World Team Ch: It's Russia's to lose in the Open

by André Schulz
3/13/2019 – Russia defended its lead at the World Team Championship in Astana with a narrow 2.5: 1.5 win over the USA. In the women's tournament, the Chinese were able to extend their lead to three points as Russia scored a point against Ukraine. | Photos: David Llada

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China increases lead in Women’s 

Before today's seventh round in Astana, the Russian team led the Open section by a single match point over India and England — not necessarily a big margin for error. On Tuesday they faced the US team, but with the top seven players absent from the American squad the only thing they have in common with the team that won the Baku Olympiad in 2016 is the flag and captian IM John Donaldson. Nevertheless, the USA has performed remarkably well and was ahead of China and Azerbaijan — the latter also without their best.

The match between Russia and the USA ended as expected, also the result was close.

Russia vs USA

Dariusz Swiercz had no trouble drawing his White game with Ian Nepomniachtchi, as did Alex Lenderman against Dmitry Andreikin. That left Sam Sevian and Zviad Izoria trying to hold off Alexander Grischuk and Vladislav Artemiev for the crucial point swing. In the queenless middlegame Artemiev was able to set a devilish trap.


With the slick tactic 18.xd6 White gained a clear advantage. There followed 18...xd6 19.e5 xe5 20.f4+ ♚f5 21.c2 and now Black had to return material with 21...e4. That was all Artemiev needed for a clean technical conversion.

The Azerbaijan team sans Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Teimour Radjabov nicked Russia for a point with a draw in round six, and in the seventh all four games ended in draws.

So England remains the closest pursuer to the Russian team after their narrow victory over Egypt. Michael Adams lost to Bassem Amin, the African Champion, on the first board, but Luke McShane and Gawain Jones "did the business" for England. They are certainly faring a lot better than the Theresa May who suffered another humiliating defeat in British politics today.


This looks like the sort of position in which Adams excels, and White stands better after Bb5. But Adams went for the queen sortie 29.h6?, with the threat of 30.xe4 and 31.g5. But he overlooked the cool counterpunch 29...g5 when the queen is suddenly surrounded. After 30.h5 f6, Adams had to give a piece with 31.xf7 and it was all down hill from there.

Amin and Adams

Amin and Adams

The English captain Malcolm Pein remains cautious as to their chances of medal 

The Chinese are far from their best form in Astana and even their victory against Sweden looks weak at 2½:1½. Match winner was Ni Hua against Linus Johansson, who has lost four games in the past week. Ni's queen's fancy footwork was the difference in this one, as it proved strong for Johansson's pair of rooks.


Ni Hua

Ni Hua labours alone | Photo: David Llada

Iran also prevailed against Kazakhstan with a 2½:1½.


Team Team Res. : Res.
  China   Sweden :
  England   Egypt :
  Kazakhstan   Iran :
  Azerbaijan   India 2 : 2
  United States of America   Russia :

Standings after Round 7

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 Russia 12
2 England 11
3 India 10
4 United States of America 8
5 China 8
6 Iran 7
7 Azerbaijan 5
8 Kazakhstan 4
9 Sweden 4
10 Egypt 1

All games


Women's Team Championship

In the women's competition, the Chinese team increased their lead to three points with a 4-0 seep over Egypt, as Russia could only draw against Ukraine.

Russia vs Ukraine

Russia vs Ukraine

Most of the action was on the boards of the Muzychuk sisters. Mariya Muzychuk scored for Ukraine against Kateryna Lagno, but Alexandra Kosteniuk made up for it with a win for Russia over Anna Muzychuk.


The World Championship finalist's sense of danger failed her with 24...e7? and was swiftly punished 25.xh7 d4 (there's nothing better) 26.e1 and Lagno had to part with her queen.

Mariya Muzychuk on a good result for Ukraine


Team Team Res. : Res.
  China   Egypt 4 : 0
  United States of America   India 0 : 4
  Ukraine   Russia 2 : 2
  Hungary   Armenia 2 : 2
  Georgia   Kazakhstan : ½

All games


Standings after Round 7

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 China 14
2 Russia 11
3 Georgia 10
4 Ukraine 10
5 India 8
6 Kazakhstan 6
7 United States of America 5
8 Armenia 3
9 Hungary 3
10 Egypt 0

Translation from German and additional reporting: Macauley Peterson


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


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