Ukraine won the gold medals at the 36th Chess Olympiad in Calvia, Spain, on Friday. Powered mostly by grandmasters Vassily Ivanchuk, Andrei Volokitin and 14-year-old Sergei Karjakin, they amassed 39 1/2 points in 56 games. Russia clinched the silver medals on a narrow tiebreaker over Armenia, each scoring 36 1/2 points. The U.S. team finished fourth with 35 points.
China won the women's olympiad with 31 1/2 points in 42 games. United States got the silver medals with 28 points. Russia won the bronze on a tiebreaker over Georgia after both teams tallied 27 1/2 points.
Magic on the Diagonals
The top U.S. women's player, Susan Polgar, performed brilliantly in Calvia, scoring 10 1/2 points in 14 games. Her most exciting victory came against Maya Chiburdanidze of Georgia, an English Opening duel between two former women's world champions. A careless pawn move allowed Polgar to cast a magical spell along the long diagonal a1-h8 with spectacular sacrifices.
1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 0-0 5.a3 Bxc3 6.Qxc3 c5 7.b4 b6 8.Bb2 d6 9.g4!? Bb7 10.g5 Nh5 11.Rg1 e5 12.Bh3 Nf4 13.Bf5!? (Provoking the next mistake.) 13 . . . g6? (Fatally weakening the long diagonal. The queen on c3 supported by the bishop on b2 can now "look" as far as the square h8. After the correct 13 . . . Nc6!? black had a good game.)
14.Nxe5! (The knight sacrifice, opening the long diagonal, had to be calculated accurately. Obviously, after 14 . . . dxe5 15.Qxe5 f6 16.Qxf4 wins. But after 14 . . . Qe7!? Polgar had to see the astonishing interference 15.Be4!!, for example 15 . . . Bxe4 16.Nc6! Nd3+ 17.Kf1! winning.) 14 . . . Nxe2!? (Black placed all her hopes on this move with the idea 15.Kxe2? dxe5 16.Qxe5?? Re8 and black wins.) 15.Nxf7!! (A stunning follow-up, catching the black king in a mating net.) 15 . . . Nxc3 (Forced. After 15 . . . Kxf7 [On 15 . . . Rxf7 16.Qh8 mates.] 16.Qg7+ Ke8 17.Bf6! wins.) 16.Nh6+ Kg7 17.Bxc3+ Rf6 18.Bxf6+ Qxf6 19.gxf6+ Kxh6 20.Be6?! (Winning slowly and surely. Interestingly, Polgar, drilled in mating finales in her youth, missed 20.Rb1! [or 20.Rc1], for example 20 . . . Nc6 21.Rb3 and the rook goes to mate on h3; or 20 . . . Bf3 21.Rb3 Bh5 22.Be4 and white wins.) 20 . . . Nc6 21.Bd5 Rf8 22.f7 Nd8 23.Bxb7 Nxb7 24.Rg3 Rxf7 25.Re3 (The rook made it to the open file.) 25 . . . Nd8 26.b5! Rf4 27.d3 d5 28.Re7! dxc4 29.dxc4 Nf7 (After 29 . . . Rxc4 30.Rd1 Rd4 31.Rxd4 cxd4 32.Rxa7 the b6-pawn falls soon.) 30.Rd1 Ng5 31.Rxa7 Rxc4 32.Ra6 Rc2 33.Rxb6 c4 34.a4 Ra2 35.Ra6 Nf3+ 36.Kf1 Nd2+ 37.Rxd2! (Simplifying into a clearly won rook endgame.) 37 . . . Rxd2 38.Rc6 Rc2 39.b6 Black resigns.
U.S. champion Alexander Shabalov scored only five points in 10 games. With two more points, certainly within his reach, the U.S. men's team would have won the silver medals. One point was available in Shabalov's nerve-racking fight against the calm Indian grandmaster Pentala Harikrishna. In the Karpov's Anti-Meran line, both players rushed to assail each other on the long diagonal with spectacular attacks and stunning tactical blows. The heartbreaking mutual blunders must have left their teammates speechless.
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nc3 Nbd7 6.Qc2 Bd6 7.Be2 0-0 8.0-0 dxc4 9.Bxc4 b5 10.Bd3 Qc7 11.e4 e5 12.dxe5!? Nxe5 13.Nxe5 Bxe5 14.f4!? Bxc3 15.bxc3 c5!? 16.c4!? (After 16.Bxb5 black cuts off the bishop with 16 . . . c4!) 16 . . . bxc4 17.Bxc4 Bb7 18.e5 Nd5 19.Qf2 Rfd8 20.Ba3 Rac8 (After a slow prelude, the game gathers speed with the following pawn sacrifice.)
21.e6!? fxe6 22.Rae1 Qc6?! (Shabalov would not miss the opportunity to craft his attack along the long diagonal, but he should have tried to exchange the light bishops with 22 . . . Qa5 23.Qg3 Ba6.) 23.f5! Nf4! (With an unpleasant threat 24 . . . Nh3+! 25.gxh3? Qh1 mate. After 23 . . . Rf8?! 24.Qb2! exf5 25.Re7 wins.) 24.Re3 Kh8 25.Bb2! Rd4!? (Plugging the long diagonal. After 25 . . . exf5 26.Rg3! white wins .) 26.Bxe6 Nxg2? (This should have cost black the game. 26 . . . Rf8 would have kept him alive.)
27.f6! (Turning the table. The black king is in trouble.) 27 . . . g5 28.f7!? (Continuing the slugfest, when 28.Bxc8! wins comfortably, e.g. 28 . . . Nxe3 29.Bxb7 Rg4+ 30.Qg3 Rxg3+ 31.hxg3 Qxb7 32.f7+ Qxb2 33.f8Q mate.) 28 . . . Nf4 29.Bd5! (A fancy retort, allowing a rook invasion. But the simple 29.Qg3!, threatening 30.Rxf4!, also wins.) 29 . . . Qxd5 30.Bxd4+?! (Missing the precise 30.Re8+!, for example 30 . . . Kg7 31.f8Q+ Kg6 32.Qc2+! [The point!] 32 . . . Rd3 33.Qg7+ wins; or 30 . . . Rxe8 31.Bxd4+ cxd4 32.fxe8Q+ Kg7 33.Qg3 wins.) 30 . . . cxd4 31.Re8+ Kg7! 32.f8Q+ Kg6 (White does not have the square c2 for a check anymore. Still, he is winning.) 33.Qf3! (Amazingly, after 33.Qg8+? Qxg8 34.Rxg8+ Rxg8, the mating threat 35...Nh3+ forces white to give up the queen. On 35.Qc2+ d3! wins.) 33...Qxf3 34.Qg8+ Kh6 35.Re6+? (A blunder that goes unpunished. 35.Rxf3! wins.) 35...Kh5? (Overlooking a win. After 35...Ng6! the white queen is attacked and black threatens mate.) 36.Qxh7+ Kg4 37.Rxf3 Bxf3 38.Qd7! (After 38...Rc1+ 39.Re1+ defends with a discovered check.) Black resigns.
Solution to today's study by A. Kuznetsov and F. Bondarenko (White: Ke7,Ra6,P:b3,b4,b5; Black: Kh5,Nb8,Nc7,P:b6): 1.Ra8!! Nxa8 2.Kd8 Kg5 3.Kc8 winning both knights.