In the last round of the Chess Olympiad, Russia 1 men team was trailing one match point behind Ukraine and was paired to play against Spain. Always a dangerous and motivated opponent, Spain held Russians to a tie 2-2 and prevented them from putting greater pressure on Ukrainians, who also made 2-2, against bronze medalists from Israel.
– The last match left us with a feeling of dissatisfaction. After we lost to Hungary in round five, we were able to get together to play again normally, and we had great chances to fight for the first place. The logical outcome would be a victory in the last round, which would force Ukraine to tighten up and to show whether they can win too. If Ukraine wins, then we could only shrug and say: we did everything we could.
– Unfortunately, we slipped, and achieved only 2-2. For the third consecutive time, we can not beat Spain in the final round, it’s not a coincidence. This saddens me, it means that we cannot play properly in the last round.
– Karjakin did not want to play 1…e5, fearing the Spanish Exchange variation, he tried to play something more dynamic. The opponent met him with quite a rare line which Sergei didn’t review. He was afraid to go for the forced main variants and agreed to a slightly worse position. Basically, we told him before the game: if suddenly you are not happy with the course of the game, you can always offer a draw to Magem Badals, he will agree. And the situation was unpleasant, he didn’t have a chance to play for a win.
– Karjakin was not that tired, physically, but he was emotionally devastated. The man brought this team back to life when we faced problems in the middle of the tournament, he was our motor. He could not recover his energy.
– The problem was that after the match with Ukraine there was no guarantee that Malakhov can play at a high level. In fact, I didn’t have much choice for the last round: to play the tired Karjakin or bring unpredictable Malakhov. I chose Karjakin, hoping that maybe he will catch the opponent on the wrong foot.
– Peter Svidler lost to Ivan Salgado, whom we already know very well. At the European Team Championships 2009 he prevented us from taking the gold medal, also in the last round. But we are to blame ourselves. He is probably a very skillful player, but the rating of 2600 suggests that he still has some shortcomings and weaknesses.
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– GM Susan Polgar