World Team Ch: England take silver, China take bronze

by Antonio Pereira
3/15/2019 – The final round of the 2019 World Team Championships decided silver and bronze medallists in both categories, as the winners had already been decided a day earlier. In the Open, England defeated Sweden and took home silver, while China managed to get bronze after a topsy-turvy event overall. In the women's section, China finished with a perfect 18/18, while Russia tied with Georgia, getting both teams to the podium. | Photo: David Llada / Official site

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


No Chuck Norris in round nine

After Vladimir Kramnik's reitrement, the Russian men's team has been left without a clear leader. Official press officer Yannick Pelletier brought this up during the post-tournament press conference, and asked Alexander Grischuk if they had a new leader by now. Grischuk, in typical style, mentioned that they had Chuck Norris in the team, referring to Astana's heavy hitter Vladislav Artemiev, who rested for the first time in Thursday's last round. He might not be the leader yet, Grischuk added, but he certainly might become precisely that in the future.

It was Grischuk that got a win in round nine to give his team a 2½:1½ victory over India, inflicting their rivals their first defeat. With the Indians beaten, England's triumph over Sweden was enough to secure second place.

Round 9 results

Team Team Res. : Res.
  England   Sweden : ½
  Kazakhstan   China :
  Azerbaijan   Egypt :
  U.S.A.   Iran 3 : 1
  Russia   India :

It is no coincidence that we already mentioned Grischuk several times in this report, as he was on fire on and off the board during the final day of action. He answered most of the questions asked in English — the rest were dealt with in Russian — during the press conference, and talked about his favourite format for the deciding tournaments of the World Championship cycle, showing great concern for the fact that the Candidates is played as a round-robin event:

The thing I didn't like about the Candidates tournament is just [that it] really encourages pre-arranged games, fixed games, rigged games, whatever you call it…and I don't think it's going to happen more than once every three, four Candidates tournaments, but it's such a bad thing that I think it just kills everything, even if it happens so rarely. [...] It will really change the outcome of the tournament.

He elaborated further on his rationale, explaining that his favourite system, the knock-out format, got a bad reputation after the 2011 Kazan tournament, when elite chess was going through a strange phase in which White was still trying to get a big advantage out of the opening, only to be thwarted by Black's preparation, resulting in too many draws. He also added that those that defend the round-robin format were very lucky, as the first Candidates that returned to that system — London 2013 — was, according to him, the best tournament ever, even better than Zurich 1953.

Alexander Grischuk

Alexander Grischuk  | Photo: David Llada

The full press conference, with most questions asked in Russian, was uploaded to FIDE’s official YouTube channel.

Press conference with Team Russia (partially in Russian)

England's historic silver medal

The last time England got medals in an international team event was in 1990, when they finished third at the Novi Sad Olympiad, behind the Soviet Union and the United States — they got bronze that year after having taken silver three times in a row in '84, '86 and '88. Also around that time, in 1985 and 1989, they reached the podium in two consecutive World Team Championships (the tournament was played every four years back then). Curiously, Jonathan Speelman, who was fifth board at this year's edition, was a member of all those winning teams! Mickey Adams was there in '89 and '90 as well.

Instead of Short, Nunn and Chandler, however, Speelman now had Luke McShane, David Howell and Gawain Jones as partners — besides Mickey, of course. The veterans had a rather hard time in Astana, while McShane (6/9), Howell (6/9) and Jones (5½/8) showed outstanding performances. This is a great achievement for this team, especially given the fact that China, United States and an over-performing Indian team were also in contention.

Luke McShane

Luke McShane finished unbeaten | Photo: David Llada

China recover and get bronze

In our preview to this event, we mentioned how Russia and China were the clear favourites to fight for first, but already by the fourth round it seemed clear that only a miracle would give China first place in Astana — they had lost against the U.S. and Russia in consecutive rounds, and tied with India in the next one. The last Olympic champions then went on to tie with Egypt in round six, but nonetheless managed to overcome Sweden, England and Kazakhstan in the final rounds to take home the bronze.

Ding Liren and Bu Xiangzhi finished undefeated, while Yu Yangyi, Wei Yi and Ni Hua suffered painful losses at some point during the event. In their last match of the event, Yu Yangyi obtained the single win that got them to third place.

Ni Hua

Ni Hua won in rounds six and seven | Photo: David Llada

Final standings

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 Russia 16
2 England 13
3 China 12
4 India 11
5 United States 11
6 Iran 8
7 Azerbaijan 8
8 Kazakhstan 4
9 Sweden 4
10 Egypt 3

All games


Russia and Georgia tie and reach the podium

In the women's section, China completely dominated after their round five win over Russia. They finished on 18/18 and got a clear 3½:½ victory over the strong Ukrainian squad in the last day of action. With Ukraine out of contention, Russia and Georgia had their places on the podium secured and, after four draws were signed in their direct encounter, the Russians were confirmed as silver medallists, while Georgia were left with the bronze.

Round 9 results

Team Team Res. : Res.
  U.S.A   Egypt :
  Ukraine   China ½ :
  Hungary   India 2 : 2
  Georgia   Russia 2 : 2
  Kazakhstan   Armenia 3 : 1

The performance of the Chinese team was remarkable, only losing two individual games throughout the event. Lei Tingjie won again in the last round to get an impressive 7/8, while Tan Zhongyi also scored 7 points on top board, albeit after having played all 9 games. Shen Yang and Ding Yixin also left Kazakhstan with successful results, as they wrapped up the tournament with wins over Anna Muzychuk and Inna Gaponenko, respectively.  

Ding Yixin

Ding Yixin got a 5/7 score | Photo: David Llada

The defending champions from Russia also had an astounding performance, scoring only half a point less than the Chinese in individual games. Their losses arrived in the wrong time, however, as their fifth round loss against the eventual winners was a hard blow for their aspirations. The star of the team — the Lucy Liu, Grischuk might say — was Aleksandra Goryachkina, who won six in a row and finished with an undefeated 8 out of 9. Olga Girya (5/6) and Alexandra Kosteniuk (5/7) were also in good form in Astana.

Russian Women's team

Goryachkina was the top scorer for Russia | Photo: David Llada

Meri Arabidze and Salome Melia

Georgia's Meri Arabidze and Salome Melia during the closing ceremony | Photo: David Llada

Final standings

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 China 18
2 Russia 14
3 Georgia 12
4 Ukraine 12
5 Kazakhstan 10
6 India 9
7 United States 7
8 Armenia 4
9 Hungary 4
10 Egypt 0

All games



Antonio is a freelance writer and a philologist. He is mainly interested in the links between chess and culture, primarily literature. In chess games, he skews towards endgames and positional play.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register