China have won the Olympiad in Tromsø. I believe that we can now look forward to a sustained Chinese dominance in international team events, reminiscent of the Soviets. The Chinese take sporting success very seriously and in China international competitive chess is most definitely regarded as a sport, with all the benefits in state backing which that implies. China finished with 19 out of 22 possible, while Hungary, India, Russia and Azerbaijan followed at a respectable 2 points distance.
In the other bitter contest at Tromsø, the former world champion Garry Kasparov failed to unseat the incumbent, the eccentric billionaire and self-avowed alien abductee Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, in the battle for the World Chess Federation presidency. Undoubtedly Kasparov would have been better for elite chess development, but the many modestly sized national bodies which mainly constitute the electorate are, by and large, not overly stuffed with grandmasters.
World champion Magnus Carlsen scored 6/9 for Norway — a total which included a couple of unexpected losses. This result placed him in overall sixth position for rating performance on board one. The individual gold medal winner in this category was Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, with silver going to England’s Michael Adams who was undefeated throughout the event.
One of Carlsen’s better moments was his win as Black against the world ranked no. 3 Fabiano Caruana, representing Italy.
Caruana-Carlsen: Tromsø Olympiad 2014; Centre Counter
1 e4 d5 2 exd5 Qxd5 3 Nc3 Qd8 4 d4 Nf6 5 Nf3 Bg4 6 h3 Bxf3 7 Qxf3 c6 8 Ne2 Carlsen actually faced this opening when playing White in an earlier round at Tromsø. Carlsen-Djukic continued with 8 Qd3 e6 9 g3 and White went on to win. 8 … e6 9 g4 Qd5 10 Bg2 Nbd7 11 Qg3 Qc4 12 Qb3 Qxb3 13 axb3 Bd6 14 c4 a6 15 Be3 0-0-0 16 0-0-0 White is certainly slightly better here but the black position is very solid, offering no targets for attack. Carlsen is always comfortable in such resilient positions. 16 … Rhe8 17 Ng3 Nf8 18 Bf3 Ng6 19 h4 Bf4 20 h5 Bxe3+ 21 fxe3 Ne7 22 e4 White’s space advantage looks impressive, but now Black regroups his knight to a useful outpost on g5. In view of this 22 h6 was worthy of consideration. 22 … h6 23 e5 Nh7 24 Ne4 Rf8 25 Nd6+ Kc7 26 Bg2 Ng5 27 Rhf1 White’s knight on d6 is a carousel horse. Pretty but not capable of actually hitting anything. 27 … f6 28 Kc2 fxe5 29 dxe5 Nc8 30 c5 (see diagram 1) The knight on d6 appears to be dominant, but Carlsen plays around this piece and finally succeeds in undermining and then devouring White’s bastion of supporting pawns. 30 … Ne7 31 b4 Nd5 32 Bxd5 White would prefer not to take this knight but it threatens the b4-pawn as well as the hop in to e3. 32 … cxd5 33 b5 axb5 34 Nxb5+ Kc6 35 Nd6 Nf3 36 b4 Ra8 37 Ra1 Rxa1 38 Rxa1 Nxe5 39 Ra7 Rb8 40 Ra3 b6 Completing an impressive undermining of the white knight. 41 Ra7 bxc5 42 Ra6+ Kc7 43 bxc5 Nd7 44 Ra7+ Kc6 45 g5 Nxc5 Ironically, White’s proud centre has completely melted away and it is now Black who enjoys two central pawns. 46 Nf7 d4 47 Ne5+ Kd5 48 Nd7 d3+ 49 Kc1 Nxd7 50 Rxd7+ Ke4 White resigns