Chess is a cruel sport, even more so for teams. The great star of the Chennai Olympiad has been the boy Dommaraju Gukesh, 16, top board for India’s B team. He had 8.5 points in nine games, close to perfection, when he faced the Uzbek Nodirbek Abdusattarov, 17 years old, world rapid chess champion. A slip made him lose the advantage over him, but he continued to fight for the victory, although the tie was enough for his team to win. A fatal error gave the point to his rival and the draw to Uzbekistan. The Uzbek boys withstood the pressure today and won gold ahead of Armenia and the young Indians.
Gukesh cried on the board, unable to react for several minutes, despite the impeccable attitude of his captain, R. B. Ramesh, which has formed a fabulous team with an almost childish team. The young grandmaster will never forget his small act of selfishness in pursuit of a legendary result. Despite everything, he won the individual gold, sad and great consolation. For a few days he seemed invincible, almost immortal, but in chess it is impossible not to fall at some point, crushed by the hardness of the board. This blow should not interrupt a spectacular rise to the top of the world rankings.
Gabriel Sargissian, first board of Armenia, explained for his part that the secret of his team is that they are all great friends, something that does not always happen between the strongest teams. They have suffered from the loss of Levon Aronian, ‘signed’ by the United States, and yet they have achieved a silver that tastes like glory, above teams with better scores, including Spain. The United States, which started as the undisputed favorite, has been left without a medal.
Although for a bump, that of the Norwegians, who started as third favorites and have been in 59th place. Magnus Carlsen He has been almost at his expected score, but without illusion, surrounded by players who have performed well below his level. So far, the number one has not come close to his announced dream of exceeding 2900 Elo points.
Our team fell on the last day against the Armenians, thus losing any chance of getting closer to the medals. Spain started in fourth position, something never seen, but did not know how to take advantage of the absence of Russians, Chinese and Belarusians.
The women’s team has not been better. They started in 13th place and finished in 21st. The Ukraine of the sisters Muzychuk has achieved a historic gold, ahead of Georgia, India and the United States, again without any metal as a reward, although in this case it was expected.
In Spain, no single player can be blamed, but something similar to the Armenian unity has been missing. Alexei Shirov he spoiled his marker with his loss on the last day, against Sargissian. His other loss came against Gukesh, who beat stars like Fabiano Caruana.
Paco Vallejo he hasn’t lost rating on the second board, with 5.5 points in eight games, undefeated. David Anton he had a bad day, against Kazakhstan, but then he didn’t do anything out of the box either. With a victory in the last two rounds, against inferior rivals, he would have achieved a good result.
James Santos he has been the best of the team, with the final prize of a bronze medal on the fourth board. He achieved 8 points in ten games, a great result, with great victories, like the one against one of the Indian golden boys, R. Praggnanandhaa. More discreet has been Eduardo Iturrizaga, on his debut with Spain. 4.5 points in 7 games is more or less expected. The problem is that, except for Santos, none have really shone, something necessary to be in the top positions.
This is how Marcelino Sión, coach of Jaime Santos, celebrated the Spanish medal:
Jaime Santos bronze medal in the fourth board of the Olympiad in Chennai, India. Great performance by the Spanish grandmaster, undefeated, with +6 =4. Spain finished in 12th place after narrowly losing to silver medalist Armenia in the last round. pic.twitter.com/4aPUBFs2T2
— M.Sion (@MSion2) August 9, 2022
In the women’s team, the best by far has been Sabrina Vega, worthy defender of the first board. She played all the games and only lost one, against the veteran Pia Cramling, a Swedish legend, who has won an individual gold again.
This time Ana Matnadze has been below his level, Martha Garcia started well but suffered two losses in his last three games, Monica Calzetta scored well, although she failed against the Swedes, and María Eizaguerrithe least experienced, also collapsed in the final rounds, after a good start.
Otherwise the Russian Arkady Dvorkovich He was re-elected almost unopposed as FIDE President, so he will continue in office for four more years. the ukrainian Andrii Baryshpolets he hardly got any votes: 16 against 157. Viswanathan Anand He will debut as vice president as well.
The International Federation also approved that the 2026 Olympiad be held in Uzbekistan, where the current champions, with four more years, will have the opportunity to achieve victory again. Before that, the one in Budapest will take place in 2024.