The Batumi Olympiad ended as a great success for the teams from China, which captured the gold medals in both the open and women’s sections. England finished a most creditable fifth in the open, behind USA (silver) Russia (bronze) and Poland, our best result for decades. Meanwhile the bitter contest for the Fidé (World Chess Federation) presidential election concluded in victory for the Russian candidate, Arkady Dvorkovich.
Mr Dvorkovich evidently appreciated the value of the English candidate for president, grandmaster Nigel Short, since he promptly appointed him vice president after Short stepped down at the last minute. It was unfortunate that the English Chess Federation misguidedly failed to back Short and instead opted to vote for the Greek candidate Makropolous, who was ultimately defeated. The ECF’s misplaced faith in the Greek rather than the UK candidate thus amounted to the waste of the English vote. From extensive soundings I have taken, the members of the Federation as a whole were less than impressed.
This week, some key extracts of play from the Olympiad.
Ding-Duda: Batumi Olympiad 2018
(see diagram 1)
White now proves that the strength of his passed e-pawn, along with his kingside threats, are worth far more than the sacrificed piece. 27 e7 Re8 28 Ng5 Qg6 28 ... h6 29 Qh5 is very strong as Rxd6 will come next move. 29 Rxd6 f4 The only try as 29 ... Qxd6 30 Qxh7 is mate. 30 Qh4 Qb1 31 Re1 31 Qxf4 is quicker. 31 ... Bf5 The final chance was 31 ... Bd7. 32 Rd8 This essentially breaks Black’s control of the e8-square. 32 ... Bg6 33 Rxb8 Rxb8 34 Qxf4 Rg8 To deal with the threat of 35 Qf8+. 35 Nf7+ Bxf7 36 Qxf7 Now Black can no longer cover the e8-square. 36 ... Nd7 37 e8Q Nf6 38 Bg5 Black resigns
Caruana-Gelfand, Batumi Olympiad 2018
(see diagram 2)
Black has just captured on e4. White must be careful as 27 fxe4 Qxf2+ is disastrous and 27 dxe4 Nf4 keeps Black in the game. Caruana avoids these pitfalls and plots an accurate tactical path to victory. 27 Qd7+ Kf6 27 ... Rf7 28 Rh7+ wins. 28 Qxc6+ Kg7 29 Qd7+ Kf6 30 fxe4 Now that the f-file is blocked this capture is safe. 30 ... Nf4 31 Rf5+ A clean finish. 31 Rxg6+ would also mate. 31 ... gxf5 32 Qxf5+ Ke7 33 Rg7+ Black resigns 33 ... Ke8 34 Qc8+ Qd8 35 Qc6+ mates.