Round 3 of the World Chess Olympiad began the clash of intellectual titans when the higher rated teams were pitted against each other. Many matches could have swayed in either direction and the close contests made it a delightful joy for chess fans.
The defending champions, Ukraine, squeezed out a victory against Israel from a very suspicious situation. GM Ruslan Ponomariov was clearly worse against his Israeli counterpart GM Maxim Rodstein, but the former World Champion somehow turned the tables after the first time control and managed to win the game.
GM Boris Avrukh ground down GM Pavel Eljanov, but GM Andrei Volokitin showed no mercy against GM Evgeny Postny. With Ivanchuk and Gelfand drawing on the top board, Ukraine won the match by 2,5-1,5.
Russia again played safely, scoring three draws and a win by Jakovenko in their match against Latvia.
After yesterday’s exhausting game with Lithuania, USA top board Hikaru Nakamura played the necessary 30 moves to take a draw with GM Eduardo Iturrizaga of Venezuela. Nakamura’s team-mates cleared the rest of the opposing team for the convincing 3,5-0,5 victory.
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Azerbaijan readily dispatched the Faroe Island team with 3,5-0,5. England won the derby match against Cuba 3-1 with two full points by the most experienced players Adams and Short.
Levon Aronian led the Armenian team to a narrow victory against Spain. Aronian defeated Paco Vallejo with white, while the remaining three boards were drawn. This is the first Chess Olympiad for Spain without Shirov but there is the new-comer Oleg Korneev on their 4th board.
France scored the same minimal victory against Bulgaria thanks to Maxime Vachier-Lagrave’s handling of the rook endgame against Veselin Topalov as the remaining Frenchmen drew their games.
In the Women’s Section the World Champion Hou Yifan took the helm of team China for one of the greatest challenges in the whole Olympiad – the match against the 4th seed Ukraine.
IM Mariya Muzychuk won another nice game as she brought down the higher rated GM Zhao Xue, but Yifan struck back and defeated Kateryna Lahno on the top board. With the other two games drawn the match ended with a 2-2 score. Ukraine, a medal contender, neutralized one of their main competitors.
Georgia and Germany traded punches but neither could deliver a knockout, ending their content in a drawn match. Poland and France pushed ahead by defeating their respective opponents Hungary and Austria by a score of 3-1.
Serbia demolished the higher rated Spain with 3,5-0,5, with Russia and Greece doing the same to Mongolia and Peru respectively.
India narrowly defeated Armenia, thanks to Tania Sachdev, and the Czech Republic edged the higher-seeded Romania.
In a match that was not supposed to be exciting had people on the edge of their seats. The underrated Uzbekistan held the USA to a draw delivering losses to Foisor and Goletiani. When all looked lost or suspect at best, Zatonskih and Abrahamyan brought home the full points to tie the match and avert a devastating loss to a low seeded team.
Team USA will have to regroup after this knowing that China, Russia, and Ukraine will show no mercy and give no opportunity to come back from behind.