The 10th round of the (41st) World Chess Olympiad being held in Tromso, Norway was historic for Jamaica. August 12 will be remembered as the day Jamaica’s three-time National Champion CM Damion Davy performed magnificently and won “to order” (as Garry Kasparov would say!) reaching 6 points from 9 games to earn the FIDE Master (“FM”) title. Playing with the white pieces and needing a win to get the title, Davy faced the experienced FM Roy Phillips of Mauritius and finished gloriously with a Bishop and Knight checkmate, a feat many have failed to accomplish. Damion’s victory (plus Daren Wisdom’s first win of the tournament!) enabled the Jamaicans to draw 2-2 and gave them a chance to win their category (“D”) or, alternatively, finish among the medals when they face Palestine in the 11th (final) round tomorrow.
In other Caribbean results, Bahamas had another strong performance with a 2 ½ – 1 ½ win over Mauritania to surge up the standings in their category (“E”) with chances to finish in the top three. Trinidad & Tobago was put to the sword 0-4 by Mongolia while young WFM Yu Tien Poon earned a draw for Barbados on board 4 to salvage some pride in Yemen’s 3 ½ – ½ victory. Although Guyana lost 1 ½ – 2 ½ to Afghanistan, Netherland Antilles defeated Guam 3 ½ – ½ and US Virgin Islands and Bermuda defeated Swaziland and Solomon Islands 4-0, respectively.
THE CHINESE IN POLE POSITION!
France’s title chances nose-dived after GM Yu Yangyi’s crucial win over GM Laurent Fressinet on board 3 separated the teams, China winning the top board clash 2 ½ – 1 ½ to make the men from the Orient the odds-on favourites to win a landmark first title. This loss obviously pained the French as late into the night (after 3 am the next morning!) on leaving the “Jamaica Party” at Bar 24, French GM Etienne Bacrot could be heard repeating, wistfully, that they lost to China!
Of the chasing pack Hungary defeated Romania 3-1 to give themselves a chance of catching the Chinese if they slip. Bulgaria’s chances went up in smoke after a 1 ½ – 2 ½ loss to Poland and the 2-2 draw between Ukraine and Azerbaijan did not help either team. Cuba beat Georgia 3 ½ – ½ and Russia defeated Serbia 2 ½ – 1 ½ to give both victors faint, but unlikely, hopes of medaling while Armenia, the defending champion, surrendered its title with a 2-2 draw against Vietnam.
In a shocker, Croatia’s top GM Ivan Saric totally outclassed World Champion GM Magnus Carlsen to hand the Norwegian his second loss of the tournament. Croatia’s convincing 3 ½ – ½ victory effectively means that the hosts Norway will end the event empty-handed without either team or individual glory.
Today is the second rest day and heading into tomorrow’s final round China leads on 17 points, Hungary is second on 16 and 8 teams are tied on 15 – France, Ukraine, Russia, USA, Uzbekistan, India, Azerbaijan and Poland. China is likely to win gold with their great form but the silver and bronze medals are still up for grabs and will be determined after the following games – Poland-China, Hungary-Ukraine, Russia-France, Azerbaijan-USA and India-Uzbekistan. Of course, if China loses and Hungary wins the “Magyars” will take top honours.
In good individual performances from the African continent Zambia’s IM Stanley Chumfwa played well to defeat Ireland’s GM Alexander Baburin on board 1 as the teams drew 2-2; CM Bomo Kigigha (rated 2197) drew with Albania’s top player GM Erald Dervishi (2581!) as the Europeans won 3-1; and the untitled Algerian Yamine Seddaoui (2105) drew with the Austrian IM Robert Kreisl (2432) Austria winning 3 ½ – ½.
UKRAINIAN WOMEN DEFEAT RUSSIA!
The political intrigue between Russia and Ukraine over the past few months have captivated the world, especially with the controversial annexation of Crimea. The tension between the two countries spilled over into the Chess arena when the Russian Chess Federation pounced and lured Ukraine’s top female player, GM Kateryna Lagno, to switch Federations. Indeed, among other things, it is alleged that the delay of this transfer resulted in the delayed registration of Russia’s women’s team and the consequent refusal by the Norwegian organizers to allow the team entry into the Olympiad. Of course, this decision was sagaciously reversed.
To combat the loss of their star player, Ukraine in turn “retrieved” GM Anna Muzychuk from Slovenia to bolster its top board. In today’s 10th round the two teams met setting the stage for great tension. As the contest raged drawing its fair share of attention the two “transferees”, Muzychuk and Lagno battled to a tense draw on board 1. On board 2 IM Maria Muzychuk was up to the task holding the freshly-minted Women’s European Champion GM Valentina Gunina. On board 3, two former Women’s World Champions faced off but neither Russia’s GM Alexandra Kosteniuk nor Ukraine’s GM Anna Ushenina could break the stalemate. It was on board 4 that what some would call poetic justice occurred as GM Natalia Zhukova defeated WGM Olga Girya to bring Ukraine victory 2 ½ – 1 ½ , inflicting the first loss on the Russians. Later I saw an obviously upset Kosteniuk walking alone on the streets heading to her hotel.
Fortunately for the Russians China was surprisingly held to a 2-2 draw by Spain. Although GM Hou Yifan won on board 1, IM Ana Matnadze proved too strong for WGM Tan Zhongyi on board 3. Georgia defeated Poland 3-1 and Germany bested Romania 2 ½ – 1 ½ to give themselves a chance of finishing among the medals.
Russia is clinging to the lead with 18 points; China and Ukraine are tied on 17; Germany comes next on 16 and Georgia, Spain, Bulgaria and Armenia round off the top 8 with 15 each. The matches that should decide the medals in tomorrow’s final round are Russia-Bulgaria; Ukraine-China; Georgia-Germany; and Armenia-Spain.
JAMAICAN’S WIM DEBORAH RICHARDS-PORTER BATTLE WGM TO A DRAW!
Jamaica (ranked 88) entered the 10th round in 57th position (!) facing the “Ottoman’s Empire’s” strong warriors (ranked 33 – all of 55 places ahead!). In a gutsy and solid performance by WIM Deborah Richards-Porter on board 1 the Jamaican showed good technique and resilience to hold Turkey’s very experienced and highly acclaimed player WGM Betul Cemre Yildiz to a draw. The Turk is rated almost 300 points over the Jamaican and has beaten some of the world’s top players including reigning Women’s World Champion China’s GM Hou Yifan!
Wins on the other 3 boards handed Turkey a 3 ½ – ½ victory. Special mention must be made of the effort by 14 year-old Jamaican Champion WFM Rachel Miller on board 2. Playing in her first Olympiad Miller faced WGM Kubra Ozturk (rated more than 500 points over the young Jamaican!) and fought bravely maintaining the advantage after more than 40 moves (!!) had been played before running into time trouble and eventually capitulating.
Jamaica (on 10 points) has the unenviable task of defeating a tough Iceland team (with Women Grandmasters and Women International Masters and also on 10 points) in the final round to have a chance of finishing among the medals in their category.
In other West Indian matches Barbados lost 1-3 to Zimbabwe while Trinidad & Tobago drew 2-2 with Namibia and will next face Mozambique and Ethiopia, respectively. In a couple of note-worthy results from the African continent, Kenya routed Cameroon 4-0, the same score-line in Malawi’s win over Swaziland.
Report and photographs by Ian Wilkinson QC
Jamaica’s Chef de Mission
August 13, 2014