Two Playing Halls, Two Fates
Vladimir Barsky and Eteri Kublashvili reporting about round one of the Batumi Olympiad
Olympiad’s starting rounds almost never do without confusion and fuss. This time it involved the participants queuing in a long line out in the open sun to get into the playhalls. Actually, there are two of them: the Palace of Sports, built specifically for the Olympiad and reserved for the first thirty matches among men and women, and the second one, which is an inflatable tent for other teams.
Your correspondents have had time for the first hall only, accommodating favorite teams -- the Russian team among them. In fact, the hall felt hot and cramped initially, making it hard for chess players to focus, at least on this fussy day.
The round began a little later than scheduled, but the US team was anyway late for the game for technical reasons. Symbolic first moves in the games of Georgian teams were made by public officials led by Georgian President Georgi Margvelashvili. Chief arbiter Takis Nikolopoulos was in charge of the process despite the poorly operating microphone. At a certain moment it became clear that someone started playing, but others not yet. A certain out of sync was visible, which disappeared soon enough, though. Gradually, everything fell into place, while noise and stuff air evaporated same time as guests left. It sometimes happens in early days; the situation will improve.
However, the second hall-tent has everything grim-looking at the moment. Eyewitnesses complain about an unpleasant smell and the room having neither natural nor artificial flow of air. With waste baskets unavailable, there piled up much waste towards the end of the day. There is neither potable water nor tea. With shuttle buses becoming active towards the evening, exhaust gases would penetrate into the playhall. The situation will improve in the near future, hopefully.
The pre-election life goes on as usual. A spacious exhibition hall is lined with various booths along the perimeter. Here is Khanty-Mansiysk-2020; Belarus claiming to host the Olympics in 2022; ECU and Georgios Makropoulos’s pre-election booths, as well as those offering chess literature and memorabilia.
The Arkady Dvorkovich team’s booth attracts chess fans from various countries and is always populated. Here people are free to play chess and communicate. Our colleague Ekaterina Vasilchenko has no time to leave her workplace for the inflow of visitors. On the first day Arkady Dvorkovich enjoyed a friendly game with a legendary Nona Gaprindashvili, while a "no less legendary Maia Chiburdanidze" was assisting him. The battle was a hard-fought draw and was a point of much attention from visitors of the expo center. The FIDE presidential candidate took a tour of all booths, lingering at the neighboring one from Khanty-Mansiysk and the one belonging to representatives of the Belorussian Chess Federation. The BCF team, headed by the energetic chairman Anastasia Sorokina, aspires to host the 2022 World Chess Olympiad in Minsk, and Arkady Dvorkovich expressed his support to our friends.
Round one of the big "Swiss", as is usually the case, has leaders pitted against not so much of outsiders, but against robust club players, let us put it this way. A differential of 300-400 rating points between opposing players is nothing to be surprised about. The Russian men’s team has whitewashed Uganda, and our girls have given half a point to Costa Rica, Aleksandra Goryachkina making a draw with Maria Elena Rodriguez Arrieta. Below are some game episodes.
Baules – Nakamura
22...Rcd8! 23. Rxe7 Rd1+ 24. Kg2 Nh4+ 25. Kh1 Qe1! White resigns.
Ssegwanyi – Karjakin
The knight does retreat, but counter to White’s expectations: 24...Nc5! 25.dxc5
Otherwise, the knight comes around to d3 or a4 to inflict decisive material damage.
25...Rxf4 26. Rd1 Rc4 27. Rd4 R8xc5 28. Rxc4 Rxc4 29. Rd2 Qc6 30. Rd3 h5 31. Kh1 b4. White resigns.
Nepomniachtchi – Kawuma
It has taken Black so much time to win the a-pawn that his lag in development is catastrophic. 23. Nxd5! exd5 24. Qb3 was an elegant killer since there is no defending the d5-pawn. However, Ian decides to dispense with beauties.
23. Qc2 Nc5 24. dxc5 bxc5 25. Qa4 h6 26. Ngxe6 fxe6 27. Ng6 Qe8 28. Nxh8 Be7 29. Ra1. Black resigns.
Jakovenko – Nsubuga
Black’s development is a disaster. Dmitry gets down to opening up the position without delay: 18. c4! cxb4 19. fxe6 Qxa5
19... fxe6 could have run into 20. cxd5 Qxa5 21. Rc8+ Bd8 22. dxe6 Nb6 23. Rc5! Qa3 24. Bb5+ Nc6 25. Qf3, and Black is defenseless.
The most practical approach, but also good is 20. exf7+ Kd8 21. cxd5 Qxd5 22. Bf3 Qb5 23. Ng2, with a direct offensive against the black king stuck in the center.
20... 0-0 21. d6 Bxd6 22. exd6 fxe6 23. Rxf8+ Nxf8 24. Rc8 Qd5 25. Bc4 Qe4 26. Qf3 Nbd7 27. Rxa8 b5 28. Qxe4 Bxe4 29. Bxe6+ Kh7 30. Rxa7. Black resigns.
Gunina – Gamboa Alvarado
15. d6! Bxd6 16. e5 Bxe5 17. fxe5 Qxe5 18. 0-0-0 0-0-0 19. Bf4 Qf5 20. g4 Qa5 21. g5 c5 22. Qd3 Ne8 23. Nb5 d6 24. Rhf1 Qa4 25. Bxd6 Be4 26. Bg4+. Black resigns.
However, upsets did happen with rating favorites. Below given is one of them.
Eynula – Javakhishvili
28. Na5 Bb5 29. Nb3 Ba4?
Black declines repetition, but it comes off awkwardly for her.
30. Rxe6! Qxe6 31. Nc5 Qe5 32. Nxa4 Rf4 33. Ne2 Rc4 34. Nb2 Rh4 35. g3 Rh5 36. Nd4 Qf6 37. Qf4! Qe7 38. Nd3
White delivers a very technical display by having driven the opponent’s rook to the rim and having covered all infiltration squares along the e-file.
38...a5 39. a3 axb4 40. axb4 Qa7 41. Qe3 Qa1+ 42. Kg2 Qa2+ 43. Qe2 Qxe2+ 44. Nxe2 d4 45. f4 Rd5 46. Kf3, and white ended up converting her superiority in material.