CHENNAL, INDIA — History was made in the open section of the FIDE Chess Olympiad, which came to an end this morning in Chennai, India.
Uzbekistan, one of the youngest teams on the roster, defeated rating favourites the Netherlands by 2.5-1.5, securing the gold medal.
Undefeated over the eleven rounds, the team coached by GM Ivan Sokolov edged out Armenia on tiebreak, automatically becoming national heroes.
Once again, Armenia outperformed the rating expectations and, despite being the 12th seeded, got away with the silver medal. This is a reassuring result for a team that last year lost its franchise player, Levon Aronian, who changed federations to the USA.
As the former world championship challenger Nigel Short put it, “the one immutable rule of Olympiads is that the team from Armenia is always greater than the sum of its parts”.
The Armenian squad was headed by Gabriel Sargissian on the first board, who, despite a poor start with four draws and one defeat, became the best scorer in the team during the second half of the competition: his 4 victories and 1 draw during the matches against direct rivals were one of the keys for the Armenian success. Robert Hovhannisyan playing on board 4, also greatly contributed to team Armenia’s success.
Along with the Uzbeks, the other positive surprise of the event was the excellent performance of the second Indian team, officially called “India B”, and formed by young promising stars.
India B managed to outpace their seniors by one point in the standings and snatched the bronze medal, relegating the “main” Indian team to the fourth position.