13 March 2019

Fining a Wrong Rook

Eteri Kublashvili reports on Round 7 of the World Team Championships

Sneezing and coughing would be heard here and there in the playhall during round seven, but the players do not give up fighting for match and individual points.

This time the Russian team's opponent was team USA, whose lineup misses Caruana, Nakamura, So and Shankland. Nevertheless, it has not stopped John Donaldson's players from displaying solid performance throughout the tournament while steadily featuring in the upper half of the table. Be as it may, this matchup ended 2.5:1.5 in the Russians’ favor.

Once again, bringing an overall success to Russia has been its principal scorer Vladislav Artemiev Playing on board four as White, he outplayed Zviad Izoria.

I give the floor to the winner:

– Although having no big ambitions going into the game, I was well-versed in a rare 8. Bb3 line, as opposed to the preferred by many endgame arising after the mainline 8. Be2 Bb7 9. dxc5. From then on we followed the mainline, and my opponent committed a blunder at move 15. 

Artemiev – Izoria

Instead of 15. Ne2 I could have gone for 15.e5; however, I thought that after 15…Nd7 16. Bg5+ Ke8 17. Rac1 or 17. a4 Black should be OK. Therefore, I opted for a less committal continuation.


Instead, he should have opted for 15…Rac8, and White is only slightly better in this position. As for the text, 16. Bg5! is now in his way of coordinating pieces without having to suffer damage to his position. 16…h6 is met by 17. Rdc1, winning a pawn.

16…Rxd1+ 17. Rxd1 Bd6

My opponent admitted to having overlooked my idea of 18. Rxd6 Kxd6 19. e5+ Kxe5

Black could have also retreated 19…Ke7, but then I could just take on f6 and retreat my bishop, or, alternatively, to play 20.Ng3, followed by Nh5.

20. Bf4+ Kf5 21. Bc2 Ne4+ 22. fxe4+ Kf6

This is an interesting moment. I chose 23. Kf2, but was also scrutinizing the consequences of 23. e5+ Ke7 24. Bxh7 g6 25. Bg5+Kd7 26. Bf6, intending to advance the kingside pawns. Still, the h7-bishop is misplaced, and I was just unwilling to go all out like this. This said, it is a technical win for White. 

All in all, I am happy about the way I brought my edge home, save for a slight error on move 40. It was no big deal since I was winning with a wide margin. 

Dariusz Swiercz vs Ian Nepomniachtchi opened to the Grünfeld Defense’s 4. Nf3 and 5.h4. Although the opponents decided against repeating moves, it was a solid fight without committal moves from either side. A draw agreed after Black's move 34 marked a logical end to this encounter.

Alexander Grischuk got a slight but stable edge as White over Samuel Sevian, but failed to build up on it in the middlegame despite his active play on both flanks. Alexander was testing his opponent in a knight-and-bishop ending for so long that it turned out to be the last game to finish in that round, but the American's precise play gave him a draw. 

Aleksandr Lenderman and Dmitry Andreikin opened into the QID, in which Black managed to equalize early, and then the trade of queens simplified the position completely. A draw by repetition was agreed after Black's move 30.  

Our team’s closest pursuers -- team England -- ended up scoring narrowly over team Egypt. Michael Adams went down to Bassem Amin, but coming to the rescue were his teammates David Howell and Gawain Jones. 

All games have been drawn in Azerbaijan – India.   

Iran defeated Kazakhstan 2.5:1.5. Worthy of noting is that winning his fifth game in a row on board four quickly and in a spectacular style is Alireza Firouzja. 

Team China has defeated Sweden with a narrow margin.

Tournament standings after round 7:

1. Russia - 12 ;2. England - 11; 3. India - 10; 4-5. China, USA - 8; 6. Iran - 7; 7. Azerbaijan - 5 ; 8-9. Kazakhstan, Sweden - 4; 10. Egypt - 1.

Pairings of round eight:

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


A key matchup Ukraine - Russia has been drawn, but it was a peaceful one not in the least.  

Alexandra Kosteniuk and Anna Muzychuk were battling it out in Giuoco Piano in which White managed to generate activity on the kingside following a lengthy maneuvering, and it was this activity that she owns her success to. 

Alexandra Kosteniuk, “I sacrificed a pawn toward the time trouble while unsure of its potential, thinking it was the most principled approach, though. 

Kosteniuk – A. Muzychuk


32. f4

I could have kept retaining the pawn with 32. Rea1; however, I wanted to spice things up towards the time control. French Defence is known for similar ideas, with White often giving up a queenside pawn. Honestly, opening up the a-file only played into my hands. With d5-pawn being weak, I would always win back material, if I choose to.

32…Rxa4 33. Rxa4 Qxa4 34. f5 Qc6 35. f6 Rg8

I am not sure where my opponent went wrong, but Black's latest move sequence doesn’t seem to the point. All in all, Black's task is more challenging as requiring a certain amount of precision, which she did not come up with in time trouble. 

36. fxg7+ Rxg7 37. Ra1 Rg8? 

Tougher is 37…Be4, defending the d5-pawn. 

38. Nxd5! 

Queens were exchanged off a move later, transposing into a rook and minor-piece ending that is winning for White. Alexandra Kosteniuk’s triumph came on move 45. 

Mariya Muzychuk and Kateryna Lagno produced a nice treatment of the Anti-Berlin, which followed in the footsteps of Karjakin – Anand of 2017. White gave up two pawns for active piece play, but Black had no problem fending off White’s threats created by a bishop pair and a queen up to a certain moment. However, move 24 saw Lagno committing a blunder:

M. Muzychuk – Lagno  

Black is OK after 24…Qc7 but 24…Qe7? fails to 25. Bxh7! Black was not helped out by  25…d4, because after 26. Re1 Qxe1+ 27. Bxe1 Nxh7 28. Bf2 White's edge is overwhelming, which she gradually did bring home. 

It was all quiet and peaceful between Anna Ushenina and Aleksandra Goryachkina in the Slav. With both sides displaying solid and precise play, a logical draw was agreed after the time control move.

Olga Girya and Inna Gaponenko were also enjoying tranquil life up until the time trouble, when the Ukrainian player was overaggressive by exposing her king. Nevertheless, White's missing the strongest continuation resulted in equality taking over once again. A draw was agreed on move 52.

Teams China and India whitewashed teams Egypt and USA respectively.  

Team Georgia outperformed team Kazakhstan 3.5:0.5 to clinch into the share of third, even ahead of team Ukraine by the number of individual points. 

Hungary – Armenia has brought forth no winner.

Tournament standings after round 7:

1. China - 14; 2. Russia - 11; 3-4. Georgia, Ukraine - 10; 5. India - 8; 6. Kazakhstan - 6; 7. USA - 5; 8-9. Armenia, Hungary - 3; 10. Egypt - 0.

Pairings of round eight:

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