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Favorites like Magnus Carlsen are struggling

So difficult as at the Chess Olympiad, which ended on Tuesday in the southern Indian seaside resort of Mamallapuram, the favorites have never done it. None of the ten nominally strongest men’s teams won a medal. A 16-year-old Indian and a 17-year-old Uzbek played the decisive game of the nations competition.

As hosts, India was allowed to muster a second team. Thanks to Dommaraju Gukesh’s outstanding play on the first board, India II led the competition for a long time. The teenager was temporarily winning in the penultimate round against Nodirbek Abdusattorow. Even a draw would have been enough to secure the Indian juniors a 2.5:1.5 and thus regain the first place they lost to Armenia the day before. But Gukesh’s advantage slipped away, after almost six hours on the board he missed a double attack that cost him a knight. In the end it was still enough for the personal gold medal for the best result on the first board and promotion to 24th place in the world rankings.

German team in 18th place

After the 2:2 Uzbekistan kept the lead and maintained it in the last round with a 2.5:1.5 against the Netherlands. Second place went to Armenia, who also beat a more highly rated team in Spain, although long-time top player Levon Aronian had moved to the USA for financial reasons. India II was also weaker on paper than their last opponent Germany, but won that encounter 3-1 and finished third.

The favorites USA and India drew 2:2 and finished fifth and fourth. Norway started third on the seed list thanks to Magnus Carlsen on top board, but the world champion’s team-mates fell so far short of their potential that they finished 59th. The German team, in which only 17-year-old Vincent Keymer convinced on the first board, finished eighteenth. Russia was excluded from participation. China, which won in 2014 and 2018, opted out because of the zero-Covid policy.

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