FIDE World Team Championship: China beats Russia and takes lead

by Albert Silver
6/25/2017 – Round seven of the World Team Championship saw the match everyone had been waiting for: the clash between the top-rated teams China and Russia. Russia had been leading, with China behind, but a defeat to China inverted their positions. India defeated a struggling Ukraine, while the US scored their second win by beating Turkey and ending their Cinderella run. Illustrated report with GM analysis.

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All photos by Anastasia Balakhontseva

Round seven

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 7 on 2017/06/24 at 15:00
No.
SNo.
Team
Res.
Team
SNo.
1
4
EGYPT
0.5-3.5
BELARUS
10
2
5
TURKEY
1-3
USA
3
3
6
UKRAINE
1.5-2.5
INDIA
2
4
7
RUSSIA
1.5-2.5
CHINA
1
5
8
NORWAY
1.5-2.5
POLAND
9

For board wise break down, click here

From the very first day, in view of the their top ranking, and as the only teams with average ratings in excess of 2700, the encounter between China and Russia was eagerly awaited. In fact, China is the only top team to really field their absolute A team in the World Team Championship. Team USA has been conspicuously missing their stars, while Russia brought in a strong but not quite top team, missing both Kramnik and Karjakin.

However, though not quite as badly as their female team, China had not been able to really show that star power to their fullest, conceding draws to both Turkey and the weakened US team, plus close wins throughout. This was hardly the doomsday team everyone had though might wreak havoc on the egos of the other teams.

Russia on the other hand had seemed to be doing much better, with only one draw so far, and the sole lead. This all changed in round seven, when they faced each other. Three games ended in draws, but one had a profound impact on the standings.

Li Chao (CHN) vs Vladimir Fedoseev (RUS) (annotated by GM Alexander Lenderman)

[Event "World Team Championship"] [Site "Khanty-Mansiysk RUS"] [Date "2017.06.24"] [Round "7"] [White "Li Chao"] [Black "Fedoseev, Vladimir"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C67"] [Annotator "Aleksandr Lenderman"] [PlyCount "107"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] {Hello everyone! Welcome to the Round 7 Game of the Day of the World Team Championship. This is GM Aleksandr Lenderman. Today, despite the fact that there were many other intriguing battles, in the end I decided to choose the decisive game in the pivotal match for first place, which was won very nicely by a very strong Chinese board 4, Li Chao, against the strong 2700 Russian player, Vladimir Fedoseev, who was one of the heroes in the previous round, and whose win was featured in my round 6 Game of the Day annotations.} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 {The Berlin Wall. As I already mentioned in the previous round, Fedoseev can play many openings, including the Berlin Wall, which he's also played frequently, and actually not with such great results, especially of late.} 4. O-O (4. d3 {Lately the move 4. d3 has also gathered quite a lot of popularity since many elite players don't like their chances trying to break the Berlin Wall.}) 4... Nxe4 5. d4 (5. Re1 {This is also a very popular line these days.}) 5... Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. h3 {Recently, in another important game for Fedoseev, he faced 9. Nc3.} (9. Nc3 Bd7 10. h3 Be7 11. g4 Nh4 12. Nxh4 Bxh4 13. f4 h5 14. f5 hxg4 15. hxg4 g6 16. fxg6 fxg6 17. Ne4 Kc8 (17... Ke7 {Would be a bit safer} 18. Bg5+ Bxg5 19. Nxg5 Raf8 20. e6 Rxf1+ 21. Rxf1 Bxe6 22. Re1 Kf6 23. Nxe6 Re8 24. g5+ Kf7 25. Rf1+ Kxe6 26. Rf6+ Ke7 27. Rxg6 Kf7 $11 {Is just equal.}) 18. Bg5 Bxg5 19. Nxg5 Bxg4 20. Rf7 b6 21. e6 Kb7 22. e7 $36 {And White has a very strong passed pawn on e7, which more than compensates for his pawn deficit. Black's position is difficult here and White won very soon after that in 1-0 (26) Shirov,A (2673) -Fedoseev,V (2667) Moscow RUS 2016}) 9... Bc5 $6 {Seems like a strange move to me and according to the database this move is also extremely rare, and has never been played at a grandmaster level. Fedoseev spent 6 minutes here, according to Playchess, which tells me it was probably his creative innovation. That said, I'm not really sure what exactly is the point of putting the bishop on c5 instead of let's say on e7. Furthermore, why make a commitment with the bishop just now?} ( 9... Ke8 {is the most popular. Many other moves have been tried as well, like 9 ...Be7!? which was featured between MVL and Adams, which I covered for the Gibraltar Game of the Day, though I don't remember which round.}) (9... Bd7) ( 9... Be7) (9... h5) 10. Nc3 Be6 11. b3 Kc8 12. Rd1 {Perhaps slightly inaccurate.} (12. Ne4 $5 {Seemed strong, declaring the bishop on c5, asking him where he goes, and basically discouraging Be7, while Bb6 is also not the most attractive.} Be7 (12... Bd4 13. Rb1 $14) (12... Bb6 13. Bb2) 13. g4 Nh4 ( 13... Bd5 14. Ned2 Nh4 15. Nxh4 Bxh4 16. c4 Be6 17. f4 $14) 14. Nxh4 Bxh4 15. Bg5 Bxg5 16. Nxg5 $14) 12... b6 $6 {Missing the opponent's idea.} (12... Be7 { was still fine for Black, preparing to meet g4 with Nh4.} 13. g4 Nh4 14. Nxh4 Bxh4 $11) 13. g4 $1 Ne7 14. Na4 {Now the poor placement of the bishop on c5 shows. Black's pawn structure becomes terrible. If I dare say, Black's position might already be close to strategically lost.} h5 15. Nxc5 bxc5 16. Ng5 $1 {Another important move. Without this move Black would have sufficient counterplay.} hxg4 17. Nxe6 fxe6 18. hxg4 Ng6 19. Re1 {A good move but objectively speaking, Komodo finds something even more brilliant here.} (19. Kg2 $3 {It was actually more important to prevent the counterplay with Rh3 than to defend the pawn on e5.} Nxe5 20. Kg3 $1 {Wow, this is very hard to see: to sacrifice a pawn, and then to just make a quiet move. However, Black is in very bad shape here with many weaknesses and is probably lost.} Nf7 21. Bb2 e5 (21... Rg8 22. Re1 Kd7 23. Rad1+ Ke7 24. Re3 $18) 22. Re1 Re8 23. Re3 $16 {Eventually the e5 pawn will fall, and White basically has a 2-to-1 advantage on the kingside in a potential rook endgame.}) 19... Kb7 $6 { A natural move but Black desperately had to create quick counterplay here before it was too late.} (19... Rh3 20. Re4 $6 (20. Bg5 Kb7 21. Re4 Rah8 22. Rc1 {White is still better, but at least Black can fight here. White has to make some difficult moves.}) 20... Rc3 $132) 20. Re4 Rh3 21. Be3 {Now it's too late. White was able to consolidate and put his pieces in optimal spots.} Rah8 22. Kg2 c4 (22... Rh2+ 23. Kf3 R8h3+ 24. Ke2 $16 {wasn't much help for Black.}) 23. bxc4 a5 24. Rb1+ Ka6 25. Rd1 Kb7 26. Rb1+ {Probably just getting closer to the time control.} Ka6 27. a3 Rh2+ 28. Kf3 Rf8+ 29. Ke2 Rhh8 30. Rf1 {Black's position is lost. Now White just needs to get to move 40 and slowly but surely nurture his advantage since Black has no counterplay here.} Rh4 31. Rd1 Rh7 32. Kd2 Rhh8 33. Kc3 Rf7 34. Rf1 Rh4 35. Kd4 $6 (35. Rb1 {was more accurate.} Nf8 36. Rb8 Nd7 37. Re8) 35... Nf8 36. Rb1 Nd7 {Now at least Black was able to reposition his knight to a better defensive position.} 37. Kc3 (37. c5 { Maybe this was better, to restrict Black's knight.}) 37... Rh3 38. Kd2 Nb6 ( 38... c5 $5 {Might've been another defensive try. Black's position is tough but maybe he has some defensive chances here since White's technique hasn't been perfect in time pressure.}) 39. Ke2 Rh8 40. Rb3 Rh1 41. Rd3 Rg1 42. g5 Rh1 $6 {Now Black is totally lost again. He allowed the White rook to get very active.} (42... Nd7 $16 {And Black is still fighting a little bit.}) (42... Ra1 $5 {Also deserved attention to tie White down to the a3 pawn.} 43. Rd8 Rxa3 44. Re8 $18 {But White is winning here anyway.}) 43. Rd8 Re7 44. Rf4 Kb7 45. c5 Nd7 (45... Nd5 46. Rff8 {is practically mate.}) 46. Ra4 Nb8 47. Rxa5 $18 {The rest is simple.} Rh4 48. Rd3 Na6 49. f4 Ka7 50. Rd4 Rh2+ 51. Bf2 g6 52. Rda4 Reh7 53. Rxa6+ Kb7 54. Ra7+ {A clutch win by Li Chao, but Fedoseev struggled this game. Possibly an opening like the Berlin doesn't suit his aggressive and creative style. At least not yet. This game shows that in fact the Berlin is far from easy to play, even at the high level despite the fact that it's been studied so deeply already.} 1-0

Li Chao is interviewed after his key win

Another big win was India’s over Ukraine, solidifying their medal chance by beating the third highest-rated team. Their victory came courtesy of their one and only maverick player: B. Adhiban.

Adhiban has been a picture of solidity.... Cough! After seven rounds, the Indian player's uncompromising approach has resulted in sevem decisive games, and no doubt seven heart attacks for his fans.

B. Adhiban (IND) vs Anton Korobov (UKR) (annotated by IM Sagar Shah)

[Event "11th World Teams 2017"] [Site "Khanty-Mansiysk RUS"] [Date "2017.06.24"] [Round "7.2"] [White "Adhiban, Baskaran"] [Black "Korobov, Anton"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "2670"] [BlackElo "2711"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "67"] [EventDate "2017.06.17"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Be7 8. Qd2 O-O 9. dxc5 (9. O-O-O c4 {is supposed to give Black a very strong attack on the queenside. And hence before 0-0-0 White takes on c5.}) 9... Nxc5 10. O-O-O Qa5 11. Kb1 Rd8 12. Nd4 Bf8 13. g4 {Adhiban's play has been very logical. He has 0-0-0, put his knight on d4 to prevent Black from playing d4 and now begins with his kingside expansion.} Bd7 14. h4 Rab8 {This is the tough moment in the game. White has to decide on what course of action he would like to take in the game now. Would he like to indulge in a race with h5-h6 and Black coming down with b5-b4 or he would like to play an endgame, like Adhiban did in the game.} 15. Nce2 $5 {Objectively not the best move, but Adhiban surely must have some psychological objectives in mind when he made this move.} Qxd2 16. Rxd2 Ne4 17. Rd1 Nxd4 18. Bxd4 (18. Nxd4 Ng3) 18... b6 19. Bg2 Bb5 20. Rhe1 Bb4 (20... Nc5 {After what happened in the game I was thinking if this was a better option, but I think White can just go} 21. Be3 $14 {Put the knight on d4 and be better.}) 21. c3 Be7 22. Bxe4 dxe4 23. g5 {Well White is not better in this position yet, but Black has to be careful. White is threatening Ng3, and there would not be a good way to save the e4 pawn.} Bd3+ (23... Rbc8 $5 24. Kc1 $5 (24. Ng3 Bd3+ 25. Ka1 Bb4 $1 26. Nxe4 (26. Re3 Rxd4 27. cxd4 Bd2 $1 $15) 26... Rxd4 27. cxd4 Bxe1 28. Nd6 Rc2 29. Rxe1 Rh2 $132) 24... h6 25. Kd2 hxg5 26. hxg5 $14 {I still get the feeling that with Ke3 and Ng3 White is just better.}) 24. Kc1 h5 {[%cal Gc1d2,Gd2e3,Ge2g3,Gg3e4] The question on my mind is - why h5? The battle is revolving around the e4 pawn, what would be the reason for Korobov to make a move like h5? Well, I think he was tempting Adhiban to go for Ng3. So h5 was more like a trap.} (24... a5 25. Kd2 a4 26. Ke3 Bc4 27. a3 $16 {This is the problem for Black. He will lose the e4 pawn without any compensation.}) 25. Kd2 $1 {A strong move by Adhiban. He sees through his opponent's plans. Now Ng3 is a strong threat. Also Ke3 just strengthening the position is possible.} (25. Ng3 Rxd4 $1 26. cxd4 Rc8+ 27. Kd2 Bb4+ 28. Ke3 Bxe1 29. Rxe1 Rc2 30. Nxe4 Bxe4 31. Kxe4 Rxb2 $11 {And the game would most probably ended in a draw.}) 25... Bc5 {Well, this move is really not a good idea, but I think Black was already short of ideas in the position.} 26. Ke3 Rbc8 (26... Bxe2 27. Rxe2 Bxd4+ 28. Rxd4 Rxd4 29. cxd4 (29. Kxd4 Rd8+ 30. Kxe4 Rd1 {with good drawing chances.}) 29... Rc8 30. Kxe4 g6 {Once again, White will push here, but I think draw is a possibility.}) 27. Bxc5 Rxc5 (27... bxc5 28. Ng3 $16) 28. Ng3 Rcd5 (28... g6 29. Nxe4 $18) 29. Nxh5 {The bad news for Black at this point is that the e4 pawn is still weak and he is a pawn down!} Bc4 30. Rd4 $1 Bxa2 31. Ra1 Rxd4 32. cxd4 Bd5 33. Rxa7 g6 34. Rd7 $1 { A nice finishing stroke. The knight will pick up all the pawns! A controlled and matured game by Adhiban. It's really tough to say where Korobov went wrong in the game.} 1-0

Though all encounters certainly count, one that had to do their players a world of good for the morale was the bout between Turkey and USA. Turkey might not seem like such a big deal, but as any reader who has followed the event until now knows, they have outperformed all expectation in spectacular fashion. That said, this team of Davids finally met their Goliath as the Americans won a decisive match by 3-1. Although the chances for a medal or next to nil at this point, it had to feel good to win a match by such a score.

Alexander Onischuk was one of the key winners in the victory of the US team over Turkey

In round eight the biggest match will undoubtedly be India against Russia. Should India be able to score an upset, they would go a long way towards fulfilling any medal dreams they have.

Warm thanks to IM Sagar Shah for sharing his analysis with ChessBase readers. You can read his full report at ChessBase India.

Crosstable of Open section

Rank Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 MP Pts.
1
CHINA
*
 
2
2
 
12
18½
2
RUSSIA
*
3
 
 
2
3
3
11
18½
3
POLAND
 
1
*
 
3
3
10
16
4
INDIA
 
*
2
 
9
16
5
USA
2
 
½
*
3
2
 
3
8
14½
6
TURKEY
2
2
2
1
*
 
2
 
8
14
7
BELARUS
½
1
 
2
 
*
2
6
14
8
UKRAINE
1
 
2
2
*
3
 
4
12½
9
NORWAY
 
1
 
½
1
*
2
10
EGYPT
½
½
1
1
 
½
 
*
0

Women's section

Women's section - Round 7 on 2017/06/24 at 15:00
No.
SNo
Team
Res
Team
SNo
1
4
EGYPT
1.5-2.5
UKRAINE
10
2
5
RUSSIA
3.5-0.5
POLAND
3
3
6
CHINA
2-2
INDIA
2
4
7
VIETNAM
2-2
USA
1
5
8
AZERBAIJAN
1-3
GEORGIA
9

For a board wise break down, click here

The Women’s competition has been dominated by Russia and Ukraine throughout, as the two teams have forged a significant lead over the rest of the field. They are currently neck-and-neck, each with only two draws and no losses. Neither team suffered any surprises in round seven, though Russia’s crushing 3.5-0.5 win over Polnad grants them an advantage in the tiebreak, based on game points.

On the other hand, there is a pitched war between four teams over bronze, which is wide open: China, Georgia, India, and Poland. China and India met in round seven, trading wins on boards three and four. India’s Padmini Rout has been one of their stars, and she scored once again to help tie the match.

China versus India

Crosstable of Women's section

Rank Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 MP Pts.
1
RUSSIA
*
 
3
3
2
3
2
 
12
19
2
UKRAINE
 
*
2
 
2
3
12
17
3
CHINA
1
2
*
2
 
3
2
 
9
16
4
GEORGIA
 
½
*
2
2
 
3
3
4
8
16
5
INDIA
1
2
2
*
 
 
3
8
14½
6
POLAND
½
2
 
2
*
2
 
7
15
7
USA
2
1
 
2
*
2
 
5
13½
8
VIETNAM
1
1
1
 
 
2
*
4
5
13
9
AZERBAIJAN
2
2
1
 
½
 
*
4
4
12½
10
EGYPT
 
 
0
1
½
½
0
0
*
0

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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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ex0 ex0 6/26/2017 11:10
And i think in terms of current rating, this lineup is their highest rated players? Wang Hao/Yue and Bu Xiangzhi are just 2700~ now, or not even. Li Chao and Wei Yi are like 2720-2730~ right now, so it pretty much IS their A team in terms of highest current ratings.
ex0 ex0 6/26/2017 11:09
This isn't chessbase india? It's written by Albert Silver? I'm a fan of the chinese team and am also ethnically chinese, but i don't see any real attempt to 'discredit' the chinese team? Why do you think that? Because they said China fielded their absolute A team? Sure, it might not be 'absolute' a team, ie Wang Hao/Wang Yue/Bu Xiangzhi is missing etc, but other than that, everyone else is basically here.
Syphic101 Syphic101 6/26/2017 01:54
Typical Chessbase India trying to discredit the Chinese national team! Well, China in the lead in the Men's section after all. I wouldn't be surprised if my comment mysteriously disappear it supports China after all.

China didn't really field their "A team". Chinese A team would be Ding Liren, Yu Yangyi, Wang Hao, Wei Yi and Bu Xiangzhi as backup. Chessbase seriously seems to belittle the Chinese every chance they get. Is it jealousy, I wonder?

Chessbase what do you have against China and or Chinese ppl? Yes, I'm calling yall out!
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