Wednesday, September 15th, 2021 - Team Russia took home the Gold Medal in the FIDE 2021 Online Olympiad after defeating Team USA (silver) by a double 3½-2½ this afternoon on the Chess.com online playing server.
As the results display, both matches were tremendously close, showing that these two teams clearly deserved to be in the final. Congratulations to semi-finalists and bronze medals China and India: both teams also played fantastic chess all week.
Russia has finally managed to get off their chest last year's result, when they were declared co-winners, after their opponent in that final – India – experienced important connectivity issues during the second match.
Everything ran very smoothly on both sides this year: team Russia playing from the Central Chess Club in Moscow and team USA spread around the American continent.
Team Russia in action from the Moscow Central Chess Club
Immediately after the match ended, USA captain IM John Donaldson sent a polite sportsmanlike message to the organizers: "Please extend the congratulations of the American captain and players to the Russian team on a match well played".
Although the USA managed to win one game in the first match (Awonder Liang defeated Andrey Episenko in both of their encounters), Russia responded strongly with two victories. Board two Vladislav Artemiev displayed excellent technique to defeat Ray Robson in a rook ending with an extra pawn, while Aleksandra Goryachkina checkmated Irina Krush.
Aleksandra Goryachkina won a key game with Black in the first match
In the diagram, White has just played 36.Rxd6. Even though her position is beyond repair, Krush missed the best Russian female player's conclusive reply.
Black finished off the game in style with 36…Nf3+ 37.Kh1 Qxh3 mate.
The second match was also very close, both teams making some changes in their line-ups. Having lost the first match, the USA was not OK with a 3-3 tie in the second one, and that did seem to influence the final stage of the games: the players needed to take risks for the team.
Runners-up and silver medal for the United States of America
The first two boards ended in a draw, although Dariusz Swiercz might have missed some chances for the USA in a double-edged middlegame against Artemiev. However, the key game, and possibly one of the best of the whole event, was Alexandra Kosteniuk's fantastic win against Irina Krush.
In the diagram, White has sacrificed a piece but launched a fierce attack.
The fireworks start with 22.Ng5! sacrificing the queen and threatening mate on h7. Krush defended with 22…Qc7 (hoping to hold on with rook and two pieces for her queen) but "The Chess Queen" had another idea… 23.Qe5+! – amazing overload – 23…Rg7 and now 24.Rd8! – using overload motif again – 24…Qxd8 25.Rxh7+ Kg8 26.Qxg7 mate.
A wonderful combination for a great final.
Leya Garifullina sealed the deal with a nice positional win on board six against Thalia Cervantes when only a draw was needed.
Pairings of the rounds, live games, PGN files and other useful information can be found on the FIDE Online Olympiad website. Please note that all results and standings remain provisional until the fair play panel submit its daily report.
Text: IM Michael Rahal, FIDE Press Officer
Photo: Eteri Kublashvili
About the tournament:
Scheduled to take place from August 20th to September 15th, the 2021 FIDE Online Olympiad is a national teams event in which all federations affiliated to FIDE have the right to participate. Team's consist of six players with a minimum of three female players and two junior players.
Played online on Chess.com, the event features two main stages: the "Divisions stage", and the Play-offs stage. All games are played with a 15 minutes + 5 seconds increment per move time control. The full schedule can be consulted here.
Chess.com as the hosting platform
Partners supporting the 2021 FIDE Online Olympiad:
Shenzhen Chess Academy
Shenzhen Pengcheng Chess Club