Leaders Deposed

Chess Olympiad, Round 9

The 9th round of the 2008 Chess Olympiad saw the leaders in both open and women section defeated and deposed. The defending champion Armenia was outplayed by Israel, while bronze medalist from Turin, women’s team of China, was stunned by Serbia.

Armenia – Israel

Early problems for Armenia have started when Tigran L. Petrosian pushed careless 19…g5 and subsequently went down after Maxim Rodstein’s swift attack. Minutes later, Levon Aronian’s offensive received setback when Boris Gelfand found a daring yet irrefutable 27…Bf5. Quite soon, it became clear that white monarch is in greater danger than its black counterpart. Gelfand transposed into a better endgame and duly converted the advantage. (See also Aronian-Gelfand, Mexico 2007, annotated)

Aronian Boris Gefland 1

Levon Aronian and Boris Gelfand

Already being 0-2 down, the things didn’t look rosy for Armenia as Michael Roiz had a healthy pawn up against Vladimir Akopian. This game was indeed drawn, but only after 90(!) moves have been played in a rook endgame, filling the scoresheet with a total of 130 moves! In the interim, Gabriel Sargissian, whose current rating performance is 2950, beat Boris Avrukh to score a consolation point for Armenia.

Armenia (ARM) – Israel (ISR) 1.5 : 2.5

GM Aronian Levon 2757 – GM Gelfand Boris 2719 0 : 1

GM Akopian Vladimir 2679 – GM Roiz Michael 2677 ½ : ½

GM Sargissian Gabriel 2642 – GM Avrukh Boris 2657 1 : 0

GM Petrosian Tigran L 2629 – GM Rodshtein Maxim 2609 0 : 1

Tomorrow in round 10, Israel is meeting Ukraine and Armenia is playing against Serbia.

China – Serbia

The clash between China and Serbia in the women section had a certain symbolic account. Xie Jun and Alisa Maric (cover image) have played a 1991 final candidates match, with Xie advancing to win the world championship match against Maia Chiburdanidze, which marked an end to the Soviet total domination in chess. Xie Jun is now an official of the Beijing Sports Commission, while Alisa Maric, although more focused on her academic career, is still active player. Curiously, Alisa led the last Yugoslav team that won an Olympiad medal, it was in Thessaloniki in 1988. China has four consecutive gold medals in the period 1998-2004.

Traditionally, China’s Olympiad squad includes younger players and not necessarily the top rated, yet they always finish in the top three. This time, in the absence of ex-world champion Xu Yuhua, Qin Kanying, Huang Qian and Wang Pin, the average age of the team is 18!

Today, the dashing Chinese were held by Serbia. Andjelija Stojanovic confidently played Slav defence with black and World Championship quarter-finalist Shen Yang had to settle for a draw. Another two participants of the Nalchik’s final-64, Natasa Bojkovic and Zhao Xue, bravely fought in an open position where both kings felt the heat of opponent’s heavy pieces. It proved, however, that the knight is better royalty defender, and Natasa ruthlessly pushed her passed pawn to score the first win for Serbia.

China saw a glimpse of hope as Yifan Hou skillfully accumulated structural pluses into a significant advantage. She eventually brought her opponent into a nice zugzwang and won a crucial pawn, after which Alisa Maric immediately resigned. Alas, by that time, “the punisher” Irina Chelushkina collected all of black pawns and marched her king forward to trap the opponent into the corner, sealing a big victory for 10th-seeded Serbia.

China (CHN) – Serbia (SRB) 1.5 : 2.5

WGM Hou Yifan 2578 – IM Maric Alisa 2405 1 : 0

GM Zhao Xue 2518 – IM Bojkovic Natasa 2420 0 : 1

WGM Shen Yang 2450 – WGM Stojanovic Andjelija 2357 ½ : ½

Tan Zhongyi 2395 – WGM Chelushkina Irina 2360 0 : 1

Natasa Bojkovic

Natasa Bojkovic

Shen Yang

Shen Yang

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