News
FIDE World Women's Team Championship R1-2: Brilliant Start By Favorite Russia
GM Alexandra Kosteniuk led the Russian to a strong start. Photo: Niki Riga/FIDE.

FIDE World Women's Team Championship R1-2: Brilliant Start By Favorite Russia

VSaravanan
| 15 | Chess Event Coverage

The 2021 FIDE World Women Team Championship kicked off at Sitges, Spain on Monday, September 27, with favorite Russia showing brilliant form. The team scored the maximum 4 match points after the first two rounds in Pool-A. Known as "Jewel on the Mediterranean," with its pristine beaches and warming sun, the coastal town is famous for its "Sunway Chess Festival" events and became the first host for official FIDE team events since the strike of the global pandemic.

How to watch?
The FIDE World Women's Team Championship games can be found on Chess.com/events: Pool A | Pool B. Live commentary for all rounds is broadcast on Chess.com/tv.
2021 Women Team Chess Championship Hosts

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


Pre Tournament

The 2021 FIDE World Women Team Championship is the first official OTB team event conducted by FIDE after the start of the global pandemic, and its effects were felt in various ways. On the positive side, the tournament was held following strict social distancing protocols, which meant ample spaces between the boards and single seat arrangements—even in this team event:

Women's World Team Championship - Tournament Hall
A view of the tournament hall. Photo: Niki Riga/FIDE.

The tournament is being held without admitting spectators or journalists, and even the players are being presented with curious (if not amusing) protocols, as seen from the following excerpt of the "Action plan to prevent contagion from Covid-19" by the organizers:

"5.11. Before the start of the games and at the end of them, the players will not be able to shake hands. If they want to greet each other, they will have to do this by using a fist salute, nodding or putting their hands to their chests. or with some similar gesture."

The words "some similar gesture" does stir up the imagination, and most players recall that there was a time in the chess world when refusing to shake hands created controversies, unlike the other way around. Jokes aside, players seemed to agree and abide by FIDE's COVID-related rules, which created a safer environment for everyone involved in the event.

Jana Schenider vs Monika Socko at World Women Team Championship
Jana Schneider and Monika Socko greet each other as warm as possible. Photo: Niki Riga/FIDE.

Round 1

Pool A

One of the most curious effects of the pandemic on chess might be the players' new tendency to opt for not-so-fundamentally-sound openings. With online chess tournaments in faster time controls becoming more popular, players seem to have grown accustomed to cheekier openings. Some players are getting bolder and seem to carry the notion that they won't easily get punished by opponents for employing dubious or daring opening lines.

The top board of one of the strongest teams in the event faced one of such "daring opponents" in the very first round:

GM Alexandra Kosteniuk of Russia at the World Women Championship
Powerful play by Alexandra Kosteniuk. Photo: Niki Riga/FIDE.

Aside from this adventurous win by GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, IM Alina Kashlinskaya brought another impressive win for the Russian team. With those two victories, the team Russian team started the event with an impressive 4-0 score against the hosts Spain.

IM Tania Sachdev was yet another player who played slightly "too creatively" in the opening. The Indian international master played a shocker in her fourth move with the black pieces, deviating from the tried-and-tested variations commonly seen in the Queen's Gambit Declined, one of the oldest known openings in the game. Though one might wrongly assume she suffered throughout the game due to her opening choice, it was more due to time trouble that she went astray in the final minutes of the game:

Except for WGM Vaishali Rameshbabu (who is incredibly underrated at 2149 in rapid games), India had the higher-rated player in all the other boards. Still, the tenacious Azerbaijani played well and team held India for a 2-2 draw.

In the France-Armenia match, one particular moment caught everyone's attention:

Armenia went on to defeat France 2.5-1.5.

Pool B

In a heavyweight battle Georgia went up against the strong Ukrainian team.  The surprisingly one-sided win by GM Nino Batsiashvili against former women's world champion GM Mariya Muzychuk helped Georgia to overcome Ukraine with a massive 3-1 score.

GM Nino Batiashvili of Georgia, at the World Women Team Championship
GM Nino Batiashvili scored a smooth win. Photo: Niki Riga/FIDE.

The combined FIDE Americas team prevailed 2.5-1.5 over Poland. Despite the overall negative score, the match featured two noteworthy games by the Polish players:

Just as when GM Monika Socko demonstrated the virtues of not  moving the king at all, her colleague IM Klaudia Kulon went for a different approach:

Meanwhile, Germany and Kazakhstan had a fighting 2-2 draw.

Round 2

Pool A

Russia once again dominated the match and won 3.5-0.5 against France. However, one of their wins had a jaw-dropping blunder in a pawn endgame featuring the classic "corner arrest," where White could have saved the game.

Armenia and Azerbaijan were locked in a 2-2 draw in a match with nothing but decisive results, where IM Gulnar Mammadova produced a brilliant attacking miniature:

An outstanding win by the Azerbaijani top board player!

Meanwhile, India scored 2.5-1.5 over Spain, with the only win coming from Vaishali.

Pool B

Georgia and Kazakhstan tied their match 2-2, featuring two brilliant finishes:

The next game features a rare but beautiful pawn checkmate delivered by IM Lela Javakhishvili:

IM Lela Javakishvili of Georgia at the Women World Team Championship
IM Lela Javakishvili, achieving a rare feat among checkmates. Photo: Niki Riga/FIDE.

Ukraine came back eager to avenge their first round defeat and scored a 3.5-0.5 win over the FIDE Americas, while Germany prevailed 2.5-1.5 over Poland.

STANDINGS

Place Pool A Points Pool B Points
1 CFR Team 4 Georgia 3
2 Armenia 3 Kazakhstan 3
3 India 3 Ukraine 2
4 Azerbaijan 2 Germany 2
5 France 0 FIDE Americas 2
6 Spain 0 Poland 0

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-October 2 and is broadcast live with expert commentary on Chess.com.


Related:

More from IM VSaravanan
Uzbekistan Wins Gold In Open; Ukraine In Women's; India Wins Gaprindashvili Cup

Uzbekistan Wins Gold In Open; Ukraine In Women's; India Wins Gaprindashvili Cup

Armenia, Uzbekistan Share Lead In Open; India Leads In Women's

Armenia, Uzbekistan Share Lead In Open; India Leads In Women's