Reports | November 28, 2013 12:01

World Team Championship: Russia Struggling

World Team Championship: Russia Struggling

After two rounds of the 2013 World Chess Team Championship in Antalya, Turkey, a perfect bell curve of results have unfolded. Three sqauds - Germany, Azerbaijan and Ukraine - have won both of their matches, while an equal number of teams - Turkey, Netherlands and Egypt - are all 0/2.

The four remaining teams are all on the scoreboard. Armenia has a win and draw, the United States and China both have a win and a loss, and the biggest surprise - top-seeded Russia has only 0.5/2.

Russia is one of only two teams with all five players at 2700+ (Ukraine is the other). That Russia could only muster four draws and thus tie the always high-achieving Armenian quartet in round one was not surprising. But in round two, they were trounced by the Americans 3-1. Just like at the Olympiad in Istanbul, 2012, the U.S. was lead by a GM Hikaru Nakamura win over GM Vladimir Kramnik on board one. The win means the two men switch places on the live ratings list - Nakamura is now number three, while Kramnik falls to fourth.

GM Hikaru Nakamura, U.S. (All photos courtesy official site)

No underpromotion was necessary this time. Instead, Kramnik's knight lost its tether to the rest of his pieces. He sacrificed it to get a scary passed pawn, but right on the time control, Nakamura found the winning defense 40. Nc5!, otherwise the pawn cannot be stopped. If the knight is captured, White wins the pawn race because he promotes with check.

Unlike last year's matchup, GM Ray Robson won on board four, and with two draws in the middle boards, the U.S. has now beaten Russia twice in a row after many years of long losing streaks. 

GM Ray Robson, U.S.

Robson had the Black side of a Marshall Gambit (the Semi-Slav version, not the Ruy Lopez). But just like its namesake sister opening, he got to attack. Not everything was 100 percent sound (White could have thrown the h-pawn down the board more quickly), but the youngest member of the American team emerged from the chaos with a full point. Enjoy the ride:

PGN string

Germany has yet to be tested by the powerhouses as they have had the fortune of playing the two bottom teams in the opening rounds. They have had White on board one both times to boot.

Their best player by more than 100 Elo points, GM Arkadij Naiditsch, is playing board three, but in the opening round, lost to IM Samy Shoker of Egypt.

IM Samy Shoker, Egypt

The hunter became the hunted as Black fought back the attack.

But the African Champions, who are using the same strategy by playing their best player (by 150 Elo points) on bord four (!), had GM Amin Bassem go down to GM David Baramidze. Germany got by the Egyptians thanks to the relatively "normal" pairing on board two, as GM Georg Meier beat IM Abdel Razik Khaled.

Ukraine seems to be the class of the event so far. Their 2-0 start came against medal-contending teams from the U.S. and China. GM Anton Korobov is still on form after his wildly successful 2013 FIDE World Cup, and he continues to haunt the Americans. After knocking out Nakamura in Norway (and then playing stand-up comic on the post-match commentary), he beat GM Gata Kamsky as Black in round one. It was the only decisive game in the Ukraine-U.S. match (day one only had six winners out of 20 games).

GM Anton Korobov, Ukraine

Kamsky was already slightly worse when he attempted to sacrifice a pawn for play against Korobov's king. The attack stalled, and the only hope was to make several attempts to assemble a light-square blockade against the connected passers. It did not work, so Ukraine won the game and match, 2.5-1.5.

PGN string

Azerbaijan would not normally be surprising as a leader in a team competition, except perhaps at this event. Thanks to third player GM Nidjat Mamedov, who joins Korobov as the only other player with two points, the Azeri team is atop the tables (not to be confused with GM Rauf Mamedov, who is stationed at board one). His winning streak has helped overcome not having top player GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov on the team. National number two GM Vugar Gashimov has been inactive for nearly two years due to health issues, and the country only qualified for the World Team Championship thanks to the one wildcard spot given by the FIDE president. So far Azerbaijan has beaten hosts Turkey and the Netherlands.

In the opening round, only Nidjat Mamedov's meandering win put them over the top against Turkey. His pieces circuitously ran around the board until eventually both knights won both rooks to secure the match, 2.5-1.5.

Thursday's round three will be the most important so far. Leaders Azerbaijan and Ukraine play, while Russia attempts to get its first match win against China. The Americans' brutal stretch that began with Ukraine and Russia continues - they have Armenia next. Germany will look to go 3-0 against the winless Dutch squad, while Turkey versus Egypt will ensure that one of those teams will score for the first time.

Here are the standings. Classifications are based on match points, with game points as the tiebreak.

Rank Team Gam. + = - MP Pts.
1 Germany 2 2 0 0 4
2 Azerbaijan 2 2 0 0 4
3 Ukraine 2 2 0 0 4 5
4 Armenia 2 1 1 0 3 5
5 United States of America 2 1 0 1 2
6 China 2 1 0 1 2 4
7 Russia 2 0 1 1 1 3
8 Turkey 2 0 0 2 0
9 Netherlands 2 0 0 2 0
10 Egypt 2 0 0 2 0

A full breakdown of team members and explanations of qualification can be found in the previous news posting on the event.
 

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Mike Klein's picture
Author: Mike Klein
Chess.com

Comments

>:)'s picture

Typical lousy report. Your headlinementions Russia but report gives brief mention of Kramnik only! This site blows now.

Anonymous's picture

??

"Russia is one of only two teams with all five players at 2700+ (Ukraine is the other). That Russia could only muster four draws and thus tie the always high-achieving Armenian quartet in round one was not surprising. But in round two, they were trounced by the Americans 3-1. Just like at the Olympiad in Istanbul, 2012, the U.S. was lead by a GM Hikaru Nakamura win over GM Vladimir Kramnik on board one. The win means the two men switch places on the live ratings list - Nakamura is now number three, while Kramnik falls to fourth."

Anonymous's picture

???

"...Unlike last year's matchup, GM Ray Robson won on board four, and with two draws in the middle boards, the U.S. has now beaten Russia twice in a row after many years of long losing streaks.

GM Ray Robson, U.S.

Robson had the Black side of a Marshall Gambit (the Semi-Slav version, not the Ruy Lopez). But just like its namesake sister opening, he got to attack. Not everything was 100 percent sound (White could have thrown the h-pawn down the board more quickly), but the youngest member of the American team emerged from the chaos with a full point. Enjoy the ride..."

Anonymous's picture

Of the 5 games commented on and available to play over, 2 feature Russian players.
I always find it amusing when people place so much stock in the impact a change of ownership has and look at everything through this lens.
You are the kind of person bad restaurants target when they put up "Under New Management" signs, when really nothing whatsoever has changed.

Roberto's picture

If you can only complain let me ask you one thing. Please, go, make a chess news site and do better than this. Make a better report. That's all I ask you.

People like you are just ridiculous,

Alter ego's picture

>:) @ Rem tene , verba sequentur -

noyb's picture

Worse yet, report for Rd.2 comes out AFTER Rd.3 is finished... Not looking good for ChessVibes after being taken over by crappy Chess.com.

Peter Doggers's picture

@noyb As you can see from the time stamp, the report was posted
almost three hours before the start of round 3, and in fact much earlier
on Chess.com. Mike took over from me because I was flying home
from Chennai. Generally, things haven't changed at all here at
ChessVibes yet, thus far, except for a different logo in my videos.
Silly to imply otherwise.

MM78's picture

What do you exactly find "crappy" in chess.com? I have had a subscription there for a few years and I find the training material (chess mentor, videos, articles...) excellent and the staff very friendly any time I had an issue. Just asking...

Thomas Richter's picture

"[Azerbaijan] only qualified for the World Team Championship thanks to the one wildcard spot given by the FIDE president."

True, but various other countries were also a bit 'lucky' to qualify: Egypt only because they are on the 'right' continent (to some extent this also applies to the USA - they may or may not qualify if they had to compete with European teams for a spot), Germany due to a unique result at the - now - penultimate European Team Championship that they couldn't nearly reproduce, Netherlands due to 6th place at the Olympiad because all the teams ahead of them qualified by other means (and it was a pretty bizarre 'Swiss gambit' Olympiad for the Dutch team.

Of the 5 games available, 2 feature US players :) - same country as the author of this report. There were obviously other noteworthy or memorable games, e.g. the spectacular draw between Kramnik and Aronian in round 1. One has to be selective for a report (speaking from my own experience), but maybe a game viewer with 5-10 more uncommented games would be a good idea.

Alter ego's picture

TR. Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes

OCL's picture

Love chess.com, got more great news!

evgeny's picture

You have should mentioned how Ivanchunk went crazy with brack in round 2.

Anonymous's picture

WHERE IS MOTHER RUSSIA ???

Anonymous's picture

Pensioner Kramnik will play in candidates but no3 HN not. It is ridiculous.

Alter ego's picture

A@ Nonne de Novo eboraco venis?

strana's picture

"Pensioner Kramnik will play in candidates but no3 HN not. It is ridiculous". You certainly understand that this is completely unsound, that is why you are "anonymous".
Ukraine is still the only one that can avoid Russia of winning this competition !!!

LennartMeier's picture

Nice win from Nakamura! It's great how he makes Kramnik's knight more like a spectator, exchanges most of the pieces and ends up with the more active knight. Kramnik's knight sacrifice was a nice try, but I wonder whether he thought it would work or if it was more like despair.

While agree that it is sad that Nakamura does not play in the candidates (and also neither Caruana, Grischuk nor Gelfand), Kramnik's place is certainly well-earned and this one defeat does not mean much for this. OK, Kramnik had some bad results this year, but he had also some wonderful results. He won the world cup (and is kind of doubly qualified by this), he played strongly in Dortmund (and placed second only because Adams played even stronger) and, most importantly, discarding silly tie-breaks he was joint first in the candidates this year, He is far from a pensioner.

Anonymous's picture

Well, that's the problem with Nakamura and all the other top players except Carlsen: yesterday a great win against Kramnik, today ripped into pieces by Aronian. They give away too many points to each other, everyone can win and does win against the others. Honestly, I find that both annoying and more interesting at once :-)

Thomas Richter's picture

Yes, but it seems that, from a fan perspective, some wins are more winning than other wins. Yesterday, Nakamura fans felt the urge to shout "number 3!!!!" while this was the case. True, after today's games, the gap between Nakamur and the new and old #3 Kramnik (who couldn't beat Yu Yangyi but certainly tried) is small, exactly as small as the gap with #5 Topalov. Tomorrow is another day, Saturday is another day, (Sunday is the rest day) and so on.

Dirk's picture

No3. I knew youd have some sharp input after the loss to world No2 aronian. Yi mad?

Dirk's picture

Nakamura got caught in Aronians prep and had to find 20 good moves in something like 15 minutes. It happens. At least within the top 10 only 3 players give him a hard time and 2 of them are No2 and No1. He is right where he belongs right now. WORLD NUMBER 3. Deal with it.

Anonymous's picture

The official site shows only ten teams, and that includes the host Turkey...Did I miss something?

Anonymous's picture

Another unimpressive match by Russia today, three draws and then totally lost in the fourth game where Nepo was given an early Christmas present by his Chinese opponent and won.

jimknopf's picture

A bit funny what happened in round 3:

Nakamura blundered heavily in a rook endgame against Aronian after having survived some pressure. ;-)

Looks like Nakamrua is very well able to produce the same kind of mistakes Anand was blamed for against Carlsen. He did so after some complicated play, leading to a rook endgame position where the blunder was fatal. Seems familiar?

Now if anyone comes again telling us that Nakamura would have been a tougher nut to crack than Anand and would not have run into this kind of problems, you all know what we might have:
- a healthy laugh :-)

Nakamura was cautious enough to try the Lasker with black against Aronian, by the way - no effort of a sharp King's Indian or Leningrad dutch or whatever. Probably an understandable decision - except for running into an endgame loss short before reaching a draw.

Of course there will be people who claim that Naka wasn't really beaten by Aronian, he just overlooked something, just like Carlsens opponents tend to do. ;-)
Back to rank four in the live ratings for the moment. Yes, I like many of his games, and yes, he still is definitely a strong top 10 player.

LarryC's picture

Nakamura is the best player in the world.

Thomas Richter's picture

"Looks like Nakamrua is very well able to produce the same kind of mistakes Anand was blamed for against Carlsen." - looks like Carlsen himself is also capable of such mistakes, he lost three inferior but drawn rook endgames earlier this year. So it can happen to anyone - though recently (not just at the WCh match) a bit more frequently to Anand, e.g. missing a win against Hou Yifan in Wijk aan Zee.

Nakamura's opening choice may have been team strategy: the top boards should neutralize each other (after all, Nakamura played black), with the main fight on the lower boards?

Yes, Nakamura is a "strong top 10 player", are there also weak top 10 players? The current live #10 Svidler is less established at the very top, but certainly not weak. The problem (for me) is that Nakamura's fans pretend or claim that he is even more than that, with Nakamura himself claiming that he is the only possible threat to Carlsen.

Anonymous's picture

May I add that one single game is surely not a representative sample to draw conclusions from. I also don't estimate Nakas chances as higher than the chances of other Top10 players such as Caruana, but let's stay serious.

Anonymous's picture

Not impressed with this article; Sesame Street language and the report on round 2 coming after the end of round three. Laughable if compared to ChessVibes' previous standard. But then again, If ChessVibes were Egger, this would be the Egger suit, wouldn't it?

Anonymous's picture

When pointing out that Azerbaijan is weakened since they are playing without Mamedyarov and Gashimov, I'd think it might be worth mentioning also Radjabov in that context. He may have had a bad year but has still been first board in team events and is now absent.

Peter Doggers's picture

"the report on round 2 coming after the end of round three." Simply not true.

Agree on Radjabov, although that was mentioned in the announcement article.

Thomas Richter's picture

Mamedyarov was also mentioned in the announcement article, so if there is something to criticize it's lack of coordination between Chessvibes/chess.com authors - did Mike Klein read Peter's introductory article? If one digs deeper into what Radjabov wrote on Twitter, one reason for the relatively weak Azeri lineup seems to be that they got their wildcard at relatively short notice when Mamedyarov and Radjabov had already committed to other events (both will soon play the World Mind Sports Games in Beijing - a strong event that 'traditionally' has weak PR). "Mamedyarov has to prepare for the candidates" is a tiny bit odd, though - this is also the case for Kramnik, Karjakin and Aronian.

Indeed, this report appeared before round 3, the first comment underneath is now 23 hours 30 minutes ago. If something was a bit slow, then the cross-posting here at Chessvibes: the same report had appeared at chess.com on Wednesday (early afternoon US time, early evening in Europe).

Peter Doggers's picture

Exactly; admittedly it was all done a bit in a rush in the last hour I was spending in Chennai. Simply forgot to remind about cross-posting here at CV so did that myself as soon as I got home.

Anonymous's picture

My apologies for thinking the article was posted after round three, I remembered that I only saw it after round three and after reading the comment by noyb, I jumped to conclusions. I guess the pending disappearance of ChessVibes got me cranky.

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