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WCTC – China loses but retains the lead

11/10/2005 – It had to happen: the Chinese men's team ended their seven match winning streak with a loss to Armenia. But with a lead of 2.5 points they remain the hot favourites. High points in the last two rounds were the defeat of Russian GM Sergei Rublevsky by 16-year-old Shen Yang, and Vassily Ivanchuk's remarkable 'iron king' victory.
 

The championship takes place in the Yad Lebanim House, Reger Ave, Menahem Begin Square, Beer Sheva City, Israel. The world's strongest teams are participating, headed by Ukraine, Russia, Armenia and the USA. Israel, the host, is ranked fifth worldwide.

Round Seven and Eight Report

Round Seven was marked by a sensational wipe-out by the Chinese Men's team of the USA, by a humiliating score of 3.5.0.5. And they were a hair's breadth away from making in 4-0, with Xiangzhi Bu pushing hard (and missing a couple of excellent chances). But Onischuk defended tenaciously to save half a point's worth of American honour. After this victory the Chinese led with 19.5 points, followed by Russia at 15.5, Armenia at 14 and Ukraine at 12.5.


Levon Aronian (ARM) analysing his round seven black win against Xue Zhao (CHNw)

Look what happened in the top game between Cuba and Ukraine:

Bruzon,L (2677) - Ivanchuk,V (2748) [B92]
World Team Ch Beer Sheva ISR (7), 08.11.2005
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e5 7.Nb3 Be7 8.g4 h6 9.Be3 Be6 10.Rg1 Nc6 11.Nd5 Rc8 12.Bf3 Bxd5 13.exd5 Na5 14.Nd2 Nc4 15.Nxc4 Rxc4 16.Be2 Re4 17.Qd2 Nd7 18.Bd3 Rxe3+ 19.fxe3 Bh4+ 20.Ke2 e4 21.Bxe4 0-0 22.Raf1 Re8 23.Bf5 Ne5 24.Qb4 b5 25.Bd3 Bg5 26.Rg3 Qb6 27.Qe4 g6 28.Kd1 b4 29.Kc1 a5 30.Kb1 a4 31.Qd4 Qa5 32.e4 b3 33.Be2 bxa2+ 34.Kxa2 Rb8 35.Ra3 Rb4 36.Qc3 Qb6 37.Bd3 Be3 38.Rb1 Bc5 39.b3 axb3+ 40.Rbxb3 Kg7 41.Rxb4 Bxb4 42.Qb2 Qc5 43.Ra4 Be1 44.h3 Bf2 45.Ra8 Kf6 46.Qa3 Qc7 47.Qb4 Bb6 48.Kb3 Kg5 49.Qd2+ Kh4

The hightest rated player in Beer Sheva had gone for a positional exchange sacrifice on move 18, got compensation, went for more and spoilt the position. Now Bruzon could have wrapped it up with the simple 50.Qxh6+ or, as suggested by Alon Greenfeld, 50.g5 with the threat 51.Qf4+. But in time pressure the young Cuban GM lost the thread: 50.Ka2 Bc5. Once again 51.Qxh6+ is available, or even 51.Be2. Certainly not 51.Qa5? which simply gives up the advantage. 51...Qxa5+ 52.Rxa5 Kxh3 53.Be2 Kg3 54.Ra8 Kf4 55.Rh8 Kxe4 56.Rxh6 Kxd5 and in the end, using his "iron king", Ivanchuk took home the full point [57.Kb3 Ke4 58.Rh7 Kf4 59.Kc3 d5 60.Rh8 Ke3 61.Re8 Bd4+ 62.Kb4 Kxe2 63.c3 Kd3 64.cxd4 Kxd4 65.g5 Nf3 66.Re7 Nxg5 67.Kb5 Ne4 68.Kc6 f5 69.Rd7 Nf6 70.Rg7 Ng4 71.Kd6 Ne5 72.Ke6 f4 73.Rg8 Ke4 74.Rd8 f3 75.Rxd5 f2 76.Rd1 g5 77.Rf1 0-1]


Vassily Ivanchuk, using his king as a decisive attacking piece

A four-point lead for China, with two rounds to go, is usually sufficient to ensure the victory. But in the penultimate round Russia plays China's women and anything but a 4:0 result would be a surprise, whereas China confronts Armenia. I believe that everything is still open if the gap before the last round, in which the two leaders meet each other, will not be larger than 2 points.

Round Eight brought the first loss for the Chinese team, a 1.5-2.5 against Armenia, brought about by a 48-move grind with Ni Hua going down with the black pieces to Karen Asrian. Meanwhile Russia scored three wins and a loss. That upset could prove very costly for the top seeded team.


Where's the board, where are the books? The Chinese at work

Shen Yang (2326) - Rublevsky,S (2652) [B42]
World Team Ch Beer Sheva ISR (8), 09.11.2005
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Bd3 Bc5 6.Nb3 Be7 7.0-0 d6 8.Qg4 g6 9.Qe2 Nd7 10.Nc3 Qc7 11.Bd2 b6 12.Rae1 Bb7 13.Kh1 h5 14.f4 Ngf6 15.f5 gxf5 16.exf5 e5 17.Ne4 Rg8 18.Ng5 Ng4 19.f6 Bxf6 20.Rf5 0-0-0 21.Ne4 Bh4 22.Ref1 d5 23.Ng5 Bxg5 24.Bxg5 f6 25.Bd2 b5 26.h3 e4 27.hxg4 hxg4 28.Bf4 Qb6 29.Be3 Qd6 30.Bf4 Ne5 31.Qd2 exd3 32.Qc3+ Qc6 33.Qxc6+ Nxc6 34.cxd3 Rge8 35.Rc1 Rd7 36.Rxf6 Rde7 37.Rfxc6+ Bxc6 38.Rxc6+ Kb7 39.Na5+ Ka7 40.Kh2 b4 41.Nb3 Re6 42.Rc7+ Kb6 43.Nc5 Rc6

Rublevsky had been better in the middle phase of the game, and had indeed rejected a repetition. Here he is clearly worse, but his last move hands over the game to his 16-year-old Chinese opponent on a golden platter: 44.Nd7+ Kb5 45.a4+ bxa3 46.Rb7+ Ka4 47.b3+ and Black will be mated: 1-0.


16-year-old Shen Yang, who beat Russian GM Sergei Rublevsky

Ukraine defeated Israel 2.5-1.5, with Ivanchuk scoring the decider against Gelfand. The US drew against Cuba, with Onischuk winning and Gulko losing – or, if you look at it from the Cuban perspective: Bruzon losing and Dominguez winning.

Standings after eight rounds

  Team wins losses draws points
1 China Men
6
1
0
21
2 Russia
7
0
0
18.5
3 Armenia
4
1
2
16.5
4 Ukraine
3
3
1
15
5 USA
2
3
2
14
6 Israel
2
4
1
13
7 Georgia
2
4
1
12
8 Cuba
1
4
2
11
9 China Women
0
7
1
7

All games so far in zipped PGN

The official web site has live transmission of the games, which are also broadcast on Playchess.com. The captioning of the pictures has unfortunately been abandoned, and some from round seven have found their way into the round eight pictorial. In the Reports section you will find comments and annotated game fragments by Alon Greenfeld. Alon's diagrams are great (he makes excellent use of arrows and highlighted squares) and his notes are very enlightening. Only complaint: Alon could supply the games in replayable form.

The Teams

Armenia
Levon Aronian 2724
Vladimir Akopian 2707
Asrian Karen 2645
Rafael Vaganian 2614
Smbat Lputian 2614
Ashot Anastasian 2596
Captain: – Tigran Nalbandyan
 
China Men
Xiangzhi Bu 2637
Pengxiang Zhang 2613
Hua Ni 2603
Zhang Zhong 2608
Jianchao Zhou 2516
Chong Liang 2515
Captain: Ye Jiang Chuan
 
China Women
Xue Zhao 2478
Huang Qian 2398
Wang Yu 2396
Qianyun Gong 2374
Shen Yang 2326
Yifan Hou 2220
Captain: Zhang Wei Da
Cuba
Lazaro Bruzon 2677
Lenier Dominguez 2635
Neuris Delgado 2551
Jesus Nogueiras 2547
Walter Arencibia 2510
Yuniesky Quezada 2505
Captain: Jose Luis Altuna
 
Georgia  
Zurab Azmaiparashvili 2658
Baadur Jobava 2601
Giorgi Giorgadze 2601
Levan Pantsulaia 2578
Mchedlishvili Mikheil 2564
Merab Gagunashvili 2542
 
 
Israel
Boris Gelfand 2717
Ilia Smirin 2673
Emil Sutovsky 2654
Boris Avrukh 2653
Michael Roiz 2600
Sergey Erenburg 2582
Captain Alex Kaspi
Russia
Peter Svidler 2740
Alexey Dreev 2694
Alexander Grischuk 2720
Alexander Morozevich 2707
Evgeny Bareev 2675
Sergei Rublevsky 2652
Captain: Sergey Dolmatov
 
Ukraine
Vassily Ivanchuk 2748
Ruslan Ponomariov 2704
Andrei Volotkin 2666
Pavel Eljanov 2663
Moiseenko Alexander 2663
Sergey Karjakin 2658
Captain: Leonid Tymoshenko
 
USA
Alexander Onischuk 2628
Boris Gulko 2589
Gregory Kaidanov 2614
Alexander Goldin 2615
Ildar Ibragimov 2605
Igor Novikov 2589
Captain: Postovsky Boris
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