The three winning teams with their national flags above

Armenia Wins Silver at Chess Olympiad in India: Video Report

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WASHINGTON — Before the Chess Olympiad started in Chennai, India, on July 28, the Armenian grandmaster (GM) Tigran Petrossian, who happened to share the same name as the 9th world chess champion, wasn’t expecting the Armenian squad to end up in the top three teams and return to Yerevan with any medals.

“I am glad I was wrong,” he said in an interview with News.am. “Without Aronian, our squad is less strong. I am glad that we can still fight for medals,” added Petrossian.

Armenia won the silver in the Chess Olympiad with an equal number of points, while the Uzbek team won the gold.

The Armenian team bedecked with medals holding the Armenian flag, with coach Arman Pashikyan at the awards ceremony

Years ago, the Armenian chess squad won three Chess Olympiads: Torino, 2006; Dresden, 2008 and Istanbul, 2012. This international tournament is considered one of the most (if not the most) prestigious international chess competition in the world, and the Yerevan squad was performing exceptionally well. Then there was a pause in success stories in addition to Covid, because of which, the 2020 competition was held online on chess.com’s platforms. As a result, there was a setback. By early 2022, the Armenian team was ranked only 10th by FIDE (International Chess Federation), behind China, Hungary, Spain, and others.

Especially after star team member Levon Aronian, the top GM of Armenia, started playing for the US, the forecast seemed even less promising. However, the 2022 Olympiad in Chennai suddenly marked Armenia’s return to the very top of the most potent national teams.

In the first eight rounds, Armenia gained seven victories and one draw only, defeating Madagascar, Andorra, Egypt, Austria, England, and India’s first and second teams (three squads represented the hosts). The Armenian squad tied with the United States in round seven.

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Armenia’s fourth board, Robert Hovhannisyan, collected 6.5 scores in the first eight games with five victories, three draws, and no defeats. Eventually, he would be declared the second most productive final-board player of the tournament. It is noteworthy that Hovhannisyan recovered from Covid shortly before the Olympiad.

In the seventh round, Armenia drew with the United States thanks to Sam Shankland’s dramatic mistake, which helped Hovhannisyan to win and level the round 2:2 (Gabriel Sargsyan had defeated Caruana, Samvel Ter-Sahakyan and Hrant Melkumyan lost to So Wesley and Dominguez Perez, respectively.)

By this time, Armenia was the sole leader of the tournament.

Armenia’s only defeat was against Uzbekistan, a team that performed surprisingly well this time. Before the tournament started, Uzbekistan was placed on 19th place, according to FIDE’s ranking.

A dramatic match against Azerbaijan followed the next day and ended up with another Armenian victory of 3:1. After a retreat to the third horizontal, the Armenian GMs were back to second only after Uzbekistan. In fact, before the final round, the Armenian and Uzbek GM’s had an equal number of 18th points, but the Uzbeks performed better in terms of tiebreaks. The final matches played didn’t change this setting: Armenia won against Spain and Uzbekistan defeated Holland. As a result, because of somewhat complicated tiebreak calculations, Armenia won the Chess Olympiad with an equal amount of points, while Uzbekistan got the gold. Two Indian teams ended up on the third and fourth horizontal and the United States occupied the fifth horizontal. The Armenian female squad finished on the 12th horizontal.

On a historical note, in 2012, Armenia won the Chess Olympiad in Turkey because of tiebreakers that were in Armenia’s favor.

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