Russia Beats China 25.5-24.5 In Annual Friendly Match

Russia Beats China 25.5-24.5 In Annual Friendly Match

| 8 | Chess Event Coverage

Russia-China, the traditional Scheveningen-style match between the two countries, was narrowly won by the host nation this year.

Every year, since 2001, China and Russia face each other in a 10-board match held in China every odd year and in Russia every even year. Between 2001 and 2015 a total of nine events were held in Shanghai, Moscow, Beijing, Ningbo, Sochi, St. Petersburg, and Nizhny Novgorod.

The teams consist of five men and five women for each country. The players are paired according to the Scheveningen system, where each player on one team plays each player on the other team.  

Held for the 10th time, this year the match took place at the famous (and recently renovated) Central Chess Club on the Gogolevsky boulevard Boulevard in Moscow. The time control was 90 minutes for 40 moves, then 30 minutes to end of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from the first. 

The line-ups:

2016 Russia-China | Participants

# Title Russia Rtg   # Title China Rtg
1 GM Dmitry Andreikin 2743 1 GM Yu Yangyi 2737
2 GM Ian Nepomniachtchi 2719 2 GM Wang Yue 2728
3 GM Dmitry Jakovenko 2710 3 GM Zhou Jianchao 2617
4 GM Maxim Matlakov 2691 4 GM Lu Shanglei 2614
5 GM Daniil Dubov 2666 5 GM Wen Yang 2611
Average  2706 Average  2661
1 GM Kateryna Lagno 2524 1 WGM Tan Zhongyi 2509
2 GM Valentina Gunina 2518 2 WGM Lei Tingjie 2487
3 WGM Alexandra Goryachkina 2486 3 IM Shen Yang 2472
4 WGM Natalija Pogonina 2482 4 IM Guo Qi 2447
5 IM Anastasia Bodnaruk 2429 5 WGM Ding Yixin 2419
Average  2488 Average  2469


As you can see, both teams were missing some strong players such as Vladimir Kramnik, Sergey Karjakin, Peter Svidler, Alexander Grischuk, and Alexandra Kosteniuk for Russia and Ding Liren, Li Chao, Bu Xiangzhi, Hou Yifan, Ju Wenjun, and Zhao Xue for China.

Russia's teams were coached by no fewer than four grandmasters: Alexander Motylev and Vladimir Potkin for the men's team and Sergey Rublevsky and Alexander Riazantsev for the ladies. China only brought one coach for both teams: GM Yu Shaoteng.

The importance of this event, which strengthens the ties in the chess world between two long-time political friends, was illustrated by the presence at the opening ceremony of the assistant to the president of Russia, Igor Levitin, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and the president of the Russian Chess Federation, FIDE Vice-President Andrey Filatov.

The leaders of both teams, Dmitry Andreikin (l.) and Yu Yangyi, with arbiter
Anatoly Bykhovsky, at the drawing of lots. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

Day 1: Russia takes the lead.

The match started on Saturday and it was the home team who took the lead: 6-4. Dmitry Jakovenko defeated Zhou Jianchao in the men's section with draws on the other boards. Black was doomed to lose this rook endgame with such a passive king.

An already-smiling Jakovenko at the start. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

More blood was spilled in the games among the women. Kateryna Lagno beat Tan Zhongyi, Valentine Gunina beat Lei Tingjie but Anastasia Bodnaruk lost to Ding Yixin. Especially Lagno had an easy day at the office. Commentator Sergei Shipov suggested that some of the Chinese were perhaps still suffering from both jetlag and a change of climate, and didn't make a very energetic impression...

The women's top board: Kateryna Lagno vs Tan Zhongyi. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

Day 2: China's counter.

The next day China managed to win, though with a smaller margin: 4.5-5.5. Again there were four draws among the men, but this time Dmitry Andreikin went down on top board against Lu Shanglei. The Chinese GM played the Two Knights Caro-Kann in a very aggressive way, but it should have backfired after 21...Nd4. Lu continued energetically, and was winning after his opponent missed another chance.

Lu's play was not perfect but good enough to beat Andreikin. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

Lagno also won her second game, against Guo Qi this time (interestingly, another Two Knights Caro-Kann!). The latter missed a chance to create an impregnable fortress in the endgame:

Two straight wins for Kateryna Lagno. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

Shipov's tongue-in-cheek excuse for the failing Russian team? Watching its national squad playing football against England the other night, while the Chinese were probably getting some more sleep!

Day 3: Russia again.

Russia recovered quickly and won the third match with a 6.5-3.5 score. The men tied, with Ian Nepomniachtchi beating Lu Shanglei on board two but Daniil Dubov losing to Zhou Jianchao. The hero of the day was Natalija Pogonina, who decided the female mini-match in Russia's favor. 

The following game (the already-mentioned Nepomniachtchi-Lu) received a special prize for “best artistic achievement,” which was awarded at the closing ceremony by the (business)man behind the Zurich Chess Challenge, Oleg Skvortsov.

A good win for Ian Nepomniachtchi. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

In his game with Yu Yangyi, Jakovenko missed a chance for a nice win. Can you see it?

Day 4: Russian girl power.

In the fourth round the men again tied their match, with another win for Nepomniachtchi (vs Wen Yang) and Yu Yangyi beating Maxim Matlakov. And again the ladies were responsible for the small victory overall (5.5-4.5) as Gunina defeated Ding Yixin. The key moment in that game was the following.

Valentina Gunina grinds down Ding Yixin to score
an important point. | Photo Eteri Kublashvili.

Day 5: Chinese girl power.

On the last day of play, all games among the men ended in draws. This resulted in an overall tie among the men: 12.5-12.5. A really interesting fight was the following.

The Chinese women finally managed to beat their Russian colleagues with three draws and two wins: Tan Zhongyi won against Anastasia Bodnaruk and Shen Yang beat Valentina Gunina as Black. That was after Gunina had dominated the whole game but blundered at the end.

The Russian women still won 13-12 overall and so they were responsible for the small victory for Russia: 25.5-24.5. Below you can see the individual scores of all 10 players sorted by performance rating.

Russia-China 2016 | Individual Scores

# Name Fed Rat Score Perf
1 Nepomniachtchi,Ian RUS 2719 3.5/5 2791
2 Yu,Yangyi CHN 2737 3.0/5 2769
3 Jakovenko,Dmitry RUS 2710 3.0/5 2727
4 Wang,Yue CHN 2728 2.5/5 2710
5 Zhou,Jianchao CHN 2617 2.5/5 2691
6 Lu,Shanglei CHN 2614 2.5/5 2690
7 Wen,Yang CHN 2611 2.0/5 2631
8 Andreikin,Dmitry RUS 2743 2.0/5 2617
9 Matlakov,Maxim RUS 2691 2.0/5 2608
10 Dubov,Daniil RUS 2666 2.0/5 2604
11 Lagno,Kateryna RUS 2524 3.5/5 2596
12 Shen,Yang CHN 2472 3.0/5 2551
13 Gunina,Valentina RUS 2518 3.0/5 2533
14 Pogonina,Natalija RUS 2482 3.0/5 2527
15 Tan,Zhongyi CHN 2509 2.5/5 2500
16 Ding,Yixin CHN 2419 2.5/5 2484
17 Goryachkina,Aleksandra RUS 2486 2.5/5 2470
18 Lei,Tingjie CHN 2487 2.0/5 2438
19 Guo,Qi CHN 2447 2.0/5 2431
20 Bodnaruk,Anastasia RUS 2479 1.0/5 2278
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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