World Team Championship 2010
The World Team Championship(WTC), which is organised every four years, but has been delayed by one year this time, is taking place in Bursa from January 3rd to 14th 2010. The teams are from Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Israel, USA, India, Brazil, Egypt, Turkey and Greece. Top players are Levon Aronian (2786), Vugar Gashimov (2758), Boris Gelfand (2758), Alexander Morozevich (2750), Teimour Radjabov (2748), Alexander Grischuk (2736), Dmitry Jakovenko (2736), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2719), Hikaru Nakamura (2715), Evgeny Tomashevsky (2708), Vladimir Malakhov (2706), Vladimir Akopian (2700), Nikita Vityugov (2694), Gabriel Sargissian (2676), Pentala Harikrishna (2672), Alexander Onischuk (2672), Emil Sutovsky (2666) and Krishnan Sasikiran (2653).
No big surprises in this round, with Russia beating Turkey, Azerbaijan beating Egypt, Greece beating Brazil, and Armenia drawing against India. Notable was Aronian's loss to Indian GM Krishnan Sasikiran. The players entered into a Slav Defence, reminiscent of the drawing effort Prudnikova-Stepovaia Dianchenko, from the 1997 Russian Women’s Championship, where 14…Bb4 saw simplification to a theoretical draw before the thirtieth move. Aronian opted to preserve his bishop with the retreat, 14…Be7; however, after entering into a challenging rook ending, Sasikiran managed to go up a pawn. Though the position was objectively drawn, Aronian blundered with 53…Rg8+, and, with Lucena’s position on the horizon, capitulated after 69…Kd6.
Now for the sensation of the round: the team US team beat the substantially higher-ranked Israelis. And that encounter contained a sensation – the game of the tournament.
Israel vs the US, with the fateful game Gelfand vs Nakamura in the foreground
Boris Gelfand had been having a bittersweet tournament experience, while Hikaru Nakamura entered the fifth round having scored 2.5/3. With their respective teams in contention for the top of the tournament table, it was a foregone conclusion that these two players would seek to contribute to their teams’ success. For the first twenty moves, the game followed a transposition of Arbakov-Gufeld (Soviet Championship, 1986), which saw White pull through in a complicated struggle. With 21.d6, Gelfand left the game referenced, leaving Nakamura to think on his own for a few moves.
Gelfand,B (2761) - Nakamura,Hi (2708) [E97]
7th World Team Championship Bursa TUR (5), 09.01.2010
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.Nd2 Ne8 10.b4 f5 11.c5 Nf6 12.f3 f4 13.Nc4 g5 14.a4 Ng6 15.Ba3 Rf7 16.b5 dxc5 17.Bxc5 h5 18.a5 g4 19.b6 g3 20.Kh1 Bf8. So far all theory. Now Boris Gelfand plays a new move: 21.d6 axb6 22.Bg1 Nh4 23.Re1
23...Nxg2!! Double exclam for this beautifully unexpected move, and for the courage to play this against the world's number six player, who is 53 rating points above the American. 24.dxc7? We cannot be sure – that has to be left to the next ChessBase Magazine – but after 24.Kxg2 the white prospects look better than after the text move. 24...Nxe1 (threatens simply 25...g2 mate!) 25.Qxe1 g2+ 26.Kxg2 Rg7+ 27.Kh1 Bh3.
You may be forgiven for feeling a bit nervous about the white pawn poised to take the black queen on d8, but White must attend to the threat of 28...Bxg2 mate first. 28.Bf1 Qd3 (threatening 29...Qxf3+ and mate in one) 29.Nxe5 Bxf1 (threatening once again 30...Bg2#, which is why the white knight cannot touch the hanging queen) 30.Qxf1 Qxc3 31.Rc1 Qxe5 32.c8Q Rxc8 33.Rxc8 Qe6
and White, a full knight down, resigned. 0-1. This game reminds us that the US has another big star whom international organisers must consider if they are interested in exciting fighting chess
A cheerful Indian team at the beginning of round five
The Armenian team, which won the last Chess Olympiad, faced the Greeks, who were on average almost a hundred points lower on the Elo scale. And still: Papaioannou beat Akopian and Halkias beat Petrosian to produce a 3-1 team victory that nobody could have expected.
The big upset in round six: Armenia loses to Greece 1-3. One astonishing game was...
Aronian,L (2781) - Kotronias,V (2599) [D30]
7th World Team Championship Bursa TUR (6), 10.01.2010
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.cxd5 exd5 5.Bg5 Be7 6.Bxe7 Qxe7 7.Nc3 Nf6 8.dxc5 Qxc5 9.e3 0-0 10.Be2 Nc6 11.0-0 Rd8 12.Rc1 Qb4 13.Na4 Bg4 14.a3 Qe7 15.Re1 Rac8 16.h3 Bh5 17.Nc3 h6 18.Nd4 Bxe2 19.Rxe2 Ne4 20.Rec2 Qe8 21.Nce2 Ne7 22.Rc7 Nd6 23.Nf4 Rxc7 24.Rxc7 Rc8 25.Qc2 Qd8 26.Rc5 Nc4 27.Rxc8 Qxc8 28.Qc3 Nb6 29.Qb4 Qc1+ 30.Kh2 Nc6 31.Nxc6 bxc6 32.Nh5 Nc4 33.Qb8+ Kh7 34.Qf8 Qxb2 35.Qxf7 Qe5+ 36.Nf4 Nd2 37.Qg6+ Kg8 38.Qxc6 Nf1+ 39.Kh1 Qa1 40.Qxd5+ Kh7 41.Qd3+ Kg8 42.g3 Nxe3+ 43.Kh2 Nd1 44.h4 Nc3 45.Qd8+ Kh7 46.h5 Qb2 47.Qd4 Qxa3 48.Qd3+ Kg8
Levon Aronian has completely outplayed his opponent, who is 182 points below him on the rating scale. Now he can play 49.Qc4+ with and advantage of 18.64 pawns, as Fritz 12 puts it. "Or at least 49.Ne2, winning a piece – if calculating Qc4+ is too difficult" said an exasperated Garry Kasparov, who is in training camp with Magnus Carlsen in Marakesh, Morocco. Aronian finds the only move that draws: 49.Nd5?? 49...Qd6 ½-½.
The other results were "as expected", with the higher ranked teams defeating the lower ranked ones with approximately the score the rating difference would predict. Mamedyarov-Sutovsky was an encounter worthy of mention for those looking for a titillating endgame study. The game started in known Gruenfeld lines, deviating from theory with 14.g4, with White, soon after, seeming ready for trouble in allowing a passed pawn on the a-file, in exchange for grabbing a pawn. On 34...a2, Black spurned the potential of preparing a perpetual with 34...f6, and saw his position ostensibly begin to deteriorate a few moves later, as White happily gobbled his pawns. In the bizarre aftermath, Black held an extra queen to White's five pawns, but the position evaluates to a draw – a fact which likely surprised the players that split the point as much as it did some outside observers.
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Azerbaijan, has scored 5.5/6 with a performance of 3005
Alexander Onischuk, USA, has scored 5.0/6 points and has a performance of 2903
All round results
Russia and the US have scored five wins, no draws and one loss each, with ten match and 15½ board points. Russia leads on tiebreak, which specify that in such cases the result of the match between the teams break the tie (Russia beat the US in round three). We can see the system at work in the places 3-6, where four teams have seven match points each, and two are tied in board points, with one, Armenia, having beaten the other, Israel, in their individual encounter.