World Team Ch: Russian lead shrinks

by André Schulz
3/11/2019 – Russia, the leading team at the World Team Championship, unexpectedly gave up a team match point to Azerbaijan round six. India and England are only one point behind. England scored an important win over Iran 3-1 despite the early loss of their reserve player Jon Speelman on board four. In the Women's section, China continues to lead the field. | Photos: David Llada

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Russia drops a point to Azerbaijan

The dominant Russian team gave up a match point in a sixth round split decision against Azerbaijan 2:2 in Astana on Monday. However, Russia are still leading the field with a single point separating them from both India and England. The Azerbaijani squad are without their top players Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Teimour Radjabov and so are lead by Arkadij Naiditsch on top board.

With a win over Sergey Karjakin, Naiditsch secured the draw, compensating for the loss the suffered by Rauf Mamedov against Ian Nepomniachtchi. The remaining two games ended in draws.

Russia vs Azerbaijan

The top boards in Russia vs Azerbaijan | Photo: David Llada

 

A study-like position. Black sacrificed the exchange on c3 with 29...♜xe4 and gained counterplay after 30.♘xc3 ♝e5+ 31.♔f2 ♜f4+ 31.♔e2 dxc3. 30.♔f2 was probably a better choice.

Naiditsch himself considered the sacrifice incorrect after the game: 

India scored well with a 3½:½ victory against the hosts from Kazakhstan and has even outperformed Russia in the board standings. 

England celebrated a 3:1 victory over Iran, despite an early loss from Jon Speelman, who was crushed by Alireza Firouzja. The final king walk from the Iranian is truly a sight to behold.

 

But England battled back with wins on the top three boards including Micky Adams' smooth refutation of an overly ambitious try from World Junior Champ Parham Maghsoodloo:

 

40.h4? The last move of the time control. Adams was suddenly winning after 40...Qg3+ as White's position collapses rapidly. In true Adams style, he avoided complications as much as possible, guiding the position into a technical queen ending up two pawns.

Maghsoodloo vs Adams

Adams in his team jacket, Maghsoodloo in his trademark sleeveless | Photo: David Llada

The underperforming team from China had to settle for a draw with Egypt — 2:2 — as Wei Yi was defeated by Ahmed Adly.

 

White threatened here with 37.g7 and 38.d8 in the air, but after 36...♝e5 the air was out of the position and Black's h-pawn decided the game.

Adly analysed the game with Yannick Pelletier afterwards: 

For Egypt, this was the first point scored in the tournament. For the Chinese, with their 6 match points they are still behind the USA in the standings, despite the latter starting with a far weaker squad.

All games

 

Team standings after six rounds

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 Russia 10
2 India 9
3 England 9
4 United States of America 8
5 China 6
6 Iran 5
7 Azerbaijan 4
8 Kazakhstan 4
9 Sweden 4
10 Egypt 1

Women's Team Championship

In the Women's section, the leaders from China emerged with a 2½:1½ victory over India. Russia, in pursuit, earned the same result against the USA.

Abrahamyan vs Lagno

Abrahamyan vs Lagno | Photo: David Llada

Ukraine also prevailed against Armenia with the same score. Here Anna Muzychuk was the key winner against Lilit Mkrtchian. A closely contested match was the Kazakh team's win over the Hungary. In too ended with a score of 2½:1½ in favour of the hosts. 

Assaubayeva

Bibisara Assaubayeva (Kazakhstan) is determined | Photo: David Llada

All games

 

Standings after six rounds

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 China 12
2 Russia 10
3 Ukraine 9
4 Georgia 8
5 India 6
6 Kazakhstan 6
7 United States of America 5
8 Armenia 2
9 Hungary 2
10 Egypt 0

Translation from German and additional reporting: Macauley Peterson

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André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.

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