The 42nd Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan, ended in a narrow victory for the USA. Having tied with Ukraine, the American team qualified for the gold medals by virtue of a superior tie-break.
The critical factor in the American success, their first gold medals in the Olympiad since 1976, was the acquisition for the team of two superstars, namely Fabiano Caruana, formerly of Italy, and Wesley So, who had represented the Philippines.
So, in particular, distinguished himself by winning a second gold medal for best performance on board three.
The top five teams were:
(England finished a respectable ninth.)
In the parallel Women’s Olympiad the top five teams were:
(England finished a disappointing 59th.)
So-Lesiege; Baku Olympiad 2016;
1 c4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Nc3 g6 4 e3 Nf6 5 d4 cxd4 6 exd4 d5 7 Bg5 A popular alternative is 7 cxd5 Nxd5 8 Qb3 Nxc3 9 Bc4 Nd5 10 Bxd5 e6 although this does not promise White more than equality. 7 … Be6 8 Bxf6 exf6 9 h3 More usual is the immediate 9 c5. 9 … Bb4 10 c5 0-0 11 Rc1 b6 12 Bb5 Na5 13 a3 Bxc3+ 14 Rxc3 Nc4 15 b4 a5 16 0-0 axb4 17 axb4 Qb8 18 Bxc4 dxc4 19 Nd2 If 19 d5 Rd8 20 d6 bxc5 followed by … Qb4 when White’s pawn structure is too rickety to survive. 19 … bxc5 It might be better to cement his passed pawn with 19 … b5. 20 bxc5 Qb4 21 Qf3 Bd5 22 Qxd5 Qxc3 23 Ne4 (see diagram 1). Having sacrificed rook for bishop, White can mop up Black’s c-pawn and also maintains an attack against the black king. 23 … Qd3 24 Nxf6+ Kh8 25 Nd7 Rfe8 26 Ne5 Qf5 27 Qxc4 Kg7 28 Qc3 Wrongly allowing an invasion by Black’s rook. 28 Ng4 followed by Ne3 consolidates when White’s passed pawns will be decisive. 28 … Ra2 29 Nd3 Qf6 30 Nb4 White continues to vacillate. The obvious 30 c6 is stronger. 30 … Rae2 31 Nd5 Qg5 32 Nc7 R8e3 33 Qc1 h6 34 d5 Qe5 (see diagram 2). A colossal blunder when 34 … Rd3 would hold. 35 fxe3 Qg3 36 Qa1+ Black resigns Black had clearly overlooked this. After 36 … Kg8 37 Qa8+ Kg7 38 Ne8+ Kh8 39 Nd6+ Kg7 40 Rxf7 is mate.