Russia and India both won gold in the 163-nation online Olympiad last weekend, following controversial and bizarre final stage matches with successful and failed protests, a deadlocked appeal panel, internet disconnections, missed checkmates and a time win by 0.3 of a second.

Fide, the global body, brought in a strange rule for knock-out matches. Ties were settled by a single Armageddon game, where White has five minutes, Black four, and a draw on the board scores as a black win. The two Armageddon players, decided by lot, produced some absurd finishes including the 0.3 of a second win.

An Armenian lost by disconnection in a drawn position against India, his appeal was rejected, and his team withdrew. Russia narrowly won a semi-final against the US after an American missed mate in two.  

In the final, two Indians lost by disconnection due to a multi-nation outage and the appeal judges were split. Russia’s Fide president, Arkady Dvorkovich, ruled that both teams should be awarded gold. Many thought that the games should have been replayed, and Dvorkovich’s reputation may suffer, like Florencio Campomanes in 1985 when he aborted  a marathon world title match without result.

Puzzle 2383

Natalia Zhukova v Ju Wenjun, Ukraine v China, Olympiad 2020. White (to play) has a winning position against the reigning world woman champion, but tamely settled for 1 Nf8+ Kh6 2 Nd7 Kh7 and a draw by repeated moves.  Can you do better for White?

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