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Saturday, 25 Jul 2020 23:11
Base Division: Day 1 Round-up

FIDE Online Olympiad started on 25 July at Chess.com with the support of the official partners of the tournament - Gazprom and Yugra government. The organizers managed to overcome all technical difficulties, all matches started at the planned time, and the unique tournament, which brought together 163 national teams, has already gripped the attention of the chess world.

Pool A

Tournament fortune pitted against each other two main favorites of Pool A - Myanmar and Brunei teams - in the starting round. The match met the expectations of those who had predicted an interesting and exciting battle. The first victory on the 6th board was scored by a representative of Brunei Zahira Zazali Nur. Myanmar quickly bounced back and edged ahead, but Brunei had a great chance  to level the score and draw the match. Unfortunately, Fatimah Hj Azahari Siti Nur on board 3 lost her cool in an absolutely winning position and eventually suffered a defeat. The final score is 4:2 in favor of Myanmar. In the next rounds, the teams-favorites conceded only a half-point in four matches. Myanmar is leading the field, Brunei is still in 5th place, but most likely this team will also make it to Division 4.

The two other slots will be contested by teams Fiji, Pakistan, and Oman. Fiji confidently won all matches on the first day, but this team has not faced the main competitors yet. Pakistan and Oman met in the third round and this hard-fought, dramatic the match ended in a draw (3-3).

Unfortunately, team Guam took a poor start and doesn’t have much of a chance to go further.  As for teams  Laos, Macau, Somalia and Bhutan, their goal in this tournament is to get a unique experience in such a competition and prepare themselves for future battles. Bhutan takes part in Olympiad for the first time and already scored a win on the 3rd (women's) board.

Standings After R3:

1. Myanmar - 6 (15.5)
2. Fiji - 6 (14)
3-4. Pakistan & Oman - 5 (12)
5. Brunei - 4 (14)
6. Laos - 2 (3.5)
7. Macau - 1 (5.5)
8. Somalia - 1 (5)
9. Guam - 0 (4.5)
10. Bhutan - 0 (2)

Pool B

The tournament in this group initially looked the most predictable and indeed the first day brought no surprises. Lebanon lived up to his reputation of clear favorite and showed the best possible result – its players won 18 games and the team confidently moved atop the leaderboard.

Bahrain and Qatar will hardly have any problems advancing into Division 4; they had a smooth sail today, winning all their matches as well. It seems like Burundi is the main candidate for the fourth qualifying spot – all its matches followed a similar pattern: the Burundians immediately pulled ahead, either due to opponents’ non-appearance or by winning a couple of games, then the team let the opponents catch up. As a result, one match ended in a draw, whereas in two others the strongest African squad in Base division eventually tipped the scale in its favor (4:2).  

Team San Marino, a country of 33,000 people, plays at the Online Olympiad without women. Three men start each match being 0-3 down, which gives the team no chance of reaching the next stage.

Unfortunately, in Group B several teams were unable to ensure participation of all their players. Hopefully, tomorrow all technical issues will be resolved.

Standings After R3:

1. Lebanon - 6 (18)
2. Bahrain - 6 (15)
3. Qatar - 6 (14.5)
4. Burundi - 5 (11)
5. Liberia - 2 (7.5)
6. Gabon - 2 (4,5)
7. Mali - 2 (3)
8. San Marino - 1 (6)
9. Gambia - 0 (2,5)
10. DR Congo - 0 (2)

Pool C

Unlike Pool B, the outcome in this group initially looked absolutely unpredictable. In Round 1 the rating-favorite Haiti flopped in the match against Aruba. Players on board 1 and 2 did not show up online whereas on the other boards the members of team Haiti played below their capacity. The final score of 1-5 completely changed the balance of power in Pool C.  Haiti chess players also lost a point on the first board in the second round due to non-appearance, and eventually lost the match against Libya. Now, despite whitewashing its opponents in the third round, Haiti will have a hard time fighting for one of four top-spots.

Only one team can have no worries about its tournament prospects in Pool C - Cyprus will surely play in Division 4. Nevertheless even Cyprus had some problems in the match against Mauritania, won only by a narrow margin.

Aruba and Libya share second place but they still have some difficult matches to play. For example, in the next round, Aruba is pitted against the leader, team Cyprus.

Three teams are making a debut in Pool C - Grenada already scored its first board win whereas the Cayman Islands and Saint Lucia even managed to beat Grenada and Mauritania respectively.

This group is unique in the sense that any team is capable of throwing a curve, so we can expect a close, exciting race until the very last round.

Standings After R3:

1. Cyprus - 6 (15.5)
2-3. Aruba & Libya - 5 (11.5)
4. Cape Verde - 3 (9)
5. Antigua & Barbuda - 3 (7)
6-7. Mauritania & Haiti - 2 (9.5)
8. Saint Lucia - 2 (7.5)
9. Cayman Islands - 2 (6)
10. Grenada - 0 (3)