The 3rd round of the World Chess Olympiad finally paired some of the higher rated teams to play one against another, and as a consequence many matches were closely contested.
US champion Hikaru Nakamura was not in the mood to play another long game after the yesterday's 107-moves marathon, and after executing the 30 moves requested by the regulations he signed a peace treaty with Venezuelan GM Eduardo Iturrizaga. Nakamura's fellows were not that kind as they walked over the rest of the Venezuelan team for a convincing 3,5-0,5 victory.
Russia is obviously employing a different strategy under the newly appointed head coach Yuri Dokhoian. Carefully trying not to lose any of the individual games, they go for the "small" match result which would net them the necessary two match points.
Kramnik and Shirov played an extremely interesting rook endgame on the top board, which will probably find it's place in the relevant books. The game was eventually drawn, you can replay it on the ICC. Jakovenko won on the 4th board handing the final victory to Russia.
Ukraine, defending the winner's trophy from the previous Olympiad, appeared to be in huge trouble against Israel. Avrukh outplayed Eljanov in his trade-mark fianchetto variation of the Benoni. Former World Champion Ponomariov was clearly worse against Rodstein, but he kept the game complicated and after the time control even managed to win the full point for his team. With Volokitin's effort against Postny and a draw in Ivanchuk-Gelfand, Ukraine celebrated a narrow victory.
Former World Champion Topalov misplayed the rook endgame allowing Vachier-Lagrave to take the full point and bring the victory to the team of France, as the other three games were drawn.
In the Women's Section the World Champion Hou Yifan entered the tournament arena after skipping the first two rounds. It was a well-timed decision as she defeated Kateryna Lahno from the 4th-seeded team of Ukraine.
Earlier, IM Mariya Muzychuk brought the lead to her team as she swiftly outplayed GM Zhao Xue. With the other two games drawn the match ended with a 2-2 tie.
Georgia and Germany traded punches but neither could deliver a knockout, ending their content in a drawn match. Poland and France pushed ahead by defeating their respective opponents Hungary and Austria by a score of 3-1.
India narrowly defeated Armenia, thanks to Tania Sachdev, and the Czech Republic outplayed the higher-seeded Romania.
Russia, Serbia and Greece achieved convincing 3,5-0,5 victories against Mongolia, Spain and Peru respectively.
The USA experienced huge difficulties in the match against the clearly underrated Uzbekistan girls. Uzbekistan took the 2-0 lead thanks to the victories of Irina Gevorgyan and Hulkar Tohirjonova.
As the internet audience was trembling over the final outcome, Zatonskih and Abrahamyan escaped from weaker positions to finally deliver full points and tie the match for the USA.
The organizers are carefully setting many small details to have the chess players feeling "at home". For example, on the walls of the men's toilets there are chess puzzles which one can attempt to solve while answering the nature's call. But is it possible to solve it quickly enough? White to move and win...
Photos by http://www.chessolympiadistanbul.com/en/photos.html