Big Wins For China, India At World Team Championship Opener
FIDE president Arkady Dvorkovich making the ceremonial first move at the World Teams. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Big Wins For China, India At World Team Championship Opener

| 22 | Chess Event Coverage

India and China started with 3.5-0.5 wins at the World Team Championship, which took off today in Astana, Kazakhstan. Ukraine was held to 2-2 by the USA in the women's section.

The World Team Championship is organized by the Kazakhstan Chess Federation under the auspices of FIDE. It takes place March 4-14 in the Astana International Campus (AIC), which is part of the Astana International Financial Center.

Astana also hosted the World Rapid and Blitz Championship in 2012. It has been the capital of Kazakhstan since 1997; before that the capital was Almaty (Alma-Ata), the largest city of the country.

The World Team Championships consist of two round-robin tournaments (open and women's) of 10 teams each, with four players on each team, one reserve player and one coach. It is an all-play-all of nine rounds. The time control is 90 minutes for 40 moves, 30 minutes to the end, and 30 seconds increment per move starting from move one.

2019 World Team Chess Championship Opening
Musicians performing during the opening ceremony. | Photo: David Llada/FIDE.

At a pre-tournament press conference, Russia's top GM Sergey Karjakin said: "It is a lucky place for me, as I became the world champion in rapid chess here in 2012 and took bronze in the blitz."

The local player and rising star IM Zhansaya Abdumalik was optimistic about her team's chances: "Kazakhstan can achieve something very special here. Russia, China and the Ukraine are certainly favorite[s], but the gap with other teams is quite small, so anything can happen."

Zhansaya Abdumalik Sergey Karjakin World Team Championship
Zhansaya Abdumalik (left) and Sergey Karjakin (right) at the press conference. | Photo: David Llada/FIDE.

Open section

The local organizers had some hiccups getting the tournament off the ground. For example, the Egyptian players had to spend hours at the airport getting through customs as something was wrong with their visa invitation.

Before the start of the round, players were unaware of the location of the toilets and it was rather noisy. The playing hall is also quite small and so captains have little space to walk around and follow the games of their own team closely.

It should be mentioned that only at the end of January a deal was signed between the Kazakhs and FIDE, so effectively there were only five weeks to organize everything. And as volunteers were quickly organized by the chief arbiter, within an hour everything was running smoothly.

The qualification path for the teams. Since France and Poland declined participation, Sweden plays instead as the next top Olympiad performer.

The favorites got off to a good start today. There were no real upsets, except for the top board in England vs Kazakhstan, where Rinat Jumabayev managed to beat Michael Adams as Black. With David Howell and Gawain Jones scoring wins, England did win the match after all.

Bo. Fed 5 England Rtg - Fed 6 Kazakhstan Rtg 2½:1½
5/1 GM Adams, Michael (w) 2708 - GM Jumabayev, Rinat (b) 2609 0 - 1
5/2 GM Mcshane, Luke J (b) 2661 - GM Ismagambetov, Anuar (w) 2545 ½ - ½
5/3 GM Howell, David W L (w) 2693 - IM Makhnev, Denis (b) 2476 1 - 0
5/4 GM Jones, Gawain C B (b) 2681 - GM Kostenko, Petr (w) 2466 1 - 0

Jumabayev World Team Championship Astana 2019
Rinat Jumabayev. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

China and Russia should be the favorites to win the main championship, and both started with wins. Playing without their top aces Mamedyarov and Radjabov (and board one Arkadij Naiditsch resting), Azerbaijan was too weak for the top guns from China.

Bo. Fed 4 China Rtg - Fed 7 Azerbaijan Rtg 3½: ½
4/1 GM Ding, Liren (w) 2812 - GM Mamedov, Rauf (b) 2701 1 - 0
4/2 GM Yu, Yangyi (b) 2761 - GM Guseinov, Gadir (w) 2664 1 - 0
4/3 GM Wei, Yi (w) 2733 - GM Safarli, Eltaj (b) 2662 1 - 0
4/4 GM Bu, Xiangzhi (b) 2731 - GM Abasov, Nijat (w) 2627 ½ - ½

All three wins were scored in long endgame grinds, where the Chinese GMs showed their prowess and, as the Germans call it, sitzfleisch. Wei Yi's game saw a funny dance of four knights and later on, at move 40, a nasty trick that Eltaj Safarli fell for.

Wei Yi World Team Championship Astana 2019
Wei Yi. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Bo. Fed 2 Iran Rtg - Fed 9 Russia Rtg 1½:2½
2/1 GM Maghsoodloo, Parham (w) 2673 - GM Karjakin, Sergey (b) 2753 ½ - ½
2/2 GM Idani, Pouya (b) 2604 - GM Nepomniachtchi, Ian (w) 2771 ½ - ½
2/3 GM Tabatabaei, M.Amin (w) 2600 - GM Andreikin, Dmitry (b) 2725 ½ - ½
2/4 GM Firouzja, Alireza (b) 2657 - GM Artemiev, Vladislav (w) 2736 0 - 1

Iran can be proud of its effort against Russia as it held three 2700 GMs to a draw, once again demonstrating the talent that exists in the country. It was the Gibraltar winner Vladislav Artemiev who celebrated his 21st birthday by bringing home the two match points against the speed chess demon Alireza Firouzja.

Artemiev World Team Championship Astana 2019
The birthday boy Artemiev scored the winning point. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Bo. Fed 1 India Rtg - Fed 10 Sweden Rtg 3½: ½
1/1 GM Adhiban, B. (w) 2683 - GM Grandelius, Nils (b) 2694 1 - 0
1/2 GM Sasikiran, Krishnan (b) 2678 - GM Blomqvist, Erik (w) 2488 ½ - ½
1/3 GM Ganguly, Surya Shekhar (w) 2633 - GM Smith, Axel (b) 2487 1 - 0
1/4 GM Sethuraman, S.P. (b) 2637 - IM Johansson, Linus (w) 2479 1 - 0

With three 2400 players on the team, for Sweden it's mostly going to be about the experience, and enjoying the event without having any serious ambitions. The big loss against India is therefore not surprising. On top board, Baskaran Adhiban found a great move vs Nils Grandelius.

Adhiban Grandelius World Team Championship Astana 2019
Adhiban vs Grandelius, top board in the match India-Sweden. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Egypt, playing as the African champion, will also have a hard time in this event. It started with a loss to a United States team that was playing without any of it top grandmasters.

Bo. Fed 3 Egypt Rtg - Fed 8 United States of America Rtg 1 : 3
3/1 GM Amin, Bassem (w) 2709 - GM Swiercz, Dariusz (b) 2655 0 - 1
3/2 GM Adly, Ahmed (b) 2611 - GM Sevian, Samuel (w) 2642 ½ - ½
3/3 IM Fawzy, Adham (w) 2461 - GM Onischuk, Alexander (b) 2647 ½ - ½
3/4 GM Hesham, Abdelrahman (b) 2450 - GM Izoria, Zviad (w) 2603 0 - 1

The Polish grandmaster Dariusz Swiercz has switched federations and is representing his new country for the first time in a team event. He survived his first big test wonderfully by beating Africa's only 2700 player, Bassem Amin:

Dariusz Swiercz World Team Championship Astana 2019
Dariusz Swiercz, now playing for the USA. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Round two pairings: Sweden–Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan–England, US –China, Russia–Egypt, India–Iran.

Women's section

The women's tournament started with a small upset, with the USA (playing without Irina Krush and Anna Zatonskih) tied with Ukraine, who gave Anna Muzychuk a rest.

Bo. Fed 5 Rtg - Fed 6 Ukraine Rtg 2 : 2
5/1 WGM Abrahamyan, Tatev (w) 2377 - GM Muzychuk, Mariya (b) 2560 0 - 1
5/2 FM Yip, Carissa (b) 2279 - GM Ushenina, Anna (w) 2443 1 - 0
5/3 WGM Foisor, Sabina-Francesca (w) 2276 - IM Gaponenko, Inna (b) 2427 ½ - ½
5/4 WCM Wu, Rochelle (b) 2120 - IM Buksa, Nataliya (w) 2416 ½ - ½

FM Carissa Yip was the big hero for America as she took down the former women's world champion Anna Ushenina as Black. It was nice how she got her King's Indian "bad" bishop into play:

Carissa Yip World Team Championship Astana 2019
USA's giant killer Carissa Yip. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Whereas Russia expectedly defeated Kazakhstan (the score was 3-1), Armenia crushed Egypt 4-0 and China beat Hungary 3.5-0.5, one more match ended in 2-2. 

Bo. Fed 3 India Rtg - Fed 8 Georgia Rtg 2 : 2
3/1 IM Karavade, Eesha (w) 2357 - GM Khotenashvili, Bela (b) 2474 ½ - ½
3/2 WGM Soumya, Swaminathan (b) 2401 - IM Arabidze, Meri (w) 2392 1 - 0
3/3 IM Padmini, Rout (w) 2332 - GM Batsiashvili, Nino (b) 2454 0 - 1
3/4 WGM Kulkarni, Bhakti (b) 2322 - IM Melia, Salome (w) 2385 ½ - ½

Nino Batsiashvili's Hippopotamus initially didn't work so well, and Padmini Rout was in full control until she went for a wrong liquidation to a rook endgame.

Ubilava World Team Championship Astana 2019
Georgia's team captain Elizbar Ubilava, and the game Padmini-Batsiashvili on the right. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Round two pairings: Egypt–Ukraine, Hungary–USA, Georgia–China, Kazakhstan–India, Armenia–Russia.

You can follow the games of the tournament live easily at

Lagno Abdumalik World Team Championship Astana 2019
Lagno vs Abdumalik in Russia vs Kazakhstan. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Mykhaylo Oleksiyenko and John Donaldson World Team Championship Astana 2019
Lots of reading among the captains. Mykhaylo Oleksiyenko (Egypt) and John Donaldson (USA). | Photo: Maria Emelianova/
USA Egypt World Team Championship Astana 2019
USA vs Egypt with Swiercz beating Bassem. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Evgeny Miroshnichenko World Team Championship Astana 2019
The commentator Evgeny Miroshnichenko is seated above the playing hall. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Artemiev signatures World Team Championship Astana 2019
Artemiev giving autographs on his birthday. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Karjakin selfie World Team Championship Astana 2019
More famous GMs! Karjakin part of a selfie. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/
Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

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