World Team: China takes gold, Ukraine silver

by Albert Silver
4/29/2015 – With regards to drama, rises and falls, the World Team Championship certainly had it all. The start was all about the disasters of Russia and the US, and the heroic results by Israel and Cuba, while the second half inverted this, but ultimately it was the very same gold medalists at Tromso who came out supreme: the irrepressible Chinese.

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Who could have imagined that a team with the highest average Elo by far, and having won more gold medals at the Chess Olympiad than any other nation would start with a staggering 0-2? Yet that is exactly what happened, followed in suit by Team USA. It is true that Russia had failed to take any spot on the podium in Norway last year, but for all onlookers and pundits, it was a fluke nothing more. If that was a fluke, then what to make of this disastrous start? It is hard to explain: statistical blip, coincidence, disinterest... Who can say?

The medals awaiting the winners...

... and the trophies.

If Russia had a bad start, the US was not much better, though in their defense their lineup was the second lowest rated, ahead only of Egypt, so anything above would be a windfall. Ultimately, a solid result by top board Sam Shankland, with above average results by  the team, most notably Aleksandr Lenderman who won his last four games, with a 2818 performance.

Though Sam Shankland was the absolute star of the US team and Tromso,
here he was the rock of gibraltar providing a shield against the biggest guns

If Egypt came as the heavy underdog rated 100 Elo less than penultimate USA and over 200 behind Russia, they still managed to draw their match against Israel, and lose by only the smallest margin to China, Hungary and Armenia.

Cuban GM Lazaro Bruzon shows his disgust at the way they concluded the event

Though Gelfand did not win any games, nor did he lose any

While the top teams were slow out of the gates, both Israel and Cuba had strong starts taking the early lead, but they could not keep up the momentum and other nations were able to overcome their hesitant beginning to make up the lost ground. The new leaders came in the guise of Ukraine and China, who soon fought every round toe-to-toe, while distancing themselves from their rivals.

It all came down to the last two rounds, both tied, when Ukraine unexpectedly lost to the USA, while China beat Cuba handily. The final round saw Ukraine only draw against Hungary as China trounced India by 3-1.

The proud Chinese team

Deep Sengupta - Wei Yi

[Event "10th World Teams 2015"] [Site "Tsaghkadzor ARM"] [Date "2015.04.28"] [Round "9.4"] [White "Sengupta, Deep"] [Black "Wei, Yi"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C83"] [WhiteElo "2567"] [BlackElo "2706"] [PlyCount "86"] [EventDate "2015.04.19"] [WhiteTeam "India"] [BlackTeam "China"] [WhiteTeamCountry "IND"] [BlackTeamCountry "CHN"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Nxe4 6. d4 b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. dxe5 Be6 9. c3 Be7 10. Nbd2 Nc5 11. Bc2 d4 12. Nb3 d3 13. Bb1 Nxb3 14. axb3 Bf5 15. Bf4 (15. Re1 O-O 16. b4 Qd7 17. h3 Bg6 18. Bg5 Bxg5 19. Nxg5 a5 20. e6 fxe6 21. Nxe6 Rfe8 22. Nc5 Qd6 23. Bxd3 Rxe1+ 24. Qxe1 Re8 25. Qd1 axb4 26. cxb4 Bxd3 27. Qxd3 Qxd3 28. Nxd3 Rd8 29. Ra3 Rd4 30. Rb3 Ne7 31. Nc5 c6 32. Re3 Nd5 33. Re6 Nxb4 34. Re7 Rd6 35. Ne6 Nd5 36. Rxg7+ Kh8 37. Nc7 Rd8 38. Rf7 Kg8 39. Rg7+ Kh8 40. Rf7 Kg8 41. Rg7+ Kh8 {1/2-1/2 (41) Caruana,F (2783)-Nakamura,H (2772) Shamkir 2014}) 15... O-O 16. Ne1 Qd5 17. Bxd3 Bxd3 18. Qxd3 Qxb3 19. Qf3 Qe6 20. Nd3 Rfd8 21. Rad1 Rd7 22. Rde1 $2 {A baffling move. Why play Rad1 in the first place? This waste of time gives Black the initiative.} Rad8 23. Nc1 Na5 24. Ne2 Nb3 25. Qg3 c5 26. Kh1 Nd2 27. Bxd2 Rxd2 28. Nf4 Qf5 29. b3 c4 30. bxc4 bxc4 31. h4 a5 $1 {Not all majorities are created equal, and in this case Black's has yielded a passed pawn that will cost White the game.} 32. h5 { While 'threatening'it is not clear what. White isn't exactly threatening to pawn storm Black's king.} (32. Ra1 {was imperative.}) 32... a4 33. h6 Bg5 34. Nh3 R2d3 35. f3 Bxh6 36. Qh4 Bd2 37. Re2 Bxc3 38. e6 fxe6 39. Qxc4 a3 40. Nf2 Rd2 41. Rfe1 Rxe2 42. Rxe2 Be5 43. Qb3 Rb8 {The threat of Rb1 cannot be stopped.} 0-1

The Chinese team receives its deserving medals

The top-scoring individuals overall was dominated by 15-year-old Wei Yi at the end, scoring
7.0/9 and a 2846 performance

Top individual scoring

No.   Name Rtg Team Pts. Games % Bo.
1 GM Wei Yi 2703 China 7.0 9 77.8 3
2 GM Aronian Levon 2770 Armenia 6.0 9 66.7 1
3 GM Tomashevsky Evgeny 2745 Russia 5.5 8 68.8 2
4 GM Quesada Perez Yuniesky 2629 Cuba 5.5 8 68.8 3
5 GM Ding Liren 2751 China 5.5 9 61.1 1
6 GM Ivanchuk Vassily 2731 Ukraine 5.5 9 61.1 1
7 GM Lenderman Aleksandr 2617 USA 5.0 7 71.4 2
8 GM Bu Xiangzhi 2681 China 5.0 8 62.5 3
9 GM Balogh Csaba 2651 Hungary 5.0 8 62.5 4
10 GM Dominguez Perez Leinier 2729 Cuba 5.0 9 55.6 1

The Chinese players sign autographs

Top Hungarian Peter Leko giving an interview on TV

The disparity between the two leaders and the rest meant a condensation of teams, nearly everyone, with realistic chances for the bronze. Who was favorite was anyone's guess, especially after so many unexpected results.

While the Ukrainian team had the clearest success

The key moment would have to be Armenia's defeat of Russia in round seven, right when the Russians had seemed to be working on a comeback, giving the Armenian the slimmest of leads. This was all it took them, and with wins over India and Egypt, were able to secure the last spot on the podium.

Armenia managed to grab the bronze over the many challengers

Once the formalities had been resolved the entertainment could begin with a piano...

...and an opera singer.

Photos by Arman Karakhanyan

Results of round nine

Bo. 5 China Rtg FED - 10 India Rtg FED 3 : 1
1.1 GM Ding, Liren 2751 CHN - GM Harikrishna, P. 2731 IND ½ - ½
1.2 GM Yu, Yangyi 2724 CHN - GM Sethuraman, S.P. 2634 IND 1 - 0
1.3 GM Bu, Xiangzhi 2681 CHN - GM Sasikiran, Krishnan 2654 IND ½ - ½
1.4 GM Wei, Yi 2703 CHN - GM Sengupta, Deep 2576 IND 1 - 0
Bo. 6 USA Rtg FED - 4 Cuba Rtg FED 3 : 1
2.1 GM Shankland, Samuel L 2661 USA - GM Dominguez Perez, Leinier 2729 CUB ½ - ½
2.2 GM Lenderman, Aleksandr 2617 USA - GM Bruzon Batista, Lazaro 2691 CUB 1 - 0
2.3 GM Akobian, Varuzhan 2622 USA - GM Ortiz Suarez, Isan Reynaldo 2612 CUB 1 - 0
2.4 GM Naroditsky, Daniel 2640 USA - GM Gonzalez Vidal, Yuri 2557 CUB ½ - ½
Bo. 7 Hungary Rtg FED - 3 Ukraine Rtg FED 2 : 2
3.1 GM Leko, Peter 2713 HUN - GM Ponomariov, Ruslan 2713 UKR ½ - ½
3.2 GM Erdos, Viktor 2612 HUN - GM Ivanchuk, Vassily 2731 UKR ½ - ½
3.3 GM Almasi, Zoltan 2698 HUN - GM Kryvoruchko, Yuriy 2686 UKR ½ - ½
3.4 GM Balogh, Csaba 2651 HUN - GM Moiseenko, Alexander 2697 UKR ½ - ½
Bo. 8 Russia Rtg FED - 2 Israel Rtg FED 2½:1½
4.1 GM Grischuk, Alexander 2794 RUS - GM Gelfand, Boris 2747 ISR ½ - ½
4.2 GM Karjakin, Sergey 2757 RUS - GM Sutovsky, Emil 2628 ISR ½ - ½
4.3 GM Tomashevsky, Evgeny 2745 RUS - GM Rodshtein, Maxim 2667 ISR 1 - 0
4.4 GM Vitiugov, Nikita 2736 RUS - GM Postny, Evgeny 2636 ISR ½ - ½
Bo. 9 Armenia Rtg FED - 1 Egypt Rtg FED 2½:1½
5.1 GM Aronian, Levon 2770 ARM - GM Shoker, Samy 2482 EGY 1 - 0
5.2 GM Sargissian, Gabriel 2674 ARM - IM Ezat, Mohamed 2479 EGY 1 - 0
5.3 GM Movsesian, Sergei 2665 ARM - GM Adly, Ahmed 2595 EGY 0 - 1
5.4 GM Melkumyan, Hrant 2651 ARM - IM Farahat, Ali 2389 EGY ½ - ½

Final standings

Rk Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10  TB1   TB2   TB3 
1 China  *  2 2 2 3 3 15 23.0 397.5
2 Ukraine 2  *  2 4 12 21.0 355.0
3 Armenia ½  *  2 11 18.0 315.5
4 Russia 2  *  2 10 20.5 349.0
5 USA 2  *  3 2 3 10 19.5 338.3
6 Hungary 2 2 2 ½  *  2 2 9 17.0 302.0
7 Israel 2  *  2 8 18.5 322.3
8 Cuba 1 1 2  *  3 7 16.5 286.0
9 India 1 2 ½  *  3 7 16.0 274.3
10 Egypt 0 ½ 1 2 1 1  *  1 10.0 186.3

Tie Break 1: Matchpoints (2 for wins, 1 for draws, 0 for losses)
Tie Break 2: points (game-points)
Tie Break 3: FIDE Sonneborn-Berger


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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Thomas Richter Thomas Richter 4/30/2015 08:18
@ff2017: Did anyone ever win Wijk aan Zee B, or any other chess event, with eight draws and one loss? Shankland's result was (near-)identical to the ones of Grischuk and Ponomariov, these guys had to show more to win supertournaments.
@Albert Silver: "China beat Cuba handily." According to engines, Yu Yangyi and Wei Yi both won from lost positions - apparently not worthwhile mentioning, or is it a matter of looking at the results but not really at the actual games?
gmwdim gmwdim 4/29/2015 03:28
Reading sheet music? Failure pianist.
KevinC KevinC 4/29/2015 03:27
"If Russia had a bad start, the US was not much better...."

The U.S. team has reason to be very proud. They performed well above what could have been expected, and Shankland had an AMAZING tournament. He faced a lineup of killers, but only lost the first one to Ding Liren.
ff2017 ff2017 4/29/2015 02:46
Man, look at Sam Shankland, it's like he's the true winner of the Tata Steel B group and graduated to play in the Wijk aan Zee A group these past couple of weeks.
Camembert Camembert 4/29/2015 10:41
@karavamudan.

Check the "Who's Who" !

Lol !
karavamudan karavamudan 4/29/2015 10:25
After Anand Who?
northwind northwind 4/29/2015 07:48
Wei Yi is the biggest threat for Carlsen in the next few years.
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