As the world celebrates the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the first-ever Online Chess Olympiad for players with disabilities came to an end with the victory of Poland, over a field of 61 teams from 45 different countries.
The final between Poland and Russia was a thrilling affair, since the Russian squad won the first round by 2½:1½ (two victories, one draw, and one defeat). However, the Polish players bounced back and, on the second day of play, they pulled off a brilliant victory by 3-1 (three victories, one loss) that turned the tables in their favor.
GM Marcin Tazbir (pictured below) set the right tone by defeating Stanislav Babarykin on the first board after the Russian FM made a grave mistake in a roughly equal position. Marcin Molenda did his part on board 2 by gradually outplaying Marina Kaydanovich.
Photo: Robert Pawlikowski
Russia retaliated on board 3 as Alexey Smirnov crushed FM Lukasz Nowak after his opponent snatched a poisoned rook and scored a very important point.
A real drama unfolded on board 4 where Denis Palin obtained an overwhelming position in his game Anna Stolarczyk. A victory would have secured Russia 1 the champion title but it was not meant to be. After missing several winning opportunities the Russian player pushed too far in a roughly equal position and suffered a debacle.
"We knew that we had already secured the silver medal by reaching the final, so I believe that allowed us to shake off the pressure a little bit, and focus on fighting for the gold", explains Marcin Tazbir, who defends the first board for Poland. "After losing the first match, we knew that we would need to win the second for at least 3-1. Achieving such a result against a very strong team like Russia is really difficult, but we managed to do it. Luck was on our side, to a certain extent, but I believe it was a deserved victory. I am really proud of our team and would also like to thank all participants, and especially, our team captain Michał Bartel, who was really supportive during the whole event."
"I really appreciate that FIDE has managed to organize this event for disabled players even despite the added difficulties caused by the pandemic. This Olympiad allowed many people with disabilities to feel and enjoy the atmosphere of a big sporting event", added Marcin.
There were two interesting guests in the virtual studio on the final day of the competition. European snowboard Champion Alena Alekhina recounted how she went through a difficult period of her life caused by a terrible injury back in 2013. FIDE Executive Director Victor Bologan told how FIDE had adjusted to challenging times and elaborated on the prospect of chess to be included in the Olympic program.
In a duel for third place, Ukraine 3 beat Poland 3 again this time by a score of 3-1 and took bronze.
1. Poland 1
2. Russia 1
3. Ukraine 3