Without a doubt, the star of the day was India’s team B first board, 16-year-old Gukesh D. Not only did he win his fifth game in a row, defeating Spanish legend Alexei Shirov, but he also overtook Vidit on the live rating list, becoming India’s number three player with the live-rating of 2714.
Gukesh was one of the torchbearers during the opening ceremony of the Olympiad, and he continues to light the way for his team, crushing the opposition on board one. His victory, combined with Adhiban‘s win on board four against Iturrizaga, allowed his team to take down Spain in a mighty clash between two undefeated squads and left India B leading the event, tied at 5/5 with Armenia. Replay the match here
The other local team, India A, who dropped half a point yesterday against France, were able to press forward this afternoon by defeating Romania by a close 2.5-1.5 score – Erigaisi Arjun pulling off the decisive win against Mircea-Emilian Parligras, while the other three games ended in solid draws. Replay the games
The second team in contention with 100% is Armenia. The Caucasian squad, playing in Chennai without former teammate Levon Aronian, is still a force to be considered, and today they proved their strength once again by defeating England.
All four games were equal, and three of them ended in a draw, but Hrant Melkumyan on board two managed to convert a slightly better rook ending into a full point against Luke McShane for the final 2.5-1.5 score. Armenia will play against India B in the sixth round for the lead in the event.
Rating favourites, team USA, faced Israel this afternoon and were looking to get back on track after conceding a draw yesterday against Uzbekistan. In the end, they notched up a narrow 2.5-1.5 victory, thanks to a determined Leinier Dominguez, who took down Maxim Rodshtein. Replay the games
At first glance, it doesn’t seem that the USA is performing at the level required to fight for the medals but there are still six rounds to go and anything can happen: with five 2700+ elite players in the team, they definitely can’t be written off yet.
These results in the top matches allowed some other teams to get closer to the top of the standings. After their 2-2 tie against USA yesterday, the young Uzbekistan squad put their foot down on the gas pedal and crushed Slovakia by 4-0, an unbelievable accomplishment against four seasoned +2500 grandmasters. They are definitely on a roll and, in my humble opinion, maybe on the way to a deserved medal.
Dare I say that the most “surprising” result on the top boards was Cuba’s 2.5-1.5 win over Azerbaijan, which catapulted the Caribbean’s to tied third place. Seeded 32, Cuba fields four strong 2500 players, but Azerbaijan is a tough nut to crack, with three +2600 players headed by elite 2750 player Mamedyarov. A great result for Cuban chess.
Iran has also made their claim for the lead. A 2-2 tie against Canada in the fourth round left them slightly out of contention, but today’s clear 3-1 win over Turkey has paired the Iranians tomorrow with the USA, a really difficult match-up for Maghsoodloo’s five.
Another top contender, the Netherlands, bounced back from yesterday’s unexpected loss against Israel by defeating surprise team Canada by 4-0. A certain controversy occurred on board one when Canadian Eric Hansen, one of the world’s best blitz players, lost on time against Anish Giri. After verification, the arbiters certified his heart-breaking defeat in an unclear position. Read more: Arbiter’s intervention as GM Eric Hansen loses on time against GM Anish Giri on move 40
Round 5 results (open section) / Round 6 team pairings
India A team, Georgia, and Romania, lead the standings of the Women’s Chess Olympiad with 10 points each after the 5th round, closely followed by Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhastan on 9 points apiece. Fifteen teams are on 8 points each in the joint third place.
India A team preserved their leading position thanks to the victory on the 4th board in the match with France: Tania Sachdev defeated Andreea Navrotescu on the white side of the Cambridge Springs QGD. In the remaining results, GM Humpy Koneru drew with GM Hoang Thanh Trang; GM Harika Dronavalli split a point with WGM Gara Ticia, and IM Vaishali drew with IM Szidonia Lazarne Vajda. Replay the match here
Georgia also rallied up to the lead with 10 points after defeating a young India 2 team by a dominating 3-1 score. On the top board, Vantika Agarwal escaped to a hard-fought draw against the experienced Nana Dzagnidze, while Padmini Rout drew with Nino Batsiashvili. Georgia hit with a tail: Lela Javakhishvili outplayed Soumya Swaminathan on board 3, while Meri Arabidze bested Divya Deshmukh on board 4 to seal 3-1 victory for the Caucasian team. Replay the match
Ukraine and Azerbaijan proved to be worthy opponents drawing a very exciting match. Mariya Muzychuk put Ukraine on the scoreboard after winning against Gunayon Mammadzada on the top board, but Ulviyya Fataliyeva retaliated on board four, beating Buksa Nataliya. The games on boards two and three ended in draws. Replay games here
Team Romania produced a minor sensation by defeating a very strong Poland 2.5 – 1.5 and jumped to the joint lead. Mihaela Sandu beat Monika Socko on board 2 and Elena-Luminita Cosma defeated Michalina Rudzinska on board 4 for Romania. Oliwia Kiolbasa snatched the sole victory for Poland on board three, but it was not enough to outweigh two losses. Kazakhstan and Germany defeated Cuba and Mongolia respectively by identical 3-1 score.
The seventh board match saw a major upset as team Peru scored a win over the fancied USA. Ann Chumpitaz beat experienced GM Irina Krush on board two while Paredes Bustamante Paula outplayed Yip Carissa on the third.
Hungary trounced Sweden 3.5-.5, with only the experienced grandmaster Pia Cramling scoring a half point for the team on the top board against Hoang Thanh Trang.
Replay all games / Round 5 results (women’s section) / Round 6 team pairings
The stage is set for tomorrow’s sixth round, the last one before the famous Bermuda party and free day. The games will start at 15:00 (GMT+5:30).
Photo: Photo: Lennart Ootes, Mark Livshitz and Stev Bonhage
Text: IM Michael Rahal, FIDE Press Officer, Chennai