The 44th edition of the Chess Olympiad, the world’s top event in terms of national teams, which -every two years- brings together the world’s chess teams and which took place in the city of Chennai, culminated this Tuesday. India.
In the absolute, the main category in which men and women participate, the absolute surprise was the title for Uzbekistan, which – outside the forecasts of the specialists -, seeded 14th and without any super elite player, got 19 points over 22 possible, product of 8 matches won and 3 drawn.
Uzbekistan beat Armenia (also a big tournament, another surprise because they were seeded 12th and played without their top figure, Levon Aronian, who changed Federation to play for the United States), which ended with the same number of points but a worse scoring system. tie-breaker.
Gone are many of the great candidates: the always dangerous local team that (because it is the organizer) was able to present 3 teams and, curiously, the second best finished in third place, above the American “dream team”, which has both in the 4 starters as well as the substitute -the only player born in the United States- a hundred percent of super elite players and who, being the best seeded team, finished in 5th place.
The biggest disappointment of the tournament was, without a doubt, Magnus Carlsen’s Norway, seeded 3rd, who finished in 59th despite the correct performance of the World Champion (7.5 in 9).
As for the Argentine team, with 14 points, they finished in 33rd position, close to what was expected due to their pre-classification (30th) and could not cause a surprise. Leandro Krysa’s performance was highlighted (7 points out of 9 possible).
Regarding the Latin American level, the best placed teams were Cuba, Brazil and Peru -in positions 19, 21 and 24, respectively- all with 11 points, but different tiebreaker system.
At the individual level, the best performance (2898!) went to the English David Howell, and the second for the great surprise of the competition, the young (17 years old) Gukesh D, first board of the second best team in India, although , despite his tremendous 2867 performance, will end with a bitter taste: he had the title for his country in his hands, with a position won that would have allowed him to defeat the champion team, but he made a mistake in time trouble and gave up the full point against the Uzbek Abdusattorov, another of the great figures of the tournament.
Russia conspicuous by its absence
Among the curious data that the 2022 Chess Olympiad yielded:
- The absence of Russia, always a candidate in a contest of this category, due to the sanctions for the war and that of China, another chess superpower, apparently due to its zero Covid policy.
- The youth of the champion team: board by board, from 1st to 5th, they were 17, 20, 16, 27 and 20 years old, respectively.
- Philippine-born super-elite player Wesley So, representing the United States, captured the attention of the entire crowd by making one of the most beautiful plays of the tournament, in perhaps one of the best games of the year. It was in front of the Armenian Melkumyan.
- Sam Shankland, the only American-born player on his national team, was involved in a situation that can normally only be seen in an amateur tournament: he misread his opponent’s move, took a piece, noticed the mistake, but because of the rule that requires moving the piece that is touched, and not having this piece in any non-losing move, he had to abandon his game in the match against Armenia and, with that defeat, leave his country out of the fight for the title.
Among the women, Argentina finished 34
In the women’s Olympics, there was no hit: the Ukrainian team (seeded 2nd) was consecrated, beating Georgia (seeded 2nd and historically a power in women’s chess), both with 18 points, and taking a point advantage over the local ( 2nd seed).
Argentina finished in 34th place, being the 40th seed. The best Latin American team was Cuba (position 19) and the best individual performance went to the Polish Oliwia Kiolbasa, followed by the Swedish, and already legendary, Pia Cramling, who had performances of 2565 and 2532 respectively.