From the battles of the early rounds to the middlegame of the tournament. Our team had to face two tough competitors – Georgia and China.
Lately we have scored well against Georgia, but this time that wasn’t the case. The match was a really close fight, and we were more likely to lose than to win. Eventually, it ended in a tie.
Here is an example of well-timed understanding of the risks of one’s position:
China vs Vietnam. While last year the Chinese were on the verge of losing and sealed the overall victory only by a negotiation between the captains and agreeing to a 2-2 draw, this time things went wrong for the Vietnamese. China won 3-1, even though Hou Yifan missed a win:
Ukraine defeated Greece 3.5-0.5; India-Armenia 3.5-0.5; Turkey-RSA 3-1 (the one and only point for RSA in this event).
Now the fifth round became the culminating point of the tournament. The reigning Olympic and European Champion Russia vs the World Champion China. Before the 5th round our team was down two points already as compared to China, so we needed a win pretty badly. I was anxious to play, but the captain decided otherwise. From the opening my teammates got certain problems, and it became clear that a loss was quite likely. Now it was about saving some individual points, but the match ended in a disaster: 4-0! A very cold shower for the Russian team and a telling indication of not being sufficiently well-prepared for the event.
India crushed Vietnam 4-0, and Ukraine won with the same score against RSA. Armenia-Turkey 3.5-0.5, Georgia-Greece 3-1.
Here is an example of miscalculation:
The next day was a rest day, which was quite good for us. We got time to recover from the terrible loss against China and prepare for the critical match against India.
We got to visit an ancient Byzantine fortress Dara in Mesopotamia.
After having viewed the interiors of the fortress, we went to an ancient Syrian monastery Deyrulzafaran, which is over 1.5 thousand years old.
As you can infer, the rest day was rather exciting. Having recharged our batteries, our team was eager to beat India, which was in 2nd place by that time.
The match was indeed quite easy for us. I and Valya Gunina won our games to establish a 3-1 victory. In my game, however, at some point I had a decisive advantage and spoiled it in time trouble. Then I had to grind out a drawn rook endgame against my less experienced opponent.
Another important encounter was Ukraine vs Georgia, and it ended in a draw. Bela Khotenashvili scored for Georgia, and Natalia Zhukova regained the balance for Ukraine.
Other results: China– Greece 3:1, Turkey – Vietnam 0.5:3.5, RSA – Armenia 0:4.
Before the final round the rankings were the following: 1. China – 12/12; 2. India – 9/12; 3-4. Russia and Georgia – 8/12; 5-6. Ukraine and Vietnam – 6/12, etc.
It was rather obvious that China would probably win the championship again. However, sports are a tricky business, so who knows. Our team was still one point behind India and in contention for the medals.
To be continued…