Sino-Russian Double Golds And Silvers At World Teams

Sino-Russian Double Golds And Silvers At World Teams

| 15 | Chess Event Coverage

Monday was opposite day in Russia. Despite Russian men winning four prior World Team Championships and Chinese women winning three of the first five, the two nations ending up flipping sections and winning the inverse.

China is on quite a run in recent years. After their open team won the 2014 Olympiad, they followed up by taking the 2015 World Teams, so yesterday wasn't completely new territory. Now they have defended that title as the top seed at the 2017 World Team Championship, which concluded yesterday in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

The winning Chinese squad. All photos courtesy Anastasia Balakhontseva and official site.

The 2017 Women's World Team Championship was captured by the Russian ladies. That may not seem surprising, but this stat surely will be: It was the Russian women's first title in history, despite already amassing three Olympiad wins. In the past, China won the first three iterations, which began in 2007.


The victorious Russian women's team didn't receive awards in Baku, but they duly returned to their customary place in front of the flashbulbs at this closing ceremony. Left to right: WGM Olga Girya; GM Kateryna Lagno; coach GM Sergei Rublevsky; GM Alexandra Kosteniuk; WGM Aleksandra Goryachkina; GM Valentina Gunina.

Despite the home team leading in the open section after's last report, they could not keep their flag planted on the banks of the Irtysh River.

One can always attempt to point to single games or moments that decide a event, but this maxim was never more true than during this round robin. In round seven, the Russia-China head-to-head match flip-flopped the standings, courtesy of the last board. Russian suffered merely one individual one loss the entire event, but that was enough to lose the gold!

GM Li Chao messed around for a while in trying to break down the Berlin Wall. But this being a team event, perhaps he was just waiting for the other three boards to clarify. His teammates' games all ended drawn, so it was time for the "Li-ward" winds to buffet the GM Vladimir Fedoseev's king.

As one online commenter put it, Black's pawn structure on move 18 looked like Berlin after the Allied bombing:

Fedoseev otherwise had an outstanding event, leading his team with 6.0/8. He also delighted with a "Rapport-esque" opening idea:

The best chance to level the score came on the opposite end of the table. With GM Peter Svidler sitting out, on board one, GM Ian Nepomniachtchi got two minor pieces against GM Ding Liren's rook and two pawns.


GM Ian Nepomniachtchi (left) tried everything he could but was denied from evening the match against GM Ding Liren.

His minor pieces never quite could clamp down on the rook, and Black finally found an open file to liquidate the pawns and earn the split point.

The failure to win represented only a small blemish to an otherwise fantastic individual tournament by Nepo. His +4=3-0 included wins over several 2700s.

In the next round, China had little trouble with the Magnus-less, Hammer-less, Agdestein-less Norwegians (like USA and Russia, these three nations were depleted of some of their top players due to the concurrent Grand Chess Tour event in Paris). Only the national champion, IM Johan Salomon, escaped with a draw to prevent a whitewash.

Ding showed that you don't need to win a trapped piece to nullify it. The Black queen turned into Alex DeLarge in "A Clockwork Orange" -- whilst being strapped in, she was forced to watch the violence on the other side of the board.

Russia kept things interesting when Fedoseev redeemed himself by winning the only decisive game of the match against India. Grandmaster-turned-Cardinal, GM Parimarjan Negi, took a break from Stanford to help his country (his first rated classical chess in three years). He was perfectly fine until his liquidation technique went awry:

Russian kept the pressure on in the final round nine. In fact, they won the only 4-0 result of the entire event, trouncing USA and therefore ending with even more game points than the winning team (match points decided the standings). The blanking included a complicated struggle on the top board. Nepomniachtchi won a piece but surprisingly wasn't better against GM Sam Shankland. Eventually, he outplayed the American in the endgame, making sure to avoid a theoretical draw.

With everything hanging in the balance, Li again played the role of hero (he led the entire field with seven points and also the only 2800+ performance rating of the event). Just like round seven, his win was his team's only one of the round, but was enough to secure a 2.5-1.5 match win and successful defense of the gold medal for China.

In the final standings, Russia earned silver with Poland taking bronze.

Moving to the women's section, we last left off with Russia and Ukraine tied after five rounds, with both having suffered only two drawn matches.


They call them gold medals, but they look clear from this angle!

Russia, which was left off the medal stand completely in Baku, kept on rolling in rounds six through eight. The head-to-heat matchup with chessic and political foe Ukraine loomed in the final round, but that clash lost some luster when defending champions Georgia upended Ukraine in the penultimate round.

Just like the in open division, board four held all the drama, with the lone decisive game occurring there.

That meant in the final round, Ukraine was down two match points, but were the only ones who could catch Russia. 

In a game of two world champions, GM Alexandra Kosteniuk's double exchange sac could only net a repetition against GM Anna Ushenina.

One board lower, The Russians were still very hungry for a win, as GM Kateryna Lagno continued the aggression by offering a piece against GM Natalia Zhukova. Eventually a rook+5 versus rook+bishop+1 ensued, and again, a draw.

Amazingly, Russia's two wins on he bottom boards were concluded from the exact same ending! In both, the winner had rook+2 (connected) versus rook+1, and in both, the opponent had an a-pawn on the 7th rank!

We will settle for showing just one, which sums up the other as well! Here's board three, where GM Valentina Gunina finished the event with zero draws in eight games (6.0/8).


GM Valentina Gunina, who clinched one of the two gold-medal winning games (she is often smiling this large, but this time she had good reason!).

The Ukrainian loss dropped them all the way down to fifth, as China, Georgia, and India all won the final round to leapfrog them. China took silver, which flip-flopped the open 1-2, and Georgia took bronze.

World Teams | Final Standings

Place Flag Country 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 MP Pts.
1 China 2 2 16 24½
2 Russia 3 2 3 4 3 15 25
3 Poland 1 3 3 3 12 20½
4 India 2 3 11 20½
5 Turkey 2 2 2 2 1 3 10 18½
6 Ukraine 1 2 2 3 8 17½
7 Belarus ½ 1 1 2 2 8 17½
8 U.S.A. 2 0 ½ 3 2 3 8 16
9 Norway ½ 1 1 1 ½ 2 11
10 Egypt ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 0 9

World Teams | Women, Final Standings

Place Flag Country 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 MP Pts.
1 Russia 3 3 3 2 3 2 16 25½
2 China 1 2 2 3 3 2 3 13 22
3 Georgia ½ 2 2 3 3 3 4 12 21½
4 India 1 2 2 3 3 12 20
5 Ukraine 1 2 2 3 12 19½
6 Poland ½ 1 2 2 2 9 18½
7 U.S.A. 2 1 1 2 2 2 6 16½
8 Vietnam 1 1 1 2 4 5 16
9 Azerbaijan 2 2 1 1 ½ 2 4 5 15½
10 Egypt ½ 1 0 1 ½ ½ 0 0 0 5

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FM Mike Klein

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Mike Klein began playing chess at the age of four in Charlotte, NC. In 1986, he lost to Josh Waitzkin at the National Championship featured in the movie "Searching for Bobby Fischer." A year later, Mike became the youngest member of the very first All-America Chess Team, and was on the team a total of eight times. In 1988, he won the K-3 National Championship, and eventually became North Carolina's youngest-ever master. In 1996, he won clear first for under-2250 players in the top section of the World Open. Mike has taught chess full-time for a dozen years in New York City and Charlotte, with his students and teams winning many national championships. He now works at as a Senior Journalist and at as the Chief Chess Officer. In 2012, 2015, and 2018, he was awarded Chess Journalist of the Year by the Chess Journalists of America. He has also previously won other awards from the CJA such as Best Tournament Report, and also several writing awards for mainstream newspapers. His chess writing and personal travels have now brought him to more than 85 countries.

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