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Thursday, December 5, 2013

World team Chess Round 8: Russia Leads with one Round to go; Ukraine, China one Match Point away

Chess Blog for Daily Chess News and Trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2013

Hello everyone,

Russia is leading the World Team Chess Championship 2013, with 13 match points, after eight rounds in Antalya, Turkey. China and Ukraine are right behind with 12 match points. Armenia has 10 match points. 

Ukraine had been leading the World Team Chess Championship 2013 since the start, but it's not easy to underestimate the Russians - particularly at chess. Round 8 saw the 'big match' Russia versus Ukraine.  

In the top fight Ivanchuk-Kramnik, the Ukrainian didn't want to play yet another Berlin and chose a pet line of famous grandmaster Sveshnikov in Giucco Piano. It was perhaps unexpected for Kramnik but he solved all his problems and when Ivanchuk missed a pretty tactic got a very slight advantage even, though nothing meaningful was there and the game ended in a draw. 

On the second board a good Scheveningen game was played between Karjakin and Korobov and in the end a draw was a quite deserved and a good result, especially for the Russias as they had the upper hand on the fourth board. 

Moiseenko employed a Sideline against Grünfeld and surprised Grischuk but with accurate play Black achieved total equality and made an easy draw. The decisive result came from the Nepomniachtchi-Kryvoruchko game on the fourth board. Young Russian star Ian Nepomniachtchi got a nice advantage right out of the opening and pressing on the backward black pawn on c7 forcing Black to play c6 and create another weakness on d6. 

In the resulting unpleasant position with two rooks and queens, Kryvoruchko played a terrible blunder on the 40th move with Qa1, leaving his queen stranded between enemy forces. The game ended after two more moves when the Black Queen got trapped. A very important win which probably brought the gold from Ukraine to Russia. 

Of course there's one more round and Egypt will try their best to cause a major upset against Russia but keeping in mind that Ukraine is playing Armenia, it's much more likely that the upset will come from the Armenian team if at all. 

The second most important match with regard to standings was played between China and Germany. It followed pretty much the same trend as the Ukraine-Russia match. On first three boards nothing really happened and all of them ended in draws. On the last board Yu used the predictability of Baramidze to his advantage and came well prepared for Breyer. When Baramidze gave up a piece for the attack, Yu easily fended off all the threats and won the game with an extra piece. With this win China almost guaranteed the third place and if Armenia beats Ukraine and they win against Turkey they can even have the silver.

Netherlands got the same result today as in yesterday's round against Russia. Aronian's win against Giri and Akopian's endgame play are to single out from the three victories in the match. On the last board L'Ami sacrificed a pawn for some initiative but instead got nothing and then totally collapsed, not causing any trouble to Tigran Petrosian. Even in the Tiviakov-Sargissian game, it was the Armenian player who had a slight advantage but Tiviakov held the draw.

The Azerbaijan-Egypt match saw the only result which hadn't happened in this championship before: 4-0! Nothing to comment upon, a very impressive result by the Azeri team and a very depressing result for the Egyptian team who are playing here without two of their strongest players. For an exciting finish they should make Russia sweat a bit tomorrow however and Ukrainians are hoping exactly for that!

Finally the surprise of the day! The hosts had lost all their matches except versus Egypt before and probably the coach of USA thought of the match as a good opportunity to make Nakamura rest a bit before his game against Giri in the final round. However as one Scottish poet wrote, "The best-laid plans of mice and men, often go awry." and that's exactly what happened. By the way interestingly Ipatov also rested in the Turkish team, so it wasn't exactly clear who surprised who. On the first board Solak played a good and solid game against Kamsky, achieving a slight advantage which he couldn't turn into anything tangible. Yilmaz, who had no points before today, got a clear advantage against Onischuk with black however Turkey's coach let him to make a draw as the coach thought of the match as winning at that point since on fourth board Can had an equal position against Akobian and Esen had already won against Robson with white on third board. Just like Ipatov has done against Aronian, Robson sacrificed two pieces for a rook and two pawns but Esen proved that playing with pieces is much easier and won a nice game when his opponent was in time trouble. 

So everything seemed to be set for a Turkey win but Akobian pushed quite brilliantly against Can to score a win and save at least a match draw for USA. A huge disappointment for USA, but a very good result for the hosts. They could achieve even more in this match of course, but a match draw against USA is for sure nothing bad. Consider the fact that Russians who climbed to the top today, got beaten with 3-1 by USA before!

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