Added on 9/24/2018

It was a pretty quiet week in the chess world because the Olympiad has been gearing up to start in Batumi, Georgia. Today was the first round, and I’ll have some early highlights, but first, we will travel to Kazan for a tribute to a much-beloved player from history, Rashid Nezhmedinov.

Before we get to the proper Nezmedinov Memorial, we will play “where in the world is Timur Gareev?” 

GM Timur Gareev in Kazan, 2018 (Photo from Instagram)

Answer: tying for first in the rapid tournament with Maksim Chigaev of Russia.  Both players scored 8.5/11.  Here is an example of Gareev’s opportunistic play:

The slow tournament ended in a tie for first between Armenian GM Tigran Harutyunian and young Russian star Vladislav Artemiev, with the latter winning on tiebreak. 

Artemiev won the key battle with his rival in round seven in a game that started slowly but erupted in tactics.

The first round of the Olympiad saw little drama over the board, with almost every match ending in a maximum or near maximum result for the favored team.  However, there apparently was a bit of drama in getting to the board. The U.S. team apparently arrived at their boards at 3:25, well after the official starting time of 3 p.m. The lateness was caused by mind-numbing lines at security, which took close to an hour for the team to get through. It was very fortunate that the round started late. Though the dreaded “zero tolerance” rule is mercifully not in effect (missing players forfeited as soon as clocks are started), forfeits are administered when a player is not at the board fifteen minutes after the round begins. This rule is particularly absurd for Olympiads where many players have long travels to get to the playing hall. A player could arrive at the building before the start time and still have no chance to avoid a forfeit.

Once play began, it was no trouble for the U.S. boys as they whitewashed an overmatched squad from Panama. So, Shankland, and Robson all won quite smoothly, but Hikaru’s game was the quirkiest, let’s have a look at how he brought home the point:

The Russians will be a factor of course, and they had no trouble with Uganda. Ian Nepomniatchchi had a field day on board two of table two:

Finally, let’s see a snappy miniature from the France-Yemen match, where Christian Bauer overpowered his opponent with early tactics.

In the Women’s division, USA had a slight hiccup when Sabina Foisor dropped her game, but Zatonskih, Abrahamyan, and Jennifer Yu all won their games.  They are seeded tenth.

It’s a long tournament, and I will have more to say about the proceedings as they unfold. 

GM Benjamin