American Women Score Upset Draw Against USSR

by Ismail Sloan

SALONIKA - NOVEMBER 1988 - Although the American woman's chess team has rarely done well in Olympiads, this year it presented a dangerous wildcard because of the presence of Anna Akhsharumova, otherwise known as Mrs. Gulko, on the team. After being well down in the standings for much of the Olympiad, the USA finally got up high enough to be paired against the USSR and was able to draw the match.

Akhsharumova, as expected, got a draw on first board against Official World Champion Maya Chiburdanidze. This draw was expected because in this Olympiad Maya has not been trying hard to win her games, whereas Akhsharumova had a difficult task in trying to beat her with the black pieces. The final position was complicated but basically equal, although Akhsharumova had perhaps a psychological advantage in the sense of having equalized with black.

On third board it was thought that another Soviet émigré, Izrailov, might get her adrenaline up enough to score against the Russians. Instead, she did not pay well and lost to Litinskaja.

For some reason, nobody was thinking that Savereide on second board, who was actually the only non-Russian in the match, would make much of a difference. Instead, it was she who scored the only full point for the American squad. In a difficult endgame, which was for a long time dismissed as a draw by many observers, Savereide finally eeked out a win at adjournment time against Levitina. Levitina is a former official challenger for the woman's world championship.

This result was not only good for the Americans and bad for the Russians, but it was also good for the Polgar sisters of Hungary. The Hungarian women defeated Romania by a score of 2.5 - .5 and have now pulled back to only a half point behind the Soviet team, with three rounds remaining. Susan and Judy Polgar both won, but on board three Sofia Polgar could only draw against Badulescu of Romania.

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