After a dramatic last round, the United States of America won their first Olympic gold medal since 1976. The Ukrainian team played a fantastic tournament and managed to beat Slovenia in the last round, but this was only good enough for the silver. Both teams scored 20 points but the USΑ had the better tie-break criteria. The Russian team managed to win bronze only, despite the fact that they were the favourites for gold.
The 42nd Chess Olympiad started in Baku on 2 September and has been the biggest sporting event ever held in Azerbaijan. This competition brought together 181 teams in the Open section and 142 teams in the Women’s section, representing a total of 175 countries. This is a record figure in the history of all Olympiads.
Picture by Antreas Kontokanis
The semi-professional Greek team had a great Olympiad and, alongside the winners – the USA, remained the only other undefeated team in the tournament, The Greeks’ “secret” strategy was to draw with White and push hard with Black. Of course, this is half joking and half true.
(photo from the official tournament site)
In the Women’s section, China won the gold medal with 20 points. First place was decided in the last round, where China faced Russia. The Chinese team won that match and the Olympiad. The Polish ladies won silver on a tie-break over the Ukraine. Both teams scored 17 points but Poland finished second and the Ukraine third.
(photo from the official site of the tournament)
In this picture, we can see GM Baadur Jobava from Georgia, who achieved a performance of 2926. He stands in the middle and won gold in the first board. On the left is GM Leinier Dominguez from Cuba, who won the silver (performance of 2839), and on the right is GM Fabiano Caruana, representing USA, who won the bronze metal (performance of 2838).
These three played in the first board but GM Andrei Volokitin, from Ukraine, achieved the best overall performance in the Olympiad with an outstanding 2992 (!) in the fifth board.
The best game of the Olympiad took place in the 8th round between Jobava and Ponomariov. White happily sacrifices his knight on the f5 square in order to capture the bishop on e7. Black accepts the temporary sacrifice because, after the moves 15.Nf5 exf5 16.Rxe7 Be6, we reach the position seen below.
White to play
It seems that the rook is trapped on e7 and Black can threaten it in different ways, like Kf8, Qd8 or Nc6. So Black can be happy with this position.
What do you think? Is the rook on e7 trapped or does White have a specific tactical resource here? Can you work out the next move for White?
After calculating all possible variations, you may check the whole game here.
Thus, the 42nd Chess Olympiad is complete. You may like to know about future Olympiads. Well, the 2018 Chess Olympiad will be held in Batumi, Georgia, and the 2020 Chess Olympiad will be held in the Russian city of Khanty-Mansiysk.
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