Ukraine women clinch gold at Chess Olympiad; India make history
Ukraine clinched gold in the women's section at the 44th Chess Olympiad as the event concluded in Chennai on Tuesday.
With powerhouses in Russia and China not participating, as many as five teams – India, Poland, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and Georgia – were deemed favourites to grab gold as they headed into the last round. Eventually, the Ukrainians came on top at the mega event for the second time after Turin 2006.
"I am happy but very tired," said Ukraine team captain GM Michail Brodsky at the press conference right after the last round. "I can't believe that we have won the Olympiad!"
Hosts India was in sublime form throughout but the top-seeded team lost their way in the last hurdle against the USA, ranked seventh. Both Tania Sachdev and Bhakti Kulkarni suffered their first loss at the event as India, having gathered 17 points, had to settle for the bronze and their maiden medal at an Olympiad.
Ukraine – who boast two former women's world champions, Anna Ushenina and Mariya Muzychuk, on the roster – took a while to find their footing but the hot-favourites, when it comes to any event, did not let the stalemates against Azerbaijan and Romania stop them from gaining momentum.
Ukraine remained undefeated and in their last round, edged past a strong Polish team, featuring the revelation of the tournament -- Oliwia Kiolbasa, who was defeated by Ushenina.
Meanwhile, Georgia, one of the powerhouses in women's chess, played as per their potential and sealed silver despite having lost to India in one of the earlier rounds. The Georgians, featuring Meri Arabidze and Nino Batsiashvili, destroyed the relatively weaker opponents and drew with the likes of Poland and Ukraine.
Both Georgia and Ukraine tallied 18 points but the Ukrainians edged the Georgians on tiebreaker points.