With one round to go, both Russian teams are still in the lead, but none of them have won the title with a round to spare, which is good for the tournament’s suspense!
In the open section, Russia was held to another draw, this time by the Armenians. Nepomniachtchi opened the score for the Russians by beating Movsesian, but Sargissian levelled the match by overcoming Grischuk.
On board 2, Georgia (who started this tournament as the 17th seed!) scored another big upset as they drew against 4th seed France. Here it was Levan Pantsulaia (who so far is the top performer of the tournament, with a rating performance of 2868) who opened the score for Georgia by beating Edouard, but Bacrot levelled the score against Gagunshavili in one of the longest games of the day.
On board 3, Hungary created what is probably the surprise of the day, as they shocked defending champions Azerbaijan with a resounding 3.5-0.5 victory! Leko drew Mamedyarov on the top board, but Rapport, Almasi and Berkes all won for Hungary.
This means that before the 9th and final round, Russia is still in the sole lead with 14 points, but Hungary is following them on 12 points and these two teams will be facing each other tomorrow.
Five teams have 11 points and they will all be fighting for the medals: France, Armenia, Netherlands, Germany and Georgia. Netherlands will play France on board 2, while Georgia take on Armenia and Germany face Azerbaijan.
In the women’s section, Russia scored yet another 2.5-1.5 victory, this time against Poland. While Gunina lost to Szczepkowska-Horowska on board 3, both Kosteniuk and Goryachkina won for Russia.
On board 2, Georgia also won by the smallest of margins against Hungary. Here it was Georgia’s top two players, Dzagnidze and Khotenashvili, who decided the match in their favour.
On board 3, Ukraine stunned France with an incredible 4-0 victory!
So with one round to go, the Russian ladies are still in the lead with 15 points, 2 points ahead of both Georgia and Ukraine. Germany has 11 points and will challenge Russia on the top board tomorrow, while Georgia faces Austria and Netherlands takes on Ukraine.
The last round starts at 11 am local time, 4 hours earlier than usual. Make sure you don’t miss the final action, where all the medal places will be decided!
Photos by Hrafn Jökulsson