The 5th round of the 40th Chess Olympiad saw match-ups of many powerhouse teams in the Open section.
On the first match table, 2-time Olympiad Champion Armenia locked horns with the defending champions of Ukraine. Armenian Super GM and World #2 Levon Aronian engaged in battle Vassily Ivanchuk. The only decisive game in the match, Aronian went up the exchange and moves later with a simple tactic sealed the fate of Ivanchuk and the Ukrainian team, giving the Armenians a 2,5-1,5 victory.
The Russian and Hungarian teams engaged on the second match table, pitting long time friends and competitors of Kramnik and Leko. Spectators were happy to see something that wasn’t a Petroff between these two players. 32 moves later a quiet draw was taken, but on the board next to them Grischuk slashed and hacked at Almasi’s defenses until all that was left was yet another simple tactical sequence to finish him off. The Russians had stuck the proverbial fork into their Hungarian competitors and finished them off 2,5-1,5.
The Azeri’s and Chinese teams demolished their Canadian and Iranian counterparts respectively with a 3,5-0,5 score, while France suffered their first loss against the Croatian team with score of 2,5-1,5.
On the fifth match table we saw Team USA held to yet another draw by the Czech team. The US team has their work cut out for them still having to face the chess giants of Armenia, Russia, Ukraine, China, and Azerbaijan.
In the Women Section Russia quickly secured the decisive advantage against France with the two victories on the lower boards. Sophie Milliet could only reduce the losing margin after the European Champion Valentina Gunina ran into a checkmate. Russia wins 2,5-1,5 to assume sole lead as the only team with the perfect score.
Serbia once again excelled as they defeated their Bulgarian neighbors by a score of 2,5-1,5. Ana Benderac, returning to the playing arena after being a captain for several years, won against Elitsa Raeva. The experienced Margarita Voiska turned the tables against Andjelija Stojanovic to even the score, but Maria Manakova continued to play in fantastic shape to score her 5th consecutive victory and bring two match points for Serbia.
Poland achieved a narrow victory against Greece, thanks to Jolanta Zawadzka, while Slovakia won with the same result against Latvia, where Veronika Machalova won the crucial game on the 4th board.
Harika Dronavalli made a good start for India in the match with China as she held the World Champion Hou Yifan to a draw with black pieces. Yifan admitted that she couldn’t find any advantage against the ultra-solid defence. Indian IM Karavade carelessly maneuvered a knight into enemy territory with no where to escape to sealing her fate. The bottom three boards for the Chinese team signed three victories to obliterate the Indian team with a 3,5-0,5 score.
Georgia and Ukraine, as well as Slovenia and Israel, tied their matches with draws on all four boards.
The US suffered a devastating 3-1 loss against Vietnam who gave up an average of 158 rating points to the Americans. Perhaps the US players were bored to death with the lifeless London System showing up on boards 1 and 3 and they dropped their defences losing those games. Interestingly enough boards 2 and 4 both saw Caro-type formations for the Vietnamese ladies where they split the games.