In round 8, our Open team played against ICCD (the International Chess Committee of the Deaf), and we managed to win the match 3-1. We weren’t as lucky in the Women’s section, where we lost 2.5-1.5 to Malaysia.
Round 9 saw the Open team continue their strong showing, defeating Kazakhstan 3-1. The struggles continued for the Women’s team, who were held to a 2-2 draw.
Round 8 for the Aussies
In the Open, GM David Smerdon had an interesting exchange sacrifice on Board 1, but made some errors and lost. The rest of the team all won their games.
Round 9 for the Aussies
What a game by Anton – against a GM rated 2542. And this result puts Anton on 7/8 and a 2755 performance. So all he needs now for a GM norm is to turn up at another game, regardless of the result (and hopefully his opponent does too). The double norm is not yet official, so I’ll do my best to refrain from congratulating him in person yet.
Gold Medal Hunt
Round 8 in the Open featured a heavyweight clash between USA and Russia that ended 2-2 while Ukraine defeated Georgia 3-1.
In Round 9, Ukraine narrowly defeated India while the USA defeated Norway. The clash between the World number 1 and the world Number 2, Carlsen-Caruana, was an interesting Qd6 Scandinavian that ended in a draw. Iran continued an amazing campaign with a 2-2 draw against England.
This leaves USA and Ukraine tied with 16 points going into round 10. Russia are just behind on 15 points. With the three leading teams having already played each other, the match-ups with the other teams will be decisive. USA has the better tie-break, so at the moment they are favoured to win gold.
In the Women’s section, in Round 8 USA had a huge win over Russia 2.5-1.5, Poland overcame the Netherlands, and China thumped the local Azeri side.
Round 9 saw a potential gold-medal deciding match between USA and China, and the number-one seed China overcame the Americans 2.5-1.5. Poland crushed Israel 3.5-0.5 to move into second. Poland now faces China, which could decide the competition.
International Paralympic Teams in Baku
The ICCD are one of the three international teams at the 42nd Olympiad in Baku, with the other two being IPCA (International Physically-Disabled Chess Association) and IBCA (International Braille Chess Association). They compete in both the Open and the Women’s sections, with the Women’s having teams representing ICCD and IPCA (but not IBCA).
This is another unique feature at Olympiads. Whereas in physical sports there is an inherent barrier for competitors with a disability (though rare exceptions exist where Para-Olympians participated in the Summer Olympics), there is no such barrier in chess. At Chess Olympiads, ICCD, IPCA and IBCA are rarely in medal contention, but they certainly field competitive teams.
The current administration of FIDE on occasion gets things right, and allowing full affiliation to these federations is one of them. Perhaps more can be done to brand chess as a barrier-breaking game.
Baku Carpet Museum
Since Alex had round 9 off, we took a stroll down the Baku Boulevard to the new Carpet Museum, which is itself a building splendidly designed as a rolled-up carpet. Below you can see: The Carpet Museum from the outside, a couple of examples of the carpets inside, mini-Venice where you can ride on a motorised Gondala, the Flame towers with kids playing giant chess in the foreground, and of course our intrepid writer getting a shoe shine!