2009 World Team Championship (Bursa, Turkey)
Many of the world’s top chess federations will assemble in the Bursa province of Turkey for the World Team Championships. Some of the notable teams represent perennial powers Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Israel and USA. Also included in the field is India, the world’s #6 team Despite the fact that World Champion Viswanathan Anand is busy preparing for his match, India will trot out two young talents as reserves.
Perhaps the favorite will be the reigning European Champion, Azerbaijan who will field their strongest possible team. Other teams vying for the crown have one or more players missing from the top. Russia is missing Vladimir Kramnik, but still has a formidable 2700 team. This tournament will be key for Russia to prove that they are capable of winning a team event after struggles in the past decade. In coming years, the team may get stronger if they add Sergey Karjakin.
Other teams competing from the various regions are Brazil, Egypt, Greece and host Turkey. Ali Nihat Yacizi has fueled the engine of chess growth in Turkey and this is the latest of his efforts to make Turkey a competitive chess country. Although his projections are ambitious, he claims to have two million youth playing chess. Certainly many out of this number will be inspired by seeing the elite players and may one day represent their country at this same tournament.
Main Site: https://wtcc2009.tsf.org.tr/
Levon Aronian 2786
Vladimir Akopian 2700
Gabriel Sargissian 2676
Arman Pashikian 2656
Tigran Petrosian 2615
Tigran Kotanjian 2542
Vugar Gashimov 2758
Teimour Radjabov 2748
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov 2719
Rauf Mamedov 2634
Gadir Guseinov 2625
Nidjat Mamedov 2617
Giovanni Vescovi 2648
Rafael Leitao 2621
Alexandr Fier 2653
Gilberto Milos 2603
Andre Diamant 2493
Darcy Lima 2504
Ahmed Adly 2583
Bassem Amin 2553
Mohamed Ezat 2472
Khaled Abdel Razik 2469
Imed Abdelnabbi 2447
Walaa Sarwat 2405
Vassilios Kotronias 2599
Ioannis Papaioannou 2628
Hristos Banikas 2615
Stelios Halkias 2573
Dimitrios Mastrovasilis 2569
Athanasios Mastrovasilis 2513
Pentala Harikrishna 2672
Krishnan Sasikiran 2664
Surya Shekhar Ganguly 2654
G.N. Gopal 2593
S. Arun Prasad 2570
B. Adhiban 2486
Boris Gelfand 2758
Michael Roiz 2659
Ilia Smirin 2662
Emil Sutovsky 2666
Evgeny Postny 2650
Maxim Rodhstein 2650
Hikaru Nakamura 2715
Alexander Onischuk 2672
Yuri Shulman 2623
Varuzhan Akobian 2624
Robert L. Hess 2572
Ray Robson 2567
Alexander Morozevich 2750
Alexander Grischuk 2736
Vladimir Malakhov 2706
Dmitry Jakovenko 2736
Evgeny Tomashevsky 2708
Nikita Vityugov 2694
Kivanc Haznedaroglu 2497
Mert Erdogdu 2489
Mustafa Yilmaz 2468
Emre Can 2449
Baris Esen 2493
Burak Firat 2392
Tuesday, 5 January 2010
Azerbaijan 2½ – 1½ Armenia
Turkey 1 – 3 United States
India 2½ – 1½ Greece
Russia 2½ – 1½ Brazil
Egypt 1 – 3 Israel
Opening Ceremonies officially declares the beginning of the tournament. A large banner of Kemal Mustafa Attaturk hangs in the background. He was the firebrand who advocated Turkey being a part of Europe and decided that the European culture would be the mainstay of the Muslim nation. He is credited with being the father of modern Turkey. Photo courtesy of https://wtcc2009.tsf.org.tr.
The World Team championship got off to an interesting start with traditional rivalries being played out. Azerbaijan (2009 European Champion) pencils in their full squad against Armenia (defending Olympiad champions). A couple of years back, tensions mounted between the two teams as Teimour Radjabov made some critical comments about Armenia pertaining to a political dispute. As far as the match, no controversy brewed and the Azeris took a 2½-1½ decision with Shahkriyar Mamedyarov getting the win over GM Arman Pashikian.
Egypt and Israel have share some tense moments in history, but in chess this was uneventful as Israel routed the Egyptians 3-1. Top boards for Egypt Ahmed Adly and Bassem Amin drew with Michael Roiz and Ilya Smirin, respectively. The two IMs for Egypt dropped their games giving the margin of victory.
In other action, the USA crushed Turkey, but the host nation scored an upset win on board #3 with IM Emre Can beating GM Yury Shulman. The American team is playing without Gata Kamsky but look to vye for a team medal with Hikaru Nakamura on board #1. Russia beat Brazil on the strength of Alexander Grischuk’s win. Grischuk is not skipping a beat from his Russian Championship crown won a week earlier.
India beat the surprise wildcard in Greece. There has been buzzing around the chess world about this selection since there are many strong teams who could have participated. France, Spain and Cuba may have taken the opportunity. Nevertheless Greece hopes to gain some upset victories. It was not to be against the young India team. Nineteen-year old GM Arun Prasad beat Stelios Halkias to give India the win.
Results from Round #1
Wednesday, 6 January 2010
Russia upset by Greece… USA, Azerbaijan remain unbeaten
Armenia 2½ – 1½ Israel
Brazil 2½ – 1½ Egypt
Greece 2½ – 1½ Russia
USA 3-1 India
Azerbaijan 3-1 Turkey
in a board one battle. Photo courtesy of https://wtcc2009.tsf.org.tr.
Questions about Russia persist. Despite fielding teams averaging ELO of more the 2700, they have certainly been disappointing in team events since the 2002 Olympiad. They won the 2005 World Team Championship by rallying to defeat China in the last round. However, in round #2, the Russians lost pathetically to a surprising Greek team.
Greece scored not one, but two wins on boards #2 and #3 to offset a loss on the top board. Perhaps a lack of preparation and strategy continues to plague Russia as they continue to fail in finding good lineups for the match at hand. FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropolous must be quite happy! The Russians will do some serious soul-searching after this loss. Only a gold medal at the 2010 Olympiad will resurrect their team image.
There were no other upsets, but Armenia and Israel had a competitive match with two heavyweights on board #1 in Levon Aronian (Armenia) and World Cup winner Boris Gelfand (Israel). Aronian helped his team rebound from yesterday’s loss and won a sharp battle with pieces zipping around the board.
The USA beat India to draw even with them in last four meetings. After losses in the 2002 and 2004 Oympiads, the USA beat India in the 2008 Olympiad and in this matchup won handily 3-1. Hikaru Nakamura beat Krishnan Sasikiran in a sharp Closed Sicilian with lots of queen play. This game departed from Nakamura’s 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5!? he tried against Sasikiran with much fanfare.
Brazil won an important match over Egypt because it may be one match that will provide them an advantage. Rafael Leitao beat Bassem Amin to get the only decisive game of the match. Azerbaijan routed Turkey as Teimour Radjabov has taken the first two matches off. The powerful Azeri team was simply too much for Turkey which fielded a team of three IMs and one FM.
Results from Round #2
US Chess Online: https://main.uschess.org/content/view/10013/571/
Thursday, 7 January 2010
India upsets Azerbaijan… Russia crushes USA.
Egyptians gets 1st win!
Turkey ½ – 3½ Armenia
India 2½ – 1½ Azerbaijan
Russia 3-1 USA
Egypt 2½ – 1½ Greece
Israel 2½ – 1½ Brazil
Vugar Gashimov chats with Surya Ganguly, a long-time foe from junior days. Gashimov would not be smiling after the match. India defeated Azerbaijan for a minor upset. Photo courtesy of https://wtcc2009.tsf.org.tr.
Things get a bit more interesting in the third round of the World Team Championship in Bursa, Turkey. Armenia expectantly dispatched of the hapless Turkey team 3½-½ and gained a share of the lead with five other teams. India pulled perhaps the biggest upset of the round by beating upstart Azerbaijan 2½-1½. It is uncertain if the strategy of putting Shakhriyar Mamedyarov on board #4 will be a wise one, but it is a strategy they used successfully in the European Team Cup. “Shaq” won on board #4, but the Azeris took losses on board #1 and #3. This win will give India a boost.
GM Bassem Amin, 2009 African Champion, helps Egypt to first victory. Photo courtesy of https://wtcc2009.tsf.org.tr.
Russia recovered from their loss to Greece by laying a 3-1 beating on the previously undefeated USA team. Russia held the top two players and focused on the last two boards. Shulman has had bouts of instability in team tournaments and his loss against Malakhov will leave the USA searching for answers before the Olympiad 2010.
The USA is still sitting young stars Robert Hess and Ray Robson and they will have a chance to make their debuts against Egypt. It will be the youngest national team ever to compete for the U.S. in three decades. Meanwhile Russia is back in the medal hunt.
Greece was coming off of a win over the powerful Russia team and would face their peer team in Egypt, the African champions. Looking for their second win in a row, the Greeks were stunned by the strength of the dynamic duo of Adly and Amin. The victory gave Egypt it’s first victory as they prepare to play the USA next round.
Israel beat Brazil as Giovanni Vescovi fell for the second time in three game to the vice grip of Boris Gelfand. This gives the Olympiad silver medallists a tie for the lead and a date with “giant-killer” Greece.
The match of round #4 will be Azerbaijan at Russia.
Results from Round #3
Turkish Children hoping their team can get in the win column.
Photo courtesy of https://wtcc2009.tsf.org.tr.
Friday, 8 January 2010
Russia wins again… Azerbaijan falls off pace… India gains
Armenia 2½ – 1½ Brazil
Greece 1½ – 2½ Israel
USA 3-1 Egypt
Azerbaijan 1½ – 2½ Russia
Turkey 1-3 India
The marquee match of the round… Azerbaijan vs. Russia takes center stage. Gashimov and Grischuk play an epic battle!
Interesting action today in Turkey. Azerbaijan dropped their second match in a row and have fallen off the pace after losing to Russia. The highlight of the round was a fascinating game on board #1 between Vugar Gashimov and Alexander Grischuk.
In Gashimov-Grischuk black marches king up the board as an attacking piece!
The battle derived from a Sicilian Poisoned Pawn and featured a valiant march of black’s king up the board with the queens and rooks on the board. The play involved was very tactical and a single misstep could have spelled disaster for the Russian champion. However, he was able to grab material in the complications and wrapped up the full point.
The teams traded wins on the bottoms board as Mamedyarov beat a struggling Morozevich in a Gruenfeld a game ending in a mating attack. World Cup semifinalist Malakhov beat Rauf Mamedov while Jakovenko and Radjabov split a point in an exciting Sveshnikov. Radjabov was unable to save the match after the position locked up.
In Armenia-Brazil, Aronian scored a clean win over Vescovi who has had a hard time facing the high level on board #1. The other games were drawn including the Leitao-Akopian game which went into an ending with black having a bishop for a pawn. White was able to liquidate and hold the match. Armenia has jumped into sole lead in the tournament despite the USA dominate win over Egypt.
Ray Robson getting his first “cap” on the U.S. National team.
Nakamura took a rest and the two young stars for the USA were penciled in the lineup. Hess got the start on board #3 and Robson was on board #4. Hess was fortuitous in his game as his opponent lost a piece at a crucial moment. Robson drew an exciting game ending in perpetual check. Onischuk ground down Adly on board #1 in the longest game of the match.
In Israel-Greece, there were some tense battles. While board #1 was an uneventful draw, Roiz-Halkias was a classic King’s Indian ending in a draw with many pieces on the board. On board #3, it appeared as with the Greek player had a strong attack, but Smirin was able to wade through the complications. Sutovsky got the best of Mastrovasilis in an exciting battle that featured a minor piece mating attack. Black was forced to donate the exchange and resigned a few moves later giving Israel the match.
India destroyed host nation Turkey and Sasikiran netted a piece after the shot 21…f4! All of a sudden white was facing either a loss of a piece or a vicious attack (22.Bd1 f3!) so he gave up a piece with 22.Bxf4 Qf5 23. Ne3 Qxf4. Perhaps shellshocked, white shuffled around a little while longer before resigning. Harikrishna overpowered Erdogdu for the remaining win.
Photos courtesy of https://wtcc2009.tsf.org.tr.
Results from Round #4
Nakamura just destroyed Gelfand. Hess overlooked his queen. Ouch! USA still beats Israel, 2.5-1.5 … Onischuk beat Smirin and Robson holds Postny.
Saturday, 9 January 2010
USA, Russia score big wins!
India 2-2 Armenia
Russia 3½ – ½ Turkey
Egypt 1-3 Azerbaijan
Israel 1½ – 2½ USA
Brazil 1-3 Greece
Israel’s Boris Gelfand faces off against Hikaru Nakamura in the matchup between two chess superpowers. Photo courtesy of https://wtcc2009.tsf.org.tr.
At the halfway point, one can begin to look at the remaining rounds to anticipate matchups and to jockey for position. Of course, it is one match at a time and today was a defining moment for Russia. The team crushed Turkey 3½-½ to take the overall lead on board points. Turkey has yet to score a match point. Russia has yet to play India, Armenia, Egypt and Israel.
IM Mert Erdogdu, GM Kivanc Haznedaroglu.
Photo courtesy of https://wtcc2009.tsf.org.tr.
The USA got a huge win with a stirring win over a powerful Israeli team. Nakamura broke out with a nice win over Gelfand and turned out to be the different. The other three boards were even as Onischuk won for the USA, Sutovsky winning for Israel and Postny-Robson drawing. The USA will be favored over Brazil, Greece, but will have tough matches against Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Team India: IM B. Adhiban, GM Krishnan Sasikiran, GM Pentala Harikrishna, GM Surya Ganguly, GM Geetha Gopal, GM Arun Prasad. Photo courtesy of https://wtcc2009.tsf.org.tr.
India-Armenia played even for the first drawn match in the tournament. The top boards traded wins with Sasikiran winning for India and Akopian winning a brilliant game for Armenia. Azerbaijan got back to their winning ways with a convincing win over Egypt. The Pharoahs did nick the European champions for a point as Adly beat a beleagured Gashimov on board #1.
One surprise of the round was Greece’s 3-1 win over Brazil. The rosters showed an even match on all boards, but Greece scored on the bottom boards to get another win. Greece has also beaten Russia.
It appears that each of the teams competing for medals will have at least two strong teams to face in the last four rounds. The ending of this tournament could prove to be very interesting.
Results from Round #5
Sunday, 10 January 2010
Russia wins 4th match in a row… Greece stuns Armenia…
Turkey gets first match point!
Armenia 1 – 3 Greece
USA 3 – 1 Brazil
Azerbaijan 2 – 2 Israel
Turkey 2 – 2 Egypt
India 1½ – 2½ Russia
FIDE President’s Meeting: (L-R) Ali Nihat Yacizi, Ignatius Leong, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Georgios Makropulos, Nigel Freeman.
Greece has done the unthinkable… first they beat the top seed and then totally crush the defending Olympiad champion, Armenia! Greece got here as a wildcard choice and it appears this admission comes to the chagrin of the strongest teams. Greece has become the “spoiler” and has certainly put Armenia’s medal chances in jeopardy. Armenia plays Russia tomorrow in a key match for both.
Armenia was the second upset victim at the hands of Greece.
The match was hard fought as Aronian-Kotronias was an exciting battle featuring both players trying to mate with queen and knight. The game appropriately ended in a draw. Akopian was simply outplayed by Papaioannou and was so beleaguered that he played a rook down for several moves.
By this time, Petrosian had already been demolished by Halkias in 29 moves. Akopian ended up in zugzwang and finally ceded the point. Sargissian-Banikas was a hard fought draw, making the final tally 3-1. They are dancing in the streets in Athens!
Azerbaijan and Israel played to an interesting drawn match. Mamedyarov-Sutovsky was a fascinating match featuring a position where black had two queens while white was trying to mate with his queen, knight and five pawns. The game ended in a three-fold repetition. The other games were drawn without much fanfare.
The USA went into today’s match highly confident against their regional comrades. Vescovi is out of form and the Brazilian team has sunk near the bottom of the charts. Nakamura and Akobian scored wins leading the team to a 3-1 victory. The USA gets ‘giant-killer’ Greece in the next round. It is a crucial match, but the USA may play one of their two young stars, Hess or Robson. Nakamura is on 4½/5 for a 3035 performance rating.
The hardest fought match of the round and perhaps the tournament was between Egypt and Turkey as both are fighting for every hard-earned point. While Adly walked over Haznedaroglu in a Najdorf, the board sizzled in Amin-Erdogdu.
Pieces zipped across the board at a frenetic pace as both had a pair of bishops in the open board. Erdogdu tempted Amin into a kingside attack with 37…Ra4, but after 38. Qxh6+ Kg8 39. Qg6+ Kh8 40. Rxa4 Qc6. Erdogdu had placed his hopes on the mating pattern on the long diagonal, but overlooked the nice shot 41.Rh4+! netting a piece. Board three featured a positional queen sacrifice and the Turkish player wrapped the win in 80 moves with his two rooks. Sixteen-year old FM Burah Firat beat Egyptian veteran Imed Abdelnabbi giving Turkey their first match point of the tournament.
In India-Russia, Vitiugov launched a vicious kingside attach after which Arun had to jettison a pawn to survive. The Russian held onto the pawn, went into the ending and pocketed the point. Russia held on the other three boards giving them a 2½-1½ for their fourth match win in a row. They did lose a half-point to the USA and now are tied with identical match and board points. Russia beat the Americans 3-1 in their head-to-head match, so this may be a key tiebreaker.
Photos courtesy of https://wtcc2009.tsf.org.tr.
Results from Round #6
Standings after Round #6
The USA is taking no chances today against Greece and is fielding their strongest lineup. They will be looking to gain on Russia who gets an angry Armenia. Ought to be an interesting match.
Update: Nakamura just told me they beat Greece 2½-1½. He got the decisive win on board #1. Azerbaijan crushed Brazil 3½-½. There are two games with R+B vs. R. In the Egypt-India match, Gopal is trying to finish Abdel-Razik and in Armenia-Russia, Pashikian tried to win against Malakhov, but the game was drawn. So Armenia and Russia draw 2-2 putting the USA in sole possession of 1st. Turkey shocks Israel 2½-1½!!
Update: India gets the win as Gopal wins the ending!
Monday, 11 January 2010
USA takes lead with win over Greece. Turkey upsets Israel!
Russia 2 – 2 Armenia
Egypt 1½ – 2½ India
Israel 1½ – 2½ Turkey
Brazil ½ – 3½ Azerbaijan
Greece 1½ – 2½ USA
Who would have thunk it!? Turkey about to dish out the biggest upset of the tournament as a team of IMs vanquish the #3 federation in the world.
The drama continues at the World Team Championship as Israel is the latest team to feel the wrath of an underdog. Turkey had just won their first point by drawing with Egypt last round, but the 2½-1½ victory was unexpected. Israel rested Gelfand and perhaps felt that any combination they had would be enough against a team of IMs. Their only GM was resting.
Ilya Smirin’s win put Israel up 1-0, but after a couple of losses (including a one-move blunder by Sutovsky), an upset was brewing. Postny-Can was an exciting draw, but when Rodshtein dropped his game on board #4, the upset was complete. Turkey will have a lot to celebrate. They are without their top players GMs Mikhael Gurevich and Suat Atalik and were outrated on each board by at least 100 ELO points.
Hikaru Nakamura has led the charge… 5½/6 with 3046 performance!
The Americans bested the “giant-killers” in a close match. Greece had upset Armenia in the previous round and the USA took no chances and fielded the strongest lineup. The match was close on the bottom three boards and the fate would lie in the Kotronias-Nakamura game.
The Greek player tried hard to drum up an attack even leaving a piece en prise for several moves. He then sacrificed a rook for an all-out attack, but the plan was refuted and USA got the win. With two rounds remaining the USA leads the field, but will have Russia on its heels. The USA is hoping that Egypt’s dynamic duo of Adly and Amin will be able to slow down Russia while they fight the tough Armenia squad.
There was an interesting occurrence that took place in round #7. Two identical positions were in progress at the same time… R+B vs. R.
In Russia-Armenia, Pashikian had the extra piece against Malakhov. The Russian defended accurately and Paskhikian failed to drive the black king to edge of the cliff. The Russian invoked the 50-move rule and the match was drawn. Holding the draw kept Russia in a reasonable position for the medal. They play Egypt tomorrow and will be heavy favorites, but Russia must win at least 3-1 to put pressure on the Americans.
The ill-fated game for Egypt. Abdel-Razik (left) fails to hold in R+B vs R ending against Gopal.
In India-Egypt, Gopal had the extra bishop and was trying to trap Abdel-Razik’s king. The last pawn was captured on 73…Kxd6, so the Egyptian only had to play until move 124 for the 50-move draw. Unfortunately, he defended improperly and the game ended on move 122 one move before mate. Many on the chess servers chastised the Egyptian for not repeating the success of the Russian in defending the position. The draw was certainly within reach. Tough loss.
Azerbaijan-Brazil was basically a case where the weaker team did not show up. In the 3½-½ shellacking, Brazil lost three games in less than 40 moves. One of the game lasted only 25 moves when the young Brazilian star Diamant got lost in the complications and overlooked an in-between move.
Results from Round #7
I’m not 100% sure of USA’s strategy of fielding that team against Greece. I would have considered starting either Hess or Robson in place of Shulman (1½/5). The question will be the fatigue factor against Armenia and Azerbaijan. Shulman isn’t playing well and only Nakamura and Onischuk are playing stellar chess. Akobian is on +1 so he’s fine. Russia is heavily favored against Egypt, but they may draw out the top two boards and crush on #3 and #4.
Everything rides on this crucial penultimate round!!
It’s amazing that Egypt is not playing Adly on #1 against Russia. Are they preserving him for medal hopes? Perhaps he has played a lot of games already. Egypt could easily lose by a large score (4-0 or 3½-½). Maybe Russia is a favorite to win the gold now.
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
Russia routs Egypt… Armenia drops USA…
Azerbaijan and India tied for 3rd with wins.
Armenia 2½-1½ USA
Azerbaijan 3-1 Greece
Turkey 1½ – 2½ Brazil
India 2½-1½ Israel
Russia 3½-½ Egypt
Russia took care of business today by blasting Egypt off the boards to edge back into 1st. The USA missed a golden opportunity to hold the lead and lost to defending Olympiad champions Armenia.
The big game was Aronian taking the white pieces against Nakamura who was in form and had won a brilliant game in the King’s Indian against Gelfand. The two would have another theoretical argument in the KID and Aronian sidestepped Nakamura’s preparation with a Karpovian 19.Ncd1. This manuever help to bolster the kingside defense to prevent the type of kingside avalanche that crushed Gelfand.
Nakamura and Aronian battling! Akopian on the move.
The game entered into tremendous complications, but it became clear that the U.S. Champion wouldn’t have his way on the kingside. Nakamura tried to counter in the center, but never got an attack going. Aronian offered a couple of exchange sacrifices and burrowed through on the queenside. After weathering the complications, the Armenian had a winning advantage and this decided the match.
There was not much to say about Russia’s beatdown of Egypt. It appears that Egypt presumably rested Adly so he can vie for medal contention tomorrow. However, Egypt put up resistance on board #1 where Grischuk and Amin agreed to a draw in an opposite-colored bishop ending. It was the lone bright spot of the match. If Russia gets the probable 2-2 draw with Israel, the USA would need to beat Azerbaijan with a 4-0 score to win the gold. There is not a bookmaker in Las Vegas who would take that bet!
Vugar Gashimov kibitzes Athanasios Mastrovasilis–Rauf Mamedov. The game was draw, but the Azeri team won 3-1 putting them in joint 3rd with India place for medal contention.
Azerbaijan meted out similar punishment on a Greece team that had defeated both Russia and Armenia. This time Azerbaijan woke up and delivered crushing wins on boards #2 and #3 for a 3-1 victory. Gashimov played to bare kings with Kotronias and will go into tomorrow’s match having broke a four-game winless streak. Radjabov and Mamedyarov (7½/8) won their games and Rauf Mamedov held a draw an exchange down against Mastrovasilis.
India beat a slumping Israel and remains in medal contention. They will get the easiest pairing when they face Brazil on tomorrow. Armenia faces Russia and Azerbaijan faces the USA. Ganguly got the deciding win by beating Postny and munching all of his pawns reminiscent of the old video game, “Pac Man.” Israel is winnless in the last four matches (+0 =1 -3) and will get Russia in the last round. Will the Israelis try to go out with a bang or will they sue for peace?
Turkey battled Brazil today riding a two-match unbeaten string. However they were unable to carry momentum from win over Israel. Haznedaroglu did beat Vescovi on board #1, but Brazil took wins on boards #2 and #3. Board #4 was drawn between two young stars. The six-time Brazilian championship Vescovi has had a tough tournament.
Results from Round #8
Standings after Round #8
Round #9 Pairings (13 January 2010)
Egypt – Armenia
Israel – Russia
Brazil – India
Greece – Turkey
USA – Azerbaijan
Wednesday, 13 January 2010
Egypt 1-3 Armenia
Israel 1-3 Russia
Brazil ½-3½ India
Greece 2½-1½ Turkey
USA 2-2 Azerbaijan
* * *Final Medal Standings
After Russia pulled atop the field yesterday, the question was not whether they would win, but by how much. Bloggers on chess servers were analyzing all the possible scenarios, but Russia ended all speculation by soundly beating a beleaguered Israeli team 3-1 to win the gold. It capped an exciting tournament with many surprises. One of the most prominent surprises was Russia’s loss to Greece, the only one they would suffer. Russia’s deep lineup was able to compensate for Morozevich’s poor form.
Alexander Grischuk (front) leading Team Russia to gold.
This win for Russia was extremely important since the federation had not won a team honor since the World Team Championship in 2005. They have been shut out of medals the past three Olympiad despite having powerful teams. The upcoming Olympiad should be interesting since the Russia squad will add Kramnik and perhaps Karjakin. This formidable team will still have to work very hard to avoid the occasional lapse seen in the Olympiad.
The USA took the silver medal by drawing with Azerbaijan. It is certainly an improvement over their two bronze medals in the last two Olympiad. The last round was uneventful as all the games were decided just after the 30-move requirement. It would have taken a complete collapse for Russia to lose the gold.
The “new age” team is led by Nakamura with Onischuk providing a solid reinforcement. We may be witnessing the changing of the guard as the USA presented GMs Hess and Robson as the future competitors. While they didn’t get much playing time, the experience must have been valuable. With Kamsky added to the Olympiad team, the USA could pose a serious threat in the Siberian Olympiad this fall.
GM Surya Ganguly
Gold Medallist, board #3
(Score: 5/7, TPR: 2804)
India shined throughout the tournament with solid performances by Sasikiran (5½/9) and Ganguly (5/7). The key to India’s success appeared to be competitive in each match. Only the U.S. team was able to snatch three points from them and this stability helped them against the strong teams. Sasikiran finally showed the leadership that had been lacking in other team events where he appeared stuck in “draw mode”. His inspired play will be needed if Anand doesn’t play in the Olympiad. India has an immense pool of talent and with Geetha Gopal, Parimarjan Negi, Arun Prasad and Abhijeet Gupta, they have one of the most impressive young GM corps in the world.
Azerbaijan was an outside favorite to win this event, but Gashimov was in poor form and Mamedyarov’s stellar performance (8/9) would not compensate. The strategy of using Mamedyarov on board #4 is questionable. Certainly he demolished his weaker opponents, but he would have been more effective on top boards against the elite players. The Azeris have a young, but experienced team and they have a young talent in 17-year old Eltaj Safarli (2594) who hopes to be in Siberia this fall.
GM Rafael Leitao had a solid performance for Brazil.
Greece has an interesting tournament. First, it was a wildcard selection which was most likely due to lobbying by FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropulos. Some criticized the choice citing the Ukraine, Spain and Cuba as more suitable choices, but the Greeks were able to make an impression by upsetting both Russia and Armenia. This result again shows how the gap has closed in the information age where preparation plays a major role.
Brazil, Egypt and Turkey brought up the rear, but each were able to draw some experience from the event. The Brazilian team got a strong performance from Rafael Leitao (4.5/8, 2677 TPR), but it wasn’t enough to offset Vescovi’s poor form (1/7). The Brazilians have a promising talent in Diamant and hopefully will be at full strength in Siberia.
Egypt had a strong performance by Ahmed Adly who was in medal contention until the last round loss to Aronian. He had beaten Gashimov earlier. Abdel-Razik got redemption by crushing Armenia’s Petrosian in the last round in a beautiful attack. The Egyptians were missing GM Essam El-Gindy and relied on Sarwat and Abdelnabbi who primarily serve as trainers these days.
The host team Turkey was the face of the tournament. Each day they were dressed in uniforms and were diplomatic despite being overmatched. Turkey has a lot to cheer about having beaten Israel, the Olympiad silver medalists. The world also got to see a nice sacrificial idea from IM Emre Can in his game against Yury Shulman.
IM Emre Can appears to be part of the future of Turkish chess. The 19-year old showed great creativity in his game with GM Yury Shulman.
Things are looking well for Turkey’s future and Ali Nihat Yacizi’s ambitious plan to popularize chess in Turkey seems to be successful. We look forward to bigger and better things in 2012 when Turkey will host the Olympiad!
Results from Round #9
Final Team Standings
Nice article in U.S. Chess Life Online. John Donaldson stated…
front: GM Robert Hess, GM Varuzhan Akobian, GM Hikaru Nakamura, middle: GM Ray Robson, GM Yury Shulman and GM Alexander Onischuk with captain IM John Donaldson in the back. Photo Tony Rich of CCSCSL.