World Teams: Russia Close to Title After Beating Ukraine
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After beating Ukraine in round 8, Russia is very close to winning the World Team Championship in Kemer, Antalya (Turkey). Ian Nepomniachtchi decided the match in Russia's favor by beating Yuriy Kryvoruchko. China and Ukraine are now one point behind Russia, who play Egypt in Thursday's last round.
All photos courtesy of the Turkish Chess Federation
They were leading the tournament from the start, but they won't win. Ukraine lost to the Netherlands in round 6, then won again, but in the penultimate round, the crucial match against Russia, it went wrong again: 1.5-2.5. Three games ended in draws, and the decision came on board 4.
Board one saw the clash between Vassily Ivanchuk and Vladimir Kramnik, who played numerous times before. This year the two played each other twice at the World Cup (1.5-0.5 for Kramnik), and before that there was of course that crazy last-round game of the Candidates tournament in London. This game was a quiet affair that started as a Giuoco Piano:
Sergey Karjakin and Anton Korobov played a Classical Scheveningen and Black's early ....d5 break lead to a very concrete middlegame where White failed to prove a significant advantage.
The two Alexanders, Moiseenko and Grischuk, also drew their game without much fireworks, and so the decision in this match, and the whole tournament, occurred on last board. In an English, Nepomniachtchi got a slight positional advantage - pressure along the c-file. Black had to push his c-pawn at some point, but this led to worse pawn structure. Still, Kryvoruchko might have been able to save the game if he didn't blunder on move 40 and let his queen get trapped.
After their disappointing match against Russia, the Netherlands fell further back with another 0.5-3.5 loss, to Armenia. Anish Giri started well against Levon Aronian and had an extra pawn in an endgame, with some compensation for Black. But somehow the young Dutchman spoilt his advantage and then even lost.
Vladimir Akopian beat Loek van Wely and Sergey Tiviakov drew with Gabriel Sargissian. Also on board 4 it went wrong for the Dutch; l'Ami dropped (sacrificed?) a pawn early on, and at the end he missed a small combination.
China continued well and thanks to a 2.5-1.5 win over Germany they're probably going to leave Turkey with either the silver or the bronze medal. (If Armenia beats Ukraine and China wins against Turkey, it will be silver.) With three draws, this game decided the match:
The USA is definitely out of contention for medals after playing, without Nakamura, 2-2 with Turkey, who played without Ipatov. Kamsky and Onischuk drew with Solak and Yilmaz respectively; Robson seems to have underestimate white's bishop pair when he went for his big exchange operation.
Akobian avoided a loss for the Americans with an excellent game:
Egypt suffered a 0-4 sweep (the first in the tournament) by Azerbaijan. On boards 2, 3 and 4 the games were all decided after move 60 and so the difference in strength wasn't as big as the score suggested. Here's the game played on board one.
In the final round, which starts at 11:00 am local time, the pairings are Russia - Egypt, Armenia - Ukraine, USA - Netherlands, China - Turkey and Azerbaijan - Germany. Although Egypt has been putting up a good fight against several strong teams, obviously Russia should win that match in the last round and so the tournament was probably decided in round 8.
World Team Championship 2013 | Round 8 standings
|5||United States of America||8||4||1||3||9||18½||0||65,00|