It’s the middle of August and a good time for a vacation, so we’ll let the players do the heavy lifting today. Fortunately, the dog days of summer are a boom time for chess, and we have a ton of fine games to fill some column inches from the recent World Chess Olympiad in Chennai, India and, closer to home, the 122nd U.S. Open in Rancho Mirage, California.
The young team from Uzbekistan exploited the absence of China and Russia and the missteps of the favored Indian and U.S. squads to take home an unexpected but well-deserved gold medal in Chennai, with Armenia taking the silver and the India 2 team the bronze.
Tiny Armenia has won three Olympiad golds since 2006, but was not expected to be in the hunt this year after long-time No. 1 GM Levon Aronian decamped to play for the U.S. last year. But the Armenians put on a strong show helped by a fine closing kick from new top board GM Gabriel Sargissian, including a nice win over Azeri super-GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in the penultimate round last week.
Black effectively wins this Queen’s Gambit positionally after 15. Nb4 a4 16. Qc2? b3!, when the passed pawn proves a bone in the throat for White. Mamedyarov’s own advanced pawn is soon lost and Sargissian nurses his advantage beautifully — when the queenside pawns finally fall (48. Nxb2 Nbxa3+ 49. Kb3 Nxb2 50. Kxb2), Black has 50…Nc4+ 51. Kc3 Ne3 and White’s kingside pawns are easy pickings; White soon resigned.
The U.S. women’s team finished strongly, barely losing out on tiebreaks for a bronze medal and handing the front-running Indian women’s team a damaging 3-1 loss in the final round.
Indian IM Sachdev Tania had not lost a game in Chennai until meeting up with young U.S. IM Carissa Yip in the concluding round. Yip proved better versed in the intricacies of the King’s Indian, and despite some hiccups, by 33. Rc2 Qe7!, Black had an extra pawn and a winning attack.
In the final position after 46. Rg2 Qf1+!, the simplest win is 47. Qxf1 Rxf1+ 48. Kh2 (Rg1 e2) Rf2! 49. Rxf2 exf2 50. Kg2 Kg5 and Black’s extra pawn decides.
The gold medal for Ukraine’s women was a popular result given the country’s real-world problems, and the sisters Muzychuk — GM Mariya and GM Anna — were critical to the team’s success.
Mariya took down Polish IM Alina Kashlinskaya in a Round 11 3-1 match win, just enough to outpace the strong Georgian women for the gold. In a taut, double-edged French, one little king sidestep wins for White after 28. Qe7 Qf2? (see diagram; holding was 28…Qh5! 29. Rg1+ Kh7 30. e6 Rg8 31. Rf1 f4 32. Qxf7+ Qxf7 33. exf7 Rb8+ 34. Kc1 Kg7, with a draw in prospect) 29. Ka1!, and suddenly Muzychuk’s king is perfectly safe while Kashliskaya’s is in deadly peril.
White resigns facing the loss first of her queen and, soon, of her king.
Finally, congratulations to Russian GM and Texas Tech student Aleksey Sorokin on his first U.S. Open title. GM Elshan Moradiabadi lost the title in an armageddon tiebreak blitz game, but snagged a berth in next year’s U.S. Closed Championship as the highest finishing U.S.-registered player.
Sorokin’s key win in the event was a complex King’s Indian attack against Texas Tech teammate IM Viktor Matviishen.
Black gives up his queen for three minor pieces and the attack, but his advantage doesn’t fully register until 36. Rxc5 Rxf3, when’s Sorokin’s pieces cover each other magnificently and the passed d-pawn nears the queening square. White must eventually give up his queen to stop the pawn and Black is left with an easily won ending.
Mamedyarov-Sargissian, Azerbaijan-Armenia, 44th World Chess Olympiad, Chennai, India, August 2022
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 Be7 5. Bf4 O-O 6. e3 Nbd7 7. c5 c6 8. b4 b6 9. h4 a5 10. a3 Ba6 11. Bxa6 Rxa6 12. b5 cxb5 13. c6 Qc8 14. c7 b4 15. Nb5 a4 16. Qc2 b3 17. Qe2 Ra8 18. Rc1 Qa6 19. Nd6 b5 20. Nxb5 Rfc8 21. Nd2 Qb6 22. Nb1 Ra5 23. N5c3 Bd6 24. Bxd6 Qxd6 25. O-O Qxc7 26. Na2 Qb7 27. Rxc8+ Qxc8 28. Rc1 Qb7 29. Nb4 Ra8 30. f3 Rc8 31. Rc3 h5 32. Kf2 Rc7 33. Qa6 Qxa6 34. Nxa6 Rb7 35. Rc6 Ne8 36. Ke2 Kf8 37. e4 Rb6 38. Rxb6 Nxb6 39. e5 Ke7 40. Kd3 Kd8 41. Nc5 Nc7 42. Nc3 Nc4 43. g4 g6 44. gxh5 gxh5 45. f4 Ke7 46. N3xa4 b2 47. Kc2 Nb5 48. Nxb2 Nbxa3+ 49. Kb3 Nxb2 50. Kxb2 Nc4+ 51. Kc3 Ne3 52. f5 Nxf5 53. Nd3 Kf8 54. Nf4 Ng3 55. Kd3 Kg7 56. Ke3 Kh6 57. Kd3 Nf5 58. Ng2 Ne7 59. Ke3 Ng6 60. Kf3 Kg7 61. Ke3 f6 62. exf6+ Kxf6 63. Kf2 e5 64. Ke3 Kf5 65. Ne1 e4 66. Ng2 Kg4 67. Kf2 Nf4 White resigns.
Tania-Yip, India-USA, Women’s World Chess Olympiad, Chennai, India, August 2022
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Be2 O-O 6. Nf3 e5 7. d5 a5 8. Bg5 Na6 9. Nd2 Nc5 10. h4 h6 11. Be3 h5 12. f3 Bd7 13. Nb3 Na4 14. Nxa4 Bxa4 15. c5 Nd7 16. cxd6 cxd6 17. Qd2 f5 18. exf5 gxf5 19. Bh6 Bxb3 20. axb3 Nc5 21. Ra3 f4 22. Bxg7 Kxg7 23. b4 axb4 24. Qxb4 Rxa3 25. bxa3 Qf6 26. Qb6 e4 27. O-O e3 28. Rc1 Rg8 29. Rc4 Kh8 30. Bf1 Rg6 31. Qc7 Qxh4 32. Qc8+ Kg7 33. Rc2 Qe7 34. Bd3 Rf6 35. Be4 Rf7 36. Qh3 Nxe4 37. fxe4 Qxe4 38. Re2 Qb1+ 39. Kh2 Qf5 40. Qf3 Qg4 41. Qf1 Qg3+ 42. Kh1 f3 43. Qa1+ Kh7 44. Qb1+ Kh6 45. gxf3 Qxf3+ 46. Rg2 Qf1+ White resigns.
Muzychuk-Kashlinskaya, Women’s World Chess Olympiad, Chennai, India, August 2022
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e5 Ne7 5. a3 Bxc3+ 6. bxc3 c5 7. Qg4 Qc7 8. Qxg7 Rg8 9. Qxh7 cxd4 10. Ne2 Nbc6 11. f4 dxc3 12. Qd3 d4 13. Nxd4 Nxd4 14. Qxd4 Bd7 15. Rg1 Nf5 16. Qf2 Qc6 17. Bd3 Qd5 18. Be3 Nxe3 19. Qxe3 Rxg2 20. Rxg2 Qxg2 21. Be4 Qxh2 22. O-O-O Bc6 23. Bxc6+ bxc6 24. Qd4 a5 25. f5 exf5 26. Kb1 Kf8 27. Qd6+ Kg8 28. Qe7 Qf2 29. Ka1 Qg 30. e6 fxe6 31. Qxe6+ Kh8 32. Qxf5 a7 33. Rd8+ Kg7 34. Qf8+ Kg6 35. Rd6+ Black resigns.
Matviishen-Sorokin, 122nd U.S. Open, Rancho Mirage, Calif, August 2002
1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. O-O c5 5. d3 Nf6 6. Nbd2 Nc6 7. e4 O-O 8. c3 e6 9. Re1 a5 10. e5 Nd7 11. d4 cxd4 12. cxd4 f6 13. Bh3 fxe5 14. Bxe6+ Kh8 15. Bxd5 exd4 16. Bxc6 bxc6 17. Nc4 c5 18. Bg5 Nf6 19. Qb3 a4 20. Qb6 Qd5 21. Ncd2 b7 22. Bf4 g5 23. Re5 gxf4 24. Rxd5 Bxd5 25. Re1 fxg3 26. hxg3 Ng4 27. Re7 Rxf3 28. Nxf3 Bxf3 29. Rd7 Nf6 30. Rf7 Re8 31. Kf1 d3 32. Qd6 Bh5 33. Rc7 Bg6 34. f3 Rf8 35. Qe7 Ne8 36. Rxc5 Rxf3+ 37. Kg2 Rf8 38. b4 axb3 39. axb3 Nf6 40. Rc7 Rg8 41. Qe1 Re8 42. Qc3 Re2+ 43. Kf1 Ne8 44. Rxg7 Nxg7 45. b4 h6 46. b5 Rc2 47. Qd4 Rc1+ 48. Kf2 d2 49. Qxd2 Rc2 50. Qxc2 Bxc2 51. Ke3 Ba4 52. Kd4 and White resigns.
• David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by email at [email protected]