China Takes Lead At FIDE Online Nations Cup‎

China Takes Lead At FIDE Online Nations Cup‎

| 21 | Chess Event Coverage

China took an early lead at the FIDE Online Nations Cup as the only team to win both matches on the first day. The top seeds defeated both team Rest of the World and team Europe.

The USA is in sole second place after beating Russia in the second round and a tie with India in the first. Team Rest of the World is on two match points, while India, Russia, and Europe share fourth place with one match point.

How to watch
All games will be played on the live server and can be followed on our events page and in our Android and iOS apps under "Watch." Commentary by GM Robert Hess, IM Daniel Rensch, and special guests can be enjoyed at where the games will be discussed and explained.

The Day 1 Live Broadcast for replay.

Round 1

Bo. Fed Europe Rtg 2 : 2 Fed Russia Rtg
1.1 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2860 ½ - ½ Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2778
1.2 Aronian, Levon 2778 0 - 1 Artemiev, Vladislav 2769
1.3 Duda, Jan-Krzysztof 2774 1 - 0 Andreikin, Dmitry 2740
1.4 Muzychuk, Anna 2533 ½ - ½ Goryachkina, Aleksandra 2502

It was Europe who drew lot number one during the opening ceremony, and therefore it got to play a "home" match twice, which means playing the white pieces on boards one and three. Just like in the first half of the Candidates, GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave played GM Ian Nepomniachtchi with the white pieces and this time, playing the Najdorf instead of the French, Nepo held the draw.

GMs Anna Muzychuk and Aleksandra Goryachkina also drew their game on the "female" board four, but the teams traded wins on boards two and three with GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda scoring for Europe. However, it was GM Vladislav Artemiev who stole the show with what was the Game of the Day thanks to a stunning rook sac in the middle of the board:

game of the day

GM Simon Williams also went through the game in this video.

Bo. Fed China Rtg 3 : 1 Fed Rest of the World Rtg
2.1 Wang, Hao 2750 ½ - ½ Radjabov, Teimour 2758
2.2 Wei, Yi 2752 ½ - ½ Firouzja, Alireza 2703
2.3 Yu, Yangyi 2738 1 - 0 Amin, Bassem 2608
2.4 Hou, Yifan 2621 1 - 0 Muzychuk, Mariya 2506

China had a most convincing first day at the office, with two 3-1 wins and remaining undefeated on all boards. In the first round, women's world number one GM Hou Yifan contributed to the victory with a win against another former women's world champion, GM Mariya Muzychuk of Ukraine.

Hou Yifan Online Nations Cup
Hou Yifan started her Online Nations Cup with a win.
Bo. Fed India Rtg 2 : 2 Fed USA Rtg
3.1 Anand, Viswanathan 2751 ½ - ½ Nakamura, Hikaru 2829
3.2 Vidit, Santosh Gujrathi 2636 0 - 1 Caruana, Fabiano 2773
3.3 Harikrishna, Pentala 2690 ½ - ½ Dominguez Perez, Leinier 2786
3.4 Koneru, Humpy 2483 1 - 0 Zatonskih, Anna 2327

China was already leading the event after the first round because the third match also ended in a tie. GM Humpy Koneru scored a good win against IM Anna Zatonskih but we'll look at the board-two encounter.

GM Fabiano Caruana played a long game that eventually reached the notorious endgame BB vs N. He won it smoothly, to score his second win of the day.

The last time we saw the endgame was at the FIDE World Cup last year:

In the post-game interviewed Caruana revealed not only that he had never studied this ending, but also that he kind of needed to use the restroom for most of the game!

Players are not allowed to leave their room and have to remain visible before their webcam, except when there's a doctor's note.

GM Vidit Gujrathi did manage to get his knight on one of the four preferred squares (b2, b7, g2 or g7) but in this particular case that didn't help him much:

Round 2

Bo. Fed Russia Rtg 1 : 3 Fed USA Rtg
1.1 Nepomniachtchi, Ian 2778 0 - 1 Nakamura, Hikaru 2829
1.2 Artemiev, Vladislav 2769 0 - 1 Caruana, Fabiano 2773
1.3 Andreikin, Dmitry 2740 ½ - ½ So, Wesley 2741
1.4 Goryachkina, Aleksandra 2502 ½ - ½ Krush, Irina 2392

Russia isn't playing with its strongest possible team and that cost them today. With Caruana scoring a fine, technical win against Artemiev and two draws, Nepomniachtchi needed to win against GM Hikaru Nakamura. The only problem was that the double knight endgame was just equal.

Because of the match situation, the Russian GM played for a win too long and suddenly it was Nakamura who was calling the shots:

Bo. Fed Rest of the World Rtg 2½:1½ Fed India Rtg
2.1 Radjabov, Teimour 2758 ½ - ½ Anand, Viswanathan 2751
2.2 Firouzja, Alireza 2703 ½ - ½ Harikrishna, Pentala 2690
2.3 Cori, Jorge 2599 1 - 0 Adhiban, Baskaran 2624
2.4 Muzychuk, Mariya 2506 ½ - ½ Koneru, Humpy 2483

This match was decided on board three, with two players who had both not played in the first round. It was the Peruvian GM Jorge Cori, who has quite a bit of experience with playing on our site as a member of the Chicago Wind team in the PRO Chess League, who defeated GM Baskaran Adhiban in a sharp endgame:

Bo. Fed Europe Rtg 1 : 3 Fed China Rtg
3.1 Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2860 ½ - ½ Ding, Liren 2836
3.2 Aronian, Levon 2778 ½ - ½ Wei, Yi 2752
3.3 Giri, Anish 2731 0 - 1 Yu, Yangyi 2738
3.4 Dzagnidze, Nana 2447 0 - 1 Ju, Wenjun 2610

China's scored its second convincing win against Europe with GM Ding Liren taking board one this time, and reigning women's world champion GM Ju Wenjun playing board four—and winning. Somehow, GM Nana Dzagnidze's opening went completely wrong and in no time her knight on b4 got trapped.

In the post-game interview, Ju said: "I hope we can continue this good performance. I think every team is very strong and before the tournament, it was very difficult to say who is the favorite."

After the second round, Caruana was kind enough to give a lengthy and quite informative interview (begins at the 04:05:09 mark in the embedded live broadcast at the top of this article). He mentioned that he had a hard time not playing too fast and that the time control 25+10 "feels like an eternity" to him in online chess:

"It might just be a habit. I grew up as a kid playing one-minute chess online. It was rare to even play a game that was longer than three minutes without an increment. And there you're just basically blitzing the entire game or you get flagged. I feel I'm still in that blitz mode!" 

Fabiano Caruana Online Nations Cup
Fabiano Caruana, still in blitz mode.

FIDE Online Nations Cup | Round 2 Standings

Rk. Flag Team 1a 1b 2a 2b 3a 3b 4a 4b 5a 5b 6a 6b MP BP TB3 TB4 TB5
1 China 3 3 4 6,0 0 19,5 13,0
2 USA 2 3 3 5,0 0 16,0 14,5
3 Rest of the World 1 2 3,5 0 14,8 9,5
4 India 2 1 3,5 0 15,3 8,0
5 Europe 1 2 1 3,0 1 12,0 8,0
6 Russia 1 2 1 3,0 1 11,0 7,0

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

The first stage consists of a double round-robin, with each team playing each other twice. The top two teams after 10 rounds qualify for a "Superfinal" match. 

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

Games day 1

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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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