World Women’s Team Ch: Georgia and Kazakhstan to fight for gold

by David Llada
9/11/2023 – Both semifinals at the World Women’s Team Championship in Bydgoszcz were decided in blitz tiebreakers. After trading wins in the two rapid sets, Kazakhstan and Georgia obtained clear wins in the 3-minute games that decided the matches. France and the United States will fight for bronze on Monday, starting one hour earlier than usual, at 14.00 CEST (8.00 ET, 17.30 IST). | Photo: Michal Walusza

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Kazakhstan 2 – 1 France

Sets: 1-3, 3-1, 4-0

In the first set, things went quite well for the French squad. At the expense of some minor concessions in the centre, Deimante Daulyte-Cornette built a very dangerous attack with White, throwing her pieces towards Bibisara Assaubayeva’s king. Assaubayeva, who had not yet lost a game in this event, found herself under tremendous pressure. Daulyte-Cornette was a bit short of time towards the end, with only seconds on the clock, but her advantage was overwhelming, and she converted it without hesitation.

The second French victory came on the third board, also with the white pieces: the clash between Sophie Milliet and Alua Nurmanova was quite a rollercoaster and, in fact, Milliet was worse for most of the game. But at some point, the young Kazakhstani overlooked a simple tactical trick that allowed Milliet to capture the a-pawn and turn the tables, which meant France had achieved a 3-1 victory.

Bibisara Assaubayeva

Kazakhstan’s top boards — Bibisara Assaubayeva sharing a laugh with Meruert Kamalidenova | Photo: Michal Walusza

Nurmanova took her revenge in the second set, which had a very different storyline. Nurmanova completely outplayed her opponent with the white pieces in a very instructive attacking game. Short of time and against the ropes, Milliet had to resign. Earlier in the match, Mitra Hejazipour had blundered a pawn in the opening, and Amina Kairbekova had been merciless in the conversion. With the remaining two games ending in a draw, the match was to be decided in the blitz tie-break.

It was clear that the result and the emotions of the second rapid set affected the mood and confidence of the players as they entered the playing hall for the tie-break. Kazakhstan was on a roll, and the youngsters got a clean sweep in the blitz games. Reaching the final is no doubt a fair and well-deserved result for the Kazakhstani players, who completely dominated the pool stage, but a bitter end for a French team that was one of the revelations of the event.

Natacha Benmesbeh, Amina Kairbekova

Amina Kairbekova (Kazakhstan) beat Natacha Benmesbah (France) with white in the tiebreaker | Photo: Michal Walusza

Georgia 2 – 1 USA

Sets: 2½-1½, 1½-2½, 3½-½

We could say that Georgia took control of the first set from early on, as Lela Javakhishvili delivered a brilliant blow to Atousa Pourkashiyan’s position. Curiously enough, Javakhishvili didn’t find the best continuation to follow up on her attack, and little by little, her advantage vanished, being this the only game to end in a draw. However, being aware that they were probably going to lose on the fourth board was something that weighed on the American players.

Tatev Abrahamyan went wrong in a drawish position and lost to Nino Batsiashvili. Anna Zatonskih defended a slightly inferior position against Meri Arabidze, falling behind on the clock. Arabidze was very smart and broke through with 66.e4 at the right time, provoking a mistake from Zatonskih. The only victory for the Americans came on board one, where Alice Lee collected yet another scalp, outplaying Bella Khotenashvili with White in a very fine game.

Bella Khotenashvili

Bella Khotenashvili (Georgia) | Photo: Michal Walusza

For the second set, the coach of the US team decided to bench Anna Zatonskih, who was replaced by Annie Wang. This proved to be the right call, as Wang scored the crucial victory for her team in a London System against Nino Batsiashvili. As all the other games ended in a draw, this victory allowed the USA to force a tie-break.

The blitz games were quite one-sided, with the Americans failing to show their A-game. Abrahamyan managed to neutralise Arabidze, reaching a quick draw. However, Pourkashiyan blundered a pawn against Javakhishvili, while Wang blundered a whole piece and gifted the full point to Batsiashvili. In the remaining game, on the first board, Lee also fell for a simple tactical trick that left her one exchange down — she resigned shortly after. In the final, the Georgians will get a chance to further increase their impressive track record in women’s competitions.

Annie Wang, Nino Batsiashvili

Nino Batsiashvili (Georgia) got the better of Annie Wang (USA) with black in the blitz decider | 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".