10 March 2019

There is an Art to Endgame

Eteri Kublashvili reports on Round 5 of the World Team Championships

Now that as many as five rounds of the world team championships in Astana are over, Sunday is a rest day. 

The Russian men’s team outperformed the host team 3:1 in a lengthy fight. Scoring their first tournament victories are Alexander Grischuk and Dmitry Andreikin. 

Alexander Grischuk vs Anuar Ismagambetov was the last to finish in this matchup. 

Alexander Grischuk, “I was playing like an old man. Even if I was slightly better throughout the entire game, it was gravitating heavily towards a draw, but then my opponents started erring. He should have probably stopped me from playing 42.a5, but it was a draw till the very end of the game nonetheless. He blundered in a position when I had three vs his two pawns.

Grischuk – Ismagambetov


Black allowed White to advance his pawns far on the queenside, but it was not the end of the world yet. 80…g5? proved a blunderThe Kazakh GM resigned after 81. Qh3+ Kg7 82. Qd7+.

Dmitry Andreikin has delivered a methodical grind down of the young master Denis Makhnev. 

Dmitry Andreikin, “’My opponent’s treatment of the opening was rather weird. Preparing for the encounter enabled me to size up my opponent as a very competent and strong young player who had defeated the American GM Zviad Izoria in round four in a decent style at that. I anticipated certain difficulties in the opening (at least those associated with a play for a win), but instead he opted for a passive stance rather early by capturing 8. cxd5. It enabled me to get a good game by posting my knight on c6, while after 13…Ne4 14. Ne5 and the trade of all knights I was already enjoying a stable plus due to White’s compromised pawn structure. 

Makhnev – Andreikin


My followup was perhaps not the best as I should have probably thrown in Bg5 at some moment to trade the dark-squared bishops. Still, I rather liked my position. I believe to have gripped my opponent at a certain moment by confining his rook to a1, which is vital because with the rook placed on b2 White’s position is arduous but probably tenable.


I was seemingly winning, but my opponent refused to budge by transferring the dark-squared bishop to b2 via c1 and committing the pawn to a3 and just marking time. That is, a winning path was other than clear-cut. I countered this plan by breaking through on the kingside, having preliminary evacuated my king from g8 to d7, which proved to the point. My misplaced a4-rook prevented me from delivering a checkmate, and the game was transposed into a rook ending, extremely favorable for Black. Unwilling to make any flat assertions, I still believe this ending to have more winning than drawing potential. 

The opponent blundered in a rook ending down a pawn.

59. d5? This move gives me a choice of winning continuations, and the line chosen by me is also rather effective.” 

Scoring yet another victory is the Russian team’s first-timer Vladislav Artemiev. His game against Petr Kostenko in the English Opening was rather calm, in which the pieces were being gradually traded off to as far as the knight ending. The Russian still managed to outplay his opponent in an equal ending. 

Rinat Jumabayev and Sergey Karjakin played out the Catalan in which Black failed to solve his opening problems. The Russian was in the defensive, not for the first time in this event, and gave up a pawn to untangle his pieces. In general, his plan worked out as it seemed that Black was out of the woods in a rook and same-colored bishops ending. It was then that Karjakin blundered decisively.

Jumabayev – Karjakin


61…Rxb4? Black needed his rook on the first rank: Re1, Rd1 or Rf1 would have done the job. Now 62. Ra7!defies 62…Rc4 to take care of the checkmating ideas. Black had to give up his bishop on d7, but the Kazakh player was adamant when bringing his material superiority home.   

Teams England and India drew their match, increasing the gap between themselves and the Russian team up to two points. 

Making up for all previous failures, team China defeated team Iran 2.5:1.5. Azerbaijan has scored its first team victory over USA 3:1. Sweden defeated Egypt 2.5:1.5. 

Tournament standings after round 5: 

1. Russia - 9; 2-3. India, England - 7; 4. USA - 6; 5-6. Iran, China - 5; 7-8. Kazakhstan, Sweden - 4; 9. Azerbaijan - 3; 10. Egypt - 0.

Pairings of round six:

Sweden - USA, Russia - Azerbaijan, India - Kazakhstan, Iran - England, Egypt - China.


Round five of the women’s championship had a key matchup China – Russia. Sergey Shipov, commenting in Russian, started off by giving an optimistic forecast about the openings, but then the reality proved other than that much rosy for our team. The Russians ended up going down 1.5:2.5.

Queen's Gambit Accepted was the opponent's choice in Tan Zhongyi - Lagno. Until move 12 the opponents followed suit of Wojtaszek – Laznicka (2017), but Lagno was the first to sidestep. Even if it came as a surprise for the ex-world champion, she managed to come up with the most precise rejoinder in that sharp position and launched an offensive against the black king’s long castling. Lagno might have blundered a move order in her complex analysis, finding herself in a precarious situation. White sacrificed a pawn to open up the d-file and launched an offensive. Black lacked resources to take care of her king, and the Russian resigned on move 34.  

Valentina Gunina was Black against Lei Tintsze. The opening was the Bogo-Indian Defence, in which all pawns and almost all pieces were still on the board by move 24. This viscous struggle witnessed White advance on the kingside, whereas Black was busy launching counterplay on the queenside. The Chinese player sacrificed her g6-pawn for active piece play, and the Russian blundered a move later, falling victim to attacks from all directions. White got an overwhelming advantage and triumphed on move 37, a move short of checkmate.

Alexandra Kosteniuk was defending a difficult position down a pawn on board two. On seeing that her teammate won the game on the neighboring board (and Tan Zhongyi having succeeded even earlier,) Kosteniuk’s opponent Huang Qian immediately sealed a draw in her game and an overall victory in the match.  

A goal of consolation was scored by Aleksandra Goryachkina as White over Ding Yixin. The Russian displayed her trademark style to end up in a better endgame with rooks and knights. Black’s structure was compromised, and White managed to grab a pawn. Aleksandra went on to methodically convert her extra material. I would like to praise the fighting qualities of the two-time Russian champion, who continued fighting notwithstanding the loss of the match.  

All games were drawn in Ukraine – Kazakhstan.  Team Georgia defeated team Hungary 3:1. Armenia went down to USA 1:3. India scored a score a whitewash victory over Egypt. 

Tournament standings after round 5:

1. China - 10; 2. Russia - 8; 3. Ukraine - 7; 4-5. India, Georgia - 6; 6. USA -5; 7. Kazakhstan - 4; 8-9. Armenia, Hungary - 2; 10. Egypt - 0.

Pairings of round six:

Egypt - Georgia, Kazakhstan - Hungary, Armenia - Ukraine, Russia - USA, India - China.

It is now time for a rest day, well deserved by all players and not only.