With the closing ceremony today, 2013 World Team Chess Championship has come to an end. With a quite fine dinner, your reporter must confess.
After the speeches given by FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and TCF President Gulkiz Tulay in which they basically underlined the organizational successes of Turkish Chess Federation, the special dinner was eaten at the ceremony hall and who can say no to a few drinks after such an exhausting competition? As you can guess practically no one did. When finally players got full and a little chill, it was time to give the cups and medals the successful teams and players deserved. Of course Ukraine and China were happy too about getting third and second places but Russians as winners had the most fun obviously. Especially Sasha Grischuk, as you can see from the photos. The Russian coach Dokhoian, who had quite a few nervous moments in the championship found himself finally relaxed and flying in the air when all Russian team were present on the stage. Congratulations guys! Well done, it was time to remind everyone that Russia still is the leading chess country in the world.
TCF President Mrs. Gulkız Tulay
FIDE President Mr. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov
Also congratulations to China and Ukraine and all the other teams who have participated! Things didn't go well this time for the Armenian team who got used to winning almost everything in the last years and they were not in the best mood but one can be sure that this is just one tournament off and the super strong Armenian national team will continue to shine. As a consolation however world number 2, Levon Aronian, got the gold medal on first board with his wonderful performance. Special congratulations to Levon, who was always willing to spend some time for chess fans around the world by commentating upon his games; just like another legend, Vladimir Kramnik. A personal thanks for their kindness!
Balgabaev, Ilyumzhinov, Tulay ve Yazici
So the World Team Chess Championship is over and it's finally time to go back to real life after the magical atmosphere of top-level chess. See you all at another beautiful show of illusion on sixty-four squares and greetings from Antalya for the last time, at least for this year! May the Caissa be with you, like she has been with Russians for the last two weeks!
Chief Arbiter Anastasia Sorokina presented the awards to successful players on reserve board
1. Varuzhan Akobian 2. Yu Yangyi 3. Nikita Vitiugov
The member of Appeals Committee Mr. Petr Pisk presented the awards to successful players on fourth board
1. Ian Nepomniachtchi 2. Xiangzhi Bu 3. Yuriy Kryvoruchko
On the third board
1. Daniel Fridman 2. Alexander Onischuk 3. Yue Wang
On the second board
1. Anton Korobov 2. Sergey Karjakin 3. Ding Liren
The best players on first board received their awards from TCF Vice President Mr. Askin Keles
1. Levon Aronian 2. Hikaru Nakamura 3. Vassily Ivanchuk
During the Russian National Anthem
Captains: Xu Yun, Yury Dokhoian ve Olexandr Sulypa
Round 9 Photo Gallery
After yesterday everyone's expectation was that Russia wins easily today against Egypt and with that the tournament too but a final drama was needed! The lowest seed, Egypt managed to give their much higher opponent a scare when after a dubious sacrifice by Ezat Kramnik played very carelessly allowing his opponent to get a winning position.
On the other boards the score was 2-1, the decider coming from the Russia's top scorer Nepomniachtchi again, so a win by Ezat would result in a match draw! Just like against Ukraine, Egypt came close to the point once again; only to fail at the very end. Ezat didn't play as precise as he should and when Kramnik managed to push his pawn to a7 and exchange the king side pawns the position became equal and even became a little dangerous for Ezat but finally the game resulted in a draw. By barely beating Egypt with the score 2,5-1,5 Russia became thus the champion, a very important result for them after years without a success in team championships. Congratulations to the Russian team for their fine showing and championship title!
The second place was China's who won against Turkey 3-1 today although they finished the tournament with the same number of points as Ukraine. That is due to the fact that China gathered more points on individual boards compared to the Ukrainian team. Ukraine, who were leading for most of the tournament had a tough opponent, Armenia, in the final round but still they managed to beat them 2,5-1,5 to get the third place thanks to the fine win of Korobov on second board.
Starting with the medal winners Russia, China and Ukraine we congratulate all teams for their efforts and wonderful games they created on the board. It's been a wonderful championship, rich in chess content and it was a joy for chess fans to follow all those hard battles on the chessboard between world's finest players.
The closing ceremony will be broadcasted live at 7 pm today. See you all in another tournament!
Round 8 Photo Gallery
At one point everything was going well for Ukraine and the sun was shining upon the inventors of tasty chicken kievski. But one should never rule the Russians out in any sports event, especially if that event is a chess one. Going into the final round, clouds over Russia disappeared and the Siberian cold arrived to the shores of Black Sea. How this has happened is the main topic of today's report.
Grischuk with his little fans
Vladimir Kramnik and future masters
Of course the match of the round and perhaps the whole championship was the battle of Ukraine and Russia, number one and number two in the standings before today's round. Whoever wins the match would almost guarantee the championship and to play chess under such a stressful atmosphere is very hard, so the tournament condition could have a psychological impact on games and a decisive result becomes more possible. 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 so 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 good result, especially for Russia as they had the upper hand on 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 forced Black to play c6 and created another weakness on d6 to press. In the resulting unpleasant position with two rooks and queens, Kryvoruchko played a terrible blunder on 40th move with Qa1, leaving his queen alone in between the enemy forces. The game ended after two more moves when the black queen was entrapped. A very important win which probably brought the gold from Ukraine to Russia. Of course there's one more round and Egypt will try his 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 rather come from the Armenian team.
Alexander Grischuk before the round
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!
Ivanchuk - Kramnik
Ian Nepomniachtchi - Yuriy Kryvoruchko
Finally the surprise of the day! The hosts had lost all their matches except 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!
Solak - Kamsky
Abdel - Safarli
Round 7 Photo Gallery
Coming to the end of the championship, things are heating up. Today there were no surprises, but one match came very close to being a huge one and some very one-sided scores in others were a little bit unexpected. Especially Ukraine's coach must have sweated a lot today! But all is well for Ukraine, at least for now.
The match Ukraine-Egypt in which the tournament leader was to play against the lowest seed seemed like the match where a surprise was the least expected compared to the other pairings. So did probably Ukraine's coach think since Ivanchuk rested today, obviously allowing him to prepare for Kramnik in tomorrow's crucial match. But the match didn't go well. Korobov had to play a complicated and very unclear King's Indian position in zeitnot against Ezat, on second board Moiseenko missed a move and his winning position turned into a lost one, on fourth board Bassem Amin won a nice game in Fischer Attack variation of Najdorf against Areshchenko. Only on the third board Ukraine had an advantage and Kryvoruchko managed to win against Shoker. Korobov outplayed Ezat in zeitnot and Moiseenko finally saved to secure a very close win for Ukraine: 2,5-1,5. The way the match went is very unfortunate of course for Egypt but all of them gave lots of effort in this match and that they continue battling without demoralization is quite exemplary.
The second team,Russia destroyed the third, Netherlands completely. Kramnik outplayed Giri in a very nice game which he analyzed thoroughly in the commentary room. Karjakin and Vitiugov won surprisingly easily against Van Wely and Sokolov respectively. In the only draw, Grischuk had an advantage against Tiviakov but couldn't convert it and the Dutch player barely saved the game to make to score at least a little bit better than a complete whitewash.
Armenia made draws on boards where they were black and won with white on first and third boards with Aronian and Sargissian. Aronian's win against Ipatov was quite instructive in proving the rule that two pieces are better than a rook and pawn in the middlegame. Sargissian's win against Yilmaz was more or less decided by the match score as Yilmaz self destructed finding himself in a position to play for a win.
Nakamura - Meier
USA-Germany ended with the same score as Armenia-Turkey: 3-1. Kamsky couldn't convert his advantage against Fridman and Robson made a draw with Naiditsch. Baramidze-Akobian was for sure the game of the round, in which Akobian sacrificed a queen for two pieces or as it happened, practically for rook and piece. Not quite enough for a queen under normal circumstances but Black got an excellent initiative against white king and when Baramidze finally missed a tactic in a difficult position it was curtains. The longest game of the round was from Nakamura again, well who else? In an 87 move long struggle he converted the slightest of edges in a rook+knight endgame. Congratulations Hikaru!
Li - Mamedov
Except the two well-played draws China-Azerbaijan match saw two strange losses by Azeri players. Rauf Mamedov played the opening in a very strange fashion and then he sacrificed a piece for very little compensation. Li Chao of course decided the game in his favor after not so much of a trouble. Also on the fourth board Durarbayli played very strangely and perhaps a little bit optimistically and lost without any resistance to Yu Yangyi. An important victory for China who are now on third place, they are still quite in contention for a medal at least.
Tomorrow there's a decisive match: Ukraine vs. Russia in which two legens, Ivanchuk and Kramnik will be playing against each other! Let's see what will happen tomorrow and see you all in the live commentary!
Round 6 Photo Gallery
We all feel depressed on Mondays, when we go to work again after the weekend. It must have happened so for the Ukrainian team today too, as they got their first loss against another team on fire, Netherlands. The other surprise of the round came from the Germany-Armenia match. Let's have a look at today's matches one by one.
If a team resembles a marathon runner in this championship, it's Netherlands. Like a greyhound letting the rabbit run first only to catch her again, they have beaten Ukraine 2,5-1,5 today. Anish Giri played a rather uninspired game as white against Ivanchuk like he also confessed on his Twitter account but still all Chucky could achieve was a draw. On the second board Korobov overextended against Loek Van Wely and the Dutch star made efficient use of the bad positions of white pieces so when Korobov's attack on kingside failed Black's win became obvious. The last two boards were drawn and if one side had a chance to win on either one of them, it was the Dutch side since Sokolov played a pawn up rook endgame against Kryvoruchko but didn't manage to win in the end. If it was drawn all the way until the end or not, one should better ask Mr. Dvoretsky!
John Donaldson - Hikaru Nakamura
Loek Van Wely
The second surprise was Germany's convincing win against Armenia. To score 3-1 against the strong Armenian team is a huge success for any team in the world, especially for the German team who hadn't really gotten into the championship before this round. Even Meier was winning against Levon Aronian on board one so the score could be even worse. Finding himself in a lost position against an opponent in zeitnot, Aronian took the best practical decision: to complicate the matters even if it's objectively worse to play in that fashion. Meier couldn't cope with the complications with little time and allowed Aronian to slip from his hands with a perpetual. Movsesian is not in a good shape in this tournament and his game against Fridman was kind of a nightmare for the Armenian who lost second time in a row. On the third board Naiditsch played 5.Qe2 against Berlin Defense and then kept the queens on the board. When all the light pieces got exchanged, it was Akopian who had structural weaknesses and more importantly his king was not in safety so only white who could play for a win. So did Naiditsch and with success, forcing the black king to go on a long journey to the end of the night. On the fourth board Baramidze drew with black against Sargissian easily and did what he should do for his team. Armenia has been for the past few years the best performing national team, that's beyond any dispute, but this championship didn't turn out to be well for them. How they'll play in the coming rounds against Ukraine and Netherlands will be very crucial for the race at the top, if nothing but to decide the winner themselves they would not let anyone go easily with a win, that's for sure.
Netherlands - Ukraine
Ipatov - Kramnik
In the Azerbaijan-USA the decider was the game Robson-Guseinov on fourth board. Probably Guseinov missed 21.Nxc4 by Robson in his calculations and later he sacrificed many pawns for a mate attack but Robson parried it with threats against the naked black king and won the game. Kamsky-Safarli and Nidjat Mamedov-Onischuk games were very adventurous and a win could be achieved in either one of them but both games ended in a draw. The longest struggle of the match and the day was the game Rauf Mamedov-Aronian. Other players would have probably drawn the game on move 31 or so but not Nakamura. He kept on trying to win the fully equal endgame for 80 moves more, finding interesting tricks even at the very end. However the position was not too complex for the Azeri grandmaster and he saved the endgame like he should. After six hours of play the score was decided: 2,5-1,5.
Van Wely - Korobov
Ezat - Li
Mamedov - Nakamura
Russia won against Turkey with a clear score: 3-1. The forceful play of Kramnik against Ipatov is worth to have a look at. On board three Yilmaz played a terrible game against Nepomniachtchi and lost in just 20 moves. This is surely not his tournament as he has lost all the four games he played. In Karjakin-Solak on board two, Dragan came out of the opening with a better position and obtained good winning chances against world number 10. Unfortunately for him, a few inaccuracies was enough for Sergey Karjakin to save the draw. Baris Esen also played a good game against his strong opponent Vitiugov and he was the side playing for a win although in zeitnot he didn't risk anything and repeated the moves.
China-Egypt was a bloodbath as all the four games proved to be decisive. In the only win of Egypt, the African champion Bassem Amin won against Yue Wang in fine positional style. On the other boards the Chinese players just rolled over their opponents to bring a convincing win to their country. With this fine match win, China continues to be a contender for the title and in the last three rounds they will try to get their place at the top with their talented young stars such as Ding Liren or Yu Yangyi
Tomorrow there are many interesting matches. Especially Russia-Netherlands, USA-Germany and China-Azerbaijan will be exciting, so don't miss those fights! See you tomorrow!
Round 5 Photo Gallery
With today's round we have already more than half of the tournament behind us. Tomorrow there's a rest day fortunately, so players will finally have a chance to break the vicious cycle eat-prepare-sleep-play etc. Luckily also the press officers! But ok now let's have a look at today's round which was just as exciting as the ones before.
In perhaps the toughest battle today two superpowers, USA and China clashed against each other. Nakamura won a pretty game against Li Chao, which he also commentated afterwards for the fans. Except a blackout against Aronian Hikaru has been doing really well in this championship, although this time his efforts haven't been rewarded with a match win. Ding Liren was again the hero of his team, beating Kamsky in a magnificent game on second board. The young Chinese star who's for sure to get his steady place at the very top of chess soon thus continued with his fine form in this tournament. On the third board Onischuk and Yue Wang played a well-played game which resulted in a drawn rook endgame. Bu Xiangzhi hasn't got anything from the opening against Ray Robson but when Robson embarked on a faulty plan of exchanging his dark square bishop to play d5, Bu played really well to take the advantage and punished further mistakes of Robson very smoothly. Thus China scored an important win and moved to the shared third place before the rest day.
Ivanchuk - Ipatov
The most exciting and also the longest match of the day was Armenia-Azerbaijan, which is kind of a derby match in chess for various reasons. Armenia was the favourite before the round of course, especially since Radjabov and Mamedyarov is not playing in this championship. But one should never underestimate the will of talented young players full of energy. Durarbayli-Sargissian was a Ruy Lopez in which the strong piece attack of white on kingside forced black to give up an exchange, which the Azeri player carried successfully to the endgame after which Gabriel Sargissian had to resign. Armenia's sole win in the match came from the second board. Akopian got a pressure on the open files in both queenside and kingside after a Kan Sicilian, which resulted in pawn win. Nidjat Mamedov tried the thematic Rxc3 exchange sacrifice to get the pawn back at the expense of the exchange but the beautiful white bishop on d5 and rooks proved to be too much and Akopian won easily. As Safarli-Movsesian game was drawn, everything depended on the first board, Levon Aronian-Rauf Mamedov game. And it has lasted for ages! Aronian got nothing from the opening but he was forced to play for a win against Mamedov for a match win. No one could say he didn't try, he has tried it for 127 moves! The best he could get was a rook+bishop vs. rook endgame which Mamedov had to defend with a few minutes time in his clock, mostly depending on the increment. For many famous players it has proved to be an extremely difficult task but Mamedov managed to defend for 50 moves. Not exactly though, as to the disappointment of Levon when he finally had the mating position on the board Mamedov anounced the draw. If the rule has been 53 moves at least, we would be talking about Levon's win. Congratulations to both players for their efforts!
Nakamura - Li
The leader Ukraine had to play against the host country today. Turkey fought really well on all boards and came very close to disappoint the leader by holding them to a match draw but in a tough opposite color bishop endgame Esen finally lost his way against Kryvorouchko and this sole win brought the win to Ukraine once again! Ukraine has really tough matches coming up but their advantage is so big that they can afford a loss and perhaps a match draw too or even more. So now they have a very good chance to be the champion, although it's a little bit early to speak of that still.
Aronian - Mamedov
Kramnik rested today but it didn't help much to Germans anyway as they lost terribly. The only draw for Germany was Nepomniatchi-Fridman game and in the rest of the games German players played very badly and Russians didn't really have to do anything special to win the games except to wait for his opponent self-collapse. Russia is now in second place, three points behind Ukraine.
Karjakin - Khenkin
Netherlands won very convincingly against Egypt with 3-1 score. Even in one of the two draws it was L'Ami pressing against L'Abib in a pawn up rook endgame, but L'Abib saved the game easily as it was quite elementary. Shoker got the other draw against Tiviakov who played on second board since Van Wely had a day off today. Giri's and Sokolov's wins decided the score for Netherlands. Despite losing in the first two rounds, winning the next three now Netherlands is one point behind Russia at the third place! This is a sign that still everything can change in this tournament. But before all the excitement let's all enjoy a free Sunday!
Round 4 Photo Gallery
Today the weather in Antalya was crystal clear and it was hard not to be happy at the seaside enjoying the sunshine and the beautiful view. Unfortunately the players had to play their games in the tournament hall and they deserve everything, well at least a few drinks tonight, for not getting distracted by the warm sunshine and fighting on the board for their countries. Well done guys!
Coming to the matches, the most important pairing of today was of course China-Armenia. Aronian won a superb game against Li Chao, surprised his opponent in the opening and never let him off the hook after he managed to keep the extra pawn. Machine-like precision by the most frequent and beloved guest of the press room, congratulations Levon! On the fourth board Sargissian-Yu Yangyi game was mostly revolving around equality and subsequently ended in a draw. That was the end of good news for the Armenians however. On second and third boards they suffered two defeats which they for sure didn't expect before the match. Young Chinese talent Ding Liren played an excellent King's Indian game against Movsesian with black on the second board. The game was rich in original ideas by the Chinese grandmaster and the way he conducted little tactics deserves the highest praise. Bu Xiangzhi played very solidly with white against Akopian in an English opening which transposed to a Sicilian setup and outplayed his opponent slowly. This loss means a great deal for Armenia and of course with this very important win China can start thinking of a place at the top.
GM Amin Bassem
The leading team Ukraine has beaten Germany with a 3-1 score in a very convincing fashion and thus they continue being the only team with perfect score. With the loss of Armenia today, they are also the only unbeaten team. Wounded boars present the most dangerous threats to hunters, Ukraine should keep it in mind and not relax. In today's match their wins came from first and last boards, Ivanchuk and Kryvoruchko respectively. Kryvoruchko played an interesting game against Baramidze's pet line, Breyer System. It's hard to believe that Baramidze resigned after 25 moves in Breyer but he must have mixed up some moves as he ended up with a totally locked bishop and almost no breathing room for black pieces. It's understandable that he got disgusted with his position and resigned quickly to avoid torture. As for Ivanchuk, he punished Khenkin for playing a little bit tame and won in a very clean and technical way. On the remaining two boards Ukrainian players played solid games and made draw with their opponents and thus Ukraine secured another important victory on the way to gold medal. The question whether someone will be able to stop them or not still remains open.
Li - Aronian
GM Gata Kamsky
Another important match of the round was Russia-Azerbaijan. Russia seemed to be the heavy favourite of course, but since they haven't had a good showing so far in this tournament, Azeris did have a reason to have high hopes about it. Indeed they put up a good fight and came close to a draw. Rauf Mamedov even enjoyed an edge and was up a pawn in a rook+bishop vs. rook+knight endgame but against Kramnik it wasn't enough. Nidjat Mamedov-Alexander Grischuk was a non-game actually, they followed the drawn Carlsen-Anand game in Berlin Defense from the recent World Championship exactly. Guseinov came well prepared to play King's Indian against Vitiugov and managed to draw in the end. Everything went well for Azerbaijan except the second board. Safarli played bravely against Karjakin, sacrificing pawn for attack. Karjakin however fended off the attack and won the ensuing pawn endgame up a pawn to bring a much needed victory to Mother Russia.
GM Varuzhan Akobian
GM Ivanchuk's hat
The other two matches were very one-sided. In the Egypt-USA match the only draw came from Egypt's leading player GM Bassem Amin who played against the rising American star Ray Robson. The most memorable moment from other games of the match was Onischuk's final move 44.Qe4, which was a little joke at the end. In Turkey-Netherlands match, the only draw came from the last board in which a lifeless draw was played between Erwin L'Ami and Emre Can. Van Wely has outplayed Solak very methodically and Tiviakov converted his pawn advantage in the endgame nicely against Yilmaz. Also Giri's fine win against Ipatov must be mentioned. It was a bad day for Turkish team but the Dutch team is clearly getting back in shape with two wins in a row. Tomorrow they will play against Egypt and they have a good chance to increase their winning series to three matches, but it's only on paper of course. Egyptian players will do their best to stop them from doing so.
Tomorrow there are very tough matches like Russia-Germany, USA-China and another classical rivalry in chess, Armenia-Azerbaijan so do not miss the games and live commentary! So far it has been full of great fighting games and you can be sure that tomorrow won't be an exception. Stay tuned!
Round 3 Photo Gallery
It was a day of 2,5 points as all the winners on five boards won with the same score. Charlie Sheen would rather like to be in Astana this March for Women's World Team Championship for obvious reasons but we can safely say that today teams have paid a homage to the TV serie "Two and A Half Men" he was acting at.
The most important ones of all those matches with same score were Russia-China and Armenia-USA battles. The game of the day was of course Aronian-Nakamura from the latter match. Nakamura had beaten Kramnik in a very impressive fashion yesterday and fans were curious if he can repeat the same against world #2 Levon Aronian. As it happened things didn't go well this time. In the Lasker Variation of Queen's Gambit, Aronian showed his deep opening preparation, playing incredibly fast until 20th move. At that point he had 50(!) minutes more than his opponent and it was clear that Nakamura was surprised. Aronian's play after the opening preparation wasn't the most precise perhaps but finally when Nakamura gave his d-pawn with 26...d4? Aronian got excellent winning chances and carried the game to a close to winning -if not winning- rook endgame with a pawn more. Nakamura defended rather poorly and made things easier for the Armenian star but the game was probably lost anyway. Congratulations to Levon Aronian who showed once again how a leader should be! Other boards made draws and thus with the sole win on the first board Armenia marched forward in the race for the first place, just behind Ukraine. If they can beat Ukraine too, the kings of team matches can get yet another title.
Russia-China match was a very close battle and could have ended in a draw if Nepomniatchi couldn't create another miracle. Just like he saved a lost position against Armenia before, today he won a position which didn't seem like to be very promising to say the least, after Yu Yangyi went wrong under time pressure. On the other boards, Kramnik tried to press Li Chao but to no avail as Li defended well; Yue Wang-Karjakin was a normal draw and on the third board Grischuk acquired a better position but the great resource 42...Nd4! found by Bu Xiangzhi decided the result immediately and Grischuk had to be content with draw.
The only team left with perfect score is Ukraine and they managed to do that today when Moiseenko found all the good moves after an interesting piece sacrifice of Azeri grandmaster Durarbayli. Safarli-Korobov was a clean draw and the theoretical battle in the Poisoned Pawn Variation of Najdorf Defense between Guseinov and Areshchenko ended in a draw as usually it happens in such cases despite a 50 minute think by the Azeri player. Ivanchuk-Mamedov was an interesting fight in King's Indian Defense and just as it seemed when Ivanchuk is finally winning thanks to his domination on the queenside and material advantage, the Azeri player found a tactical resource to save the game. Another example for the sharp nature of KID, both sides should be tactically alert throughout the game.
The luckless Dutch team finally broke the curse that befell them today and won against Germany. The first victory of Netherlands meant for Germany the bitter first loss. Anish Giri played an excellent game against Khenkin and won convincingly and the rest of boards except Naiditsch-L'Ami saw solid draws. Naiditsch-L'Ami ended up in an unclear rook+knight Berlin endgame, which seemed to be better for black at one point but that evaluation changed throughout the course game, finally a draw was probably a fair result.
Ipatov - Solak
The hosts also got their first points today against Egypt. Bassem Amin played a good endgame against Emre Can on fourth board and Abdel Razik held Solak to a draw but wins by Ipatov and Esen brought hosts the win. Finally the hosts decided not to be too hospitable!
Tomorrow we have China-Armenia, Azerbaijan-Russia, Germany-Ukraine, Egypt-USA and Turkey-Netherlands matches. See you all in the live broadcast!
Round 2 Photo Gallery
It's only getting better with each round in Antalya! Well everything except the weather here but who cares when such great games are being played in the tournament hall? With only two rounds so far, it already deserves to be on the list of greatest tournaments of 2013, especially for chess fans who are bored of seeing highly theoretical and ultra-safe played games one after the other.
Today all the eyes were focused on one match: USA-Russia. A classic rivalry in all kinds of sports, USA-Russia battles have always drawn the attention of fans worldwide. Today's match was again a fantastic battle, living up to the expectations. Perhaps not to the expectations of Russian team though. It was sure that Kramnik won't have an easy time against Nakamura with black but few expected such a ruthless win by the American. Nakamura made Kramnik taste his own drop of poison, by very precise moves he exploited the bad position of black knight in an almost mathematical fashion. Certainly a very pleasant game for the American and for sure Kramnik will be thirsting for revenge in their next encounter. In the other decisive game of the match, the young American star Ray Robson overcame Vitiugov in a very complicated fight ensued after the ultra-sharp Marshall Gambit variation in Semi-Slav. The game lasted just 28 moves and this spectacular win of Robson will probably make its way into the list of exciting games of the year. A peculiar fact of the match was that both teams had players of name Alexander -ischuk, Grischuk(RUS) and Onischuk(USA). Both made a draw with their opponents respectively and thus the match has ended in a very clean score for USA: 3-1! While the Americans do have a very good reason to party tonight, Russian team will have to think about how to make a comeback after this slow start. Hear the train A (America) coming!
GM Hikaru Nakamura (USA)
GM Ray Robson (USA)
The other important match of the round was Ukraine vs. China. Both teams had won their first round matches with the score 2,5-1,5 and obviously they were in a very fine mood before the match. After the match however only one of them could be happy and it was Ukraine. The first game to end was Yue Wang against Kryvorouchko. The Chinese grandmaster set problems to his opponent continuously which he couldn't solve and after Kryvorouchko realized his final blunder he resigned. Having a point in hand China could look forward to a match win one would think, but in the first two boards they were in a bad shape. Especially Ivanchuk's game against Li Chao was a joy to watch with its non-standard opening play and position afterwards, once again Chucky showed the greatness of his talent by outplaying a world-class opponent in a non-standard position. To break the rules is a privilege of titans such as Vassily! On the second board Korobov squeezed Ding Liren positionally and when the positional bind was resolved he was left with a strong passed pawn on e6 which ultimately led to the resignation of Ding. As the fourth board game was drawn, the match score was settled: 2,5-1,5 for Ukraine! Let's see if they can continue their winning streak tomorrow.
GM Loek Van Wely (NED)
Teimour Radjabov and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov may be resting for this tournament but the Azeri team continues to show that no one should underestimate them! Going into the third round they share the lead with Germany and Ukraine. They managed to inflict another defeat on Netherlands thanks to wins by Safarli and Nidjat Mamedov on second and third boards: 3-1. Such a luckless start is a bitter pill to swallow for the Dutch team as one can guess. However there are seven more rounds and it's always possible to make it up for two-three losses.
GM Barış Esen (TUR)
Today it was a rest day for Aronian but for the super strong Armenian team it wasn't of a big importance against Egypt at the end of day. Wins with white and draws with black, a perfect strategy for team matches, meant a 3-1 score for Armenia. However the Egyptian players fought well against their stronger opponents and should also be praised for their efforts. Keep it up!
Germany vs. Turkey saw a tough fight however on the second and third boards Meier and Naiditsch outclassed their opponents in impressive fashion to score two wins for Germany. Two draws on the first and last boards were certainly not what hosts desired but what can you do against such a solid team of Germany's caliber? If Germans keep up their fine performance, perhaps we'll be saying that chess is a game which lasts approx. six hours and in the end Germans win; but that still remains to be seen.
Don't forget to watch the live broadcast tomorrow and also follow us on Twitter for updates regarding the championship!
Round 1 Photo Gallery
2013 World Team Chess Championship has started today in a very combative mood, perhaps the stormy weather in Antalya inspired players to fight at any cost, who knows? In any case, fortunately for chess fans, the opening round was rich in chess content and almost all the games were very instructive and exciting.
The most important pairing of the round was obviously the epic Russia-Armenia battle. The main favourites of the tournament fought until the bitter end. Perhaps the most expected game of the tournament, Kramnik-Aronian, saw a very sharp struggle in a Botvinnik Slav. The exchange sacrifice of Kramnik resulted in an queen+bishop vs. queen+rook ending, where Kramnik had two pawns for the exchange. The position was in dynamic equilibrium and although Kramnik tried a bit to play for a win, Aronian never let him get anything and finally the ex-champion decided to repeat the moves. On the second board Movsesian achieved a nice advantage and wanted to torture Karjakin which didn't materialize in the end as Karjakin managed to exchange pieces to relieve the pressure and saved the game. Also on the fourth board Armenia seemed to have the advantage but when Sargissian missed the double attack 39...Qa7 he had to concede the draw to his resourceful opponent Nepomniatchi. The last game was Grischuk-Akopian in which Russians hoped that Akopian would falter under the pressure of Grischuk in a rook endgame up a pawn but their hopes haven't got realized and the experienced grandmaster Vladimir Akopian saved the game and the match for Armenia: 2-2!
Another heavyweight battle was between Ukraine and USA. Perhaps under the influence of recent Anand-Carlsen match Nakamura wanted to employ the impenetrable Berlin Wall but Chucky preferred not to bother dealing with it and chose instead the old Two Knights System. As he didn't manage to create something out of this well studied line however the game ended in a draw. Moiseenko-Onischuk was also a quiet affair in which neither side could imbalance the game. On the remaining two boards Akobian couldn't convert his nice positional edge into a full point due to the dynamic defense of Kryvorouchko and thus when Korobov punished Kamsky's over-optimistic pawn sacrifice in a long endgame it was time to cheer for Ukrainians. USA will for sure try to make a comeback in the race for the world team champion title.
Actually the first match to finish in the first round was Netherlands-China. On first board after a Caro-Kann opening Anish Giri decided to force a repetition in a balanced position pretty quickly whereas second and fourth boards saw two longer draws in which Dutch players showed strong and solid play, giving their Chinese opponents no chance to take advantage of white pieces. The only decisive result of the match came from the Tiviakov-Bu Xiangzhi game. Bu had obviously prepared thoroughly for Tiviakov's pet line Alapin Sicilian and even being perhaps the most formidable expert of the variation Tiviakov couldn't achieve any advantage with white. To make things worse for Netherlands he soon lost control of position under time pressure and collapsed giving China the chance to score an important match victory.
One of the most exciting games of the round was played on the fourth board of Germany-Egypt match between Bassem Amin and David Baramidze. Feeling perhaps the need to win as the leading player of Egypt, Amin didn't allow a threefold repetition and instead moved his king to h4 in a complicated middlegame with queens on the board! It was a very risky decision which was at the end efficiently punished by Baramidze. What was perhaps unfortunate for the representative of Africa was the fact that although in the first three boards they were definitely the underdogs they managed to held their ground and their cause of defeat came from the most unexpected board. But such is chess!
Finally in the first round the hosts had a tough challenge against the Azerbaijani team but they were obviously hoping to get a good start to the championship. The positions of Turkish players were looking mostly fine at one point however Azeris didn't give them a chance to score a win in the end and the defeat of Yilmaz at the hands of Nidjat Mamedov meant a disappointing loss for the Turkish team. Let's see if the host country will be able to make use of their home advantage in the coming matches.
The second round will be played tomorrow again at 3 pm local time, featuring this time a classic match: USA-Russia! Also don't forget to follow the live commentary by GM Oleksienko and IM Arduman.