by Alexander Khalifman.

ELO average rating: 2694
ELO change since last event: +1
Highest rated player: 2743
Lowest rated player: 2649

England

The team of England started as 11th seeded in Istanbul. During the Tromso Olympiad 2014 England enters in top 10 boasting an average of 2682 ELO, five points more than in 2012.

Michael Adams continues being the team leader. With 2743 ELO Adams comes with 12 points more than the last Olympiad. The 33 ELO drop of Nigel Short is compensated by the rise of Gawain Jones and David Howell.

The big change is the comeback of Matthew Sadler. With 2653 ELO he is bringing great value to the English team.
Peter Wells will once again be the captain.

Summary
ELO average rating: 2682
ELO change since last event: +5
Highest rated player: 2743
Lowest rated player: 2653

Netherlands

Netherlands is the last team in top 10. With ELO 2678 the Dutch lose four points per board compared to the last Olympiad.

However, at board one they have the ambitious Anish Giri, who added 39 points in the last two years, and is ready to show his best.

The seasoned Loek Van Wely is one more time on the team, and with this the similarities to 2012 end. Ivan Sokolov, Jan Smeets and Daniel Stellwagen are substituted by Sergei Tiviakov, Erwin L’Ami and Robin Van Kampen.

There is also a change at the captains seat. Netherlands attracted Vladimir Tukmakov as substitute to Vladimir Chuchelov.

Summary
ELO average rating: 2678
ELO change since last event: -4
Highest rated player: 2750
Lowest rated player: 2636

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