In the opening round of any Swiss league event - where the top half of the seeds play the lower half - mismatches are a norm. As a result, one-sided encounters remain the order of the day. Amid these emerges a player or two who returns from an elite competition like the Chess Olympiad, with a very special reason to recall and rejoice.
Angola’s No. 1 David Silva surely collected the biggest takeaway from his maiden visit to India when he held World No. 5 Levon Aronian to a draw, that too, in a superior position, before top seed USA coasted to a 3.5-0.5 victory.
For Silva, an International Master rated at a modest 2315, this draw was bigger than any victory in his career. After all, he proved equal to a two-time World Cup winner, rated 2775, by making light of a whopping rating difference of 460 points!
After spoiling Aronian’s Olympiad debut for the USA, Silva said, “A very difficult game against a top-10 player in the world. I was scared. I was trying to do something as I had nothing to lose. From this game, I learnt so many things which I am going to use in the coming games.”
In fact, Silva could have pressed for a win after Aronian traded a rook for a bishop on the 18th move but gained nothing in the bargain. Eventually, with the USA leading 2-0 in a match where it rested spearhead Fabiano Caruana, Silva was a happy man to gain a draw in 41 moves.
For the host, as expected, 4-0 victories followed for all three teams facing very low-rated rivals. Only Nihal Sarin for India 2 and S. P. Sethuraman for India 3 took longer than expected to win.