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Day three – first losses of the favorites

shipov01Finally the matches between the favorites began, and the heat of the struggle has soared. The suspense and unusual twists entered the team competition. In the men's section a special interest was in the confrontation of Ukraine and Israel. At some moment it seemed that the reigning Olympic champions would lose with a big score, but the Gods had mercy upon them.




Avrukh,Boris (2605) - Eljanov,Pavel (2693)
Israel - Ukraine


Boris energetically ends the brilliant attack.
36.Qc6! Rc8 37.Bxh3! Rxc6 38.Rb8+ Bf8 39.dxc6 Qc5 [Or 39...Kg7 40.Rb7+ Kh6 41.c7+-] 40.Rxf8+!
After capture on f8 the pawn on с6 inexorably moves to become a queen, and Black is left without two pieces. 1–0

The big twist of the match happened in the next battle.

Rodshtein, Maxim (2642) - Ponomariov, Ruslan (2734)
Israel - Ukraine


After unsuccessfully conducted opening, Black is caught in an unpleasant endgame. But there was still a lot of fight.
To an unusual positional draw leaded 39.axb4 axb4 40.Nxb4 Rhb6 41.Kc5 (41.Kc3 Rc8+) 41...Rb5+ 42.Kc4 h5 – it is not clear, how White should unpin; Black always has the number of waiting moves.
39...Rc6 40.Bd3 Rc1
Activity is supreme to all. It is necessary to mention that Ruslan played quickly, while Maxim went through two time troubles.
41.f4 [41.Re2 Rb7!] 41...Ra1 [or 41...gxf4 42.gxf4 Ra1 43.Re2!] 42.fxg5?
Everything natural is not ugly, they say...Not everything! The move in the game misses the win. For the start...
Not convincing is 42.Bb5 Rd8! 43.Bc6 Rc1!
But very strong is 42.Re2! Rb7 (42...b3 43.Re7+ Kf8 44.Rxh7) 43.f5! Rxa4 44.f6+ Kf7 45.Re7+ Rxe7 46.fxe7 b3+ 47.Kc3, and White succeeds.
42...Rxa4 43.Re2 b3+ 44.Kc3 b2 45.Bb1 [45.Rxb2? Ra3+] 45...Ra3+ 46.Kc2 Rb7 47.Nc3
Apparently, Rodshtein, after all, had to put up with a draw - 47.Re7+ Rxe7 48.Nxe7 Rf3 49.Kxb2 Rf2+ 50.Kb3 Rxh2 51.Ka4 and so on. His tenacity had a big cost for the team.
47...a4! 48.h4
Not easy to play for White after 48.Re3 Rab3 49.Ba2 b1Q+ 50.Bxb1 Rb2+ 51.Kc1 a3.
48...Rab3 49.Nxa4 Rxg3


Judging by video transmission, this move was accompanied by the draw offer.
I think after 50.Nxb2! Ruslan would agree for a draw, the repetition is forced: 50...Rc7+ 51.Kd2 Rb7 52.Kc2 и т.д.
In the game the Ukrainian thought of more.
50...Rg1! 51.Nxb2?
Demoralization. The defense could be kept by 51.Nc3!
51...Rc7+ 52.Kd3 Rxb1 53.Rh2 Kg6 54.Ke4 Re1+ 55.Kf3 Rf7+ 56.Kg3 Re3+ 57.Kg4 Ref3!
Mate is inevitable, White resigned. 0–1

Russians convincingly overplayed Latvia, although their leader missed his chance:

Kramnik, Vladimir (2797) - Shirov, Alexei (2706)
Russia - Latvia


Vladimir conducted the game fine, pressured, kept the initiative and was close to the success.
Perhaps, against fatigue, he wanted to play with a margin of safety. As a result, the win was missed.
The aim is reached by 56.c8Q Rxc8 57.Rxc8 Kg6 (57...fxg5 58.Ke5) and here, and he apparently missed it in his calculations, White should not pay attention to g5 and just command the king down - 58.Kd5! Kxg5 59.Ke4 b2 (59...Kg4 60.Rg8+ Kh3 61.Kf3) 60.Rg8+ Kh5 61.Rg1 h3 62.Kf3 Kh4 63.Rb1, and it's over.
56...Kg6 57.Rxb3
Did not change the point 57.c8Q Rxc8 58.Rxc8 b2 59.Rb8 Kxf6 60.Rxb2 Kf5=.
57...Kxf6 58.Rb8 Rd1+ 59.Kc6 Rc1+ 60.Kd7 Kf5 61.c8Q Rxc8 62.Rxc8 h3
Black's passed pawn costs a rook for White.
63.Kd6 Kf4 64.Rc3 Kg4 65.Ke5 h2 66.Rc1 Kf3 67.Kf5 Kg2 68.Ke4 h1Q 1/2

Matches France – Bulgaria and Netherlands – Georgia were decided in the games of the leaders.

Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime (2686) - Topalov, Veselin (2752)
France - Bulgaria


Black is in a difficult but not yet hopeless situation.
Played too careless. It was worth to control the 6th rank with 55...Ra6!. Then in the line 56.f5+ Ke5 57.Rd7 c4! 58.Rxf7 c3 White would not be able to capture on g6 with impunity.
56.f5+ Ke5
Joyless is 56...Ke7 57.Kf4 with the following Kf4-e5.
57.Rd7 Kxe4
There is not anymore sense in 57...c4 58.Rxf7 c3 59.fxg6!.
58.Rxf7 gxf5+ 59.Rxf5 Rxa2 60.Rxc5
Black king is cut by the vertical, White pawn is unstoppable.
60...Rg2+ 61.Kh5 Rg3 62.g6! Kf4
The counter play comes late: 62...Rxb3 63.g7 Rg3 64.Rg5!.
63.Kh6 Rxb3 64.g7 Rg3 65.Rb5 b3 66.Kh7 Rh3+ 67.Kg6 Rg3+ 68.Kf7
Black should pay the price of a rook for g7 pawn, and the king is not in time to help the passed pawn on b3. 1–0

Stellwagen, Daniel (2630) - Shanava, Konstantine (2569) [B06]
Netherlands - Georgia


In such a sharp position both sides should conduct especially precise and energetic game. It was almost impossible to go without mistakes.
It is important that the queen, and not the knight of White captures on d5.
22.Qxd5 [22.Qe2!?] 22...0–0?!
Inaccuracy. Probably in the variation 22...Bxc2+ 23.Ka1 0–0 24.Qxc6 Rac8 25.Qd5 Rxc3 26.Be1 Black missed the resource 26...Bb3! , which gave him better chances.
23.Qxc6! Rac8 24.Qd6?
Centralization is an unconditioned reflex of every literate chess player. This time it leaded to an unfortunate miscalculation.
Accurate 24.Qb7! Rxc3 25.Nd4 forced Black to look for the perpetual check and find it in the variation 25...Rxc2! 26.Nxc2 Rc8 27.e6 Bxe6 28.a3 Rxc2 29.Kxc2 Bf5+ 30.Kb3 Be6+ and so on.
24...Rfd8 25.Qe7
White would get bad endgame after 25.Qa3 Rxd1+ 26.Rxd1 (26.Nxd1 Rxc2!) 26...Qxa3 27.bxa3 Rxc3.
25...Bxc2+! here is the disproof. 26.Ka1
Leads to mate 26.Kxc2 Qa4+ 27.Kb1 (27.b3 Qxa2#) 27...Rxd1+.
26...Bxd1 27.e6


The last chance for White.
27...Rxc3! 28.exf7+
Nobody has died from the check yet.
28...Kh8 29.Bg5 Bb3 30.a3 Bf8 31.Ne5 Bc2! 0–1

We note with regret that veterans of many teams no long withstand the pressure of the struggle.

Harikrishna, P (2685) - Beliavsky, Alexander G (2609)
India - Slovenia


White rook on h4 is out of the game.
23.Bf4! g5?
Due to miscalculation. After right 23...Bf8 Black kept the compensation for the pawn.
24.Re1! Qxe1+ 25.Nxe1 Rxe1+ 26.Kg2 gxf4 [26...gxh4 27.Bxd6] 27.Qf5!
In this moment was found that on the planned 27...Kg7 White plays 28.Rxh6 Kxh6 29.Qxf6+ Kh7 30.Qxf7+ Kh8 31.Qf6+ and capturing the bishop on d6 White get a big material advantage.
So he had to give up. 1–0

And of course, it is very difficult for a man who fated to have to play... with a woman!

Polgar, Judit (2698) - Kurmann, Oliver (2469)
Hungary - Switzeland


White knight is under the attack. If White protects it, then Black would have time to protect the important f4 pawn – and the battle will be prolonged. Judith switches the calculation on and rapidly wins.
Now in case of 32...Qxb6 33.Qf6! the Black king is defeated.
32...Kg7 33.Rxd6 Rxd6 34.Rxd6 Qe8 35.Qxh4
There is no life in a worse position without two pawns. 1–0

In the women's tournament, the center of the attraction was the opposition between Ukraine and China. It all began with a surprise defeat of one of the best women players in the world.

Muzychuk, Mariya (2466) - Zhao, Xue (2549)
Ukraine - China


Tight on the first glance, this move is weak. Bent Larsen, if he were on the place of Zhao Xue, would happily go into the trap: 20...h6! 21.Rxg7+ Kxg7 22.Qg3+ - it seems that Black losses the queen, but it is not that easy - 22...Bg4!! (do you remember such a trick in the famous game Taimanov – Larsen?) 23.Nh5+ Nxh5 24.Qxd6 Bxd1, and Black gets a solid compensation for the strongest piece.
21.Qg3! Qf8
In case of 21...g6 White crushed the fence of Black pawns with wonderful blows: 22.Bxg6 hxg6 23.Rxg6+ fxg6 24.Qxg6+ Kf8 25.Qxf6+ Kg8 (25...Bf7 26.Ng6+ Kg8 27.Qh8#) 26.Rd3 Bg4 27.Qg5+ Kf7 28.Qxg4+-
22.Nh5! Nxh5 23.Bxh7+!
Apparently, unforeseen resource.
Hopeless is 23...Kxh7 24.Rxh5+ Kg8 25.Qh4 f6 26.Rh8+ Kf7 27.Qh5+ Ke7 28.Rxf8 Kxf8 29.c4!.
24.Rxh5 Qe7 25.Be4+ Kg8 26.Bxd5
Black is two pawns down, the game did not last.
26...Qf6 27.c4 Bf5 28.Qg5 Bg6 29.Qxf6 gxf6 30.Rh4 Rd6? 31.Bxf7+ 1–0

But the Chinese player was revenged by the World champion Hou Yifan that played her first match.

Hou, Yifan (2599) - Lahno, Kateryna (2542)
Ukraine - China


The passion for a counter attack ruins Katerina. It was possible to hold the defense by 35...Qg8!.
36.Kh2! Rxc1 37.Bxc1
You won't believe but it was not necessary to capture the rook: 37.Qxg7! Re1 38.Qxf6+ Ke8 39.Qxc6+ Qd7 40.Qa8+ Qd8 41.Qxd8+ Kxd8 42.Bf2 Re2 43.Bg3 and White is probably winning.
Again it was better to choose modest 37...Qg8.
38.Qxg7! Qxc1 39.Qxf6+ Kf8 40.Qh8+
In case of 40.Qxc6? Qf4+ 41.Kh3 Qe3+ 42.Kh4 Qf4+ White king cannot escape from checks.
Does not help 40...Bg8 41.Qh6+ Ke7 42.f6+ Ke8 43.f7+! Bxf7 (43...Kxf7? 44.g6+) 44.Qxc6+ Kf8 45.Qd6+ Kg8 46.Qb8+ Kh7 47.Qxe5 and so on.
41.Qf6+ Kf8 42.Qh8+ Ke7 43.f6+! Kd7 44.Bh3+
Black king is not fated to run away.
44...Be6 45.Qg7+ Kd6 46.Qf8+ Kc7 [46...Kd7 47.Qf7+] 47.Bxe6 Qf4+ 48.Kh3 Qf3+ 49.Kh4


Now White monarch has a refuge on g7, the game is decided.
49...Qh1+ [Or 49...Qxe4+ 50.Kh5!] 50.Kg4 Qxe4+ 51.Kh5 Qh7+ 52.Qh6
Black's checks finished, the decisive attack of White starts.
52...Qe4 53.Qg7+ Kb8 54.Qf8+ Ka7 55.Qf7+ Kb8 56.Qe8+ Ka7 57.Qd7+ Kb8 58.Bd5 1–0

The final score 2-2 became the natural result of the match.

Dramatic events took place in German confrontation with Georgia.
One of the favorites of the tournaments, judging by the positions on the borads, should have lost at least with 1-3, but the German players did not manage the nerves in the decisive moments. Paehtz missed enormous advantage in the endgame against Dzagnidze, and something terrible happened on the third board:

Javakhishvili, Lela (2458) - Ohme, Melanie (2337)
Georgia - Germany


Attacking f5 is a good idea, but it was conducted in a wrong way.
Black should have attacked from the other side: 57...Qh7 58.Kf2 (58.Qc7+ Re7) 58...Re7 and White has no defense.
58.Rg7+! Kxg7 59.Qg4+
Saving resource. But saving this game was not saving the match. White had to win!
59...Rg5 60.hxg5 Rf1+ 61.Ke2 Rxf5 62.gxf6+ Kxf6 63.Qh4+
As a result of a forced game it came to a position with a small advantage for Black.
63...Kg6 64.Qg3+ Kh5 65.Qh2+ Kg6 66.Qg3+ Rg5?!
Not a bad move, but not practical – it became a first step to defeat. Probably the young German player did not pay attention to the situation in the match and was looking for a win. Experienced team player would just move the king to fix the draw.
67.Qd6+ Kf7 68.Qf4+ Kg6 [68...Rf5!] 69.Qd6+ Kf5? [69...Kf7!] 70.Bd8!
Apparently this bishop going into the game was a shocking surprise for Black. 70...Rg6 71.Qf8+


Leads to losing a whole rook. After right 71...Ke4 72.Qf3+ Kxd4 73.Qd3+ Ke5 74.Qxg6 Qxd8 75.a6 uneasy, but still drawish endgame could happen.
72.Qe7+ Kf5 73.Qf7+! Ke4 74.Qxg6+ and White easily won.

As a result Georgia managed to tie the match and kept the good chances to fight for the medals.
In general after the third round nobody has lost all the chances for the medals. We will wait how it will continue.