U.S. Men Win Bronze Too!!
By FM Mike Klein   
November 25, 2008
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GM Hikaru Nakamura, coach John Donaldson and Alexander Onischuk puzzle out the tiebreaks. Photo FM Mike Klein
The American men did the unthinkable at the last round of the Dresden Olympiad. And even that was just barely enough for a medal. They defeated previously unbeaten Ukraine with the massive rout 3.5-0.5, doing nearly everything they could to help their tiebreaks in the process. After Team Captain IM John Donaldson’s initial analysis, he concluded the team finished fourth. But ten minutes after somberly informing his team by voice mail of the news, the official results were posted, and the men got the bronze. Like Al Gore’s election-night call-back, Donaldson phoned again in a much different mood.

“We performed over 2700 as a team. I’ve never been on a team that did this well.” He said the U.S. played seven of the top 15 teams, defeating five of them.

Heading into today’s clash with Ukraine, Donaldson dismissed the idea of trying to win big against Ukraine, a team that outrated the U.S. on all four boards. He said the focus was solely on winning – the topic of a rout was not even broached to his team. But as the situation unfolded today, the match win came quickly and the final score was the only result in doubt.

GM Gata Kamsky got the ball rolling with a convincing win over GM Vassily Ivanchuk in less than three hours.



Shortly thereafter, GM Alex Onischuk also scored an upset win.



 After the 2-0 start, Donaldson had to rethink his travel plans. He was scheduled to leave to Amsterdam tonight, but after the early returns came in, he had to rethink things. “Believe me, if we get 3.5 or 4, I’ll be glad to change my ticket,” he said.

GM Hikaru Nakamura then agreed to a draw to ensure victory.



Shulman ground down Ukraine’s tournament hero, GM Zahar Efimenko (who had been performing around 2800), to make the final tally an amazing 3.5-0.5.




Afterward, Donaldson gathered in the press room with Nakamura, Onischuk and GM Yasser Seirewan to do the math. The captain borrowed a calculator and went to work, tabulating data culled by his grandmaster researchers. Donaldson did the addition twice, both times concluding the Americans missed the medals. But somehow the postings came up differently, and Donaldson phoned again, this time telling his deserved team to get themselves back for the awards ceremony.

 Look for more on the awards ceremony by FM Mike Klein Wednesday morning. Mike Klein is reporting for CLO and Chess Life Magazine from Dresden. Check out his in-depth articles from earlier in the event, Let the Games Begin in Dresden , USA Stumbles in Round Two, USA Almost Perfect in Round Three  and Rested Squads Resume Action. He's also using his sabbatical from his Charlotte chess coaching business to travel the world-and blog about it.