China was the defending champion at the Olympiad this year. But in Round 5, its defense of the title began to unravel when one of its players finally lost a game.

China was the defending champion at the 42nd Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan. It won its first four matches, with all of its players avoiding any losses. But in Round 5, one of its players, Yu Yangi, lost a game and China went down to defeat to Ukraine (which would eventually tie for first with the United States and take silver on tie-breaks). The loss was the first by a Chinese player since the 2012 Chess Olympiad and it opened the flood gates. China, which entered as the No. 3 seed, went on to lose two other matches (and draw another) as it finished a disappointing 13th on tie-breaks

Kryvoruchko, Y. vs. Yu Yangyi
42nd Olympiad 2016 | Baku AZE | Round 5.1 | 06 Sep 2016 | ECO: B90 | 1-0
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. f3 e5 7. Nb3 Be6 8. Be3 Nbd7 A slightly unusual move in this opening.
8... Be7 This and  )
8... h5 Are more common nowadays  )
9. Qd2 Be7 10. g4 b5 11. a4!? White is looking to play on the queenside. This is a bit unusual because he has already advanced g4, but it seems to be a very interesting idea.
11... bxa4
11... Bxb3 12. cxb3 b4 13. Ne2 Nc5 This is the computer's suggestion, but after
14. Bxc5 dxc5 15. Qxd8+ Followed by Ng3 and Bc4, White has a very pleasant endgame.  )
11... b4 The typical response does not work in this case:
12. Nd5 Bxd5 13. exd5 Nb6 In positions similar to this one, White would have to take on b6, but in this case, he can use the misplaced bishop on e7 to his advantage by continuing:
14. a5! Nbxd5 15. g5! Nxe3 16. gxf6 And two of Black's pieces are simultaneously attacked.  )
12. Rxa4 O-O 13. Na5 Black's pawn structure is in ruins, but White has a hard time with his own king. However, none of Black's pieces are in position to spring into action, so I think that White has an edge.
13... Nb8? Black was certainly not happy to have to make that move.
13... Qc7 Was stronger. After:
14. g5 Nh5 15. Nd5 Bxd5 16. exd5 Bd8 17. Kd1 Nf4 I still prefer White's position, but the game is far from over.  )
14. g5 Ne8 Black's pieces are getting pushed back and his light squares are terribly weak.
15. Nd5
15. Bc4 Looks more natural to me, but the move played in the game is also fine.  )
15... Bxd5 16. exd5 Qd7 17. b3 Bd8 18. Bd3 f5 19. f4! White did not want to let Black play f4.
19. O-O f4 20. Bf2 Bxg5 and Black is still very much alive.  )
19... exf4! Trying to open lines for an attack, but it may already be too late.
19... e4 20. Be2 Strategically, Black is losing as he has no counterplay on the kingside or in the center, while his queenside is falling apart.  )
20. Bxf4 Qf7 21. O-O Nd7 Didn't Black just play Nb8 not so long ago? Playing Nd7,Nb8,Nd7, in the first 21 moves is not a good sign.
22. Be3! Another strong move. White threatens to play Rxf5.
22... Bxa5
22... g6 Is the computer's choice, but then the queen would not have access to g6 and h5, which is needed for any chance of Counterplay.  )
22... Qg6 23. Nc6 Looks devastating  )
23. Rxa5 Qh5 A desperate attempt at counterplay, but Kryvoruchko simply takes the pawns and holds on.
24. Rxa6 Rxa6 25. Bxa6 Ne5?
25... Qg4+ 26. Qg2 Qb4 Was a little more resilient, but I don't think it would have made a difference; Black should still lose.  )
26. Be2! And the bishop returns, gaining a tempo.
26... Qg6 27. Kh1 White's king is safe, and he has a three pawns-to-one majority on the queenside. Black is dead lost.
27... h6 28. gxh6 Nf6 29. Bf4 Ne4 30. Qd4 Re8 31. Rg1 Ng4 32. Bxg4!
32. Qxg7+? White could not play this yet.
32... Qxg7 33. hxg7 Nef2+! 34. Kg2 Rxe2 And the tables would have turned.  )
32... fxg4 33. Qxg7+! Keeping it simple. The rest requires no comment
33... Qxg7 34. hxg7 Rc8 35. Rg2 Ra8 36. Re2 Nc3 37. Re1 Nxd5 38. Bxd6 Rd8 39. Be5 Nb4 40. Bf6 Rb8 41. c3 Nd5 42. Bd4 Nf4 43. Re4

————————————————————————-

Samuel Shankland is a United States grandmaster ranked No. 5 in the country. He is a professional player and recipient of the Samford Fellowship in 2013, the most prestigious award in the United States for young chess players. He is at @GMShanky on Twitter and is also on Facebook.