FIDE World Team Championship: Poland takes the lead

by Albert Silver
6/20/2017 – The third round saw the end to China’s invincibility in the Open section, after the top seeds were held to a draw by a battling team USA. The only team to still be unblemished is Poland, which beat Egypt 3-1. In the women’s section the Russian team was also held to a draw by Azerbaijan, while Ukraine beat India to share the lead. Illustrated report with analysis by GM Tiger Hillarp-Persson.

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All photos by Anastasia Balakhontseva

Round three

The FIDE Open and Women’s World Team Chess Championships is taking place from June 16 to June 27, 2017 (June 21 is a free day) in the the Ugra Chess Academy of the oil-book town of Khanty-Mansiysk, in western Siberia. Ten open and ten women's teams are participating. Games start at 3 p.m. local time – 12 noon CEST, 6 a.m. New York (check your location).

Open section

Open section - Round 3 on 2017/06/19 at 15:00
No.
SNo.
Team
Res.
Team
SNo.
1
2
India
2.5-1.5
Belarus
10
2
3
USA
2-2
China
1
3
4
Egypt
1-3
Poland
9
4
5
Turkey
2.5-1.5
Norway
8
5
6
Ukraine
1.5-2.5
Russia
7

For board wise break down, click here

Day three in the World Team saw a bevy of interesting results and games, with the most surprising being the draw between top-seed China and the USA. Had this been the all-star team that had won the gold in the last Olympiad in Baku, the result would hardly warrant a raised eyebrow. After all, that team had fielded three of the world’s Top Ten players. However, none of those players is present, having commitments with the forthcoming Grand Chess Tour event to unfold in Paris on June 21. As a result, while certainly competent, there is a palpable difference in caliber between the two teams in favor of the Chinese, at least on paper.

On the board, none of that really matters, since while academic, it is the players who do battle that decide, not Elo numbers attached to their names. Two games saw little happen, Yu Yangyi drawing in 23 moves against Varuzhan Akopian, and Sam Shankland’s draw against Ding Liren, the individual top seed in the competition overall. Ding Liren has been having trouble so far scoring, with only three draws, but there is little doubt that this is a temporary condition, a very temporary one.

Yu Yangyi has been a star on his team thus far, with 2.5/3

It was the youngest members of the US squad who brought the greatest palpitations, with Jeffery Xiong courting disaster in a complicated endgame against Li Chao, while Ray Robson saw his position improve considerably when his opponent, Wei Yi, began to lose the thread of the game somewhat, and got himself into an ugly bind. In both cases, the players in trouble were able to survive to see fight another day.

16-year-old Jeffery Xiong is by far the youngest member of Team USA, and even any of the Open teams

Poland was the only team to maintain its unblemished score, having defeated India and the USA in the first two rounds, and able to score a third time, beating Egypt 3-1. In round four they will face Turkey, and while that might not seem worrisome, the Turkish team is also undefeated after draw against Ukraine and Russia, and now a win against Norway. Will Turkey be the barrier to put a stop to Poland’s run?

A fascinating encounter was that between Russia and Ukraine, a classic matchup that usually leads to exciting games. This time was no exception, and Ian Nepomniachtchi scored a very nice win over Anton Korobov.

Ian Nepomniachtchi validated his place on the team once more as he brought in a valuable win over Anton Korobov

Nepomniachtchi (RUS) vs Korobov (UKR) (annotated by GM Tiger Hillarp-Persson)

[Event "World Team-ch 2017"] [Site "Khanty-Mansyisk"] [Date "2017.06.19"] [Round "3"] [White "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"] [Black "Korobov, Anton"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B94"] [WhiteElo "2732"] [BlackElo "2711"] [Annotator "Tiger Hillarp-Persson"] [PlyCount "67"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 ({For many, many years the general trend was that players avoided the Najdorf and played} 3. Bb5+ {instead. I am happy to notice that there is an opposite trend now; especially since I always preached to my (most ambitious) students that they should either choose the open Sicilian or play another game altogether.}) 3... cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 {What a lovely position. The smell of Darjeeling tea in my fathers living room, just as it was the first time I encountered this position, still hovers at the edge of my nostrils. There is no place for lazyness in such a position, for either side. Black has an extra central pawn and look forward to exchanges, whereas White is developing fast and has to keep up the pressure not to let Black take over. In the pre-strong-engine era, White was running his head towards a wall and was close to giving up it up in favour of 3.Bb5+, but then the rise of the engines reversed the trend. Now Black is facing a serious assault in more than one of the old lines.} 6. Bg5 Nbd7 $5 ({Some years ago everyone played} 6... e6 {and it just about holds on to its position as the main line. This spring there was an extensive discussion of the line} 7. f4 h6 8. Bh4 Qb6 {As far as I know it has not been settled.}) 7. Bc4 (7. f4 Qc7 {gives Black the option of entering one of the normal e7-e6-lines, but also leaves the option of e7-e5, which is not at all bad.}) ({Another popular line has been} 7. Qe2 h6 8. Bh4 $1 g6 9. f4 e5 {and it seems that Black is facing some hard times after} 10. fxe5 dxe5 11. O-O-O $1 Qc7 12. Nb3 b5 13. Rxd7 $1 Nxd7 14. Nd5 Qd6 15. Na5 $36 Rb8 $6 (15... f6 16. Qf3 $36) 16. Qf3 Bb7 17. Nxb7 Rxb7 18. Be2 h5 19. Kb1 Bg7 20. Rd1 Qe6 21. Qa3 f6 22. c4 b4 23. Qa5 O-O 24. c5 Kh8 25. Bf2 b3 26. Qxa6 bxa2+ 27. Ka1 {1-0 (27) Kasimdzhanov,R (2695)-Zhu,Y (2325) 16th Asian Continental 2017}) 7... Qa5 (7... Qb6 {usually induces White to retreat with the bishop to b3, but another idea that has been around for a while has suddenly been brought to prefection in the hands of Wei Yi:} 8. O-O Qxb2 (8... Qc5 9. Bd5 e6 10. Re1 $5 Be7 ({Black is facing a serious assault after} 10... exd5 11. exd5+ Kd8 (11... Ne5 12. f4) 12. Ne4) 11. Be3 Qa5 12. Bxe6 fxe6 13. Nxe6 Nc5 14. b4 $1 Qxb4 15. Nc7+ Kd8 16. N3d5 Nxd5 17. Nxd5 $18 {Wei Yi (2705)-Van Wely,L (2695) 79th Tata Steel GpA 2017}) 9. Nd5 Nxd5 10. Rb1 Qc3 11. Bxd5 Qc7 12. f4 e6 13. Re1 $1 Nc5 14. f5 Be7 15. Bxe7 Qxe7 16. fxe6 fxe6 17. Nf5 $1 Qc7 18. Bc6+ Qxc6 19. Nxd6+ Ke7 {Try to find a way to finish Black off here.} 20. Qg4 $3 Nd7 (20... Kxd6 21. Red1+ Ke5 22. Qg5+ Kxe4 23. Rb4#) (20... Qxd6 21. Qxg7+ Kd8 22. Red1 $18) 21. e5 {1-0 (21) Wei Yi (2725)-Xu,Y (2540) 7th HD Bank Cup 2017}) 8. Qd2 e6 9. Bb3 (9. O-O-O b5 10. Bxe6 (10. Bb3 $1) 10... fxe6 11. Nxe6 b4 12. Nd5 Kf7 13. Bxf6 Nxf6 14. Nxf8 Rxf8 (14... Qxa2 $5 15. Qxb4 a5) 15. Qxb4 Qxb4 16. Nxb4 Nxe4 {was much better for Black, in Predke,A (2565)-Alekseev,E (2610) TCh-RUS Men 2017.}) 9... Be7 $1 ({It is too time consuming to play} 9... h6 10. Bxf6 Nxf6 {After} 11. O-O-O Be7 12. f4 $1 {Black never really got out of the starting blocks:} Nd7 13. Kb1 Nc5 14. g4 Bd7 15. h4 b5 16. Qg2 b4 17. e5 Rc8 18. exd6 bxc3 19. dxe7 Nxb3 20. axb3 Kxe7 21. bxc3 Qxc3 22. Rh3 Qc5 23. Rhd3 Rhd8 24. Qd2 Qc7 25. g5 hxg5 26. hxg5 a5 27. f5 exf5 28. Qe2+ Be6 29. Nxf5+ Kf8 30. Rh1 Kg8 31. Rdh3 Rd1+ 32. Qxd1 {1-0 (34) Amonatov,F (2590)-Salem, A (2591) Tromsoe 2014}) 10. O-O-O ({Now that White has retreated with the bishop to b3, it seems less dangerous to play} 10. O-O {There is nothing wrong with neutralizing Bb3 with} Nc5 ({, but inserting} 10... h6 {first might be even better.} 11. Bxf6 $6 Bxf6 $1 $15)) 10... h6 $5 {I am sceptical about this move, although it is according to the normal script.} (10... O-O 11. Kb1 $1 Qc7 12. h4 (12. Bxe6 $5 fxe6 13. Nxe6 Qc4 14. Nxf8 Bxf8 15. f3 $14) 12... Nc5 13. f3 b5 {is pretty similar to what happens in our main game, but with h6 swapped for 0-0. I would not dare to say that castling is a bad move for Black, but it seems more flexible to wait until it is necessary.} 14. g4 b4 15. Nce2 Bd7 16. Ng3 a5 17. Nh5 a4 18. Bc4 Ncxe4 19. fxe4 Qxc4 20. Bxf6 Bxf6 21. Nxf6+ gxf6 { was a real mess, in Sandalakis,A (2440)-Gu Xiaobing (2320) 33rd Boeblinger Open 2016.}) ({So, since I might want to play 0-0 later I would rather not play h6 either:} 10... Nc5 11. f3 Bd7 12. Kb1 Qc7 13. g4 b5 {is therefore, perhaps, the best set-up. After something like} 14. h4 b4 15. Nce2 a5 {Black is making contact with White's king, so White must act.} 16. Ng3 $1 Nb7 (16... a4 17. Bc4 O-O 18. Nh5 Ncxe4 19. fxe4 Qxc4 20. Bxf6 Bxf6 21. Nxf6+ gxf6 { and we are back in the game Sandakis-Gu.}) 17. Rhe1 O-O 18. Nh5 a4 19. Bd5 $1 { with crazy complications.}) 11. Be3 ({it might seem that White can get a version of Amonatov - Salem, above, but Black doesn't have to take back with the knight:} 11. Bxf6 Bxf6 $1 12. f4 Nc5 13. Kb1 Bd7 {with a balanced position. }) 11... Nc5 {Black's grand plan is to play Qc7, b5, b4 and then Nxb3, followed by d5. White gets to do something first.} (11... Ng4 12. f4 Nc5 13. Kb1 Nxe3 14. Qxe3 Bd7 {I like comparisons, so let's compare this to the line after 11.Bxf6. It seems that by offering the exchange of the dark squared bishop in this way White has won a tempo (by having Black take it) and also the queen is more active on e3.}) 12. Kb1 Bd7 (12... Nfxe4 $4 13. Nxe4 Qxd2 14. Nxd2 $18) 13. f3 {I was surprised to find no examples of this position in the database. I would at least have thought that it would have come about via some strange move order, but no.} Qc7 14. g4 b5 15. a3 $5 {This kind of move is often played to slow Black's pawns down, but usually after Black has played something like Bb7 (making it harder to play b4 or a5/b4).} ({The more straight forward} 15. h4 b4 16. Nce2 {also looks good. After} a5 17. g5 Nh5 18. gxh6 g6 19. Bg5 {White has a strong attack.}) 15... Qb7 $1 ({After something like} 15... Rb8 16. h4 a5 17. g5 Nh5 18. gxh6 g6 19. Bg5 b4 20. axb4 axb4 21. Na2 {Black is unhappy about not having the rook on the a-file.}) 16. h4 a5 ( 16... Nxb3 $6 17. Nxb3 a5) 17. g5 Nh5 $6 ({I'd rather do just about anything rather than play} 17... Ng8 $1 {although it might actually be the best move here. Black's counterplay is coming and it is more important to "hold the lines" on the kingside, than it is to place the pieces in active places. The engine claims that} 18. a4 $1 bxa4 19. Bc4 $1 a3 20. Ndb5 $1 {, using the weak b5-square, is the best. Then} Na4 $1 21. Nxa4 Bxb5 22. Nb6 Bxc4 23. Nxc4 { indeed looks promising for White.}) 18. gxh6 ({Here White had the fantastic option} 18. Bd5 $3 exd5 19. Nxd5 {which completely ruins Black's coordination. One reason why this sacrifice works so well, is the stranded knight on h5, another is that Nf5 comes with terrible force and the last is that Black is unable to play} b4 {, due to} 20. Nxe7 bxa3 21. b3 $1 Nxb3 (21... Kxe7 22. Nf5+ Bxf5 23. Qxd6+ Ke8 24. exf5 $18) 22. cxb3 Kxe7 23. gxh6 {when Black's position is a mess.}) 18... g6 $6 {When I looked at the game before delving more deeply, I could not understand where Black went wrong. Every move seems natural and strong. This is one of those.} (18... b4 19. hxg7 Nxg7 20. Bd5 $1 exd5 21. Nxd5 bxa3 22. Qc3 $1 Rc8 23. Qxa3 $36) 19. Bg5 $6 ({Again White can mix the Bd5 and Qc3 with excellent results:} 19. Ba2 $5 b4 20. Nd5 bxa3 21. Qc3 $1 Na4 22. Qxa3 Bf8 23. Rhe1 Rb8 24. Bc1 {and as Black runs out of dynamics, he will be left with no option but to take material:} exd5 25. exd5+ {and hope to survive after } Kd8 {(althought that is very unlikely).}) 19... f6 $1 {The bishop on e7 is needed in the defence.} 20. Be3 b4 21. axb4 axb4 22. Na2 {Black is actually doing all right here, but has to walk a narrow line to prove it.} d5 $2 { Black spent more than half an hour on this move, after which the game can not be saved.} ({Black should seek immediate counterplay on the a-file with} 22... Qa6 23. Qxb4 Nxb3 24. Qxb3 {I presume Korobov calculated this far and then saw a ghost of some kind. It is easy to understand.} O-O $1 (24... Kf7 {looks more natural at first, but after} 25. c3 {Black can no longer play} d5 {since} 26. exd5 Rhb8 27. dxe6+ {just wins for White.}) 25. Nxe6 (25. c3 d5 $1 26. Nb4 Bxb4 27. cxb4 Rfc8 28. Qa3 Qb7 {is more than a little awkward for White.}) 25... Rfb8 $1 26. Nc7+ Rxb3 27. Nxa6 Rxe3 28. Nc7 Rxa2 29. Nd5 $1 Ra7 30. Nxe3 Nf4 { and the position is completely unclear. I would prefer to play Black though.}) 23. Qg2 {This forces a rapid deterioration of Black's position. Not only is he forced to reemploy his active a-rook in the defense, but also the king is forced to f7, which opens up for a world of pain on the a2-g8 diagonal.} Kf7 24. Rhg1 Rag8 (24... Rhg8 25. h7 Rg7 26. Nxe6 $1 Nxe6 (26... Bxe6 27. exd5) 27. Rxd5 $18) 25. Nxe6 $1 {Ah, you again.} Nxe6 26. exd5 Nef4 27. d6+ Be6 28. Bxe6+ Nxe6 29. dxe7 Qxe7 30. Nxb4 Qxb4 31. Rd7+ Ke8 32. Rgd1 Nf8 33. Qe2 Ng3 34. Bc5+ {A rather sudden end to an interesting game.} 1-0

Crosstable of Open section

Rank Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 MP Pts.
1 Poland
*
 
 
 
 
 
 
3
6
8
2 China
 
*
 
 
2
 
 
 
5
8
3 Russia
 
 
*
2
 
 
 
 
5
8
4 Turkey
 
 
2
*
 
 
2
 
 
4
5 USA
2
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
3
6
6 India
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
2
7 Ukraine
 
 
2
 
 
*
 
2
 
2
8 Norway
 
 
 
 
 
*
 
2
9 Belarus
 
½
 
 
 
2
 
*
 
1
4
10 Egypt
1
 
½
 
 
 
 
 
*
0
3

Women's section

Women's section Round 3 on 2017/06/19 at 15:00
No.
SNo
Team
Res
Team
SNo
1
2
India
1.5–2.5
Ukraine
10
2
3
Poland
2–2
USA
1
3
4
Egypt
0-4
Georgia
9
4
5
Russia
2-2
Azerbaijan
8
5
6
China
2.5-1.5
Vietnam
7

For a board wise break down, click here

In the women’s section, the Russian team was finally held to a draw, though not by one of the top-rated teams, Azerbaijan. The Azeri team gives up a near 200 Elo average to the Russian team, and as a result, were the huge underdogs going into the day’s games. While Russia had three full-fledged grandmasters , the Azeris had but one International Master. Nevertheless, it is rarely so simple, and all the players are veterans able to pull of a surprise when the mood suits them. This was such a day as second board Valentina Gunina from Russia paid heavily for a mistake early on, and Gunay Mammadzada from Azerbaijan never looked back and converted.

WGM Gunay Mammadzada was the hero(ine) of her team as she took down GM Valentina Gunina

Fortunately for Russia, Olga Girya, struck back on board four, and leveled the match. Girya had nearly scored a full GM norm a little over a week before in the European Championship, so had to be full of confidence.

Likewise, WGM Olga Girya hit back and saved the match for Russia

Another surprise was the USA’s draw against Poland. The Polish team had been a huge upset in the Olympiad in Baku, scoring a fantastic silver medal in front of several much higher-rated squads. This is still very much the same team, and despite being favorites by nearly 100 Elo over all four boards, it was newly minted US Women’s Champion Sabina Foisor who scored the only win for team USA and secured the draw.

Klaudia Kulon was one of the stars of Team Poland during the 2016 Baku Olympiad

15-year-old Jennifer Yu with Sabina Foisor in the rear on the left

Crosstable of Women's section

Rank Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 MP Pts.
1 Russia
*
 
 
 
2
 
3
3
 
 
5
8
2 Ukraine
 
*
 
 
 
2
 
 
5
7
3 Georgia
 
 
*
2
 
2
 
 
 
4
4
8
4 Poland
 
 
2
*
 
 
 
2
 
4
5 Azerbaijan
2
 
 
½
*
 
 
 
 
4
3
6 India
 
2
 
 
*
 
 
 
3
6
7 China
1
2
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
3
8 Vietnam
1
 
 
 
 
 
*
 
4
2
9 USA
 
 
2
 
 
 
*
 
1
5
10 Egypt
 
 
0
 
0
 
 
0
 
*
0
0

Links

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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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