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FIDE Online Olympiad 2021 SF: USA eliminates India

by Shahid Ahmed - 14/09/2021

India made a brilliant start at the Semifinals by winning the first duel 5-1 against the USA in the FIDE Online Olympiad 2021. No one could have fathomed that they would not be able to advance after such a great start, but that is sport. USA made a commendable comeback by winning the second duel 4-2, forcing tie-breaks which they won 1.5-4.5 with a huge margin. Harika was the only one who won all three games and scored the sole wins in India's defeat. USA will face Russia in the Finals tomorrow. Timings will be notified later. Photo: David Llada/FIDE

Harika's hat-trick goes in vain

India started the Semifinal with a dominant 5-1 victory in the first duel against the USA. The Americans made an unfathomable comeback by winning the second duel 4-2 and then won the tie-breaks 1.5-4.5. India and China won Bronze.

Harika's hat-trick did not prove to be enough | Photo: David Llada/FIDE

India in action against USA at the Semifinals | Photo: Samay Raina live stream

Duel 1: India - USA: 5-1

India decimated USA 5-1 in the first duel without suffering a single loss. Anand, Harikrishna, Harika and Vaishali scored the victories for the team, Humpy and Nihal drew their respective games. Xiong played a line where he sacrificed a rook in the opening. Anand hung his own rook for a move, thankfully the American missed it.

Anand - Xiong

Position after 30.Nc5+

Anand got a nice stronghold 30.Nc5+ in the endgame, after which there was no hope left for Black.

Harikrishna's pawns on the queenside proved too strong for his opponent Swiercz to defend.

Swiercz - Harikrishna

Position after 36.Rfc1

White was already reeling. 36.Rfc1 only sped up its demise. 36...Qxc3 37.Rxc3 Rxa3 and it was all over for White.

Harika fought brilliantly against IM Anna Zatonskih and managed to turn things around from a difficult position.

Zatonskih - Harika

Position after 61.Re3+

White blundered in time scramble 61.Re3+ and Harika found the winning continuation 61...Kf2 to make things completely in her favor and win the game. 61.Kc2 was the only way to save the game, but it is incredibly difficult to decide and give the last white pawn at h3 when you are short on time.

Nihal had a solid draw with Liang. In the final moments of the game, he had a tiny opportunity in the bishop vs. knight endgame.

Nihal - Liang

Position after 65...Kg8

White could have gone 66.Ke3-d3-c4 and try to gain an entry by putting Black in zugzwang. However, Nihal decided against it, since it is a team championship, there is no point in going for an unsure full point when there is a sure draw especially when the stakes are high.

FM Thalia Cervantes Landeiro launched an ambitious attack on Vaishali's kingside.

Thalia - Vaishali

Position after 17.Rxc8

17.Rxc8 immediately does not work as Vaishali showed in the game 17...Qxc8 18.Bxf6 gxf5 and so on. 18...Nxb4 was also fine for Black. To make the attack successful, White had to play 17.Qc3 and create a battery on the long a1-h8 diagonal. 19.e5 Nxb4 and Black had no trouble converting her advantage into a full point.

India beat USA 5-1

Duel 2: USA - India: 4-2

India lost the second duel against the USA 4-2. Harika scored the sole victory for her team. Anand, Vidit and Praggnanandhaa lost their respective games. Humpy and Vaishali drew.

Xiong - Anand

Position after 20.Qxd3

20...axb4 allowed White to execute a typical idea in the English, a squeeze on the queenside. 20...b5 would have been a slightly better alternative.

Position after 33.Rxb8

Black played 33...Rc3 too fast and missed 34.Qb5 invasion into Black's back rank. 33...Rc5 was needed to prevent that.

Vidit made a calculation error in the endgame against Robson.

Vidit - Robson

Position after 36.g4

White had to play 36.Qe5 so that e2-pawn is protected after 36...Qc2 37.Nb4 Qd1+ 38.Kg2 and now Black does not have Bxe2. However, 36.g4 allowed that to happen and things just went haywire for White.

Harika scored the sole victory for the team as she positionally outplayed her opponent IM Nazi Paikidze.

Praggnanandhaa started an incorrect chain of exchange which gave his opponent Liang a decisive advantage.

Liang - Praggnanandhaa

Position after 28...Nf5

28...Nf5 was not a good idea. 28...Nxb5 avoids any kind of trouble as 29.a/cxb5 Rxd1 30.Rxd1 e5 or 29.Rxd8 Kxd8 30.a/cxb5 Kc7. The game continued 29.Rxd8 Kxd8 30.Nxc8 Kxc8 31.Rxe6 and now White is completely winning.

USA beat India 4-2 in the second duel

Tie-breaks: India - USA: 1.5-4.5

India lost to USA 1.5-4.5. Harika scored the sole victory for the team once again. Harikrishna, Adhiban and Humpy lost their respective games. Nihal drew with Liang.

India lost to USA 1.5-4.5 in the tie-breaks
"The team could depend on me until suddenly it couldn't" - Vishy Anand | Video: ChessBase India
"I didn't trust my instincts enough" - Adhiban analyzes his blitz game against USA | Video: ChessBase India
Srinath Narayanan on the Semi Finals team selection, internet and bronze medal | Video: ChessBase India
"Being here is just amazing, I learnt a lot" - 14-year-old Savitha Shri | Video: ChessBase India

It will be Russia vs USA in the Finals tomorrow. Timings will be notified later.

Replay the Live stream

FIDE Online Olympiad Semifinals | Live Commentary: IM Sagar Shah, Amruta Mokal and Samay Raina | Video: Samay Raina

Replay Semifinal games of Team India

Semifinal results

Round 1 on 2021/09/14 at 1530 UTC
  United States of America
Round 2 on 2021/09/14 at 1630 UTC
  United States of America
Round 3 on 2021/09/14 at 1730 UTC
  United States of America




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