Maxim Notkin's report from Round 3 of the World Team Championships
Poland beat Egypt 3 to1 and moved into the sole lead. Hesham in a roughly equal endgame against Wojtaszek needlessly indulged in complications and first lost a pawn and then allowed black passed pawn to queen. Duda outplayed Ameir in a well-known variation of the Benoni Defense, in which Black sacrifices an exchange. After the Egyptian player traded off his light-squared bishop on his own free will, his Q-side had lost an important defender, and the Polish grandmaster freely developed his decisive initiative on this sector of the board. Farahat could have tried to close the gap, but, having obtained a clearly better position against Gajewski, he agreed to a draw.
China and Russia share the second place.
The outcome of the Russia’s match against Ukraine was decided on the 2nd board, where Nepomniachtchi defeated Korobov. In the complicated Sicilian position Black made a serious blunder on his move 22. As a result, White demolished the cover of the centralized enemy king with a knight sacrifice and launched a mating attack. The engine thinks that he could have managed with purely positional means, though. The struggle on other boards was even, and the result is 2.5 to 1.5.
I. Nepomniachtchi - A. Korobov
22…d5? 23.Qg2 Kf7 24.Rhg1 Rag8 25.Nxe6!? (25.exd5 exd5 26.Nc1 is also very strong) 25...Nxe6 26.exd5 Nef4 27.d6+ Be6 28.Bxe6+ Nxe6 29.dxe7 Qxe7 30.Nxb4 Qxb4 31.Rd7+ Ke8 32.Rgd1 Nf8 33.Qe2 Ng3 34.Bc5+ with mate. 1-0.
In the match USA vs. China all games ended in draws, and Yu Yangyi – Akobian signed their peace agreement in the most interesting moment - immediately after White had sacrifices a piece. However, given logical development of events, he had every right to figure on adequate compensation.
With Li Chao and Xiong, the balance in the rook-and-two-pawns-versus-two-pieces endgame could have been instantly disturbed with a study-like subtlety.
Li Chao- J. Xiong
After 35.g5!, White’s position is won: if 35…Bxb3 36.Bd5, then Black is unable to transpose into a pawn-up ending, and the bishop one is also lost for him. Li Chao had advanced his g-pawn only two moves later, thus wasting precious time, and Xiong saved half a point.
Adhiban, who had lost in the first two rounds, today supplied a winning point to India in their match against Belarus. He outplayed Kovalev in the classic style of the hedgehog system. After a breakthrough in the center, black pieces placed on the back ranks started creating unpleasant threats; White had weakened his king’s position and soon let a decisive blow come through.
V. Kovalev-B. Adhiban
24.g3? In the variation 24.Bxa8 Nxe3 25.Bxe4 Nxc2 26.Qxc2 Rde8 27.Nc6 Qa8 28.Ne7+ Rxe7 29.Bxh7+ Kh8 30.Rxe7 White is able to hold the balance, but after the game move he faces weighty problems.
24...Ndf6 25.Bxa8 Qxa8 26.Rxc7 Qxa4 27.Rcc1 Nxe3 28.Rxe3 Ng4 29.Re2 Qa3 30.h3 Rxd4. 0-1.
Zhigalko, who had an extra pawn against Vidit, missed a real chance to even the match. After several inaccuracies, his advantage vanished into thin air.
The very first decisive game with the participation of Turkish players gained them a victory in their match against Norway. By giving up a pawn, Sanal managed to obtain counterplay on the kingside. Then, in the time-trouble frenzy, he sacrificed a piece, and with his control move Elsness committed a fatal error, overlooking a beautiful mating idea.
In the women’s tournament team Russia failed to defeat Azerbaijan, thus letting Ukraine to catch up with them.
Gunina’s undoing in her game against Mammadzada was her lack of patience in a typical Caro-Kann position. She had given up the important g7-pawn, and though later her opponent had granted her a chance to improve the situation, after overcoming a time-trouble Black found himself several pawns down in a hopeless ending. As a result of choosing a wrong move-order, Goryachkina lost an opportunity to gain a decisive advantage against Mammadova. The match was saved by Girya who was waiting for Fataliyeva’s error until the control was over.
In the match India vs. Ukraine, both parties exchanged favors on the odd-numbered boards: Harika failed to cash in on her extra pawn against Ushenina, and Osmak threw away her great positional edge in her duel with Karavade. The outcome of the match was decided on the 2nd board, where Sachdev failed to hold the fortress in the two-minor-pieces-versus-rook-and-outside-passed-pawn endgame against Gaponenko.
China won their first match. Lei Tingjie gained a decisive advantage against Vo after the Vietnamese player, tempted by a win of a pawn, had opened the h-file for the white rook. Ju Wenjun was very skillful in the matter-of-technique many-piece endgame against Pham. The “consolation goal” was scored by Hoang who had broken through Tan Zhongyi’s blockade on the point d5 in an excellent style. In the technical stage she was far from faultless, but, in all probability, the World Champion had already psychologically resigned herself to a defeat.
Confrontation between Poland and USA did not determine the winner. Foisor beat Szczepkowska in the King’s Indian structure after the latter’s untimely advance f6-f5. In the most complex Sicilian clash Kulon – Yu the Polish player managed to tip the scales in her favor after an unobvious Black’s mistake on the move 23.
Georgians have shut out Egypt and will face Russia in the fourth round. Ukraine is going to take on Vietnam.
Main encounters in the men’s tournament will be Poland vs. Turkey, Belarus vs. Russia and China vs. Egypt.
Photos by Eteri Kublashvili