Top seeds have it easy, SL women give Greece a scare

The top seeds in both the Open and Women’s sections had it easy in the first round of the 42nd Chess Olympiad that got underway in Baku, Azerbaijan on September 1
Russia beat Nigeria (4-0), USA beat Andorra (4-0) and China beat Kosova (4-0) as expected. Typical of an Olympiad first round, most of the top seeds won their matches. Sri Lanka, ranked 124th, battled the much higher ranked Moldova (34th) and lost 0-4.
In the women’s section, it was the same story with top seeds China, Ukraine and Russia defeating Luembourg, Portugal and Scotland respectively by a 4-0 margin each. The other top seeds also scored easy first round victories.
The Sri Lankan women’s team almost caused a major upset against Greece. Sri Lanka ranked 98th was poised to pull off an upset 3-1 win over the 29th seed, but blundered away the opportunity, finally going down 1.5-2.5.
Ishini Wickramasinghe couldn’t convert a winning ending against Women’s International Master E Pavlidou and had to be satisfied with a draw. Zainab Saumy beat WFM Markontonaki after fending off an attack launched by the latter. Dasuni Mendis was clearly winning against WFM Avramidou but the latter pulled off an unlikely win when Mendis blundered under time pressure.
The men’s team, competing in the Open Section will have another tough assignment in Round 2 against 47th seed Japan. The Sri Lankan women’s team will face Costa Rica, which drew a bye in the first round.
The tournament is being held over 11 round.

Malinda Seneviratne reporting from Baku

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