Chess (#1017)

Last Updated: Fri, Sep 07, 2012 19:23 hrs

The Indian performance at the Olympiads has been unusual so far. Both teams could still hope to take medals. The Open or men’s team logged three wins followed by five draws in a row (total 11 points) while the women (13 points) have six wins, one loss (to China) and one draw. The men split points with Israel, USA, Argentina, Serbia and England.

The women are sharing 2-5, with Russia, France and Uzbekistan, behind China (14). The men are sharing 14-20th place with Russia (15) leading ahead of a pack of China, Armenia, US, Germany and The Philippines, which share 2-6 with 13 points each.

The Russian men have dropped a draw to Armenia so far. They appear to be playing as a team for the first time in years and this could be their first gold since 2002. It’s been very close with most top-table matches decided by narrow margins.

There are three rounds to go. The women are obviously well-placed if they can manage a decent finish with say, 4 points coming in from the last three rounds. The men would need to buck up and finish really well, scoring at least 5 points from their last three matches.

The men’s team could benefit from Swiss pairing, given that they’re relatively low-placed. They should get at least one, maybe two matches, against slightly weaker teams. If they win those, they would then have to play out of their skins in the last round against a strong team. By the time you read this, you’ll know the results until the penultimate round.

The quality of play has been superb and the live Net coverage excellent. It’s been a great effort by Turkey. Putting together something on this scale is tough and the Olympiad perpetuates the trend of professional coverage that we’ve seen in the past two years.

The DIAGRAM, WHITE TO PLAY (Movsesian,Sergei vs Wang,Yue, Ukraine Vs China, Olympiad 2012) shows a situation most people would misjudge. 16.f5?! At first glance, white breaks through against an exposed and under-developed black position. But both players have yet to pull out their Q-side pieces.

Play went 16...Bxe5! 17.dxe5 gxf5 18.Rxf5 Nd7! Giving up h5, which white takes 19.Bxh5 e6! 20.Bxf7+ Ke7 21.Rf1 Qc7. Two pawns up, white is lost after Nxe5. 22.Bg6 Nxe5 23.Bxe4 Nd3! The computers suggest the prosaic 23. - b3 is stronger but this is aesthetic and forced. 24.Qxd3 Qxh2+ 25.Kf2 Raf8+ 26.Ke2 Rxf1 27.Kxf1 Qg3. Now Rh1 is unstoppable. The game finished 28.Ke2 Rh1 29.Bd2 Rxa1 30.Bxd5 cxd5 31.Qh7+ Kd8 32.Kd3 Qg4 33.Qh8+ Kd7 34.b3 Qf5+ (0-1). It’s mate next move. In retrospect, the Bc1, Ra1 were useless while Nb8 and Ra8 were killers.

Devangshu Datta is an internationally rated chess and correspondence chess player

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