chessbase india logo

Batumi Chess Olympiad: India's chances of a podium finish diminish after a catastrophic ninth round

by Aditya Pai - 04/10/2018

Round 9 of the Batumi Chess Olympiad turned out to be a disastrous one for India. In the open segment, India lost to the eighth-seeded  Armenian team after Sasikiran's loss against Haik Matirosyan on board 4. In the women's group, Tania Sachdev lost her second straight game, this time against the much lower rated Marina Brunello. Harika Dronavalli helped even out the scores with her win over Elena Sedina but this draw meant that the Indian team is out of contention for a podium finish. | Photo: Niklesh Jain

With just three rounds to go, the competition had intensified at the 43rd Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia. After 8 rounds, the United States was leading the tournament with a score of 15 points. A close second was Polish team which had scored an unbeaten 14/16. India shared the third place at 13/16 with six other teams.

 

Clashes between some of the strongest teams in the tournament had begun: the USA was playing Poland on the top board; Azerbaijan was pitted against China on board two; India took on Armenia on the third board.

 

The ninth round brought some big changes to the leaderboard. In what was the biggest upset of the round, Poland managed to give the top-seeded United States their first loss of the tournament. With their win, the Polish team managed to overtake the USA in the standings and take the sole lead. China finished with a win over Azerbaijan and is now in the third place behind the USA. As for the Indian team, it suffered a catastrophic loss at the hands of Armenia.

The eighth-seeded Armenian team proved to be too strong for India in round nine | Photo: Niklesh Jain

For the antepenultimate round, the Indians had decided to rest their third board player, Vidit Gujrathi. Instead of Vidit, Adhiban played board three and Sasikiran occupied board four. Anand and Harikrishna played on the top two boards, respectively.

 

On the top board, India was outrated. Levon Aronian, the top board player for Armenia is rated 9 points higher than Viswanathan Anand. Also, as per the statistics of their previous classical encounters, Aronian had a better score against Anand. Out of the 47 classical games they had played before Anand had won five times while Aronian had beaten Anand in nine games. The remaining 33 games were drawn. On the other hand, Anand has scored some of his best wins over Aronian, including but not limited to the one at the 2013 Tata Steel.

 

When the game began, an Italian opening was on the board with Anand on the white side of the position. The opening is high fashion in top-level chess currently and both players know it like the back of their hand.

 

On the 10th move, however, Aronian managed to surprise Anand with a new move. While Aronian had his ideas in playing the move, it also allowed Anand to liquidate the position. And Anand preferred liquidating the position to testing his opponent’s preparation. Queens and a pair of minor pieces were off the board immediately. By the 20th move, all that remained on the board was a rook, knight and a bunch of pawns for each side. Anand played the endgame for 10 more moves before signing the truce and calling it a day.

Anand's game against Aronian on board one was an insipid draw | Photo: Niklesh Jain

The second board clash between Gabriel Sargissian and Pentala Harikrishna, which lasted a few minutes longer, featured only 26 moves. Harikrishna looked excellently prepared in the game. In an Open Catalan, he was the one to go off the well-trodden paths of the opening by unveiling a novelty on his 10th turn.

 

Harikrishna’s novelty entailed giving up a pawn but it also gave black a pleasant initiative as compensation. Over the next few moves, Harikrishna took several free hits on the black pieces, forcing them back and gaining some tempi. Around move  21, Harikrishna began attacking the white queen with his bishop. When Sargissian defended, Harikrishna forced an immediate repetition of moves to finish the game in a draw on the spot.

Harikrishna also drew rather quickly against Sargissian | Photo: Niklesh Jain

Adhiban’s game against Hrant Melkumyan was, perhaps, the most important game of the match. Adhiban had the white pieces in this game and his opponent was slightly lower rated. If Adhiban could have pulled a win on this board, India’s chances would have been bright.

 

In the Queen’s Gambit Declined, Adhiban hardly managed to get an edge and even made a subtle draw offer around the 20th move by repeating the position twice. Surprisingly, it was Melkumyan who declined the offer by breaking the repetition despite having the black pieces in the game. But in breaking the repetition, he had also exchanged both rooks. Furthermore, queens and knights were also exchanged off within the next few moves. What remained was an equal endgame with bishops of opposite colours. The game went on until the first time control was reached before players agreed to a draw.

Adhiban also couldn't inflict much damage in his game against Melkumyan | Photo: Niklesh Jain

With three games drawn, all eyes were once again on Krishnan Sasikiran’s game. In the last two rounds, it was Sasikiran who had earned the winning points for India. But this time, the Chennai based grandmaster was in trouble.

 

Here again, a Queen’s Gambit Declined was played but unlike the game of Adhiban, this game followed the lines of the Ragozin variation. Sasikiran had almost managed to equalize out of the opening. By the 20th move, he had achieved a solid position, although his pieces seemed to be in the way of each other on the queenside. Sasikiran tried untangling his pieces immediately and this had led him into a slightly inferior position.

 

On his 24th move, he blundered a pawn overlooking a queen sacrifice that exploited his weak back rank. After this, Sasikiran’s position began to look precarious. Seeking refuge in tactics, Sasikiran tried to confuse his opponent by complicating the position. To a large extent, he was even successful but Matirosyan had won a couple of pawns in the meantime. After black’s fireworks had fizzled out, white’s material advantage began to make itself count. To add to his troubles, Sasikiran blundered on his 35th turn. Following this, Matirosyan won the exchange and eventually the game.

Sasikiran's loss on board 4 spelt doom for India | Photo: Niklesh Jain

This loss has come for India at the worst imaginable time. With just two rounds to go India has slipped down to the 11th spot on the leaderboard. With just two rounds to go, this means that India might not have any chance at all to win gold and even a podium finish might only be possible if the team is able to win both of the remaining games.

 

The women’s team also shared the tragedy as India was held to a draw by Italy in round 9. The draw, per se, is not such a bad result but due to India’s loss to Hungary in the previous round, it has put the team’s chances of a podium finish in serious doubt. And had it not been for Harika Dronavalli’s win on board 2, India could even have lost the ninth round.

 

After draws on the first and the fourth board, Tania Sachdev had found herself in a significantly inferior position on board three against Marina Brunello. The game had begun with a rather innocuous Italian opening. Tania wasn’t particularly worse out of the opening but soon her cramped queenside began to become more pronounced. Her 17th move, 17.Kh7, simply allowed Brunello to exploit all of black’s weaknesses by opening up the queenside.

 

Soon, Brunello also began generating an initiative on the queenside. Trying to safeguard her king, Tania liquidated into an endgame but even here, she was two pawns down and had no compensation. The endgame went on for about 10 moves before Tania decided to resign.

Tania suffered her second loss in a row in round 9 against Marina Brunello | Photo: Niklesh Jain

After this loss, India was trailing by a 2-1 score. Harika now had to win to level scores. In the game, she had been pressing from the very start against Elena Sedina. It was clear that she had the better position but nothing concrete was in sight for a large part of the middle game. Around the 30th move, Harika’s central passed pawns began to look dangerous. By this point, Sedina was also under time pressure. Just one move before the time control, she made a decisive error that allowed Harika a checkmate in two moves. Once Harika had played the first move of the combination correctly, Sedina resigned.

After Tania's loss, Harika saved the day by defeating Elena Sedina on board 2 | Photo: Niklesh Jain

While this win by Harika saved the match for India, the team’s chances for a podium finish have begun to look seriously bleak. With just two rounds to go, India is in the 14th place on the leaderboard. Even if the team wins both of its remaining games, tiebreaks might come in the way.

 

In the penultimate round, India will play the Netherlands in the open segment while the women will be pitted against the 37th seeded Peruvian team.

Standings (Open)

Rk.SNo TeamTeamGames  +   =   -  TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 
111
PolandPOL972016268,025,0104
21
United States of AmericaUSA971115267,524,5104
33
ChinaCHN971115252,023,599
48
ArmeniaARM971115245,524,098
59
EnglandENG971115228,022,596
67
FranceFRA962114248,024,5101
72
RussiaRUS962114232,024,096
816
GermanyGER954014232,023,098
918
CroatiaCRO970214227,023,597
104
AzerbaijanAZE961213284,024,0113
115
IndiaIND961213251,024,0102
1227
VietnamVIE953113249,525,590
1310
IsraelISR953113249,024,5101
1413
NetherlandsNED961213243,025,597
1524
SpainESP961213239,025,592

Standings (Women's)

Rk.SNo TeamTeamGames  +   =   -  TB1  TB2  TB3  TB4 
13
ChinaCHN972016285,026,5101
22
UkraineUKR963015281,025,0108
312
ArmeniaARM971115260,524,0105
410
United States of AmericaUSA971115259,524,599
51
RussiaRUS970214254,026,592
611
AzerbaijanAZE962114246,524,594
74
Georgia 1GEO1962114242,023,099
813
HungaryHUN961213236,024,096
98
KazakhstanKAZ953113236,024,095
1019
VietnamVIE961213223,526,585
1115
SpainESP961213223,023,588
1226
Czech RepublicCZE961213213,525,583
1335
SloveniaSLO961213174,021,087
145
IndiaIND944112233,023,599
1514
Georgia 2GEO2952212232,523,597

Links

Official website

Chess-results

 

 


Related news:

1) Olympiad round 1: Did Humpy ever take a break from chess?! @ 25/09/2018 by Sagar Shah (en)

Koneru Humpy played her first tournament game after a break of nearly two years. How would she play was the question on everyone's mind. Well it seems as if she picked up from where she had left and played some excellent chess to beat New Zealand's Helen Milligan. The Indian women's team blanked the Kiwis 4-0. Tania was in trouble but managed to survive. Anand took rest for the first round against El Salvador in the open section. India scored 3.5-0.5 with just Sasikiran drawing his game. It has been a good start for Team India, but we are just beginning here. It will be interesting to see as the rounds progress as to how we hold up. Check out this detailed report with pictures from Amruta Mokal and Niklesh Jain and in-depth analysis of Humpy's game by GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly.


2) Olympiad round 2: The Madras Tiger roars after 12 years! @ 26/09/2018 by Sagar Shah (en)

Round two was an excellent one for India at the Batumi Olympiad 2018. In the open section our boys were able to demolish the decently strong Austrian team 3.5-0.5 and in the women's section the girls were extremely clinical to beat Venezuela 4-0. The news of the day was Vishy Anand making a comeback to Olympiad and making his first move after a gap of 12 years! Anand played a nearly flawless game to beat the very strong Markus Ragger with the white pieces. In this report Surya Sekhar Ganguly analyzes that game in depth. Coach Jacob Aagaard provides us with an overview of the Indian women's team performance. We also have post game video interviews with Vishy Anand and Vidit Gujrathi. Don't miss this power packed report from Batumi, Georgia.


3) Batumi Olympiad 2018: India too strong for Canada, Serbia hold Indian girls @ 27/09/2018 by Sagar Shah (en)

The third round at the Batumi Chess Olympiad 2018 was a mixed day for India. In the open section we played nearly flawless chess to beat Canada with a score of 3.5-0.5 but in the women's section team India was stopped by Serbia with a score of 2-2. In this article we bring you all the photos of the round, videos of Vishy Anand's victory over Eric Hansen, coaches Ramesh and Jacob Aagaard speaking about their respective teams and also of the happenings in the initial minutes of the round. Apart from this we have extremely and instructive analysis sent to us by GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly talking about Harikrishna's game. Do not miss it.


4) Batumi Olympiad 2018 Round 5: Indian victory over South America @ 30/09/2018 by Sagar Shah (en)

Indian teams were up against two teams from South America. The men took on Paraguay and the women's team was up against Argentina. Both the matches were one sided and India managed to score 3.5-0.5 victories in both of them. Anand led from the front as he beat Neruis Delgado with the white pieces, Humpy had no difficulty in overpowering Carolina Lujan. In this report you can find four interviews with Adhiban, Harikrishna, Jacob Aagaard and R.B. Ramesh. Also you will be able to enjoy the excellent annotations of GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly and his take on the game Anand - Delgado. In the sixth round India takes on Russia and the women's team is up against USA!


5) Batumi Olympiad 2018 Round 6: The peaceful men, violent women @ 01/10/2018 by Sagar Shah (en)

The sixth round of the Batumi Olympiad 2018 saw some extremely exciting chess from both the men and women's team of India. While in the men's section we were able to hold Russia to a draw, in the women's section USA managed to survive after we had a 2-0 lead. Anand was struggling against Nepomniachtchi, but he drew the game, Adhiban was pressing against Jakovenko, but couldn't breakthrough. Tania and Humpy played excellent games, while Harika and Eesha got outplayed by their opponents. We have Harika's loss annotated by GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly who explains how Harika could have maintained the equality and given India a win.


6) बातुमि ओलंपियाड - क्या इतिहास बस चार कदम दूर ? @ 02/10/2018 by Niklesh Jain (hi)

विश्व शतरंज ओलंपियाड में भारत को अपनी रफ्तार पकड़ने का वक्त आ गया है राउंड 7 के बाद भारतीय टीम दोनों ही वर्गो में पदक की दौड़ में बनी हुई है पर अगर भारत को इतिहास बनाना है तो अब आने वाले चार राउंड में भारत को कम से कम 3 जीत दर्ज करनी होगी । बात करे पुरुष टीम को तो अमेरिका के खिलाफ हार और रूस के खिलाफ ड्रॉ के अलावा टीम नें 5 मैच में जीत दर्ज की है और 11 अंको के साथ टीम वाकई पदक की बड़ी दावेदार बनी हुई है सभी खिलाड़ी अच्छी लय में है और टीम किसी भी एक खिलाड़ी पर पूरी तरह निर्भर नहीं है । हालांकि आनंद का टीम में होना टीम के लिए एक प्रेरणा का काम कर रहा है हरिकृष्णा , विदित , शशिकिरण और अधिबन सभी अच्छी लय मे है । महिला वर्ग की बात करे तो भारत पदक का दावेदार तो साफ तौर पर बना हुआ है और अब तक भारत नें एक भी मैच नहीं हारा है टीम नें अब तक 4 जीत और 3 ड्रॉ के साथ टीम 11 अंक लेकर शीर्ष की टीमों मे शामिल है । पर टीम को अपने तीसरे और चौंथे बोर्ड की कमजोरी से उबरना होगा । हम्पी , तनिया और हारिका नें अब तक अपनी भूमिका टीम के लिए अच्छी से निभाई है जबकि ईशा और पदमिनी का अच्छा खेलना टीम के लिए बेहद जरूरी है । पढे यह लेख  


7) How can team India win a medal at the Batumi Olympiad 2018? @ 05/10/2018 by Sagar Shah (en)

It is not straightforward and a lot of results have to go our way, but if they do, then India has a realistic chance of winning a medal at the Batumi Olympiad 2018. India is playing against Poland in the last round and firstly we must win this match. After that we should hope that USA beats China and that the second board match between France and Russia ends in a 2-2 draw. If this happens, then winning a silver is very realistic. But if these results do not happen, then we can still fight for the bronze. In case if USA and China draw the match on top board and France or Russia beat each other, then our chance for the medal is lost. All of this is explained in much better depth in the article. We also explain to you how Sonneborn Berger is calculated so that you can have a better idea of how the tiebreak will work when the match points are the same between two teams.


8) Batumi Chess Olympiad Round 7: Indian men beat Egypt, Indian women draw against Georgia 1 @ 02/10/2018 by Sagar Shah (en)

It was an easy round for the Indians against the Egyptians, but it turned out to be extremely dangerous. Vishy Anand was held to a quick draw by Bassem Amin and Vidit Gujrathi who was pressing throughout the game suddenly landed in a bad position. The onus was now on Harikrishna and Sasikiran to deliver. And they did! India managed to win with the narrowest of margins, but as coach R.B. Ramesh said after the match, "A win is a win!" In the women's section Georgia 1 is one of the strongest teams in women's chess out there. The Indian girls fought bravely and managed to hold their own against the Georgian women players. Full report with analysis by GM Surya Sekhar Ganguly and videos of coaches of Indian teams.


9) Live Games and Updates of Team india from Batumi Olympiad 2018 @ 24/09/2018 by ChessBase India (en)

The Batumi Chess Olympiad is one of the most eagerly anticipated events in the world. Team India begins as the fourth seeds in the open section and as the fifth seeds in the women' section. With Vishy Anand and Koneru Humpy back in the team, India has a realistic chance of winning a medal. On this page, you can follow the entire journey of the Indian team from the start until the end of the event. First of all, you can see the live games and commentary here, but apart from that, you will find all the relevant links required of previous reports, chess-results and other important sources. This page will be updated every day several times to give you live updates as well. We suggest that you bookmark this page on your browser to follow team India's journey at the Batumi Chess Olympiad 2018. 


10) Batumi Olympiad round 4: USA too strong for team India, women beat Poland @ 28/09/2018 by Aditya Pai (en)

The fifth round of the 2018 Batumi Chess Olympiad witnessed India lose its first match of the event by the slimmest possible margin. Playing against the top-seeded United States, the team fell short by a point, losing the game by a score of 2½ - 1½.  While three games finished peacefully, Vishy Anand made an unfortunate blunder on the top board against Fabiano Caruana and lost in merely 26 moves. In the Women's segment, the team scored an emphatic 3-1 victory with wins by Harika Dronavalli and Tania Sachdev. Round 4 report.


11) Batumi Chess Olympiad: Sasikiran helps India edge out Czech Republic, women suffer their first loss @ 03/10/2018 by Aditya Pai (en)

The eighth round encounter between India and the Czech Republic had gone neck to neck until the conclusion of the first two games. On the top board, Vishy Anand was held to a draw by David Navara. Adhiban was the first to finish his game against Zbynek Hracek. The two signed peace in merely 17 moves. Meanwhile, Krishnan Sasikiran showed some fantastic middle game play to bring down Jiri Stocek on board 4 and put his country in the lead. Vidit had the better position but was held to a draw in the end. In the women's group, losses on the first and the third board led to a disastrous loss for India against a lower rated Hungarian team. Round 8 report. | Photo: Niklesh Jain


21) I may take risk in chess, but it is completely unacceptable in finance - Vishy Anand @ 23/09/2018 by Nongsha Angom (en)

A very interesting article has been published earlier this week by the Livemint, an Indian financial daily newspaper. In this article Anand shares with us how managing money is similar to handling chessboard, the key is to study past dealings and apply knowledge to new transactions. It gives you interesting insights into the mind of one of the best chess players and how he thinks about finances. Anand has won five World Championships, done various advertisements and endorsements, has a permanent sponsor in NIIT. Naturally he makes good amount of money and needs to manage it well. Read the full article to learn money managing tips from the Tiger of Madras.


22) Vishy Anand on the cover of Sports Illustrated India @ 21/09/2018 by Sagar Shah (en)

Sports Illustrated is one of the best sports magazines in the world. Recently they have begun with Sports Illustrated India where they have tried to maintain the same level of quality for their monthly magazines. The September issue of Sports Illustrated is very special for chess players. It has the cover story of one of the greatest India sportsperson ever - Viswanathan Anand. The magazine has given a generous space to cover Anand's life story right from childhood to his decision to play for Team India at the Batumi Olympiad 2018. In this article you get a glimpse of the contents in the magazine and some high quality pictures. Our recommendation is to buy the magazine, read it and then preserve it, so that you can get Vishy's autograph on it, on the day you meet him!