It is the first for the United States since 1976. UPDATE: China has won the gold medal in the women’s division.

The United States men’s team has won the gold medal in the open section of the 42nd Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan. China has clinced the gold in the women’s division.

It is the team’s first gold medal since 1976, at Haifa, Israel. But that Olympiad was marred by a boycott by the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries, which were not happy with the Olympiad being held in Israel. 

Prior to 1976, the United States swept the gold medals in 1931, 1933, 1935, and 1937. 

The United States clinched the gold by narrowly beating Canada in the final round, 2.5-1.5. It did it with Fabiano Caruana, on Board 1, beating Evgeny Bareev; Hikaru Nakamura on Board 2 drawing with Anton Kovalyov; and Wesley So on Board 3 beating Alexandre Lesiege. Sam Shankland, playing Board 4 for the United States, lost to Eric Hansen. 

Fabiano Caruana vs. Evgeny Bareev
Chess Olympiad | Baku AZE | Round 11.1 | 13 Sep 2016 | ECO: B12 | 1-0
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nf3 e6 5. Be2 Nd7 6. O-O Bg6 7. a4 Ne7 8. a5 a6 9. b4 Nf5 10. c3 f6 11. Bf4 fxe5 12. dxe5 Be7 13. g4 Nh4 14. Nd4 Bf7 15. Bg3 h5 16. gxh5 Qc7 17. Bg4 Rh6 18. f4 c5 19. bxc5 Qxc5 20. Kh1 O-O-O 21. Nd2 Rdh8 22. Qe1 Bxh5 23. Bxe6 Be8 24. f5 Bd8 25. Rf4 g5 26. Rf2 Bc7 27. Qe3 Kb8 28. f6 Nf8 29. Bg4 Nhg6 30. N2b3 Qa7 31. f7
Wesley So vs. Alexandre Lesiege
Chess Olympiad | Baku AZE | Round 11.1 | 13 Sep 2016 | ECO: A30 | 1-0
1. c4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Nc3 g6 4. e3 Nf6 5. d4 cxd4 6. exd4 d5 7. Bg5 Be6 8. Bxf6 exf6 9. h3 Bb4 10. c5 O-O 11. Rc1 b6 12. Bb5 Na5 13. a3 Bxc3+ 14. Rxc3 Nc4 15. b4 a5 16. O-O axb4 17. axb4 Qb8 18. Bxc4 dxc4 19. Nd2 bxc5 20. bxc5 Qb4 21. Qf3 Bd5 22. Qxd5 Qxc3 23. Ne4 Qd3 24. Nxf6+ Kh8 25. Nd7 Rfe8 26. Ne5 Qf5 27. Qxc4 Kg7 28. Qc3 Ra2 29. Nd3 Qf6 30. Nb4 Rae2 31. Nd5 Qg5 32. Nc7 R8e3 33. Qc1 h6 34. d5 Qe5 35. fxe3 Qg3 36. Qa1+

The United States and Ukraine were tied for the lead going into the final round. Though Ukraine beat Slovenia, 3.5-0.5, thereby tying the United States in team points, the United States had better tie-breakers. The United States also beat Ukraine in a face-to-face match in Round 6.

Russia was third to capture the bronze.

In the women’s section, China had a 2-point lead pior to the last round and were playing Russia, the closest persuer. China only needed to draw the match, but it won, 2.5-1.5, as Ju Wenjun, on Board 2, beat Valentina Guinina, and Tan Zhongyi beat Aleksandra Goryachkina. On Board 1, Hou Yifan, the reigning Women’s World Champion, drew with Alexandra Kosteniuk, a former Women’s World Champion. Russia’s defeat knocked them out of the medals. Poland, the No. 7 seed, took silver, while Ukraine finished with the bronze. 

It is China’s first gold in the women’s section since 2004. Prior to that, China had won in 2002, 2000, and 1998. China’s victory breaks a string of three straight golds for Russia (2010, 2012 and 2014).

A full report with analysis of games will follow later.