12 March 2019

Aleksandra the Formidable

Eteri Kublashvili reports on Round 6 of the World Team Championships 

A sightseeing tour was organized for the championship participants on the rest day. Olga Girya has shared the sightseeing tour pictures that you will find attached to the picture gallery below. Quite a number of players and coaches rather opted for not leaving the hotel in favor of spending time in the spa-center, the gym, or the shopping center or just sleeping oneself out. 

However, the downside of rest days is unpredictable results the day following it. This time was no exception either. While the round itself was shorter, the number of mistakes committed was greater than usual.

The Russian team was faced off with Azerbaijan. Our southern neighbors have had a bad start, which testifies to things not going smoothly for them in the absence of their stellar comrades. Nevertheless, the matchup with Russia has ended in a draw. 

Ian Nepomniachtchi has outperformed Rauf Mamedov in the Sicilian 3.Bb5. 

Ian Nepomniachtchi, “With the order of moves that has happened today, I was aware of the Grischuk – Najer encounter of 2015, but have had nothing under my belt against 9. 0-0. I tried to follow in the footsteps of the above-mentioned game, but it has turned out lousy for me. After the game Rauf told me that 12…Nh5 was the way to go, rather than 12…Nd5, which, I suspect, is bound to be an easy equality for Black if you know your theory. This “if” is a spoiler more often than not. Playing logical chess from my point of view, I was quick to find myself in a difficult position, in which a draw was Black’s ultimate dream should I manage to trade as many pieces as possible.  

However, Rauf obviously lost the thread of the game by delivering an underwhelming sequence, which probably started with 25. Rce1.

Mamedov – Nepomniachtchi


White went down in this better position in just two moves. In lieu of 25. Rce1 he should have captured the a6-pawn, leaving me nothing with better than to look for ways of consolidating my position; however, the a-pawn does not have a decisive say yet because of my f4-knight giving me enough counterplay. I believe that Black’s position is tenable with precise play. It may well be that it is not that bad, after all. 

As far as I see, after 25…Qd6 26. Rg4 he missed 26…Rb4! It leaves White with a poor choice of having to play a strategically hopeless position after the queen's retreat or give up an exchange, which actually happened in the game.

27. Rxf4+ Qxf4 28. Qxc5

Now I have a pretty potent rejoinder 28…Rb5! 29. Qa7+ Kf8!, upon which I embark on a checkmating attack, while the doubled f-pawns prevent White's bishop from defending his king. White’s position crumbled all of a sudden. 

30. Rg1 Rh5 31. Rg3 Qh6 White resigns. 

Board one saw Sergey Karjakin and Arkady Naiditsch battling it out in the 4...e5 line of the Sicilian. Black’s active play gave him a full-fledged equality, but on move 29 Naiditsch came up with a rather provocative move by having both his rooks placed en prise. 

Karjakin – Naiditsch


Black has been overly optimistic by taking the e4-pawn, and the subtle 30. Kf2! would have given White a significant edge.

The game saw 30.Nxc3?! Be5+ 31. Kf2 Rf4+ 32. Ke2 dxc3 33. Rb1 Rd4 34. Rb3 Rxd5, and it was before long that Black's doubled central pawns, an active rooks and powerful bishops tipped the scales in Naiditsch’s favor. Sergey Karjakin recognized his defeat after the time control. 

Alexander Grischuk and Eltaj Safarli opened into the Petroff Defense, with massive trades taking place rather early. A rook and minor-piece endgame took the brunt of the battle, in which White’s bishop was opposed by the opponent's knight. Capitalizing on opponent’s mistakes, Black managed to snap a pawn shortly before the time control move. Nevertheless, limited material prevented the Azeri player from converting his edge, and a draw was agreed. 

Nijat Abasov and Vladislav Artemiev have had a calm game in the Chabanenko Slav, with White sacrificing the a2-pawn but enjoying a nice compensation and infiltrating the enemy's camp with his pieces. The game ended in a draw by repetition on move 26.  

Faced off with China, Egypt has finally scored his first match point. Ahmed Adly’s victory over Wei Yi was made up for by Ni Hua's win over Imed Abdelnabbi, while other games have been drawn. The reigning world champions are definitely struggling at this event. 

Jonathan Speelman was representing England for the first time in this competition, but the famous grandmaster’s debut as White went completely out of his hands as he was literally swept from the board by Alireza Firouzja. At the same time, his teammates Michael Adams, Luke McShane and David Howell ended up winning their games and have sealed the final score as 3:1. 

The Indian players have defeated the Kazakhstan 3.5:0.5 (Sethuraman even managed to deliver a checkmate to Denis Makhnev), and the US team beat the Swedes with a similar score. 

Tournament standings after round 6: 

1. Russia - 10; 2-3. India, England - 9; 4. USA - 8; 5. China - 6; 6. Iran - 5; 7-9. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Sweden - 4; 10. Egypt - 1.

Pairings of round seven:

China - Sweden, England - Egypt, Kazakhstan - Iran, Azerbaijan - India, USA - Russia.

In the women's tournament the Russians have bounced back from the loss to China by outplaying team USA with a narrow score.  

Mind you, it is now the sixth victory in a row (!) for Aleksandra Goryachkina, Carissa Yip being her victim this time around. The opponents opted for a complex line taking much in the way of calculation, and the Russian's homeprep has proved superior. 

Goryachkina – Yip

12. Bg5

Up to Black's move 12 the game was following suite of the Giri – Vachier-Lagrave encounter of 2014, but here the American was the first to sidestep by 12…Qd6 instead of 12…Bxc3+.

13. Nd2 Nd7?

Here stronger was 13…Bxc3+, followed by 14…f6 or 13…Qa6. Aleksandra claimed that her prep was not over yet, and that 13…Nd7 is an awful move. Black was literally decimated afterwards. Aleksandra is happy about her followup play at the stage of conversion. 

After 14. 0-0 White's development was completedlaunching an irresistible checkmating attack while Black was busy claiming her piece back. 

Kateryna Lagno and Tatev Abrahamyan were having a roughly equal fight in the French Defence, but in a setup with queens and bishops an error was committed by Black, for which she could have been punished. Still, White agreed to the repetition of moves and a draw as a result. 

Playing Black, Valentina Gunina drew Katerina Nemcova. With queens exchanged off early in the game, the American player stopped the Russian from her beloved double-edged play abounding with mutual chances. Valentina was gradually reduced to defending a passive ending with rooks and opposite-colored bishops, which she did after all to secure a draw. 

Olga Girya outplayed Rochelle Wu in the Nimzo-Indian Defence, but committed a tactical error in a major-piece ending up a pawn, overlooking a draw by perpetual.  

Team China has scored a narrow victory over India owing to Lei Tingjie’s victory over Kulkarni Bhakti. 

The Georgian players have scored predictably hugely 3.5:0.5 over the Egyptians. 

Team Ukraine has scored a narrow victory over Armenia thanks to Anna Muzychuk’s success over Lilit Mkrtchian.

The host team was superior to Hungary 2.5:1.5. Team leader Zhansaya Abdumalik went down on board one, but Bibisara Assaubayeva and Guliskhan Nakhbayeva managed to take their games.

Tournament standings after round 6:

1. China - 12; 2. Russia - 10; 3. Ukraine - 9; 4. Georgia - 8; 5-6. India, Kazakhstan - 6; 7. USA - 5; 8-9. Armenia, Hungary - 2; 10. Egypt - 0.

In store for us in round seven is one of the most challenging and exiting matchups of the championship: Ukraine - Russia. 

Other pairings are:

China - Egypt, USA - India, Hungary - Armenia, Georgia - Kazakhstan.