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World Teams 2010: Who's In First?

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Yah, yah, so it's technically the 2009 World Team Championship, but it seems a bit silly writing 2009 in the headline when we're eight days into the new year. Three rounds in Turkey have already revealed that there are no big favorites. Remarkably, each of the ten teams has suffered a loss already. A comical six of the ten teams are tied for first with two match wins and a loss. Armenia has the tiebreak lead on board points, if just by half a point. Azerbaijan, after beating arch-rival Armenia, lost to India, which has just lost to the USA. Top seed Russia squeaked by Brazil, then lost to Greece (!) before warming up to take out the US 3-1. Greece's muse left them at the pedestal rather promptly and they lost to underdog Egypt the next day. About the only team really playing to expectations so far is the three losses by the lowly-rated home team. Their pack of 2400s has managed just 2.5 points from 12 games. Hired gun Mikhail Gurevich is still playing for Turkey, isn't he?

The 20 games produced each day is a tidy amount. It's enough to go through them all and guarantee at least few good ones in every round. Grischuk's nicely calculated win over Vescovi in the first round is fun. Not to pick on big rating underdogs, but Sutovsky's win over Ezat was pretty tactics 101. Gashimov-Aronian saw Black ignore the usual 10..h6 to put his bishop on c5, whence it later sacrificed itself on f2 leading to a quick repetition draw. Aronian ignored the fracturing of his kingside pawns and even had the pleasure of playing ..f5 twice in three moves. Anyone figure out why Radjabov didn't take the exchange on move 13 against Akopian? I assume the move order is wrong and White played 13.a3 Na6 then 14.Nd2.

The US beat the hosts 3-1 in the first round with wins from top boards Onischuk and Nakamura. But the game that got all the attention was Can's Greek Gift sac and win against Shulman. Pretty stuff at various points, not just the 18.Bxh7+ cliche. It looks like Black could have bailed out with 21..Nc6, though Shulman was likely looking for more. Still in the first round, Banikas had a half-dozen wins against Gopal but couldn't land the KO. Inserting 29..Bb4! before ..Bb5 would have ended it. Later, in a winning endgame Black spent several moves pushing the white king into perfect defensive position. (60..Rc4+?, 61..Rd4+?) Bizarre. The final touch was putting his bishop in front of his only useful passer.

In the second round, Aronian beat Gelfand in the eternally fertile fields of the Semi-Slav. He got considerable help late in the game when, to all appearances, the World Cup winner hung a piece. It's slightly more likely Gelfand thought his rook and passed b-pawn could hold the balance, but he was quite wrong about that considering the g-pawn-shaped hole in front of his king. Sasikiran came out of the opening in excellent shape against Nakamura's g3 Closed Sicilian. But as so often happens in original and dynamic positions, the top-ranked American held on, kept the pieces on, and steadily outplayed his opponent before pouncing on a winning tactic. The queen rehab sequence 39.Qa7, 40.Qe3, 41.Qf4 is fantastic. Morozevich lost to Papaioannou after he pushed his lack of development too far even for him.

Turkey's young Emre Can, who may be my new favorite player, Couldn't do it with my dear old King's Gambit (!) against Sargissian in the 3rd round. A Muzio Accepted, no less! As usual, however, even at the GM level, White had his chances even after giving up a piece on move 5. A true King's Gambiteer like Spassky understands that it's not how many pieces you have left, it's the activity in the pieces you have. White spent so many tempi avoiding exchanges he lost the initiative completely and resigned on move 21. White is threatening real damage after the mundane 13.exd6 cxd6 14.Nb5. On the next move White is still doing well after 14.Bxh6 Rxh6 and now the oblique but typical 15.Rf1! Get all the pieces into the attack. White can't be down a piece if that rook is still sitting on a8! White threatens the killer 16.Qe3 and solid attempts like 15..Qd7 are met by 16.Bd3 or 16.g4 and f7 is falling. Sigh. We finally get a King's Gambit and it looks like an advertisement for a book on why you should never play it. The Turks' bid for a huge upset went to hell entirely when Esen missed various wins against Pashikian and eventually even lost. The boring 37.Qxc6 protects everything and Black can call it a day. But to give credit, nice shots from Pashikian to turn it around.

Gashimov should have drawn against Sasikiran with his passed a-pawn but missed a cute sequence with a bishop check and could resign immediately. White swapped his bishop on a1 for a rook and then it's easy. Radjabov was about to get the point back against Harikrishna when, very unusually for him, he blew a crushing attack. In a hopeless position by move 17, the Indian suddenly started playing perfect defense and Radjabov let the attack slip away move by move. Ganguly, whose work with Anand seems to have turned him into an impressive late bloomer, took out Guseinov to complete the upset despite Mamedyarov's demolition of Gopal. American champ Nakamura showed he's not afraid to play the Dutch any time, against anyone, and held new Russian champ Grischuk, and then some. Onischuk somehow survived Morozevich's invading forces to draw. But Malakhov destroyed Shulman's French and Akobian seemed to come out of the opening against Vitiugov worse by move eight with the white pieces. The sharp refutation 11..Qxd4! confirmed this impression.

Gelfand played an instructive center demolition against Vescovi, who was probably doing okay had he just captured on d5 on move 16 instead of trying to protect his d-pawn. After 17.f4! Black's position collapses. Sutovsky missed 28..Nxe4 29.Rxe4 Rf1+! winning against Leitao. The live games server at the official site ritually commits whatever the Turkish equivalent of seppuku is, but at least they get the PGN out in decent time. Round 4 today brings the big Azerbaijan-Russia match.


Yes, Turkey could have Gurevich (2597) as well as Atalik (2607, with an inactivity flag as he hasn't played rated games in 2009), but apparently they gave preference to young home-grown players. The rest of the report indicates that they had their chances, at least against Armenia - but can you mention some of the wins Esen missed against Pashikian? To me, things only _looked_ promising for white at some stage ... . And Turkey still has to play Egypt as well as Greece (maybe their Greek coach has something on his sleeves?).

Generally, another excellent report - only a bit lean on the Greece-Russia upset: Banikas also played a nice game against Tomashevsky.

This is one of the worst organized events ever. Servers are down almost all the time, wrong moves - transmitted and not corrected (Grischuk-Gashimov).

As the round 3 report on the tournament homepage says: "[Azerbaijan lost young India team and made] everything mixed."

Um... the World Junior was much much worse.

Didn't try to watch World Junior so obv. cannot comment on that :)

But really...what happened in Malakhov's game? (Some say his opponent's phone rang so Malakhov wins). Where is Grischuk's game?

Total mess with translation... and
Shame on you -
organizers of this so called
World Ch 2009!!

By now everything has been sorted out: Grischuk beat Gashimov with black in a crazy Sicilian; early in the game (when the live transmission was still working), he had taken almost an hour to answer Gashimov's novelty(?) 15.Qh3. And Malakhov's game continued beyond move 13 (when 1-0 was given at some stage), but the end is still a bit cryptic. Anyway, Russia-Azerbaijan 2.5-1.5 - this time his teammates compensated Moro's loss.

And young India was also found back and won against Turkey today.

Malakhov simply won.

[Event "WTCC 2009"]
[Site "Bursa"]
[Date "2010.01.08"]
[Round "1"]
[White "GM Malakhov Vladimir 2716 (RUS)"]
[Black "GM Mamedov Rauf 2640 (AZE)"]
[Result "1-0"]
[Remark "Canli"]
[PresId "1004020214"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. c3 Nf6 4. Be2 g6 5. O-O Bg7 6. Bb5+ Nc6 7. d4
cxd4 8. cxd4 O-O 9. Nc3 Bg4 10. Be3 d5 11. e5 Ne4 12. Rc1 Nxc3 13.
Rxc3 Qb6 14. Bxc6 bxc6 15. Qc2 Rab8 16. b3 Rbc8 17. Rc1 Bf5 18. Qd2 f6
19. Rc5 Bg4 20. Ne1 Bf5 21. Nd3 Bxd3 22. Qxd3 Qb7 23. exf6 exf6 24.
Qc3 f5 25. g3 Qe7 26. Rxc6 Rxc6 27. Qxc6 Qe4 28. Qd7 Rf7 29. Rc8+ Bf8
30. Rxf8+ Rxf8 31. Bh6 Qe1+ 32. Kg2 Qe4+ 1-0

Naka is walking over Gelfand.

Yep, Boris resigned.

Breaking news: apparently defused H-bomb explodes, destroying leading GM

If anyone is watching the underdog matches: Cute tactics in Fier-Banikas, right after white declined a move repetition. After move 34, all four pieces on the board are hanging, but black's passed pawn is an additional asset.

Not so nice how Ganguly and Sargissian (1/2, 17)bypassed the rule saying "no draw offers before move 30". Referring to earlier discussions here: for Armenia it was probably part of their match strategy, does India have a match strategy?

Isn't it repetition draw? And if white goes for exchange variation in QGD and repeats in move 15 you cannot do much with white I suppose. And he's 2650.

Yes, in such cases I usually "blame" white. In the given case (unlike Fier), he could have avoided the repetition without taking any risk and immediate consequences. Of course, it wouldn't make much of a difference if the game had continued until move 30 followed by a "legal" shakehands!

Thomas that is simply wrong. In the given position he made the best move, which resulted in a draw because white wanted a draw from move 1 and black usually cannot avoid that. Not when its 2650 against 2680 in a team event. For Heaven's sake.

Apparently it wasn't clear: "he" in my second sentence referred to Ganguly - at least IF an arbiter felt like intervening, he should have force white (not black) to play something else to make the game continue ... . At the Olympiad, there was a clause in the regulations forbidding draw offers AND "non-forced repetitions" before move 30 - I don't remember the exact words, and if it was ever enforced.

Two more things:
- Unlike the Slav exchange, the "cd ed" exchange doesn't necessarily mean that white only wants a draw
- You don't have to take such comments personally just because an Armenian player is involved!

I suppose the chess world will begin to take Nakamura seriously. USA beat Israel today and may pull into the lead. Akopian won a nice game against Harikrishna.

"Unlike the Slav exchange, the "cd ed" exchange doesn't necessarily mean that white only wants a draw"

The Slav exchange doesn't necessarily mean that at all either...what gave you that idea?

Sasikiran defeated Aronian in a wonderful game in which Sasi maintained a slight edge throughout and converted beautifully in the ensued rook and pawn end game. It is Sasi's second win over 2750+ GMs after losing to Nakumara under pressure in a better game. He has been playing very well so far.

PS: Anand has something to learn from Sasikiran as far as Aronian is concerned!

Maybe my statement was simplistic or "too general". But by and large, symmetrical exchanges (Slav, French) avoid any risk and may well be considered a "drawing weapon" - the latest example is So-Ivanchuk from the World Cup. White can still win such games, particularly if black is too eager with his own winning attempts.

Asymmetrical exchanges (cd ed or ed cd in the Panov Caro-Kann) can still lead to dynamic positions. In the line played in Ganguly-Sargissian, white can go for a queenside minority attack or play in the center (e3, Ne2-g3, f3, e4).

But if my statement was simplistic, playjunior's certainly was ... . It still remains to be seen who (Armenia or India) "benefitted" from the draw in the end - the entire match may be drawn which would be only the first time in the entire event!

"USA ... may pull into the lead"
Nope, Russia is half a board point ahead of them. And while the USA probably stay on top for the next two rounds (Brazil and Greece), the real test will be Armenia and Azerbaijan in the final rounds.

As far as Nakamura is concerned: of course he is taken seriously. But beating one top10 player (for the first time in 2009/10 - of course referring to classical time controls) doesn't make him a top10 player or serious WCh candidate - only in dreams (his own and his fans).

Well, I wouldn't call it "too simplistic" - I would call it "wrong". That it is often used as a drawing weapon is not anywhere close to "necessarily" meaning White just wants a draw. It's only if White goes for an extremely drawish line like the famous one with Bd3 Bxd3 Qxd3, ..Bd6 Bxd6 Qxd6 that you can start to think in such terms.

And btw I believe the Exchange French is more harmless than the Exchange Slav. But still, even that has been used as a winning attempt by players like Kasparov.

"But beating one top10 player (for the first time in 2009/10 - of course referring to classical time controls)"

Isn't it the first time ever? But I agree that Nakamura is obviously taken seriously by almost everyone. Would be pretty silly not to.

Wow, what an eletrifying game by Nakamura over Gelfand. To destroy a guy like that, just blow him right off the board with pieces hanging all over the place is really impressive. He may not be solid enough yet to be a championship contender, but he's making big strides. The guy has raw talent, no question about that.

''And btw I believe the Exchange French is more harmless than the Exchange Slav. But still, even that has been used as a winning attempt by players like Kasparov''.

And one of those games was against a great French defence luminary like Viktor Korchnoi.

Morozevich lost to Papaioannou after he pushed his lack of development too far even for him. NOW THAT IS FUNNY!!

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on January 8, 2010 1:27 AM.

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