It would have been the chess event of the year if there wasn’t a World Championship Match in November. We’re speaking of the 2018 Chess Olympiad in Batumi, the second-largest city of Georgia, which has just started yesterday. (The fantastic opening ceremony already took place on Sunday.)
In the Open Section, 185 teams from all over the world compete against each other in 11 rounds. The teams which start with the USA (average rating: 2772) and end with the unrated team from the Central African Republic in the starting rank feature a maximum of five players, with four playing in each round.
One thing that makes the Olympiad so great is that almost all the top players in the world are involved in the 2018 Chess Olympiad. The most prominent players who are absent are World Champion Magnus Carlsen (Norway), Peter Svidler and Alexander Grischuk (both Russia), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria) and Richard Rapport (Hungary).
Who’s The Favorite At The 2018 Chess Olympiad?
This year, there are five teams which have an average rating above 2700 and the best chances to win the event. Let’s take a quick look:
- USA: The US team is the top seed at the 2018 Chess Olympiad with an impressive average rating of 2772. With Fabiano Caruana (2827), Wesley So (2776) and Hikura Nakamura (2763), they have three established Super-GMs in their line-up. On top of that, the reigning champion has another 2700+ player on board 4 this year- Sam Shankland. The latter not only stole his teammate’s show at this year’s US Chess Championship (which he convincingly won) but also his rating exploded from 2666 (January 2018) to an impressing 2722.
- Russia: The Russian team – as usual – is among the big favorites. With an average rating of 2764 and a line-up consisting of Karjakin (2760), Nepomniachtchi (2768), Kramnik (2779), Vitiugov (2726) and Jakovenko (2747 – all rated way above 2700), there’s nothing to complain about. Yet, Russia couldn’t win the Chess Olympiad since 2002 when Garry Kasparov was still leading the team. Maybe it’s easier to play for them this year as another team is on top of the starting rank and the pressure might be a little lower.
- China: It’s no secret that China is a rapidly rising chess nation. More and more Chinese young players join the 2700-club and they already won the Chess Olympiad in 2014. This year’s line-up does not seem to spoil their chances: Ding Liren (2804), Yu Yangyi (2765), Wei Yi (2742), Bu Xiangzhi (2712) and Li Chao (2708).
- Azerbaijan: Team Azerbaijan has never won the Chess Olympiad so far. Yet, their team definitely has the potential to do so. Apart from the current World no. 3, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2820), they have Teimour Radjabov (2751), Arkadij Naiditsch (2721), Rauf Mamedov (2699) and Eltaj Safarli (2676) on board.
- India: It will be especially interesting to see how the Indian team will do at the 2018 Chess Olympiad. With Vishy Anand participating in the Chess Olympiad for the first time since 2006, India are sure to be among the favorites. The five-member Indian men’s team consists of Viswanathan Anand (2771), P. Harikrishna (2743), Vidit Santosh Gujrathi (2710), B. Adhiban (2671) and K. Sasikiran (2666).
If that’s not enough, there are quite a few other teams which are closely behind and might have the chance to surprise us. Most notably, Team Ukraine, that finished tied for the first place in 2016, could rain on the favorites parade. With Ivanchuk (2710), Eljanov (2703), Kryvoruchko (2695), Ponomariov (2681) and Korobov (2685), they only missing an average rating of more than 2700 by a few points.
Other candidates for medals are the English Team, coached by the famous book author GM John Nunn, France (with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave on board 1) and Armenia (featureing Levon Aronian).
To cut a long story short: A lot can happen during the remaining 10 rounds of the 2018 Chess Olympiad. Even tough there were no major surprises in round 1, the underdogs are already waiting for round 2 to let some favorites stumble.
Blog Article of The Week
For any aspiring chess player, it is vital to have decent chess software installed to have some high-quality training tools to work with. For this reason, our blog article of the week tells you all you need to know about the best chess software around – ChessBase.
ChessBase provides you with plenty of key functions such as using a chess board, searching for games in huge databases, analyzing games with the help of chess engines, preparing your openings and a lot more.
Yet, many beginners and club players buy the software and don’t know how to use it properly.
In our blog article of the week, we’re going to introduce you to the basic functions you definitely need to know and – as a bonus – provide you with some lesser-known advanced tips that many strong grandmasters use.
This Week’s Exclusive FREE Video
The endgame is a weak point for many average club players. These players mistakenly believe that the endgame is easy because there are fewer pieces.
Drawn to the latest trend in opening theory or exciting middlegame strategies with plenty of sacrifices, mating attacks, and tactics, some players don’t pay enough attention to the final phase of the game.
However, decent endgame skills are vital for any aspiring chess player. They can enable you to easily win apparently equal positions with only little imbalances or save half a point from clearly worse positions.
To improve your endgame technique, you can start by simply analyzing the games of the masters. For this reason, this week’s exclusive free video is about one player’s endgame technique, who we consider to be one of the best endgame players of all time – World Champion Magnus Carlsen.
Magnus’ excellent physical shape helps him to concentrate even after four or five hours of play. When many of his rivals become tired and start to play inaccurate moves, Magnus Carlsen seizes his chance and squeezes wins out of seemingly equal endgame positions.
In this week’s video, GM Damian Lemos analyzes Magnus Carlsen’s best chess endgames and tries to figure out the reasons for his success at this important stage of the game.
Last Week’s Puzzle:
Here’s the solution to last week’s puzzle:
This Week’s Puzzle:
It’s Lasker-year! This year, Lasker would celebrate his 150th birthday – reason enough to take a look at some of his games and to take a journey through time.
From 1894 to 1921 — 27 years — Lasker was World Champion, longer than any other player before or after him. Our chess puzzle of the week is taken from a game in 1908 with the Black pieces.
Black to play.
Answer next week.