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FIDE World Women's Team Championship QF: Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, India Reach Semifinals

FIDE World Women's Team Championship QF: Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, India Reach Semifinals

VSaravanan
| 10 | Chess Event Coverage

Russia and Georgia reached the semifinals of the 2021 World Women's Team Championship with solid performances, while India and Ukraine overcame their rivals in varying levels of difficulty and drama during the quarterfinals. While India's victory was due to some of the wins scored by its team-members in the regular rapid time-control games, Ukraine put up a brave performance to overcome a first round loss and prevail in a nerve-wrecking blitz tiebreak team-match.

GM Nana Dzagnidze of Georgia and GM Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine played two of the best games of the round in contrasting styles, emphasizing that lesser time controls are not detrimental to imagination and depth in chess. At the same time, the final tiebreak blitz games also proved that at the end of the day chess can be a cruel game, too.

How to watch?
The FIDE World Women's Team Championship games can be found on Chess.com/events. Live commentary for all rounds will be broadcast on Chess.com/tv.

Live coverage of round one. Watch all of the live coverage at youtube.com/chess.


Russia vs. FIDE Americas

Round 1

Russia made short work of their lesser fancied FIDE Americas rivals with a clean 4-0 sweep. GM Alexandra Kosteniuk put on a clinical performance with the black pieces, gradually outplaying IM Carolina Lujan. The highlight of the game was one of those "small combinations" attributed to the seventh world champion Vassily Smyslov as its inventor, a tactical operation which generally doesn't win material but considerably improves the qualify of the position:

Argentinian IM Carolina Lujon at the World Women's Team Championship
IM Carolina Lujan of Argentina, facing an invention of Vassily Smyslov. Photo: Niki Riga/FIDE.

Round 2

Russia once again had a comfortable 3-1 win, with IM Alina Kashlinskaya alertly spotting a tactic:

Georgia vs. Azerbaijan

Round 1

Georgia too scored an emphatic 3.5-0.5 win over Azerbaijan, and the round saw one of the best games of the day.

Just as there were time scrambles, see-saw evaluation changes and tragic blunders all around, GM Nana Dzagnidze produced a brilliant positional squeeze reminiscent of textbook classics to defeat IM Gunay Mammadzada on the top board. The game could easily qualify to be an aesthetic marvel for the way the white pieces dominated in the middlegame and kept all their black counterparts confined to the first two ranks:

GM Nana Dzagnidze of Georgia at the World Women's Team Champinship
Nana Dzagnidze, producing an aesthetic marvel. Photo: Niki Riga/FIDE.

IM Lela Javakhishvili produced a win with a "seasoned-pro formula:" play an offbeat opening, ensure uneven and non-standard pawn structure, make it strategically complicated but not unnecessarily tactical, and outplay the opponent with steady play:

Round 2

Azerbaijan pulled an upset holding Georgia to a draw with a 2-2 score, after two "accidents" from the Georgian players:

Still, Georgia moves on to the semifinals nevertheless since they won the first round.

India vs. Kazakhstan

Round 1

This was touted by the Chess.com live commentary stream as the "most suspenseful match, ...the closest one" by commentators GM Irina Krush and WGM Jennifer Shahade in terms of relative team strengths. And it did live up to their predictions, in more than one way.

Team India at the World Women's Team Championship
The Indian women team: (L-R) Gomes, Vaishali, Sachdev, Harika and Kulkarni with team captain GM Abhijit Kunte. Photo: Niki Riga/FIDE.

IM Bhakti Kulkarni seemed to be launching an energetic early attack, only to go wrong in the late middlegame:

At this point, all the other boards seemed to be going Kazakhstan's way, but they all turned in India's favor slowly, only to turn around again and reach parity.

GM Dronavalli Harika was under pressure for most of the game against young GM Zhansaya Abdumalik, but defended stubbornly to fight back and even gained a winning position, but it was probably impossible find the finish in the final seconds of play:

WGM Vaishali and WGM Mary Ann Gomes were under pressure for most of the game but also defended well to draw and win their games against IM Dinara Saduakassova and WFM Meruert Kamalidenova, respectively. This left the first round of the match tied at 2-2.

IM Dinara Saduakassova of Kazakhstan at World Women's Team Championship
IM Dinara Saduakassova of Kazakhstan. Photo: Niki Riga/FIDE.

Round 2

The second round was also a cliffhanger, and it seemed like the match could go either team's way. WGM Tania Sachdev played an excellent sacrificial attacking game, only to blunder it away in the end:

This early loss put India under tremendous pressure, but Harika and Gomes scored two crucial wins to get India to the semifinals with a 2.5-1.5 score.

The best game of the round featured Harika's beautiful exploitation of the dark squares from the black side of a Ruy Lopez:

Ukraine vs. Armenia

Round 1

Armenia pulled the biggest upset of the first round when they defeated Ukraine 3-1. GM Anna Muzychuk played very imaginatively against GM Elina Danielian, pushing her pawns both on the queenside as well as the kingside. But she missed simple wins in the middlegame and eventually went on to lose.


Tragedy struck for Ukraine when former Women's World Champion GM Anna Ushenina lost on time to IM Anna Sargsyan in an equal position. The other two boards ended in draws.

Armenian team at the World Women's Team Championship
Armenian women team (L-R): Ghukasyan, Sargsyan, Mkrtchian, and Danielian with coach GM Zaven Andriasyan. Photo: Niki Riga/FIDE.

Round 2

Needing a win in the second round to be back in the match, Ukraine rose up to the challenge. Mariya Muzychuk played a beautiful sacrificial attacking game to defeat IM Lilit Mkrtchian. You have to praise Muzychuk's nerves, as it takes real boldness to play with such freedom under such pressure:

This diametrically opposite effort compared to Dzagnidze's game from the first round deserves equal praise for its tactical brilliance. One can even judge this game as more praise-worthy, giving credit for the must-win situation under which it was played. After Ukraine won its other two boards without much ado, they won the match 3.5-0.5 and forced a 3|2 tiebreak match.

GM Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine at the World Women's Team Championship
Mariya Muzychuk, producing a tactical brilliance. Photo: Niki Riga/FIDE.

Tiebreak Blitz

This ultimately proved to be an anti-climax, as Ukraine won with a 3-1 score after Mkrtchian hung her queen to Mariya Muzychuk while in a better position:

Ukraine wins tiebreak at the World Women's Team Championship
End of the tiebreak drama, as a relieved Lulija Osmak and Anna Muzychuk are all smiles, even as a distraught Lilit Mkrtchian can be seen in the background. Photo: Niki Riga/FIDE.
KNOCKOUT STAGE - RESULTS AND PAIRINGS

Knockout stage results of World Women's Team Championship

The 2021 FIDE World Women's Team Championship is a 12-team event featuring teams representing chess nations from around the world. The event runs from September 27 through October 2 and is broadcast live on Chess.com.


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