Baku Olympiad 2016 – Round 7

You cannot argue with a 4-0 win. A second of that kind for us in Baku, the guys from Mozambique were much lower rated than us and didn’t put up much resistance.

Since our match was easy, I’ll focus more on the top boards. USA beat India 3.5-0.5 and lead the tournament, a surprisingly big win on a top board in the later stages of the Olympiad. This victory will be a huge boost for the USA, who still have to play their main opposition – Russia, China, Azerbaijan, to name but a few.

Russia also keeps stomping, they beat the Czech Republic 3.5-0.5. A surprising quick loss for Navara on board 1 against Karjakin, things started to go down rapidly for him from move 14.

Karjakin is having a very good tournament actually, +4 on board 1 and without risking losses. Quite in contrast with Carlsen, who is having a topsy-turvy tournament, being lost on a few occasions and only his win today against GM Solak brought him on +3.

The star in the Russian team is Nepomniachtchi. With an amazing 7/7 score he’s the driving force in the team. The teams who have won Olympiads have always had a lower board that brought many points and it was clear from the start that this role in the Russian team was reserved for Nepomniachtchi (that’s why they took him, and not Svidler, for example). His style is well suited for killing lesser opponents and that’s what he’s been doing so far. He’s been fantastic and I’m curious how long he keeps it up!

The Dutch were at the top of the world when they destroyed the English 3.5-0.5 in Round 4, but today they were busted by the Latvians 3-1. Amazingly, the Latvians won both their games with black, the other two being drawn (Shirov-Giri on board 1 was an exact repetition of Ganguly-Vachier from 2013. A friend of mine finely put it when he said that there is no draw that Giri doesn’t know!)

The home team were lucky today, they were on the brink of losing to Croatia but they turned it all around and won 3.5-0.5. Take a look at this turnaround:

The English finally played a great match against world-class opposition. They beat the current Olympic champions, the Chinese, by 3-1. Two wins by Adams and Short (against Wang Yue and Li Chao respectively) and two draws by Howell and McShane (against Ding Liren and Yu Yangyi respectively). Have a look what Adams managed to win:

Tomorrow’s day brings the clash of the titans – Russia plays USA. You cannot ask for more, even if there are 3 more rounds to play after tomorrow, I cannot escape the feeling that the winner of this one will emerge as the huge favourite to win it. And in case of Russia, if they lose they can say goodbye to their title aspirations. Should be great!

The Macedonian team plays United Arab Emirates, who have GM Salem (rated 2628) on board 1 and then they have players rated around 2300 from boards 2 to 4, one of them IM and two FMs. It looks like a stronger team than Tajikistan, so it will be tough.

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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