Yermo's Travels: The USA in Rhodes (part 3)

by Alex Yermolinsky
4/29/2019 – The top teams won the Senior World Team Championships in Rhodes as both the USA in the 50+ age group Russia in the 65+ age group were unstoppable. GM ALEX YERMOLINSKY (now back in the USA and recovering from jet-lag) completes his trilogy on the exploits of the American cohort, which included swimming and billiards. | Pictured: (L to R) Alexander Shabalov, Joel Benjamin, Igor Novikov, Jaan Ehlvest and Alex Yermolinsky | Photo: Thorsten Cmiel

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The last hurdle

The US team with grandmasters Alexander Shabalov, Joel Benjamin, Igor Novikov, Jaan Ehlvest and Alex Yermolinsky dominated the 50+ category with 17 points, three points ahead of their nearest rivals, Italy. Over the course of the tournament, the US dropped just one point, a 2:2 tie with Iceland. The best player of the team was Alexander Shabalov on the first board with 6 points out of 7 rounds. The US grandmasters lost only two games — as we saw in part 2, Igor Novikov went down to Johann Hjartarsson in the draw with Iceland, and earlier, reported in part 1, Jaan Ehlvest lost in the third round against England's John Emms.

The silver medal for Italy is a strong result considering they were the 6th placed team by starting rank. The Italians also played a 2:2 draw against Iceland, but dropped another point in a draw with Armenia and lost their match with the USA. The draw in the final round against Armenia was important, as Iceland had a chance at the silver medal themselves. But the Icelanders lost in the last round against Israel and fell out of medal contention. The Israeli team reached a tie for the bronze and took the 3rd spot on tiebreak score over Armenia, Iceland and England.

GM Yermolinsky picks up the narrative from the seventh round...


The last tough hurdle to clear for the U.S. Team was our match against Israel in Round 7

Board one was a wild affair. Shabba's position looked a bit suspect out of the opening, but toward the end he was surely winning.

 

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Joel Benjamin was much better throughout the entire game, but couldn't overcome Ilan Manor's stiff resistance, while Jaan Ehlvest's delayed Benko failed to shake up the rock-solid Alexander Kaspi.

Seeing my teammates struggle a bit to make any headway, I had to press harder in my own game.

 

Sans Gelfand, Smirin and Huzman, the Israeli team is still quite good. In the end they won a critical battle against Iceland to capture Bronze medals, thanks to their superior game points count (26 points, even better than our 25½)

Our win over Israel put USA in the commanding lead, since we had already faced all the best teams. To answer our mood, the weather had finally turned to more of a summer season. The ocean waves subsided, and Captain Shabalov decided to test the waters. He came well-prepared. It turned out to a rather unnecessary precaution. A few minutes later we saw a girl paddling on her surfboard, while wearing a regular bathing suit, with a dog keeping her company.

Shabalov in a wet suit

Grandmaster 0-1 local girl

In Round 8 we defeated Austria 3½:½. I took an early draw after somewhat misplaying the black side of the Alapin Sicilian.

Yermolinsky

Later that day, Shabalov and I took a taxi to the other side of the island to visit local Billiards Academy. It turned out to be a quiet bar scene on a weekday night, with only a few tables busy, while the rest of the crowd was watching soccer on TV. To our mild disappointment they didn't have a snooker table. We ended up shooting some pool, while I nonetheless tried to maintain a proper snooker stance.

The last round was held in the morning. Italy was the only team with even a mathematical chance of overtaking us, but for that we needed to lose ½-3½ to Argentina. That remote possibility was quickly eliminated, as Novikov and Ehlvest took clinching draws. Throughout the whole event we played as a team, trying to make things easier for one another, be it at the cost of a few rating points.

Joel and I went into a typical GM technical mode, and were able to achieve smooth endgame wins.

 

At the closing ceremony every player on Team USA was awarded an individual board prize. Shabalov and I took gold, while Benjamin, Novikov and Ehlvest collected bronze medals.

 
  1. USA (RtgAvg:2529, Captain: GM Alex Shabalov / TB1: 17 / TB2: 25,5)
Bo.   Name Rtg FED FideID 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Pts. Games RtgAvg Rp
1 GM Shabalov Alexander 2510 USA 2008572 1 1 1 1 ½   ½ 1   6,0 7 2430 2739
2 GM Benjamin Joel 2523 USA 2000091 ½ ½   ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 5,5 8 2379 2520
3 GM Novikov Igor 2563 USA 14100037 1 1 ½   ½ 0   1 ½ 4,5 7 2359 2461
4 GM Ehlvest Jaan 2521 USA 4500016 1   0 ½ ½ 1 ½   ½ 4,0 7 2381 2431
5 GM Yermolinsky Alex 2508 USA 2005492   1 1 ½   ½ 1 ½ 1 5,5 7 2354 2584

Jaan should have also been given the best dressed award, as he looked rather presidential.

Ehlvest

Future president of Estonia?

The there were congratulations and more pictures taken.

Team USA selfie

See you next year in Prague!

Final standings after Round 9

Rg. Team  Match pts 
1 USA 17
2 Italy 14
3 Israel 12
4 Armenia 12
5 Iceland 1 12
6 England 1 12
7 Germany 11
8 Austria 11
9 England 2 10
10 Scotland 10
11 Argentina 9
12 Russia Women 9
13 Ireland 1 9
14 VSG 1880 Offenbach 9
15 Athens Vets 8
16 Finland 1 8
17 Wales 8
18 Germany Women 8
19 Sweden 1 8
20 Canada 8
21 Uruguay 8
22 Latvia Women 7
23 Finland Sisu 6
24 Oslo Schakselskap 5
25 England 3 3
26 Sweden 2 0

All available games (Rounds 1-9)

 

Russian grandmaster efficiency

by Andre Schulz

The Russian team won the championship for player 65+ by a one point margin, undefeated. Four times, the Russian team had to settle for a 2-2 draw, however, against England, Germany, France and finally, Sweden.

The Russian match strategy was, in principle, to achieve a winning position on one board, and then to secure the team victory at the other boards with draws. Several times, the team overshot and scored more points, but other times the plan went wrong, as against France in the penultimate round, after a game was unexpectedly lost.

 

The Russian Team: (L to R) Zhelnin, Balashov, Rashkovsky, Sveshnikov, Pushkov | Photo: Thorsten Cmiel

 
  1. Russia 65+ (RtgAvg:2467, Captain: Mikhail Archangelsky / TB1: 14 / TB2: 23,5)
Bo.   Name Rtg FED FideID 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Pts. Games RtgAvg
1 GM Sveshnikov Evgeny 2481 RUS 4100638   1 ½ 1 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 6,0 8 2355
2 GM Balashov Yuri S 2470 RUS 4100263 1   ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 5,5 8 2302
3 GM Rashkovsky Nukhim N 2488 RUS 4100603 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 5,5 9 2229
4 IM Zhelnin Vladimir V 2429 RUS 4105567 1 1 ½   1 1 ½ 0   5,0 7 2164
5 GM Pushkov Nikolai 2295 RUS 4117131 1 0   0         ½ 1,5 4 2144

The German team was well in the race going into the final round, a point behind the Russians in second place.

 

France against Germany | Photo: Thorsten Cmiel

With a victory, the Germans could have caught up with Russia on team points and snag the silver. But a loss to France dropped Germany back to fifth place. Silver went to England and France won bronze.

Final standings after Round 9

Rg. Team  Match pts 
1 Russia 65+ 14
2 England 1 13
3 France 13
4 Israel 13
5 Germany 12
6 Iceland 2 11
7 Finland 3 11
8 Sweden 1 11
9 Saint Petersburg 10
10 England 2 10
11 Sweden 2 10
12 Austria 10
13 Stiftung BSW 10
14 England 3 9
15 Belgium 9
16 Norway 1 8
17 Switzerland 8
18 Norresundby Skakklub 8
19 Vienna 7
20 Wales 7
21 Scotland 2 7
22 Sweden 3 7
23 Sweden 4 7
24 Turku 6
25 Ireland 2 4
26 Finland Karhut 4
27 Mongolia Women 3

All available games

 

Translation from German: Macauley Peterson and Johannes Fischer


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Yermo is enjoying his fifties. Lives in South Dakota, 600 miles way from the nearest grandmaster. Between his chess work online he plays snooker and spends time outdoors - happy as a clam.
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Philip Feeley Philip Feeley 4/30/2019 02:22
Sweden managed to send 4 teams over 65, but Russia only sent one? And not even one in the 50+ category? It is indeed a topsy turvy world!
michael bacon michael bacon 4/30/2019 12:40
The whole team should be wearing the "Senior" hats!
I am a Senior and want a hat!
Zagliveri_chess Zagliveri_chess 4/30/2019 12:30
"The ocean waves subsided, and Captain Shabalov decided to test the waters" I guess Yermolinski is a GM in chess, but has 1000 ELO rating in geography. The closest ocean to Rhodes is the Indian, more than 1,000 miles away. The sapphire blue you see in the pictures is the Mediterranean Sea, not an ocean.
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