The FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup Starts Tuesday

The FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup Starts Tuesday

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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271 | Chess Event Coverage

The FIDE Chess.com Nations Cup starts in exactly one week. It's one of the most prestigious online events ever held with some of the strongest players on the planet participating and $180,000 in prize money.

In this preview, we've collected a number of reactions from players and captains of the tournament. The format is somewhere between the World Team Championship and the old USSR vs. Rest of the World matches, says FIDE Director General Emil Sutovsky:

"I am really happy about this groundbreaking project. Fifty years past the famous Match of the Century, FIDE manages to pull an exceptional event in tight cooperation with Chess.com. Having in mind our previous joint effort that resulted in another unique event, the FIDE Chess.com Grand Swiss, I look very much forward to Online Nations Cup next week."

Let's look at the six teams that will be participating.

1. China (average rapid rating: 2718)

# China Flag Player Standard Rapid
1 Ding Liren Ding Liren 2791 2836
2 Wang Hao Wang Hao 2763 2750
3 Wei Yi Wei Yi 2732 2752
4 Hou Yifan Hou Yifan 2658 2621
5 Yu Yangyi Yu Yangyi 2709 2738
6 Ju Wenjun Ju Wenjun 2560 2610
C Ye Jiangchuan Ye Jiangchuan av. 2702 av. 2718

China is the favorite to win the event. Besides having the highest average (rapid) Elo rating, the squad basically consists of their best imaginable team: the numbers 1-4 in China in classical chess, GMs Ding Liren, Wang Hao, Wei Yi, and Yu Yangyi, and their top two female players, GMs Hou Yifan and Ju Wenjun. Now that's a formidable team!

It will be especially interesting to see to what extent Hou's period of inactivity influences her play. But whatever happens, as the reigning Olympic champions, this is the team to beat.

2. Europe (average rapid rating: 2687)

# Europe Flag Player Standard Rapid
1 Maxime Vachier-Lagrave Maxime Vachier-Lagrave 2778 2860
2 Levon Aronian Levon Aronian 2773 2778
3 Anish Giri Anish Giri 2764 2731
4 Anna Muzychuk Anna Muzychuk 2535 2533
5 Jan-Krzysztof Duda Jan-Krzysztof Duda 2753 2774
6 Nana Dzagnidze Nana Dzagnidze 2524 2447
C Garry Kasparov Garry Kasparov av. 2688 av. 2687

With an average rapid rating of 2687, team Europe is the closest rival of the mighty Chinese—but only by a small margin compared to some of the other teams. French GM Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, who will be playing top board, said:

"I'm very excited for the tournament and to lead team Europe. Obviously, I’m also very happy to see Levon return to play and hope we put a great performance." And indeed, it's great to have Aronian back at the chessboard in what must be such a difficult time for him.

MVL continued boldly, as it comes to the chances of the team: "It will be a very interesting experiment to have Garry as captain, and one thing is for sure, he will put as much passion as he possibly can into this new experience. We have a very strong and balanced team, and I think we are natural favorites to win it."

3. Russia (average rapid rating: 2662)

# Russia Flag Player Standard Rapid
1 Ian Nepomniachtchi Ian Nepomniachtchi 2784 2778
2 Vladislav Artemiev Vladislav Artemiev 2716 2769
3 Sergey Karjakin Sergey Karjakin 2752 2709
4 Aleksandra Goryachkina Aleksandra Goryachkina 2582 2502
5 Dmitry Andreikin Dmitry Andreikin 2726 2740
6 Olga Girya Olga Girya 2469 2471
C Alexander Motylev Alexander Motylev av. 2672 av. 2662

Despite its lackluster performance at Olympiads in the 21st century, Russia is and will always be among the favorites at team events. That's certainly the case here as they have the world number-four in classical chess, GM Ian Nepomniachtchi, and the reigning European Champion, GM Vladislav Artemiev, on top boards.

"In my opinion, the FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup is a really good idea—to organize such a strong and interesting tournament in a time that is not easy in the whole world. So, many thanks to all people who make the event possible!" said Artemiev. "I am expecting a real fight, and it's interesting that we will play in the longer rapid time control (25+10) as that is not bad for training! So, I can see many pluses in this great tournament."

Like with China and Hou, it will be interesting to see Karjakin playing again after a period of relative inactivity before COVID-19. His form might be crucial for the team's chances.

Artemiev: "I think that before the tournament it is absolutely unclear who is the favorite because all teams are very strong and solid. America is very strong, China is good, team FIDE is strong. And Russia is always strong. I am, as usual, very optimistic about speaking about chances! Russia will be fighting in every match, but OK, every team is ready to fight, no question about that. So we will see, and await many memorable games and hope that the chess fans will happy!"

4. USA (average rapid rating: 2654)

# USA Flag Player Standard Rapid
1 Fabiano Caruana Fabiano Caruana 2835 2773
2 Hikaru Nakamura Hikaru Nakamura 2736 2829
3 Wesley So Wesley So 2770 2816
4 Irina Krush Irina Krush 2429 2392
5 Leinier Dominguez Perez Leinier Dominguez 2758 2786
6 Anna Zatonskih Anna Zatonskih 2420 2327
C John Donaldson John Donaldson av. 2658 av. 2654

It's clear that the U.S. means business as well. Like China, their line-up is the strongest possible if you look at the standard ratings, with the top-four Americans GM Fabiano Caruana, GM Wesley So, GM Leinier Dominguez, and GM Hikaru Nakamura all playing, as well as the top female aces GM Irina Krush and IM Anna Zatonskih.

Team captain IM John Donaldson, who has led the U.S. team for many years, said:

"The FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup is a welcome addition to the tournament calendar, especially today when there are fewer opportunities to see top players in action. Because the tournament format with online play, rapid chess, and a team event is something new, it's hard to say with certainty who the favorites are. Certainly, China, with the only women in the competition with FIDE rapid ratings over 2600, has to be one of them. Hikaru and Fabiano are both playing very well in the Magnus Carlsen Invitational with two rounds left of the qualifying stage, so I think we have decent chances."

5. India (average rapid rating: 2611)

# India Flag Player Standard Rapid
1/C Viswanathan Anand Viswanathan Anand 2753 2785
2 Vidit Santosh Gujrathi Vidit Gujrathi 2726 2636
3 Pentala Harikrishna Pentala Harikrishna 2719 2690
4 Humpy Koneru Humpy Koneru 2586 2483
5 Baskaran Adhiban Adhiban Baskaran 2659 2624
6 Harika Dronavalli Harika Dronavalli 2515 2450
C Vladimir Kramnik Vladimir Kramnik av. 2660 av. 2611

India, another team with its best possible six players in terms of classical ratings, cannot be ruled out either. Led by the 50-year-old legend, GM Vishy Anand, who will serve as both Captain and player, a still reasonably young team full of talent and experience can go far. With GM Vladimir Kramnik as a team advisor, even more class was added!

Vidit Gujrathi told Chess.com: "First of all, I would like to congratulate FIDE & Chess.com for arranging this tournament. When the world of sports has stopped, it's great that an event of such a magnitude is taking place. I have immense respect for Kramnik, and it will be great to work together! The field is extremely strong so it's not going to be easy at all. We could be the underdogs going into the event."

6. Rest of the World (average rapid rating: 2598)

# RoW Flag Player Standard Rapid
1 Teimour Radjabov Teimour Radjabov 2765 2758
2 Alireza Firouzja Alireza Firouzja 2728 2703
3 Bassem Amin Bassem Amin 2686 2608
4 Mariya Muzychuk Mariya Muzychuk 2544 2506
5 Jorge Cori Jorge Cori 2652 2599
6 Dinara Saduakassova Dinara Saduakassova 2500 2412
C Arkady Dvorkovich Arkady Dvorkovich av. 2646 av. 2598

As a "Rest of the World" team should be, this team is a wonderful mix of players from different backgrounds and continents. The team is led by the World Cup winner, GM Teimour Radjabov, while board two is GM Alireza Firouzja, still the big star of the moment.

"I am looking forward to it with great interest," said Radjabov. "It's a try, an opportunity for online chess. Certainly, it's different than over-the-board chess but in this situation, we have to try our best and have some chess events online, of this scale and see how it plays out. Generally, it's very exciting.

About the team's chances, Radjabov said: "We are not top-rated there so we will just try our best, get some practice in online chess and have fun. 😁 Hopefully, we will be able to upset the favorites and we will fight! "

Teimour Radjabov
Teimour Radjabov, board one for Rest of the World.

The FIDE President himself took up the role of leading the team. He has been a team captain in many sports but not in chess yet.

"I am looking forward to the tough competition enthusiastically," said Arkady Dvorkovich. "Great talents and minds fighting each other in the fair-play spirit is something really exciting. I am not going to tell our players how to play, but I will try to make sure they are motivated to win and to make spectators enjoy their games."

The FIDE Chess.com Online Nations Cup is a team competition held from May 5-10, 2020 with a $180,000 prize fund provided by Chess.com. The games can be followed on our events page and in our Android and iOS apps under "Watch." Expert commentary can be enjoyed at Chess.com/TV where the games will be discussed and explained.

The format is 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. You can find more information about the event here.

"It's something truly special to see the world's best competing in a meaningful team event like this on our platform," said Chess.com Director of Business Development Nick Barton. "We have no doubt that with so many talented players involved, there will be some spectacular chess on display and that this international celebration of online chess will be fueled by passionate fans from around the world."

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