World Women’s Team Ch: Kazakhstan, France, USA and Georgia in semis

by David Llada
9/10/2023 – The quarterfinals of the World Women’s Team Championship took place on Saturday. Georgia got the better of China; the United States eliminated Ukraine; France knocked out Poland; and Kazakhstan beat Germany. In the semifinals, Georgia will face the United States, and France will face Kazakhstan. | Photo: Michal Walusza

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France 2 – 0 Poland

Sets: 3-1, 2½-1½

France was one of the first teams to secure their qualification for the semifinals of the FIDE World Women’s Team Championship, as they beat Poland in two sets. The first match was one-way traffic: Klaudia Kulon won again on the fourth board, extending her successful run to a remarkable 4½/5, but all her teammates succumbed against Les Bleus, setting the score of the first clash at 3-1.

Despite being forced to win, the Polish squad played better in the second round, which was much closer, but France always had the match under control.

This time, it was Kulon who took even more risks than usual and lost her game and, with it, the match (2½-1½). Significantly reinforced with the incorporation of Mitra Hejazipour on the third/fourth board, France proved once again to be a very competitive squad, on par with the big guns, despite the poor form of Natacha Benmesbah (1/4).

Deimante Daulyte-Cornette, Oliwia Kiolbasa

Deimante Daulyte-Cornette (France) facing Oliwia Kiolbasa (Poland) | Photo: Michal Walusza

Georgia 2½ – 1½ China

Sets: 2½-1½, 2-2

Georgia-China was probably the closest match of the quarterfinals. In the first set, Meri Arabidze ground her way to a fine win with the black pieces over Kaiyu Ning, which was enough to achieve team victory (2½-1½), as the remaining three games ended in a draw.

In the second clash, China had excellent chances to hit back. While the games on the three lower boards seemed pretty equal, Yuxin Song managed to build an advantage with White against Bella Khotenashvili, and she was, in fact, very close to winning. However, Song let her advantage slip, and in the end, she could have even lost. The relief on the faces of the Georgians was blatantly obvious when Khotenashvilli and Song shook hands and signed the draw, promoting Georgia to the semifinals.

Meri Arabidze

Meri Arabidze (Georgia) | Photo: Michal Walusza

United States 2 – 0 Ukraine

Sets: 2½-1½, 2½-1½

The United States won both sets against Ukraine by the minimum margin. The Ukrainians demonstrated their resilience and gave the Americans a run for their money, but the USA was the better team, and their victory was a fair result. Young prodigy Alice Lee drew both her games against Anna Ushenina on the first board, as the Americans’ victory was cemented on the lower boards, where Tatev Abrahamyan and Atousa Pourkashiyan won both their games.

In the second clash, Anna Zatonskih blundered in the opening (23…dxc4?) and lost on the spot against Nataliya Buksa, but this lone win for the Ukrainians was not enough to change the fate of the match.

United States Chess Team

Team USA | Photo: Michal Walusza

Kazakhstan 2½ – 1½ Germany

Sets: 2-2, 3-1

The clash between Kazakhstan and Germany was probably the most exciting of the day. The first game between Elisabeth Paehtz and Bibisara Assaubayeva was a relatively quiet draw in 25 moves. The exchange of blows happened on boards two and three, where Alua Nurmanova gave no chance to Josefine Heinemann, while Meruert Kamalidenova made a dubious pawn sacrifice that Dinara Wagner punished ruthlessly.

With a draw on the scoreboard, everything was at stake in the second match, where all four games reached a decisive outcome. Nurmanova won again against Heinemann, and so did Amina Kairbekova on the fourth board. However, the lucky Germans still hoped for one more miracle, as Paehtz got a clear advantage out of the opening against Assaubayeva while Wagner was building an attack in her game.

However, the blunders caused by the time trouble struck again in the game between Paehtz and Assaubayeva, with the advantage changing sides on almost every move in the final stage of the game.

In the end, it was the Kazakhstani who made the second-to-last mistake, inflicting a painful defeat on Paehtz. Wagner won her game, but to no avail.

Alua Nurmanova

Alua Nurmanova (Kazakhstan) | Photo: Michal Walusza

Knockout bracket

World Women's Team Chess Championship


David Llada was born in Asturias, north of Spain. On his website he describes himself as "journalist, enterpreneur, book worm, fixer, photographer, chess addict, gambler, media consultant".