Sri Lankan women defeat Costa Rica 4-0

After a commendable performance against more fancied Greece in the first round where the Sri Lankan women’s team squandered the opportunity for a major upset, ending with a narrow 2.5-1.5 loss, the girls defeated higher seeded Costa Rica 4-0 in the second round.
Sachini Ranasinghe, Ishini Wickramasinghe, Dasuni Mendis and Zaineb Saumy all won their games against higher rated players.
Round two, as expected, saw more competitive chess as wins pushed teams to play stronger opponents. The higher ranked teams justified their seedings barring the odd draw or loss by a player or two. The big surprise was on Table 29 where a young Iranian team held the much higher rated Georgian team to a draw in the Open section. Georgia in fact had a truly bad day when the women’s team was defeated by the Filipinos. Georgia is ranked 4th while the Philippines is a relatively lowly 29th. The average ELO rating difference between the teams is almost 350. In terms of upsets this win by the Filipinos is only second to Sudan (ranked 110) holding the No 22 seed Belgium to 2-2 in the first round, the ELO difference between the teams being over 400.

In other results in the Women’s section, China beat Montenegro 4-0 and Russia beat Ecuador by the same margin. The other favorite, Ukraine beat Moldova 3.5-0.5.

Sri Lanka’s men’s team put up a spirited fight against the higher seeded Japanese team, going down 1.5-2.5. Rajeendra Kalugampitiya won on the 4th board, but Akhila Kavinda couldn’t convert a strong middle game position into a win on the 2nd board.

As expected Russia, the USA, China, Azerbaijan and Ukraine scored victories over Turkmenistan, Scotland, Belgium, Macedonia and Albania respectively in the Open section.
The 42nd Chess Olympiad is being held in Baku, Azerbaijan with the participation of more than 330 teams (in the Open and Women’s sections). The tournament is being held over 11 rounds and ends on September 14, 2016.

Malinda Seneviratne reporting from Baku

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