Olympiad Summary

Ukraine won the Open Section of the Olympiad quite convincingly with 19 out of 22 possible match points. Ivanchuk and Efimenko were exceptional. Ivanchuk started with 6/6 against strong opposition! You can find the team stats at http://chess-results.com/tnr36795.aspx?art=20&fed=UKR&lan=1&flag=30&m=-1&wi=1000

Second place went to Russia 1 with 18 match points. I am sure that Russia was hoping for more, but it was just not in the cards for them as they could only tie 2-2 against Spain in the last round. The big disappointment for Russia was when they lost to Hungary in round 5. The team just doesn’t seem to be gelling in the last 4 Olympiads, even though they are extremely strong on all boards.

Israel took third place by tie-breaks over Hungary, each had 17 points. Israel was led by Super-GM Gelfand on top board. GM Sutovsky had a spectacular performance, almost reaching 2900 on second board.

The Women’s Section was really a battle for second place. Russia 1 stole the show by winning all 11 team matches! They even beat Russia 2 in the last round to take away any hope of a medal for the second team. A very convincing win, achieved largely due to the Kosintseva sisters, each performing over 2600 on the top two boards!

China got 2nd place with 18 match points. Ju Wenjun stole the show for the team by scoring 9.5/11 on second board! She won her last 4 games…

There was a six way tie for 3rd place. Georgia took the medal on tie-break, with all teams tied with 16 points. Dzagnidze Nana had the best performance on the team.

In the end of the day, this blog is about the Canadian team, so I will give reports about our teams now.  The National Team did pretty well. We tied for 30th and finished 37th on tie-break. Our pre-tournament ranking was 53rd. There was some talk about the merit of the players on the team. Well, we did well. We never had any conflicts. Everybody is young and can gain a lot from the experience. Thinking about the future, this could be the line-up of the future.

I had the task of defending first board. This was my second Olympiad do this. I did quite poorly in 2008, at least by my own standards. I was hoping this time would be different. I finished with 6/11 in a field that included 8 GMs. 6 of them were rated higher than me. It’s a great experience. I haven’t played anybody higher rated than me since the Montreal International last year. Can’t get experience like this in most other tournaments. This felt like a different kind of chess from Barcelona and Nuremberg. Intensity is always higher against stronger opposition.

I think I could have played better. I feel like I should have won the 4th round and drawn the 9th round. Outside of that, I didn’t really miss many points. My win against Topalov is a very memorable one. My two other wins against GMs are also very interesting games with sacrifices.

My three losses with black are great learning experiences. My openings are just not there yet. That’s what I need to work on. I survive against lower rated players but get into trouble with players over 2600 with black.

I felt like I played some “fun chess”, as opposed to “scared chess”. A lot of interesting and creative ideas in all the games. It was enjoyable to play. Not too much grinding down in the endgames as was the case in a lot of previous tournaments.

I was also happy to play all 11 games. This was my goal from the beginning. Burning out was a serious concern, but I think my last round game shows that was not the case. It is always nice to finish a tournament off in a good way. Enough about me though.

Thomas had one of the best performances of his career. He was rock solid and undefeated, scoring a superb 7/10 on 2nd board.  He was Mr. consistency. We had some trouble playing black on every board except for the second one. Thomas will be rated 2500 after this tournament.

Thomas and I were an interesting duo. I play a lot more risky and he plays a lot more peaceful chess. For the two of us on the top two boards, we never lost a “mini-match” against any team. In fact, we scored 1.5/2 against Topalov and Cheparinov! It was really thanks to Thomas not losing games though…

Leonid showed that he was a finisher after a tough start which included 3 consecutive losses. He went on a good streak that meant that he would play the last 6 games. He started playing rock solid and finished at approximately his own rating strength. Leonid finished with 4.5/9.

Artiom had a tough finish, losing his last 2 games. Artiom played the least games on the team, playing in only 6 of the matches. Artiom had a good run in the beginning, showing that he can beat weaker players consistently. He won the match against Mongolia for us, which was big. He finished the event with 3/6.

Nikolay only drew 1 game in the tournament. He took some risks which paid off sometimes, but sometimes they didn’t. He came up huge against Denmark and Croatia. This was great to see. He finished with 4.5/8.

Towards the end of the tournament, it was clear that the top 3 boards were playing more solid chess. It was very unfortunate that Artiom and Nikolay lost a lot of games on last boards in the end of the event. They both gained very valuable experience though, which will be very important in tournaments to come. I look forward to seeing them progress.

The man behind the scenes was FM Yuri Ochkoos. The job of the captain is to take care of everything except for the actual playing of chess. Yuri did exactly that. He was the architect behind all of the lineups. I feel like Yuri was acting differently from previous captains in that it was all about the team. It was not about people’s personal feelings. It was about scoring the best in every single round.

The idea of benching players 2 games in a row is something I haven’t seen practiced before, but Yuri had no problems doing this. After 6 rounds, there was a very serious fear of Leonid just being unable to get back into it. In the last 5 rounds, he played exceptional chess. Whatever Yuri told Leonid worked.

Yuri also did the small things. After my win against Topalov, Yuri bought champagne to celebrate. He maintained a good feel on the team throughout the event. He tries to always stay cheery. It’s contagious. It was clear that in the end of the day he would have the final say on lineups. Yuri also kept Thomas exceptionally calm in the days when a GM title was at stake.

For the Women’s Team, Yuri was available for preparation for the games. This definitely helped some of the girls.

Yuri was certainly a great addition for the team, and the whole team appreciates all his efforts.

The Women’s Team finished 67th, which is a bit lower than their pre-tournament ranking. It wasn’t easy for them, as their Olympiad experience was minimal. They all did their best and can be happy with the effort. I am sure that if the same team is sent in 2 years the girls will do better.

All talk about the Women’s Team needs to start with Yuanling. She scored 7.5/11, with a performance of 2271. She missed the WGM by not winning the last round. It’s a tough way to finish. It’s always hard to finish the tournament with a loss and it leaves a sour taste. Yuanling leads by example. She works very hard at the board and she is a real competitor.

Yuanling’s 4 straight wins in rounds 7-10 are very impressive. It’s never easy to win games. This streak included 3 games against higher rated opponents. Her play was generally very impressive. The fact that Yuanling played all 11 games is a big thing. For a 16 year old to be the clear leader of the team is a great thing. It is also a sign of great potential.

Dina’s performance on the team was quite good. Dina scored a strong 5.5/9 on second board. She seems to play her best at Olympiads. She played attacking chess and held second board well. This being Dina’s third Olympiad, made her the most experienced player on the Women’s Team and Dina made the other girls feel more comfortable.

Iulia scored 3.5/9 on third board. Liza scored 3.5/8 on 4th board. Dalia scored 3/7 on 5th board. All are respectable scores for the first time Olympians. They all gained some much needed experience. There was some fear on the last boards of the team. The competition at the Olympiads is very intense. Everybody is used to winning in their own nations and nobody will lose without a fight. Nothing comes easy. That could be the real difference with the Olympiad.

I’d like to thank everybody who has been following the Olympiad and cheering for us on behalf of the whole team. It was an enjoyable experience for all those involved.

You can find our team’s statistics at:



I will try to round up a favourite game analyzed by each of the players to post on my blog. Thomas already analyzed his. That’s to come…

It will be a long trip back home… It feels like it’s time to get back.

To follow are some pictures from the Olympiad…


One Response to Olympiad Summary

  1. Excellent analysis! Please pass on our congratulations to Thomas for his impressive result, as well as to both teams and captain for their spirit and hard work. You made a lot of people proud and we thank you for this.
    Kind regards

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