Baku Olympiad 2016 – Round 8
It started “as expected” when on board 1 Nedev blundered in a normal position and lost in less than 2 hours against GM Salem.
On board 2 the game was strategically complex (as they usually are when Pancevski is playing) so we had no worries there.
On board 3 I had an overwhelming advantage both on the board and on the clock thanks to my preparation, but then I forgot how to continue and things turned around before I could blink.
A miracle how I managed to save this game. But by the time I was thinking whether to continue or take the draw there was a commotion on the board next to me, on board 4. I got up and I quickly realised that our player, Lazov, had won on time, since white hadn’t made move 40, but since the clock had already added the additional 30 minutes (which it does when move 40 has been played) the arbiter decided to let them continue the game, even though our player demanded a win on time! It was such an obvious case, only 39 moves were made and there was no doubt about it. I was shocked and outraged at the complete ignorance of the match arbiter. I was too disturbed to continue and took the draw. Then I decided to take matters in my hands and even though the match arbiter said they should continue I (together with our captain IM Mitkov) went to the sector arbiter, the famous Russian arbiter Alexander Bakh, and demanded an explanation. Initially he was in favour of the decision taken by the match arbiter, but that was just nonsense and I would take none of it. After my persistant and logical demand to award a win to our player he decided to take the matter to the tournament director, also an International Arbiter, Takis Nikolopoulos. He quickly decided the obvious, which was to award the win to Lazov. Bakh agreed and they also summoned the Chief Arbiter of the Olympiad, Faik Gasanov. He approved of the decision and we were finally awarded a win on board 4. The remaning game on board 2 was eventually drawn and we saved the match. So I can perhaps get 1.5 points out of 2 for this match!
The top board saw two wins by the black players and a 2-2 tie in the derby Russia-USA. A score that still keeps both teams in contention, yet a slightly more favourable for the Americans as they remain one point ahead of the Russians. After his 7/7 Nepomniachtchi lost with white to So and Robson managed to lose in the most drawish line of the anti-Berlin to Grischuk. Nerves, what else.
It’s been a very demanding day, both physically and mentally (running around the playing hall to various arbiters and arguing took its toll) so I’ll rest now. The fatigue accumulates, I’m playing every day and my insomnia is getting worse with each passing day. We play Kosovo tomorrow, another tough match ahead. On the top boards things are really heating up, for example Azerbaijan play Russia and whoever loses is out of contention. Speaking of contention, the Chinese can no longer defend their title, they lost to Hungary and have only 10 match points. Carlsen’s Norway managed to climb up to board 2 and they face USA, Caruana-Carlsen should be a great match-up!