SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
This morning the 11th and final round of the Olympiad begins at 11 am. Three (3) teams are sharing the lead going into this decisive encounter: China, Armenia–the defending champions– and Russia, all with 17 points. As we can see from the tie-breaks below in Diagram 1 below, China is favoured in case of a 3 way tie, but China must play against the Ukraine–which wants to win in order to have chances for a medal.
The matches are fought over 4 boards and the scoring system is this: a match victory counts as 2 points; a drawn match counts as 1 point; a loss zero points. As such, the USA no longer has any chances for the gold medal, even if it wins tomorrow. Nor does Hungary, Germany or Poland.
This means that the chess world’s attention–as far as the gold medal is concerned– will be focused on the first 3 matches, Ukraine vs China, Hungary vs Armenia and Russia vs Germany. (Diagram 2)
None of these matches are easy to call, though Russia seems to have the easiest match –atleast on paper. But that is not enough. Not only Russia MUST win inorder to keep its chances alive, but Russia would also need the Ukraine and Hungary not to lose.
HOWEVER, though I would love to see China win its first gold medal, I think that cold logic puts Russia as the BIG favourite to win the gold medal! The Ukraine is performing so well right now that must be slightly favoured to win over China. Ivanchuk has White on first board and so far he has a blistering 3.5 points our of 4 games with the White pieces. Volokotin–on 3rd board– also has White and the identical White score. China will be hard pressed to neutralize this kind of team.
If it happens that the Ukraine wins, then China gets knocked out and the Ukraine moves up to 18 points–NOT enough should Russia beat Germany. A drawn match will knock out both teams from the fight for the gold medal.
The Hungary vs Armenia match is a dead equal match and I predict a draw 2-2, not enough to overtake the Russian squad should they win. Unfortunately, Aronian has Black against Leko, and this means that the Armenian team can not count on Aronian’s trump: his extraordinary White preparation. It is hard to imagine that Leko would ever overpress with White to give the Armenian superstar any winning chances…
So this leaves Russia vs Germany. So far, Germany has achieved success because of its bottom boards, not its top boards! Especially Fridman (7 points in 9 games!) and Gustafsson (5 points in 6 games!).
However, against Russia the German top boards are simply outclassed by 132 elo points and 112 elo points respectively. I believe that Germany will lose the match precisely because of this factor.
OFCOURSE, I am not going to bet on the outcome of the final round! Whenever I put money on chess matches I lose! (I only win when I don’t bet!) And, as a sporting fan and admirer of all of the great teams named above, I wish each the very best and hope that they prove me wrong!!
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS