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China Wins World Team Chess Championship
With nerves of steel, the Chinese team secured victory against Uzbekistan in the final. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

China Wins World Team Chess Championship

chansen64
| 39 | Chess Event Coverage

In the final of the World Team Chess Championship in Jerusalem, the surprise winner was the Chinese team, after winning both matches against Uzbekistan, the champions from the Chennai Chess Olympiad.

In the battle for the bronze medals, Spain and India headed into a blitz play-off after the first two matches were tied, but in the end, Spain pulled the longest straw and secured the win.

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2022 FIDE World Team Chess Championship Live Games


In relative terms, the veteran but lower-rated Chinese team of "unknowns" demonstrated that the fact that none of their top eight players took part was not going to stop them from showing just how good they are in this format and taking down the young sensational Uzbeki gold winners from the Chennai Olympiad. 

The players are all ready to go on the final day. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The Finals

Uzbekistan, by their presence in the finals, re-affirmed that they are, in fact, the real deal, even when showing up without their usual top board, Nodirbek Abdusattorov.

In the first match of the final, it quickly became evident that both teams had shown up willing to fight. The first game to end was on board two between GMs Jakhongir Sindarov and Xu Xiangyu.

Next to finish was the draw between Javongir Vakhidov and Li Di, a not terribly interesting game in the Nimzo-Indian Defense (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4) that ended up in a drawn rook ending where both players were not in the mood to check each other's ability for too long.

On board one, things started with a Scotch Game where both players sent their kings to the queenside despite it looking like the most dangerous place on the planet. However, very quickly the players took the game to the saw works, trimming the wood off the board, and sending the game into an endgame that never veered away from the draw zone. Still, they kept playing on for a very long time, primarily because one side was trying to equalize the outcome of the result from the only decisive game of the match.

That leaves us with the board three battle between GMs Bai Jinshi and Shamsiddin Vokhidov, a game that decided the match...

This result secured the round one victory for China, forcing the Uzbeks to play for match victory in round two.

The coaches nervously watch their proteges. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

On board, GM Nodirbek Yakubboev and the Chinese "veteran," the 27-year-old GM Lu Shanglei, played yet another marathon game, but this time their game was much more dramatic, and therefore we chose it as our Game of the Day.

For a while, it looked like the board two encounter between Xu Xiangyu and Sindarov would become the clincher for the Chinese team, when White had a decisive advantage in the endgame. But, despite a massive time advantage (nearly 10 minutes vs. less than one in favor of the Chinese player), White played too fast and blew it all away, once again opening the match up to the Uzbeks.

On board three, things were no less tumultuous than on board one. 

Ahead of the round, team captain GM Ivan Sokolov had decided to play their reserve, IM Ortik Nigmatov, with the black pieces against Li Di. At first, this looked like a perfect decision as Nigmatov effortlessly equalized and even gained something that resembled the upper hand. 

Ortik Nigmatov was a surprise choice to play in the final match for Uzbekistan. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

However, in the rook ending, things went awry for the Uzbek player, allowing Li Di to pick up the win in both the game, round, and match.

To say that China's success in this tournament was unexpected is an understatement. Missing all of their top players, yet comfortably breezing through every stage of the tournament, including an overwhelming victory in the final, was breathtaking to watch and shows the rest of the world just how strong China is as a chess nation.

The winning Chinese team with FIDE President Dvorkovich and former world champion Anand. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
The proud yet disappointed Uzbek team, flanked by coach Ivan Sokolov. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Match for the Bronze Medals

Playing for bronze medals on the finals day is, of course, not what either of these teams had hoped for, but bronze is definitely better than nothing. India and Spain both had strong line-ups despite missing several of their top players. Yet Spain came with something close to their strongest line-up.

In round one of the match, the top players GMs Jaime Santos Latasa and Vidit Gurajthi played an uneventful draw where the Spanish player, with the black pieces, was never worse.

Similarly, on board three, the Spanish player, the legend GM Alexey Shirov apparently effortlessly held a draw against S.L. Narayanan in a Grunfeld Indian.

On board three, GM Miguel Santos Ruiz sacrificed/lost a pawn shortly after the opening with the white pieces against GM Krishnan Sasikiran. In the early middlegame, he soon won it back and then gradually gained a small but obvious advantage. After a string of subpar moves for both sides, Black made the final blunder, after which there was no coming back.

In the game between GMs David Anton Guijarro and Nihal Sarin, the Indian player gradually took over control of the game in the middlegame and eventually converted to score an important victory for India to secure the crucial 2-2 result.

The second round saw very solid play from both teams, and none of the games were ever seriously in danger of winning that round and, thus, what would have secured the bronze medals.

This necessitated a blitz playoff, where Shirov returned to the line-up, taking the black pieces against Narayanan. That game, however, ended in a draw. and so did the board four encounter between Santos Ruiz and GM Abhijeet Gupta, much like in their round two game. 

On the top board, Santos Latasa took command and squeezed a convincing win out of the game against Vidit.

Against Nihal, Anton Guijarro pressed and eventually got another win, securing the 3-1 victory for Spain.

David Anton Guijarro beat Nihal Sarin in the blitz playoff. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Luckily, with the decisive result of the blitz play-off, the teams avoided the final tiebreaker, which, I think, was chess boxing, something probably neither players nor organizers were up for. 

The bronze-winning Spanish team, sans Alexey Shirov, along with some familiar FIDE personalities. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

All the games

The FIDE World Team Championship takes place November 19-26, 2022, in Jerusalem, Israel. The format is a round-robin for teams with five rounds, followed by a knockout with the top eight finishers. The time control is 45 minutes for the entire game plus a 10-second increment starting on move one.


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