Armenia gets the silver medal, while India B, formed by young talents, outpaced its seniors and snatched the bronze
History was made in the open section of the FIDE Chess Olympiad, which came to an end this morning in Chennai, India. Uzbekistan, one of the youngest teams on the roster, defeated rating favourites the Netherlands by 2.5-1.5, securing the gold medal.
Undefeated over the eleven rounds, the team coached by GM Ivan Sokolov edged out Armenia on tiebreak, automatically becoming national heroes. Read more: Uzbekistan wins Chess Olympiad 2022!
The young Uzbek team was led by 17-year-old Nodirbek Abdusattorov (pictured above), who last Christmas dethroned Magnus Carlsen as the World Rapid Chess Champion. A chess prodigy, Nodirbek was one of the youngest players ever to achieve the Grandmaster title, at the age of 13 years, 1 month, and 11 days. The young Uzbek star had an excellent performance in Chennai, scoring 7 victories (five of them consecutive), 3 draws, and only one loss.
20-year-old Nodirbek Yakubboev, 16-year-old Javokhir Sindarov, and 20-year-old Shamsiddin Vokhidov are the other three juniors in the team that only featured one player in his late twenties: the “veteran” of the team, Jahongir Vakhidov, at 27.
This huge achievement by the young Uzbek prodigies comes just at the right moment, as Tashkent was confirmed a few days ago as the venue for the 2026 edition of the Chess Olympiad.
Press conference after the last round. Photo: Lennart Ootes
Once again, Armenia outperformed the rating expectations and, despite being the 12th seeded, got away with the silver medal. This is a reassuring result for a team that last year lost its franchise player, Levon Aronian, who changed federations to the USA.
The Armenian squad was headed by Gabriel Sargissian on the first board, who, despite a poor start with four draws and one defeat, became the best scorer in the team during the second half of the competition: his 4 victories and 1 draw during the matches against direct rivals were one of the keys for the Armenian success. Robert Hovhannisyan playing on board 4, also greatly contributed to team Armenia’s success. Read more: GM Gabriel Sargissian speaks about the atmosphere in the Armenian team
Gabriel Sargissian won a decisive duel against Mamedyarov Shakhriyar. Photo: Lennart Ootes
Along with the Uzbeks, the other positive surprise of the event was the excellent performance of the second Indian team, officially called “India B”, and formed by young promising stars. Having more than one team is a privilege traditionally given to the host country, so more of their players can gain experience in the international arena.
However, it is the first time that two teams from the same country ended up in contention for the medals, and, in fact, India B managed to outpace their seniors by one point in the standings and snatched the bronze medal, relegating the “main” Indian team to the fourth position.
Especially remarkable was the performance of 16-year-old Guskesh D, who made headlines all over the world when he chained 8 consecutive victories in the 8 first rounds. However, a tragedy struck in the decisive clash against the Uzbeks in the 10th round: despite having a favourable position during most of the game, towards the end, Gukesh lost the thread and blundered, losing on the spot. This result gave the match victory to the Uzbeks, and this proved decisive for the final result in the Olympiad.
Gukesh was one of the stars of the Olympiad. Photo: Stev Bonhage
Probably the biggest disappointment of the Olympiad was the performance of the USA team, which could only be fifth. In the absence of Russia and China, the Americans seemed the obvious favourite to win the gold. Being the top-seeded, their average rating of their players was an astonishing 2771, well ahead of India A (2696), Norway (2692) and Spain (2687). In view of these figures, not getting any medal at all seemed just unthinkable.
However, with Fabiano Caruana suffering three losses and Levon Aronian scoring only one victory, the tournament favourites struggled to keep pace with the other top teams.
On the other hand, the biggest overachievers of the Olympiad were the Moldovan team, seeded 48th in the starting list, without one single player above 2500. But Schitcho, Macovei, Hamitevici, Baltag and Ceres, all scored above expectations, obtaining a historical result for their country. Cuba, 19th, and Peru, 24th, were the best teams from Latin America, while Egypt, 36th, and Tunisia, 41st, were once again the top African teams.
Georgia claims silver, leader India A only bronze following loss in the last round.
As many as five teams had realistic chances for gold going into the last round of the Women’s section in the 44th Chess Olympiad in Chennai. India A reclaimed its sole lead in the penultimate round and was ahead of the field with 17 points, followed by as many as four teams, all on 16 points: Poland, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and Georgia. In the absence of Russia and China, these teams formed the initial pool of favourites, making the last round wildly unpredictable. India A faced the USA, while the pursuers were paired against each other: Ukraine vs Poland, Azerbaijan vs Georgia.
The top Indian team looked invincible throughout the event, but the #1 seed ran out of fuel towards the end. After seven successive wins and a draw with Ukraine came a first blow – a loss against Poland in Round 9. The hero of the Women’s section, WIM Oliwia Kiolbasa delivered her 9th consecutive win defeating Vaishali R and bringing back the suspense.
Nevertheless, in the next round, Koneru and colleagues pulled themselves together and returned to the lead with a convincing 3½:½ victory over Kazakhstan. But the last round proved that any fan euphoria was untimely – India suffered a painful defeat 1-3 to the 7th seed, Team USA. Carissa Yip beat Tania Sachdev, who had a fantastic 8 out of 10 undefeated before this game, and Tatev Abrahamyan bested Bhakti Kulkarni, also inflicting her first loss. As a result, India A had to settle only for the bronze, and the gold medals were up for grabs. Replay the match here
The land of legendary female champions, Georgia maintains the status of one of the world’s leaders in women’s chess. In Chennai, they were rated #3 in the starting list, just a couple of rating points behind Ukraine, and lived up to the expectations. In Round 6, Georgian ladies lost to India A, which seemed like a possible match for gold at the time.
However, long tournament distance and intense competition proved any conclusion premature. Georgia went on winning over weaker opponents and made draws with Poland and Ukraine. In the last round, the experienced team had no mercy against the young Azerbaijan squad (who played a great event nevertheless). Nino Batsiashvili and Meri Arabidze won their games, securing at least silver medals.
Ukraine is one of the initial favourites in any women’s competition. No other team could boast two former women’s world champions on the roster, Anna Ushenina and Mariya Muzychuk. Yet the team started somewhat slow. Draws with Azerbaijan and Romania in Rounds 5 and 6 seemingly indicated that the team was not in its best form, but Ukraine always stayed in the race for medals. In Rounds 8 and 9, the squad led by the Muzychuk sisters drew with direct rivals India A and Georgia.
They did not lose a single match, which usually helps with possible tiebreaks, and confidently won in the last two, including the most important one in the final round, against Poland. Mariya Muzychuk set the tone by winning against Alina Kashlinskaya on board 1, and Anna Ushenina defeated the revelation of the tournament, Oliwia Kiolbasa.
Ukraine and Georgia leapfrogged India A at the last moment, and all that was left was to calculate the complicated tiebreak by which Ukraine came out on top.
Ukraine won gold in the women’s section for the second time after Turin 2006; this is the seventh time the Ukrainian women have won medals in the last eight Olympiads. But the 2022 victory, arriving at such a difficult time, is particularly valuable. Read more: Ukraine is the Winner of the Women’s Chess Olympiad 2022!
“I am happy but very tired,” said team captain GM Michail Brodsky at the press conference right after the last round. “I can’t believe that we have won the Olympiad!”
Final rankings (open section) / Final rankings (women’s section)
Photo: Lennart Ootes, Mark Livshitz and Stev Bonhage