The Tromsø Olympiad finishes on Thursday 14 August, too late for any definitive conclusions to be drawn here as to the likely medallists. The parallel great contest in Tromsø, Norway, where the Olympiad is taking place, was the election for the presidency of Fidé, the World Chess Federation, between the incumbent, Kirsan Ilumzinov (who won), and his challenger, the former world champion Garry Kasparov. Next week I will analyse the outcome of both battles. Meanwhile, here are some critical positions from games between the leading competitors.
Encounters between Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov are always acrimonious, as demonstrated by the habitual lack of a handshake before or after play in all of their games. This reciprocal hostility derives from their controversial world title match of 2006. In their game in Tromsø, Kramnik finished with a tactical flurry.
Kramnik-Topalov: Tromsø Olympiad 2014
43 Qxb8 This sacrifice allows White to cash in on his passed d-pawn. 43 … Rxb8 44 Re8+ Kh7 45 Rxb8 Qd1+ 46 Kh2 Qh5+ 47 Bh3 Qf3 48 d8Q Qxf2+ 49 Bg2 Black resigns
Sensationally, the world champion Magnus Carlsen lost with White to the German grandmaster Arkady Naiditsch. During the middlegame, it seemed that Carlsen was unsure whether he should be striving for a win or a draw. By oscillating between two stools, he found himself in an endgame where a draw would have been desirable but had become unlikely.
Carlsen-Naiditsch: Tromsø Olympiad 2014
50 … e5+ 51 Ke4 Nd6+ Black’s main impediment to winning this game is the reduced material. However, thanks to skilful handling of his knight, he maintains two pawns at all times while mopping up the remainder of White’s pawns. 52 Ke3 Kg5 53 fxg4 e4 54 Kd2 Nb5 55 Be5 Kxg4 56 Ke3 Kf5 57 Ba1 Nd6 58 Kd2 Kg4 59 Ke3 a2 60 Bc3 Kxg3 61 Ba1 Kg4 62 Kd2 Kf3 White resigns
One of Carlsen’s better moments was his impressive win as Black against the world no. 3, Fabiano Caruana, representing Italy. During critical positions in the middlegame Caruana appeared to be dominant. However, in the resilient style of his intellectual mentor, Emanuel Lasker, Carlsen expertly succeeded in undermining and devouring White’s bastion of supporting pawns. This game will form the main topic of next week’s column.