Division Two came to a close this afternoon with some very exciting last-round matches, defining the three winners of each group. Although a couple of teams (specially Colombia) dominated their groups, this stage of the event has been very closely fought in general. In fact, some of the qualifiers had to win their last round match to get through!
Pending the Fair Play panel report, Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Moldova, Philippines, Shenzhen China, Slovenia and Sweden are the fifteen lucky teams that have qualified to play in the Top Division next week, running September 8th-10th.
They will be joined by the twenty-five best teams in the world, including Russia (Grischuk, Dubov, Goryachkina, Kosteniuk, Esipenko and Shuvalova as main boards), China (Ding Liren, Wei Yi, Hou Yifan, Ju Wenjun, Xu Zhihang and Zhu Jiner) and India (Anand, Harikrishna, Koneru, Harika, Nihal and Vaishali).
Division 2 - Pool A
Pool A concluded with Indonesia, the Philippines and Shenzhen China being the first three teams to advance to the Top Division.
Indonesia and Philippines tied for first place with 16/18 but Indonesia took down the title on tiebreak, with 40,5 board points against 39,5. A very close fight indeed! Indonesia did defeat Philippines in their individual match as well by 4,5-1,5 so all in all the final standings seem quite fair.
The third qualifying spot went to the team from Shenzhen China (13/18), who won the crucial last round match against Australia (10/18) by 5-1. A big part to their success in this match went to GM Zhao Xue who defeated WGM Julia Ryjanova.
In the next diagram, White (Zhao) forced a big material gain. Can you see how?
The Chinese GM played 48.Nxg5+ Kh6 49.Nf7+! and now 49…Kg6 or 49…Kh5 run into a discovered check with 50.Ne5. So her opponent went 49…Kh7 but after 50.Qh8+! Kg6 42.Ne5+! White forked the queen on d3 and forced resignation.
The top scorers in this pool were two players from the Shenzhen China team, who by the way only fielded their six main players – no reserves - during the whole tournament!
WFM Li Xinyu scored a whopping undefeated 8/9 on board six while her teammate GM Zeng Chongsheng was a trustworthy board one: undefeated 7/9 score.
Indonesian IM Irene Sukandar also performed well with 6.5/7 on board three and shared her joy on social media.
Division 2 - Pool B
Pool B was by far the most equal of the five groups and the standings changed after each round. In the end, the group finished with Latvia, Moldova and Italy advancing to the Top Division.
Latvia (14/18) and Italy (13/18) were leading the pack going into the last day of play, tied with Uzbekistan (12/18). But we did mention yesterday that anything could happen, as Moldova (14/18) and Estonia (12/18) were only one match point behind.
An exciting final round determined the qualification spots. Moldova fielded their best team, headed by GM’s Victor Bologan and Viorel Iordachescu, and defeated Uzbekistan by 4.5-1.5, overtaking at the same time Italy and Estonia, who tied 3-3.
A very close shave for the Italians, who would have been out on their heels if they had lost!
The main surprise of the group has been the relatively poor performance of Austria, one of the pre-tournament group favourites – their 2252 medium rating was very high. On board one, GM Markus Ragger (2630) couldn’t find his best game (3.5/8) but in general most of the team underperformed this year. The best of luck to them for the future!
The top scorer of this group (and of the whole division!) was Latvia’s WGM Laura Rogule, who won all nine games on board three against a 1935 medium rating opposition. A huge achievement!
The following diagram (Rogule plays Black) is one of her wins today.
Black played 32…Nf4+! 33.gxf4 Qg4+ 34.Kh2 Qxh4+ 35.Kg2 Qg4+ 36.Kh2 Qh4+ 37.Kg2 Qg4+ 38.Kh2 and now 38…Qh5+! 39.Kg2 exf4! (threatening both …Rg5 and …f3) 40.Ne2 f3+ 41.Kg1 fxe2 and White resigned.
Division 2 - Pool C
A very tight last round win by 3.5-2.5 decided the final standings of Pool C.
Israel (17/18) was trailing Belarus (16/18) by one match point after their draw against Sri Lanka, but they left the best for the end, fielding a very strong team and overtaking their rivals at the precise moment.
Israel made very good use of their players, fielding all twelve of them during the tournament and making sure they played between three and five games at the most: a very interesting strategy indeed!
Both of these teams have displayed excellent playing skills in this division and will be forces to be reckoned with in the Top Division next week.
Sweden (13/18) won their last three matches and squeezed through, edging out Sri Lanka (12/18) by just one match point. They will join Israel and Belarus in the Top Division as well.
Top scorers in this group were WFM Yana Ilyuchyk, who won all of her games for Belarus on board four (7/7). GM Pia Cramling (7.5/9) also gave a huge performance on board two for Sweden and was paramount in their qualification.
Division 2 - Pool D
Slovenia and Argentina (both 16/18) were joint winners of Pool D, with the former team edging out the Argentineans on tiebreak: both teams scored 40.5 board points but Slovenia defeated Argentina 4-2 in their seventh-round individual match
The third qualifying spot went to Brazil, who were able to score three on-demand wins – including a last-round 3.5-2.5 victory over Uruguay – to stay ahead of Venezuela. These three teams have dominated the event leaving no chance for the rest of the group.
One of the pre-event group favourites, Uruguay (8th), has had a very unfortunate tournament: four of their six defeats have been by the 3.5-2.5 margin. It’s no wonder that they have more board points than fifth-placed Algeria. They probably deserved more, but that is chess!
WIM Zala Urh on board six was Slovenia’s best player, with a very decent 7.5/9 result. Board nine WIM Teja Vidic also scored heavily for the team with 7/9.
Brazil’s board one GM Alexandr Fier was a powerhouse for his team, scoring an amazing 7/9 result.
However, the best result of the group was the 8/8 result by Argentina’s board six WFM Candela Be Francisco, who actually skipped round nine, allowing her teammate Valeria Bank to make her Olympiad debut.
Division 2 - Pool E
Colombia dominated this group from start to end. Finishing with a 17/18 result, they only dropped one point in round eight against Cuba (15/18) who finished in clear second place. Colombia also made very good use of all their players, ranging from three to six games apiece.
Both of these teams have demonstrated certain superiority over the rest of the Central and South American teams and will advance to the Top Division next week.
Ecuador incorporated a last minute replacement for the final three rounds: GM Carlos Matamoros, who has been their countries best player for as long as we can remember! His participation helped his team tremendously: they scored 5/6 and took home the third place qualification for the next stage.
Paraguay and Chile both had their chances but Cuba scored heavily against both of them in the final rounds and they will have to wait for next year’s event for another chance.
Top scorers for the Colombian team were board four WIM Ingris Rivera and board seven GM Sergio Barrientos, both on 5/5. Cuba’s WIM Yaniela Forgas Moreno also performed very well on board four, with 6.5/7.
However, the best result of the group in terms of percentage goes to Ecuador’s 1520 rated board six Analia Karen Miranda Vargas who won all of her seven games!
Division 2 final standings
Pairings of the rounds, live games, PGN files and other useful information can be found on the FIDE Online Olympiad website. Please note that all results and standings remain provisional until the fair play panel submit its daily report.
The games can be followed online on www.chess.com (Events), presented by Wouter Bik. The commentators for Division Two include GM Anna Muzychuk, GM Irina Krush and WGM Keti Tsatsalashvili and other invited guests. Commentary can also be followed on FIDE’s own Youtube channel.
About the tournament:
Scheduled to take place from August 20th to September 15th, the 2021 FIDE Online Olympiad is a national teams event in which all federations affiliated to FIDE have the right to participate. Team’s consist of six players with a minimum of three female players and two junior players.
Played online on Chess.com, the event features two main stages: the “Divisions stage”, and the Play-offs stage. All games are played with a 15 minutes + 5 seconds increment per move time control. The full schedule can be consulted here.
Chess.com as the hosting platform
Partners supporting the 2021 FIDE Online Olympiad:
Shenzhen Chess Academy
Shenzhen Pengcheng Chess Club