China Wins FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup

China Wins FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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41 | Chess Event Coverage

China won the inaugural FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup on Sunday. Their Superfinal with the USA ended 2-2 with China having draw odds for winning the round-robin phase.

The Superfinal concluded six days of online competitive chess at the highest level between six international teams full of top grandmasters. Co-organized by FIDE and Chess.com, the event had a peak of over a million concurrent viewers across all languages and broadcast partners.

China's star player GM Yu Yangyi decided the match with a brilliant win against GM Wesley So, which gave his team the desired two board points as two games—GM Ding Liren vs. GM Hikaru Nakamura and GM Irina Krush vs. GM Hou Yifan—had ended in draws. GM Fabiano Caruana's win against GM Wei Yi did not matter anymore.


The Chess.com Day 6 live broadcast for replay.

Superfinal

Bo. Fed China Rtg 2 : 2 Fed USA Rtg
1.1 Ding Liren (w) 2836 1/2 Hikaru Nakamura (b) 2829
1.2 Wei Yi (b) 2752 0-1 Fabiano Caruana (w) 2773
1.3 Yu Yangyi (w) 2738 1-0 Wesley So (b) 2741
1.4 Hou Yifan (b) 2621 1/2 Irina Krush (w) 2392

It was a rather brief affair but with a deserved winner. FIDE and Chess.com might want to consider a longer format for the Superfinal in case there will be another edition because Caruana had a point when he stated that the final felt a bit "anticlimactic."

The same could be said about the Ding-Nakamura game, which seemed to have a somewhat premature finish. In hindsight and with access to engine evaluation, the American grandmaster might have regretted his draw offer as he was a bit better in the final position.

"He surprised me with a draw offer," said Ding afterward. "My position is already slightly worse so I accepted his offer immediately."

To be fair, the engine analyzes everything to equality except to the human eye, and Ding needed to make a few more accurate moves.

The other draw in the match is the least interesting game, but one can hardly blame Krush for playing for a draw and using the Exchange French for this purpose. If you have the world number-one in front of you in a team match, a draw is good no matter what.

As she also drew with World Champion Ju Wenjun yesterday, Krush did an excellent job in these two important matches.

Hou Yifan Krush Online Nations Cup
Irina Krush vs. Hou Yifan stats.

By this point, it was clear that China was going to win the tournament because the moment the ladies agreed to a draw, Yu had a completely winning position vs. So. This was another fantastic game by the 25-year-old grandmaster from Huangshi, who finished on a total score of 7.5/10.

Yu only lost one game, against So in the final round of the round-robin phase, but today he took revenge by staying focused. "Today I just played my game, because yesterday I followed my team games and I lost," he said.

Yu was the MVP for China, but Caruana did even better. He also scored 7.5 points but played just nine games in total to achieve a performance rating of over 3000. His win against Wei was only decided in the endgame, despite the Chinese GM's risky opening choice.

China earned $48,000 with their victory, while the USA won $36,000. The other four teams, not active today, each got $24,000.

As the fans enjoyed seeing Hou return and play excellent chess, she summed up the event nicely:

"I'm actually more excited about that we're here, that FIDE and Chess.com are organizing this event for top players, to defend their countries or their regions. Under this global climate, it is very important that we are trying to bring up something together that makes chess somehow in the air. This is I guess a privilege for chess, that we can do a lot of different events online. Therefore, I was glad to be part of team China and to participate in this event. And for me, it's always good to come back to the chessboard and play some games so I will say that this event that we're playing online with this very special format, that we have a team with a mixed-gender, this is something really different but very interesting."

Hou Yifan Online Nations Cup
The FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup was a team competition held from May 5-10, 2020 on Chess.com featuring Russia, USA, Europe, China, India, plus a team representing the "Rest of the World." The total prize fund was $180,000, sponsored by Chess.com.

The first stage consisted of a double round-robin, with each team playing each other twice. The top two teams after 10 rounds, China and USA, qualified for a "Superfinal" match. 

All matches were played on four boards: three with male players and one with female players. The time control for all games was 25 minutes + 10 seconds increment per move, starting from move one.


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