Greengard's ChessNinja.com

World Team Championship 2010

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The starting date of this powerful quadrennial event in Turkey has been moved back a day, to the 5th. China dropped out as the Asian representative and was replaced by India at the last minute, which did not make the organizers happy. The US team is Nakamura, Onischuk, Shulman, Akobian, and young reserves Hess and Robson. Go team! Kamsky is tied for the lead in Reggio Emilia. The last time he played in this event the USA took gold in Lucerne back in 1993.

It's nine rounds and Russia is the top seed, led by Morozevich, new Russian champion Grischuk, and the red-hot Malakhov. Karjakin was supposed to debut for the Russian team but has been replaced by Jakovenko. Olympiad winner Armenia and Euro Team winner Azerbaijan are both there at full strength. World Cup winner Gelfand is there for Israel, which was the host of the last World Team in 2005. Russia won that one ahead of China and Armenia.


The website's airing of dirty linen in public (and bad English) is all a bit unprofessional after a few well-organised events from FIDE:

"China withdraws, India replaces
Just one week before event starts, 23 December evening, Chinese Chess Association withdrew from event. That is very pitty, considering talented young Chinese Team, and no reason beyond that scandelous withdrawal. Fortunately, the owner of the 2nd place of Asian Team Championship, India, jumped on the seat and accepted to participate. Then the new list of federations participate is as follows: Continental Champions: Rusisa , Brazil , Egypt , India (replacing China), top three from Olympiad: Armenia , Israel , USA , host and wildcards: Turkey , Azerbaijan , Greece "

Or this illogical explanation for cancelling the rest day:

"by the Request of FIDE and consultation of the Chief Arbiter of event the first round moved to 5th January and free day cancelled. That is only for giving more time to players to prepare for their opponents. All players, and coaches as it is clearly mentioned in regulations must participate to the Opening Ceremony on 4th January at 10:00 am."

Why did Turkey give Greece a wild card!? I always thought they didn't exactly get on well together...

This is true in politics (mainly due to the Cyprus issue), but not in many other aspects, especially since the earthquakes of 1999.
Furthermore, chesswise Greece and Turkey get along very well. The coach of the Turkish national team is Greek (GM Stratos Grivas) and Ali Nihat Yacizi (head of the Turkish Chess Federation) has acknowledged that he was inspired by Makropoulos (president of the Greek Chess Federation) (check http://axdfaro.weebly.com/uploads/2/5/3/0/253045/entrevista_com_yazici_presid_fx_turquia.pdf)

"That is very pitty, considering talented young Chinese Team, and no reason beyond that scandelous withdrawal"

Unusual way to put it by an official world championship site...

Thanks. I'd forgotten Makropoulos (perhaps the only chess figure to give Danailov a run for his money) - that probably explains everything.

That said, there's nothing too wrong with the wild card geographically, it's just that there's perhaps a dozen stronger teams they could have invited in Europe alone.

Finally someone gives full pairings http://www.chessdom.com/news-2010/world-team-chess-2010-pairings

First and last round seem the most exciting. I bet on India or USA, despite Azerbaijan and Armenia are team players.

The English on the webpage is bad, but not worse than what we see at Linares or Nanjing!? The statement on the late withdrawal of China is "unusual", i.e. unusually blunt while incorporating a compliment ("talented young Chinese team"). It seems the organizers were genuinely upset and did not feel like hiding it. Should they come up with an explanation, if the Chinese themselves apparently did not? In any case, China committed the first, and more serious offense.

I've no idea why China withdrew, but at any professional event you'd expect the organisers to minimise negative PR (keep sponsors happy, avoid the players getting the impression that things are being arranged by amateurs etc.). They don't need to provide an explanation - they could just have written something neutral like, "India have replaced China after the late withdrawal of the Chinese team".

I only mentioned the bad English in passing, though I do think a worldwide FIDE event should be able to divert 1/100th of Makropoulos's expenses for being "Chairman of the Appeals Committee" to getting the content proofread. And if you're going to post controversial content attacking a federation then at the very least you should check that it's not laughably written ("that is very pitty"!).

Ironically, "that is very pitty" sounds to me like a typical bad translation of Chinese into English. Maybe the organizers were so angry at the Chinese that they decided to mock the way they speak English.

"there's perhaps a dozen stronger teams [than Greece] they could have invited in Europe alone."
Maybe that's precisely the point? If the choice had been based on "chess merit" it would always be controversial. Say the organizers had invited the Netherlands, then Germans, English, French and Ukrainians would all complain "why them and not us?". Of course Bulgaria lost any chances it may have had after the remarks of prime minister/chess sponsor/organizer Borisov directed at the Turkish minority.

While it is normal that the host country participates, the odd thing is rather that there were two more wildcards, together 30% of the field (of course no discussion or questions asked about Azerbaijan).

I don't see how anyone could have complained if the Ukraine had been invited - after all they were ranked third and finished third at the recent European Team Championship. The problem with paying their FIDE fees came later, I assume.

I agree Azerbaijan taking part makes sense, but as Makropoulos's fellow FIDE henchman Azmaiparashvili is working as their coach the invitation wouldn't necessary have been contingent on results!

It's nice to see the U.S. give some young Americans talents the chance to gain some experience in top international competition. The ex-Soviet emigree era of the 90's is over, and besides guys like Onischuk that decided to study and then reside in the U.S., the U.S. is going to have to depend increasingly on developing home grown talent if they want to sustain their success in international team competition.

I count just ten teams is that all and where are every one else. World is much more than olny ten. Is some day World island championship for just those who are island like Philipine or Iceland or Boneo.

"I count just ten teams"

With four of them being Egypt, Brazil, Greece and Turkey this is a much weaker event than for example the recent European Team Championship (where Turkey finished 30th and Greece 20th).

But on the other hand except China all other top teams are there. Except Russia all tops have their best lineups it seems. So should be interesting.

First round is Armenia vs Azerbaijan.

I do not see Spain or England or Swcicherland or Germany or Cuba or Canada or Vitnam or a bunch others in World. Just a small few number of countrys. So mabey it should be Little World Team champion ship.

I agree regarding Ukraine - the problem may have been a perceived excess of ex-Soviet teams and players (also half the American and the entire Israeli team). But, as we also saw during the World Cup, this (still) reflects the situation in the chess world.

Russia is missing Kramnik and Svidler (and Karjakin). But they are still rating favorites, and maybe they will actually do better with what the tournament homepage calls a "combination of experience and dynamism" (Morozevich, Grischuk, Malakhov, Jakovenko, reserves Tomashevsky and Vitiugov). Only India is seriously weakened, their top board could have been about 100 points higher-rated ... .

This being a world championship with continental qualifiers, we cannot complain about the presence of Egypt, Brazil and Turkey (organizer), only about Greece. And the bigger team event, called Olympiad, will happen later this year.

I don't see why anyone should get worked up about the choice of Greece.
It is called a wild card, you can invite any country. Plus wild cards even in other sports are usually not given to the missing best team/person. They usually go to someone with an outside chance, or someone who can bring something different to the event.

Is awful small world only ten. No Carlsen no Kramnik no Topalov no Anand no Ivanchuk. I sorry to tell.

Could the Chinese be protesting the "zero tolerance" late rule that ousted the two Chinese World Cup players?

Brazil vs Russia in the first round. Russia with four 2700 GMs, Brazil with four 2600 GMs. Go Brazil!

Probably a player arrived five minutes late for a training session. Zero tolerance - they had to withdraw.

"They usually go to someone with an outside chance, or someone who can bring something different to the event."

That's the thing, though. Greece's top player is ranked 130 in the world. However charismatic they might be they're not going to add much to the competition in terms of chess.

I'd still guess it's all down to Makropoulos - who was involved in deciding where the event was held and gets to chair the appeals committee despite presumably also representing the Greek team.

Banana, Russia's four 2700 GMs are tough to handle for any team, not only Brazil. Still, expect a few surprises from Brazil's four 2600 GMs.

"It is called a wild card, you can invite any country."
Yes, and as I hinted it may even be better to invite a team that doesn't have winning chances. One may still wonder about the underlying reasons, mishanp may very well be right that Makropoulos played a significant role.

"They usually go to someone with an outside chance, or someone who can bring something different to the event."
Also agreed upon, and with this in mind I have two other suggestions - the second one mostly in jest:

1) Vietnam, they did very well at the Olympiad with a young team (seeded 37th, finishing 9th - draws against Cuba and China, wins against Netherlands and Serbia)

2) If it should be a European country - Sweden could, for several reasons, bring a rather colorful team: Tiger Hillarp Persson (Olympiad TPR 2762) and Jonny Hector for their playing style, 16-year old Nils Grandelius for his rasta look [of course he also knows to play chess], Pontus Carlsson as the only(?) black European GM (and his name resembling the current world #1 ,:) ). [Excuses if "black" isn't politically correct, what would be?]

"Could the Chinese be protesting the "zero tolerance" late rule that ousted the two Chinese World Cup players?"

At the same time the women's event was held in China and a Russian player was forfeited because of this rule, and that helped China to win the gold.

As for invited teams, Botswana was the African participant in the women's event in 2007. They finished last in the previous African Team Championship (and lost every single game in 2007) but their federation was one of the most supportive of Kirsan and maybe that influenced why they were picked as the African team back then...

An article by van Wely on the previous World Team Championship, some quotes:

"Between the WTCh 2001 and the WTCh 2005 three European Team Championships have taken place, of which The Netherlands managed to win two. Unfortunately this did not give us the right to participate in the WTCh"

"somehow Georgia's third place at the European Team Championship in 2003 (for those who remember it) was rewarded with an invitation. Given also the fact that a Chinese women's team was invited did not give us a more positive feeling towards the WTCh"

"All I can conclude is that Fide prefers to have a World Team Championship with nine weaker teams than with the ten strongest teams"


No Sargissian in the first round for Armenia, so Mamedyarov plays Pashikian. The only game between 2700 players in the first round is Gashimov-Aronian. The other top boards: Haznedaroglu-Nakamura, Sasikiran-Kotronias, Grischuk-Vescovi, Adly-Roiz.

Pashikyan is the most aggressive player in our lineup, and they put him against Mamedyarov. This is going to be fun.

Turkey inviting Greece is a very nice political move, showing the friendship of neighboring people despite the historical and political differences that may exist.

The coach of the Turkey chess team, is the greek GM, Grivas (this has also played its role).

Finally, as pointed out already, Makropoulos presence probably played some role (though rememeber that Ali the president of the turkish federation once runned against Makropoulos at fide elections).

In any case, there is a nice symbolism in this invitation (imagine Azerbaijan being host country for the candidates match giving a wild card to Akopian:-), or Israel giving it to Palestine or visa versa). Instead fide has to make special plans for a diffrent venue for Aronian).

According to the website:

"II.a Federations

Accordingto FIDE Regulations D., the following Federations are entitled to send a team:

Continental Champions: Russia, Brazil, China, Egypt

3 Qualifiers from Olympiad: Armenia, Israel, USA

Organiser Country and two invited Federations by FIDE President's approval: Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Greece."

So, it seems the only controversial pick was Greece. Not so bad, really. Sure UK, Netherlands, or Ukraine (among others) would be better, but why not give them a shot?


"expect a few surprises from Brazil's four 2600 GMs"
They were close against Russia, but I guess Grischuk will convert his endgame an exchange up against Vescovi for a final score of 2.5-1.5 (though it may not be easy with R+N against two bishops). Mamedyarov-Pashikian was the exciting game playjunior predicted, but he probably doesn't like the result. Turkey surprised at least on board 3 (Can-Shulman 1-0, a game worth a look). Greece hasn't yet lost against India, and it doesn't look like they will. Only Israel's victory against Egypt is convincing.

Yes, thanks for posting the regs. I guess folks here don't realize that the "world team chp" is not an open team event -- like the Olympiad.

It is a type of super-finals...for the teams that do well in the Olympiad and a select few other team events.

It is also a bit of a snore :)

It looks like the Pashikian gambit didn't quite work. India ended up winning against Greece anyway. The Brazilian GMs are stronger than their rating indicates. Turkey is improving fast, certainly Mustafa Yilmaz and Emre Çan have the potential to reach the 2700 mark within a few years.

Did you notice the generous daily honorarium to be paid each player? Paid in SFr, no less, and with special tarif for any "Ex-World Champion":

Regulation 2b:

In return, the players have to attend the opening and closing ceremonies ("Otherwise honorarium will not be paid"). And maybe this explains why Ukraine and Bulgaria weren't invited - there would have been a chance that an ex WCh (Topalov or Ponomariov) participates, and there was no corresponding budget available ,:) .

@Chesspride: noone compared or confused the World Team Championship with the Olympiad where _any_ country can participate - provided they find four players who know the rules of the game ... . The issue was rather if the wildcards are worthy participants - in which team event did Greece do well? In the game called FIDE politics?!

BTW, historically (info from olimpbase.org) until 1997 there were no wildcards but the organizing country, they rather invited the first six from the previous Olympiad. And maybe the 2001 wildcards were even more "surprising": Iran and FYR Macedonia.

Thomas: "Excuses if 'black' isn't politically correct, what would be?"

Definitely not Politically Correct! It doesn't matter if he's from Chicago, Sweden, or Kenya, or is an Australian aborigine, the proper term is "African-American". [How common that usage is in the US!]

Since you did not know that, you are a racist who just committed a hate crime and must be reprimanded and relieved of any position of responsibility (unless, of course, you are a Democrat, in which case you deserve a promotion for 'edginess'--but aren't you Dutch? Well, then, you are a diverse and worldly European, so all is forgiven [unless, of course, you side with the US in some international dispute]).


It's great for Turkey to host Armenia and Greece, good for Armenia and Azerbaijan to play in the first round (but in the latter match, it would have been better to have more blood on the board!)

According to some, Turkey itself is hosted in Armenia and Greece :-)

@Chesspride: noone compared or confused the World Team Championship with the Olympiad where _any_ country can participate - provided they find four players who know the rules of the game ... . The issue was rather if the wildcards are worthy participants - in which team event did Greece do well? In the game called FIDE politics?!

Perhaps Thomas needs to read the entire thread, as comments were made such as:

"I count just ten teams"

With four of them being Egypt, Brazil, Greece and Turkey this is a much weaker event than for example the recent European Team Championship (where Turkey finished 30th and Greece 20th).


I do not see Spain or England or Swcicherland or Germany or Cuba or Canada or Vitnam or a bunch others in World. Just a small few number of countrys. So mabey it should be Little World Team champion ship.


However, the event is one of the most boring and senseless of all international events. Winning the Olympiad matters. Winning this thing matters not at all.

I guess Thomas decided to overlook I M Stoopid whose name doesn't do him any favours.
But your comment about winning exaggerates..Of course winning matters..and not losing matters even more. Guess how many comments would be here if Brazil had beaten Russia?

Nah... "Black" is OK. I've talked to Pontus many times and we always use "Black" in our conversations. No problem. Not sure how this came up anyway since Pontus would not be "African-American". "African-American" is PC... I don't know why, but it's something Jesse Jackson started a couple decades ago. I never use it in vernacular, but have used it in writing a few times.

Most times when Blacks are with each other, that's what we use... it's short, easy and we understand the context. I suppose a South African of Dutch or English ancestry who moves to America is an African-American too! One South African of European ancestry actually sued for the right to be called "African-American".

Most people from the Caribbean and Africa who recently move to America prefer not want to be called by this label either because it more accurately a specific segment of people who are descendants of slaves in America... of which they are not. "Black" is the general term referring to people of African descent and it's used around the world.

Who else uses a hyphenated nationality anyways? Do people actually say I'm Haitian-Jamaican-Dominican-American... or I'm Nigerian-Ghanaian-Beninese-American. No... I'm French-Senegelese-Canadian-American. Maybe someone will say I'm Dutch-Surinamese-Cuban-Haitian. Who does this stuff? Well... "Black" still is good! :-) Trust me.

As the first round the second has one game between players rated over 2680, and that is Aronian-Gelfand.

I actually considered "African-American European" as Carlsson presumably has African ancestors (how many generations ago?) and is originally from Columbia - I presume "American" refers to the entire continent, and to both of them? "After a tragedy claimed his entire family he was adopted by a Swedish couple" - this is from http://www.thechessdrum.net/drummajors/ , the only place to find such information, cheers Daaim! But I considered three continents an overkill ... .

As to my own background, I am originally German, living in the Netherlands for the last 10 years, having spent some time in France before - call me (western) European if you want. And for what it's worth, I was born in the USA so I also have an American passport - though the first time as a baby I stayed only ten days (my parents' visa and working permits were expiring, and my father took a new job back in Germany).

On PC in Europe: I applied for some jobs in the UK, but frankly don't remember which terms were used in the equal opportunity forms to be filled in. One job was in Northern Ireland (or would Ulster be more PC?), where it also mattered - or at least was monitored - if the candidate is British, Irish or something else, Catholic, Protestant or something else!?

Ulster and Northern Ireland are separate geographical entities, and are not equivalent terms.

"certainly Mustafa Yilmaz and Emre Çan have the potential to reach the 2700 mark within a few years"

That would be nice, even if Can is 2442 and turns 20 this year. In three years he has gained less than 40 points on the rating list but he did win nicely against Shulman.

As Thabo already hinted: if Russia wins this event, it doesn't matter - if they "lose" (read: finish second), it DOES matter!? A bit unfair to them, even if they are the "eternal" rating favorites.

Does anyone still remember the previous World Team Championship ( http://www.olimpbase.org/2005t/2005in.html )? I did: Russia needed to beat China 3.5-0.5 in the final round to take gold "away" from them, and succeeded [back then board points rather than match points were the first criterion - the relative merits of both systems were discussed extensively before].

Comparing World Team Championship and Olympiad: While the WTC "by definition" suffers from the fact that some strong teams don't participate, a round-robin may be better than a Swiss to determine the "correct" ranking of teams. At Olympiads, some medal winners had arguably been a bit lucky concerning their pairings - maybe not gold, but at least silver and bronze.

I was a bit confused, so is Wikipedia:
- The main article describes Ulster as "one of the four provinces of Ireland", with nine counties (six part of Northern Ireland, three part of the Republic of Ireland).
- The disambiguation page mentions that "Ulster may also refer to ... Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom formed in 1921 from 6 of the 9 counties that made up the Irish province at that time."
Apparently the latter is mostly used by unionists?

My personal confusion also stems from the fact that I [unsuccessfully] applied at the University of Ulster - which has campuses in Belfast, Coleraine (my case) and Derry/Londonderry. My flight from Amsterdam to Belfast was with "republican" Aer Lingus ,:) .

Btw cat, where in Ireland are you from? I have also been to Dublin and Galway for work, and have friends/working relations in Cork.

Yeah, it is confusing. If you say you've been to Ulster, that could mean Donegal, which is not Northern Ireland, so it is not interchangeable. Adding further to the confusion is that no one in the south identifies themselves according to province (in fact, one of the few cases where that is referred to is rugby), as in nobody says, "I'm from Connaught, etc"-; so the idea of someone identifying themselves as "from Ulster" is peculiar to me. But some may have other views. If anything, one mentions one's county as a further indicator of identity, but even this is usually only in order to poke fun at other counties, really. There is no strong regional identity, really, in the Republic. I'm from Limerick, looks like you missed that one.

If your view is representative of, and widely shared "in the south" (Republic of Ireland), maybe the term Ulster is mostly used by "the other side"? As in University of Ulster, Ulsterbus and Ulster freedom fighters ... . Of course any (self-declared) freedom fighter may be considered a terrorist by others - and I have no (informed) opinion on this conflict, other than that it shouldn't be there in the first place.

I have heard of Limerick, at least the corresponding term in literature. But as I am in marine research, I am more aware of university towns and coastal cities - whether Limerick qualifies for the latter would depend on the tidal range in the Shannon estuary? ,:)

At Chessvibes, Peter Doggers speculates (or does he know more?):
"The reason for China’s absence is probably a political one, connected to the ethnic and religious connections between Turkey and the Uyghur minority in the Western Chinese province of Xinjiang. In the last few months, diplomatic relations between China and Turkey have gone from bad to worse."

If so, Armenia would have similar reasons to boycott the event in Turkey - but relations between these two countries are apparently improving, though there may be a long way to go.

If some one does not play they mabey are afraid or poor. Way peoples look or think in side their heads shuold not be any reason. Big China can not be so poor so they probly are afraid. But who can say.

Hmm, looks like Russia isn't winning this event: struggling against Brazil yesterday, 0-2 behind against Greece today (not sure if they can even save that match) - and the [nominally] stronger teams still to come.
Morozevich lost in a way only he is capable of (among the world top): 4.g4, 5.g5, 6.Rg1, 10.g6 ... resignation on move 25 before getting a chance to (or bothering to) develop his queenside pieces.

Very funny because Mr. Thomas talk to him self. Unless there is two peoples name Thomas.

So what's this about Greece not deserving to play in this tournament? LOL.

I couldn't imagine I would live to see this, but we beat Russia at chess!!! Greece has made so much progress the last 15 years...


lol, Greece beat Russia nice and clean!
i guess they still have nothing to offer to this tournament?

Aren't Russians usually celebrating the New Year until 13-th?

How appropriate:-)
that should quiet down the who is Greece fellows? :-) what is next, egypt beating the usa?

Of course Russia isn't winning. Something has been amiss in their chemistry for since Kasparov retired. Who is the leader of the Russian team? Who is the motivator? It's not clear. Armenia showed a lot of chemistry in the last two Olympiad and Azerbaijan showed in the Euro Cup. Surprisingly, the USA shows good chemistry as well in team play.

Russia won the Olympiad in 2002 and the World Team in 2005. They've come up empty on most everything else. No medals in three Olympiad despite a team with a 2750 average in 2008. If you can't win with that type of team, something is wrong. They did beat China in a team match after losing to them previously.

India is a team that often shows poor chemistry. I remember interviewing Sasikiran about team strategy at 2006 Olympiad. He was unaware as to what I was talking about. He said "We're going to try to score as many points as possible." Well... of course, but what's the strategy?

I tend to agree, but your post begs for one question: Does good team chemistry per se require one leader? If so:
- Aronian is the leader of the Armenian team - even if the lower boards tended to score the decisive points
- Nakamura may now, but only now be the leader of the US team
- Who is the leader of the Azeri team?
- Anand is NOT the leader of the Indian team, for the simple fact that he hardly plays in team competitions.
But there are different examples: IMO China did well "as a team without a leader", and Ukraine also had good results but Ivanchuk is NOT their leader - because he apparently hardly interacts with the rest of the team, doesn't take part in team meetings, ... .

The Russian problem might be: too many (equally) good players = no leader. Even if Kramnik participated, he would only be primus inter pares, and I wonder if "leadership" is part of his character.

Or do I miss something, e.g. the role of the non-playing team captain?

Late GM Karen Asrian told me that Russians party a lot during Olympiads. He said when Kasparov is around, they pull themselves together though. "Chemistry" mystery solved.

Also, higher-rated players keep their novelties for individual competitions.

So what Russian team needs IMO is discipline + (large) monetary incentives for winning.

When I was in Dresden Olymp. I noticed how little Russians looked at each others' boards. The difference between them and our team was striking, our guys looked at other boards all the time, they even checked girls' games occasionally. The Russians seemed totally indifferent (except Grischuk IMO).

What's your team, playjunior?


Will say also here:
it is incredibly silly that Ukraine was not invited (instead of Greece). There was no other logical candidate.

* FIDE changed old rules and allowed 3 best teams from the Olympiad to play. Ukraine was the 4th.

* Ukraine has 10 players in the Top 100 (Greece has none).

* Finally, look at the FIDE's own Top Countries list:
Country rank by average rating of top 10 players
(Karjakin is counted for Russia)

1 Russia 2727 196 460 1932
2 Ukraine 2691 73 185 420
3 Israel 2647 34 43 145
4 China 2643 27 17 99
5 Azerbaijan 2639 17 14 61
6 USA 2635 67 114 523
7 India 2635 20 61 179
8 Hungary 2634 42 107 385
9 France 2634 40 84 312
10 Armenia 2632 29 20 68
11 Germany 2621 75 210 1109
12 Bulgaria 2618 29 54 119
13 Poland 2617 30 89 291
14 Georgia 2613 24 36 100
15 Netherlands 2612 24 70 265
16 Spain 2596 34 94 411
17 England 2590 37 56 227
18 Serbia 2587 51 96 508
19 Cuba 2581 18 37 256
20 Czech Republic 2580 24 69 230
21 Romania 2578 20 75 264
22 Croatia 2575 29 58 222
23 Sweden 2556 16 37 122
24 Brazil 2548 8 28 119
25 Greece 2546 11 23 93

It is indeed a scandal and idiocy that Ukraine was not invited.

Normally, not only Ukrainians should care about having a legitimate world team championship.

For those who know Russian:
a poem of mine devoted to the whole story was posted here:
I am writing poems rarely and almost exclusively about FIDE.

I think it is possible that Russia has just been unlucky in some of the recent team events. If there is a problem with strategy, it is the fact that they wouldn't play a guy who is played well (like Jakovenko in the last Olympiad) and ended up giving people who do not play well (like Svidler in the last Olympiad). Too many great players on one team has its drawbacks because you can't just bench a top 10 guy if he doesn't play well, because if you will, he may not show up for the next team event.

A lot of things have to go wrong for Russia not to win, but it did seem to happen in recent events. In the last Olympiad, Jakovenko, the reserve, ended up having the best performance rating, while the rest of the team underperformed. Svidler lost two games with a performance rating of 2651, and Grischuk had 6 whites and two blacks and only went +1 on board 3.

Also, I think the Olympiads are not the best events in terms of player comfort - they are crowded, noisy, etc. If a star player is used to supertournament-like conditions, it may be hard for them to perform as they normally do. I think this may be another reason, and perhaps this is why people like Topalov and Anand often skip these events.

And I don't think it matters if they look at each others games much or not. They are the top pros, and they know what they have to do to get the job done on their own board. Concentrating on your own board can't be too bad a thing, and that is why they are as good as they are in the first place. I think it is only a matter of time before Russia wins a team event or two easily.

After Greece, it was India's turn to bring down another favorite today.. boy! some action in this brief event!!

Yes, this also means that Russia is back in business, with six teams tied for first (Armenia leading by 1/2 board point) - maybe for Russia the match against Greece was a timely wakeup call? Organizer Turkey is sole last - to be fair, they had a tough schedule so far (USA, Azerbaijan and Armenia).

Tomorrow the Azerbaijan-Russia clash, and a difficult match for the USA:
- yesterday Greece beat Russia
- today Russia beat USA, and Egypt beat Greece
- tomorrow the USA and Egypt play against each other ,:)

Russian Bear,

Your assessments and insight is interesting and pretty accurate. I have been at the last three Olympiad and Dresden was a bit crowded.

I think one problem is when you are playing a team match you are not merely playing your own game. You may have to play against specific players who you have trouble against and difficult "style" matchups. Morozevich is incredibly strong, but he seems to lose his bearings at times. I do agree that Russia will win again, but there is a concern about who will succeed the current crop of players.

Team events are much more difficult than the super-tournaments. Even a 2750 team can have trouble if you give your player an instruction to make a draw to take their top player away.

Well... Russia crushed the USA and India beat Azerbaijan. This tournament is absolutely crazy!! Greece beats Russia and then drops their match against Egypt.

[quote]Well... of course, but what's the strategy?[unquote]

Well, what else can be the strategy just before the championship? I would just play out my best with whatever I've prepared and would try to bring home my team as many points as possible. I would probably advise my team to rest well before each match. I will reserve my best against lower competetions. May be Sasikiran wasn't that articulate to manage an answer for that question, but he did manage as captain today and delivered against the Azeris! India 2.5 - Azerbeijan 1.5 !!

The only reason Azeris lost today is because Gashimov was trying to win and even made a sacrifice to gain better position, he could have easily drawed!


Your revelations about team spirit are very, very eye-opening. The idea of looking at team mates' games is subtle and important. I was very inspired in Dresden to see the USA team supporting their teammates. Varuzhan Akobian is an excellent teammate and loyal!! Hikaru is also a good teammate.

In the last round in Dresden they were all huddled in the media room waiting on Shulman to wrap up a win and it was interesting to see the spirit. I think adding Akobian and Nakamura to the teams in 2006 and 2008 injected life into the USA team that they didn't have before with a lot of older players who were not motivated. Looking at teammates' games gives extra boost.

The partying issues... well, that's another issue. :-)

I observed the Armenians in Turin and Dresden. When I interviewed Aronian I asked him about the loss of Karen Asrian and he said that was a big motivation. Aronian and Sarigssian are very close and they have camaraderie. I saw the Ukraine in Calvia and they seem to have a good camaraderie, but I was concerned about Ponomariov who I saw in the press room a lot. Frederic Friedel asked him why he wasn't playing. He didn't seem to have his mind on the tournament. I think he was going through the FIDE controversy at the time and I believe he was attending meetings... not sure.

Just imagine the result with Anand on the top board for India. It would have been a 3.5 - 0.5 rout against the Azeris! ;)


Indeed!! I'm happy being that I know several of the Indian players and I've interviewed them. I pick them every Olympiad to get up in the top five, but they seem to collapse in latter rounds. In Dresden, they lost to Morocco in round #1 and hurt their confidence. However, I'm happy to see the win and it will boost their confidence. They have a bright future with Negi and Gupta (who didn't make the trip).

Maybe my comments were too harsh on Sasi. It's difficult to articulate strategy in a team event, but I remember Aronian told me in Turin that one strategy they had was to play the younger guys. :-) This is when Sargissian had a Fischer-like performance, destroying everyone. He got 10/13. Asrian had a stable performance and they sat Lputian and Minasian who became coaches. With these veterans helping with preparation, they were able to win crucial points.

RussianBear, I agree with you in principle. Some details.

Dresden was crowded, but not noisy. There was a nice restrictive zone around top teams, like Russia.

Regarding looking at others' boards-this can be an issue IMO. Especially for a team like Russia, when they outclass almost every team by a large margin individually. This means - they can push equal positions, take risks etc. when one of the teammates blunders. You can see numerous examples of this happening in Armenia's games, when someone plays a harmless, completely equal (if sometimes even dead!) position to the point when he sees that the team match is not in danger anymore.

This is especially important since they made the retarded rule change when they don't count board points but count "match points".

Example-when our team was playing Serbia in Dresden, Gabriel Sargissian made a fast draw with black on opponents offer. At that point, Aronian was crushing and both Akopian and Petrossian had an edge. Then he came out and the situation changed: Akopian was still doing fine (advantage, not winning), Aronian won but Petrosian started to lose. Gabriel started to blame himself for taking the draw, but then said that he had the trainer's instruction to take a draw (he had black) out of the opening if it was appropriate. That is, if trainer hadn't said that before the match, Gabriel was going to keep playing an equal position just to make sure others do OK on the other boards.

In the Russian team, I was watching them for some time and Kramnik made a draw on board 1 and left the hall. He did not have a single glance at the others. And I was there for some time, he was at the board and was not looking at the others (while I was there). I am a big fan of Kramnik, yet I couldn't help but to get the impression that he somehow didn't care. Didn't look at the others, made his draw, and even after that didn't bother to throw a glance.

If accusations come up about players signalling to teammates in team competitions (such as a more serious version of Azmai helping out someone in the Azeri team by uttering "draw" in the ECC), then one could actually see Kramnik's (and possibly others) habit(?) of not even glancing at other boards with respect!

No, you are not harsh, Daaim! Being critical would help our guys improve. Our guys would sometimes blink for answer to questions like this thats why we hire foreign coaches to get that exposure. To know what is in a strategy. I think Lev Psakhis is now the coach of this Indian team. I agree the young, less exposed players would do better in team events performance wise. Because they have the extra motivation and wouldn't want the chance to pass by, than established players. That is good point and strategy in fielding a team. Sasikiran used to trouble Carlsen and Pono and Harikrishna is a rock solid player but they are not at their best now. Let see how they do in the next rounds.

Does anyone understand how they're scoring this event. I see that after three rounds Armenia leads with 7.5, but where did that half point come from?


It definitely was crowded. When I was on the stage trying to get pics it was a nightmare, but very quiet. I couldn't get the angles I wanted, but I think it was a good setup to have top teams on stage.

There were a lot of rule changes I didn't like. The match vs. board points was inspired by China's performance. It was thought that China beat up weaker teams by large scored while the strongest teams beat up each other. It was true to an extent, but China played who they were paired with. There is also the change in how medals are awarded. Then there was the "zero tolerance" rule. Too many changes at once. All of these changes made this team event very contentious and unpleasant with all the forfeits.

There is no way Sargissian can blame himself on that case. Maybe he would not have scored a full point, but of course Akopian was playing in form. I believe Sargissian was the star for Armenia in the last two Olympiad (10/13 and 9/11) and typically plays 2800 in these tournaments.

In my last post, I was referring to China's silver medal in 2006 Turin Olympiad. There was a lot of talk about the match vs. board system.

According to one Chinese source, the reason for the withdrawal was because the Turkish organisers were 'unable to guarantee the safety of the players'. A somewhat unexpected explanation.

A problem for Russia imho is that Kramnik (like Kasparov and Karpov did earlier) is playing once in a blue moon, and when he is playing it is a somewhat unusual event and makes perhaps some additional pressure on the other players.

If Russia really wants to win the team events, they should have strongest players, and especially Kramnik, each time.

Players should have the impression that everything is done for a victory, and not to think at all about silly things: that they must 'compensate' Kramnik's absence or that they should show something special in his presence.

They are off balance all the time.
It is good for other teams, still if Ukraine is not allowed to play at all it is hard to compete.

It could be that the Chinese felt especially insecure because of the ethnik tension with the Uighur Turks living in Xinjiang.

Yes, I remember Erdogan's idiotic "genocide" comment referring to the tragedy in Xinjiang last summer.


There is a six-way tie for 1st place. Armenia has four match points along with five other team, but Armenia has 7.5 board points.


There is a six-way tie for 1st place. Armenia has four match points along with five other team, but Armenia has 7.5 board points.

Thank you, but what confused me is *why* Armenia has 7.5 points. Where does the half point come from?

Armenia lost to Azerbaijan 1.5-2.5, won Israel 2.5-1.5 and Turkey 3.5-0.5. They have 4 match points (two wins and one loss) and 7.5 board points (1.5+2.5+3.5).

"Where does the half point come from?"

From the draw in their match against Turkey: Armenia's results:
Azerbaijan-Armenia 2.5-1.5
Armenia-Israel 2.5-1.5
Armenia-Turkey 3.5-1.5

1.5 + 2.5 + 3.5 = 7.5
If they continue like that, today they will break the rules and score 4.5 points? ,:)
Ah, anatman just said the same, but I like my final joke ....

Apparently Russia never gets things right ... : At earlier occasions, particularly the Dresden Olympiad, some people commented that the established players are not hungry and motivated enough, and young guys should get their chance. At the upcoming Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk they can try both strategies: the organizing country can send two, maybe even three teams.

Questions, however:
- Who would be the young guys? Daaim Shabazz has a point regarding "there is a concern about who will succeed the current crop of players"
- Are they actually friends with each other, as the Armenians and Azeris are? [The Netherlands are another country that often overperforms at team events, IMO for similar reasons]

Another way to "make Russia win again" would be to have team events played on eight boards, as most team competitions on club level (at least in the three European countries where I played). The Russian #10 (Rublevsky) has ELO 2697, the Ukrainian #10 has 2647, 2561 for Armenia, 2550 for Azerbaijan ... .

4.5 points? No way. It's time for the brazilian surprise.

Yes, it is quite possible that the Chinese absence has to do with international politics and ethnic conflicts - at least more plausible than earlier ideas about protests against the FIDE zero tolerance rule (strictly applied at Chinese events!).

Regardless of which side one chooses in such conflicts, it is well-known that China reacts strongly to "comments" on what they consider internal affairs - Tibet is another example. As far as the current chess event is concerned, only the very late timing of China's reaction is surprising - Erdogan's genocide quote is from 10 July 2009.

Whether Erdogan's genocide comment was downright idiotic, "only" an overreaction or to some extent justified, I don't dare to say ... if I follow chess and a few other things, I don't have time to follow all ethnic conflicts worldwide - and even if I would in many cases it is hard to obtain independent unbiased information.

Erdogan's comment may be "idiotic" for a different reason: He as well as "official Turkey" strongly objects to the same term applied to Turkish history. I know you disagree, no need to restart such threads.

Ah, so. The score table at the official site merely breaks down the match points, not the game points. Very confusing: http://tinyurl.com/yeb8cm2

Karjakin has taken Russian citizenship and will represent Russia from now on. He and Nepomniatchi are 19 years old. Grischuk and Jakovenko are 26. Alekseev is 24. Tomashevsky and Vitiugov are 22. Kramnik and Moro probably still have several good years in them, and they would still be assets to team Russia after that. Perhaps the newer generation of Russian players do not have a person who is likely to be a World Champion-caliber player in 5-10 years, but then again, a case can be made that Karjakin is one, and the current generation of Russian players also only really has one such player - and that is Kramnik.

Also, I don't think it matters if the players are friends with one another. Kasparov and Karpov were hardly friends, yet the teams they were on won the events they played in. I think it is just that team Russia hasn't been as strong compared to its opponents as the earlier Soviet/Russian teams have been in the past. Usually every time there is a team event people notice how the Russians are the rating favorites, but they don't notice that the Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Armenia, etc are not too far behind. The days when all 6 players on team (USSR) were in top 8 in the world are long gone. Several teams can beat Russia on a given day if things go well enough for them - not because the Russians are not friendly with one another or don't have the proper strategy or team chemistry - but because the other teams are actually good.

"Kasparov and Karpov were hardly friends, yet the teams they were on won the events they played in"

Wasn't that in Dubai 86, the ultimate dream team? I thought the Soviets came very close to losing that one.

Back in those days, friendship or rivalry didn't matter, simply because the Soviet Union was far too dominant for others to have a serious chance. Today there are still 6 "Soviets" in the top10 (Kramnik, Aronian, Gelfand, Gashimov, Ivanchuk, Svidler [or Grischuk if you prefer the live rating list]), but one has emigrated and the others are split between four different ex-Soviet countries. Altogether, whatever one thinks of the breakup of the Soviet Union and its other consequences, it made team competitions more interesting.

About the young Russians: Leaving out Grischuk - not THAT young any more - and Karjakin who apparently still won't be allowed to represent Russia at the forthcoming Olympiad, the rest is not, at least not yet a match for Gashimov (23), Mamedyarov (24), Radjabov (22 - declining at the moment but maybe he finds his form back?) or Aronian (27).

"the other teams are actually good" - fair enough, but don't make Armenia too strong in terms of ELO, they were seeded 9th at the Dresden Olympiad (was team chemistry worth an extra 50-100 ELO points?). And with all due respect for Greece and Spain, if Russia loses or draws (twice in a row against Spain in the last round) against them, "Moscow has a problem".

Grischuk is only 2-3 years older than the Azeris and is actually younger than Aronian. If we are talking the upcoming Olympiad or two, Kramnik, Svilder and Moro will still be available. Karyakin is a great talent, but there is no urgency for Russia to get him playing, and, as things stand now, he is only the 6th best Russian player, which means he wouldn't even qualify for the 5-man team if Russia chose to go by rating. And yes, Azerbaijan will probably have a very strong team for years to come - in fact today's match may be the first time ever Russia has been outrated on top 3 boards. But once you look past board 3 the drop off is quite steep for Azerbaijan at the moment, and that's the reason Russia was able to beat them today. But yes, Azerbaijan has 3 very good players who are all young, so they will probably be the co-favorites with Russia for many years to come.

I believe Russia should rebuild with some of the young talent in the pipeline. Morozevich is too unstable... I'd bench him for future team tournaments. He played board #4 in Dresden and didn't exactly dominate. I remember when he almost lost to Alejandro Ramirez in the 2000 Olympiad. The Costa Rican was about 2300-2400 and about 17 years old. Rublevsky is unstable and Svidler has bouts of inconsistency. I'd field a young team for one or two team events to see how they match up. They actually fared well against China in that match.

Azerbaijan has three strong players, but Radjabov is unstable right now. Mamedyarov can lose in 23 moves to a regular GM and then play a brilliancy against a top-level opponent. There is no shame in losing to India, but of course that was not expected. Fortunately, Azerbaijan has a strong talent coming up in Safarli. However they will have to strengthen their board #4 spot. The lower boards is where so many matches are decided. Sargissian is proof. Karjakin did the same thing for Ukraine in 2004 Olympiad.

As I wrote before (first time right after the Dresden Olympiad), Russia can try both strategies simultaneously at the next Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk. Then, only then we will have some evidence, but for the time being it's nice to discuss and speculate ... . BTW, has this ever happened before: two home teams that may compete with each other, and end up playing each other?

About the Azeris: According to ELO statistics on the tournament homepage, it seems that Mamedyarov (4/4, TPR 3401!?, ELO +13) has overtaken Gashimov (1.5/4, TPR 2584, ELO -10).
He won't get Gashimov's spots in Linares and Amber, but he may even get his wildcard for the candidates matches? When do the organizers have to decide? Of course they have to wait for the last GP tournament, whenever this is taking place - but IMO they shouldn't wait much longer to avoid rumors. Imagine they told the selected one "in private" months before the event (which noone could prove, but anyone could suspect), but the public - including the other seven players - are informed much later. Then he could start specifically preparing for his opponent(s), while they could not ... .

BTW, the live rating list hasn't yet been updated this year - are you OK frogbert? Hopefully just busy with other things, not sick or snowed in without electrictiy, food, heating and Internet connection [which of those four would be worst? ,:) ].

wow, this wild card to Greece really turned them wild!

where are you playjunior please tell us about last events

dear playjunior what you think why our team lost this match against Greece

dear playjunior what you think why our team lost this match against Greece

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 4, 2010 4:55 AM.

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