Olympiad: China, Ukraine next in line for US, So

August 25, 2020
Wesley So
Super GM Wesley So (second from left) is shown in photo with FESSAP secretary-general Graham Lim, People’s Tonight sports editor Ed Andaya and Russian friend during the 2013 Kazan Universiade.

THE United States and its top player GM Wesley So face a mouth-watering quarterfinal showdown against either defending champion or Ukraine in the FIDE Online Olympiad 2020 on Aug. 28.

That’s because the USA, led by So, clinched top seed in Group D and an outright quarterfials berth and China and Ukraine, two of the biggest chess-playing nations, fell out of the top spots in their respective groups and now have to battle each other to advance.

So, who now plays the top board for the US in the absence of GMs Fabiano Caruana and Hikaru Nakamura, will play either GM Ding Liren (ELO 2836) or Wei Yi (ELO 2756) of China or GM Vasily Ivanchuk (ELO 2686) or Anton Korobov (ELO 2794) of Ukraine.

If any of the four higher-ranked players take a rest, So (ELO 2741) could either face their top reserves, GM Yu Yangyi (ELO 2738) and Bu Xiangzhi (ELO 2642) of China or GM Vladimir Onischuk (ELO 2714) or GM Evgeny Shtembuliak (ElO 2444) of Ukraine.

“It's tough for Wesley either against China or Ukraine. His teammates must support him. But so far, the women are doing well,” said noted chess journalist Ignacio Dee in his commentary.

Dee was referring to So’s main backups, GMs Sam Shankland, Jeffery Xiong and Ray Robson and IM Carissa Yip, Anna Zatonskih and Amnie Wang and WGM Tayev Abrahamyan.

Aside from the USA, the three other teams already waiting nin the qaurterfinals are Group A champion India, Group topnotcher Azerbaijan and Group C frontrunner Russia.

In the other quarterfinal matches scheduled on Firday, Aug. 28, it will be Group B runner-up Hungary against Group C third-placer Germany,  Group C runner-up Bulgaria against Group D third-placer Poland; and Group D runner-up Greece against Group C third-placer Armenia.

The winner of the Hungary-Germany match will earn the right to meet Russia, the victor of the Bulgaria-Poland encounter will advance against Azerbaijan and the survivor of the Greece-Armenia duel will play India.

The complete playoff schedule:

Playoffs (Aug. 27)

Duel 1 - A2 China vs. B3 Ukraine

Duel 2 - B2 Hungary v.s A3 Germany

Duel 3 - C2 Bulgaria vs. D3 Poland

Duel 4 - D2 Greece vs. C3 Armenia

Quarterfinals (Aug.28)

Duel 5 - A1 India vs. Greece/Armenia

Duel 6 - B1 Azerbaijan vs. Bulgaria/Poland

Duel 7 - C1 Russia vs. Hungary/Germany

Duel 8 - D1 USA vs. China/Ukraine

Semis (Aug. 29)

Dual 9 - Duel 5 vs 6 winners India vs Greece/Armenia vs Azerbaijan vs Greece/Poland

Dual 10 - Dual 7 vs Dual 8 Russia vs Hungary/Germany vs USA vs China/Ukraine

Final (Aug. 30)

Winners of Duel 9 and 10.