Vietnam shock China, Sri Lankan women continue to impress

The Sri Lankan women’s team, ranked 98th, continued to impress, defeating 74th seed Albania 2.5-1.5 in the 3rd Round on Saturday. This follows a win over Costa Rica in Round 2 and a narrow loss to the much fancied Greece team in the first round.
Ishini Wickramasinghe, although she failed to see an easy win after launching a strong attack in the middle game, held her nerve to secure the point in a well-played ending. Tharushi Niklesha making her first appearance, scored a big win against a player who had a clear 400 Elo point advantage over her. Zainab Saumy drew her game while Sachini Ranasinghe playing on top board lost.
The big surprise in the Women’s section was top seed China being held to a draw by 19th ranked Vietnam. Russia beat Uzbekistan while the Ukraine prevailed over 6th seed USA. Only 13 teams remain unbeaten In the Women’s Section after the 3rd Round.

The top teams competing in the Olympiad fared stiff resistance from their respective opponents in Round 3 as the strength gap between teams narrowed. While most of the higher ranked teams did win their matches, there were no 4-0 sweeps as was the case in the first two rounds.

The surprise result at the top end of the draw in the Open Section was Cuba (ranked 15th) beating 7th ranked Poland 2.5-1.5. In other underdog-wins, Italy (ranked 36th) beat 19th ranked Turkey (2.5-1.5), Israel (16th) went down to Serbia (24th) and the strong Norwegian team led by world champ Magnus Carlsen and ranked 12th lost to 30th seed Romania 2.5-1.5. Carlsen was held to a draw by Constantin Lupulescu.

Top ranked Russia, China and Ukraine as expected defeated Moldova, Brazil and Germany respectively. At the end of Round 3 only 16 teams remain unbeaten. The tournament is being held over 11 rounds in Baku, Azerbaijan.
The Sri Lankan men’s team notched their first win against Haiti (3.5-1.5), after a slow start to the tournament which saw them losing the first two rounds.

Malinda Seneviratne reporting from Baku

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