WASHINGTON — In the past years of the 21st century, Armenia’s national chess squad won the most prestigious international chess tournament, the Olympic games, three times (2006, 2008, and 2012). Will the ongoing Olympiad in India’s Chennai be the fourth one? After seven matches with zero defeats, Armenia leads the tournament with 188 participating teams of 186 countries (the host India is represented by three teams). So far, the Armenian grandmasters (GMs) have defeated Madagascar, Andorra, Egypt, Austria, England, and India-2, with the last two being notably strong national squads. One of India’s top players, Gukesh won his game against Gabriel Sargsyan; however, in two other games, Samvel Ter-Sahakyan and Robert Hovhannisyan played better and defeated the hosts with a 2.5-1.5 score.
On Friday, August 5, the Armenian squad played another challenging game (there should be no more easy ones) against the United States. Levon Aronian, formerly Armenia’s top GM, who now plays for the US, did not participate. The attention of many commentators was on this match. GM Judit Polgar (often considered the strongest female chess player of all time) and GM Mihail Marin commented on the game on FIDE’s (International Chess Federation) YouTube channel.
“After round seven, every move counts, not every draw. Don’t forget Armenia is playing without Aronian,” noted Polgar.
“Armenia put a serious bid, even though they were not such a great favorite,” Marin added. The Romanian GM thinks that although Armenia got some chances to win the Olympiad, with more rounds ahead (12 in total), the standing might be shuffled.