Baku Chess Olympiad 2016
by Bill Wall

The USA took the gold (on tiebreaks) at the 42nd Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan, followed by Ukraine (silver medal) and Russia (bronze medal). The 11-round event was held from September 1 through September 14, 2016. There were 894 players in the Open section and 693 players in the Women's section, for a total of 1,587 chess players. The Open section had a record 180 teams (187 chess federations were contacted) that signed up (10 teams did not arrive, so there were 170 teams) from 175 nations, and the Women's section had 142 teams from 138 nations. The USA and Ukraine scored 20 points each (2 points for a win and 1 point for a draw). The USA won on tie-break. It was their first gold medal since 1976 (the Russians and Eastern Bloc countries didn't play that year). The USA team also won in 1931, 1933, 1935, and 1937.

The FIDE General Assembly and 87th FIDE Congress was held during the Chess Olympiad, attended by a record 182 countries. Top board prizes included:

Board 1: Baadur Jobava, Leinier Dominguez Perez, Fabiano Caruana

Board 2: Vladimir Kramnik, Anton Kovalyov, Jorge Cori

Board 3: Wesley So, Zoltan Almasi, Eugenio Torre

Board 4: Laurent Fressinet, Ian Nepomniachtchi, A. Indjic

Reserve: Andrei Volokitin (8.5 out of 9 — best individual player), S. Khadar, A. Aleksandrov

In the Women's section, China (Hou, Ju, Zhao, Tan, and Guo) took the gold, Poland took the silver, and Ukraine took the bronze. This was China's 5th gold medal in the Women's event and the first since 1994. The Women's USA team (Krush, Paikidze, Zatonskih, N?mcová, S. F. Foisor) took 6th place. Ukraine won the Gaprindashvili Cup for the country that had the best combined results from the Open and Women sections. The USA took 2nd place and China took 3rd place.

Eugene Torre, 64, of the Philippines, played in his 23rd chess Olympiad, a record. Torre has played in every Chess Olympiad since 1970 except in Dresden in 2008. He scored 10 out of 11 points.

World champion Magnus Carlsen led Norway to 5th place, their best Olympiad ever. After the event Carlsen jokingly wrote "probably need an even better squad to go further though; wonder if Caruana and So are still for sale."

For the USA team, Caruana on Board 1 scored 7 out of 10 (undefeated). Nakamura scored 7.5 out of 11 games. Wesley So scored 8.5 out of 10 (undefeated). Sam Shankland scored 5.5 out of 8. Ray Robson scored 3 out of 5. The USA team won 9 matches and drew 2 matches. Ukraine (10-1) had the same score but worse tiebreaks (Ukraine's only loss was to the USA team).

This was John Donaldson's 12th chess Olympiad.

Before 2008, the medals were decided by board points. The match points are now used for medals.

Eight of the top 10 players in the world participated in the event. Former world champion Vishwanathan Anand did not play and Levon Aronian of Armenia did not play.

The 2020 Chess Olympiad will be held in Khanty-Mansiysk.

Here is the order of finish in the Open section.

1 USA — Caruana, Nakamura, So, Shankland, Robson (John Donaldson — Captain)
2 Ukraine — Eljanov, Ponomariov, Kryvoruchko, Korobov, Volokitin
3 Russia — Karjakin, Kramnik, Tomashevsky, Nepomniachtchi, Grischuk
4 India
5 Norway
6 Turkey
7 Poland
8 France
9 England
10 Peru

Teams that did not show up include:
Armenia (they were protesting the event played in Baku since Armenia and Azerbaijan were in armed conflict)
East Timor
Solomon Islands

Teams from past chess Olympiads include:

British Virgin Islands
Canary Islands

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