China Wins World Team Chess Championship

In the final of the World Team Chess Championship in Jerusalem, the surprise winner was Team China after winning both matches against Uzbekistan, the champions of the Chennai Chess Olympiad.

In the bronze medal battle, at the time of writing, Spain and India went into a blitz playoff after the first two matches were drawn, but in the end, Spain drew the longest straw and secured victory.

Live games of the 2022 FIDE World Team Chess Championship

Relatively speaking, the veteran but lower-rated Chinese team of “unknowns” demonstrated that not having any of their top eight players involved will not stop them from showing how good they are in this format and beating the young sensation Uzbek gold winners of the Chennai Olympics.

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All players are ready for the final day. Photo: Maria Emelyanova/Chess.com.

The finals

Uzbekistan, with their presence in the final, reaffirmed that they are in fact the real deal, even as they appeared without their usual top scorer, Nordibek Abdusattorov.

In the first leg of the final, it quickly became clear that both teams showed a willingness to fight. The first game to end was on board two between Grandmasters Jakhongir Sindarov and Xu Xiangyu.

The next finish was a draw between Javangir Vahidov and Li Di, a not very interesting game in the Nimzo-Indian Defense (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4) which ended in a drawn rook ending where the players did not and the two of them testing their abilities for too long.

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On the first board, things kicked off with a Scotch Game where both players sent their rooks to the Queen’s side, despite it looking like the most dangerous place on the planet. However, very quickly the players took the game to the sawmill, trimming the wood from the board and sending the game into an endgame that never deviated from the draw zone, despite playing for a very long time, mainly because one side was trying to equalize the exit from the only decisive game in the match.

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That leaves us with the battle on the third board between grandmasters Bai Jinshi and Shamsiddin Vohidov, a game that decided the match…

This result secured the first round victory for China, forcing the Uzbeks to play for victory in the second round match.

The coaches nervously watch their protégés. Photo: Maria Emelyanova/Chess.com.

On the board, Grandmaster Nodibek Yakubboev and Chinese “veteran”, 27-year-old Grandmaster Lu Shangli played another marathon game, but this time their game was much more dramatic, which is why we chose it as the game of the day.

For a while, it seemed that the two-board meeting between Xu Xiangyu and Sindarov would become decisive for the Chinese team, when White had a decisive advantage in the endgame, but despite the huge time advantage, almost 10 minutes to less than one in favor of the Chinese player, White played too fast and blew everything, opening up the game again for the Uzbeks.

On board three things were no less turbulent than on board one.

Before the round, team captain Grandmaster Ivan Sokolov had decided to play their reserve, IM Ortik Nigmatov with the black pieces against Li Di. At first it looked like a perfect decision as Nigmatov effortlessly equalized and even gained what looked like the upper hand.

Ortik Nigmatov was a surprise choice to play in the final match for Uzbekistan. Photo: Maria Emelyanova/Chess.com.

However, at the end of the round, things went wrong for the Uzbekistan player, allowing Li Di to take the game, round and match.

To say that China’s success in this tournament was unexpected is an understatement. Missing all of their best players, yet comfortably going through every stage of the tournament, including a crushing victory in the final, was breathtaking to watch and shows the rest of the world just how strong China is as a chess nation.

The winning Chinese team with FIDE President Dvorkovich and former World Champion Anand. Photo: Maria Emelyanova/Chess.com.

The proud but disappointed Uzbekistan team flanked by coach Ivan Sokolov. Photo: Maria Emelyanova/Chess.com.

Bronze medal match

The bronze medal game on the final day is admittedly not what any of these teams were hoping for, but bronze is definitely better than nothing. India and Spain had strong squads despite missing several of their best players. Still, Spain came with something close to their strongest line-up.

In the first round of the match, top players Grandmasters Jaime Santos Latasa and Vidit Gurayti played out a smooth draw where the Spanish player with the black pieces was never worse.

Likewise, on board three, Spanish player GM legend Alexey Shirov apparently effortlessly held a draw against SL Narayanan in the Grunfeld Indian.

On board three, GM Miguel Santos Ruiz sacrificed/lost a pawn shortly after opening with white against GM Krishnan Sasikiran. In the early middlegame, he soon regained it and then gradually gained a small but clear advantage. After a series of worse moves for both sides, Black made the final mistake from which there was no going back.

In the match between grandmasters David Anton Guijaro and Nihal Sarin, the Indian player gradually took control of the middle game and eventually converted to seal an important victory for India to secure the deciding score 2-2.

The second round saw very solid play from both teams and neither game was in serious danger of winning this round and thus what would secure the bronze medals.

This forced a blitz playoff, where Shirov returned to the lineup, taking the black pieces against Narayanan. However, this game ended in a draw. as well as the board four matchup between Santos Ruiz and GM Abhijeet Gupta, much like their second round game.

On the top board, Santos Latasa took command and pulled out a convincing game win against Vidit.

Against Nihal, Anton Guijarro pressed and ended up scoring another win for Spain, securing a 3-1 win for Spain.

David Anton Guijarro defeated Nihal Sarin in the blitz playoff. Photo: Maria Emelyanova/Chess.com.

Fortunately, with the decisive result of the blitz playoff, the teams avoided the final tiebreak, which I believe was chess boxing, something that neither players nor organizers were probably ready for.

The bronze-winning Spanish team, without Alexey Shirov, along with some familiar faces from FIDE. Photo: Maria Emelyanova/Chess.com.

The FIDE World Team Championship takes place from 19 to 26 November 2022 in Jerusalem, Israel. The format is a round robin for teams with five rounds, followed by a knockout with the top eight finishers. The time control is 45 minutes for the entire game plus a 10 second increment starting on turn one.

All games

The FIDE World Team Championship takes place from 19 to 26 November 2022 in Jerusalem, Israel. The format is a round robin for teams with five rounds, followed by a knockout with the top eight finishers. The time control is 45 minutes for the entire game plus a 10 second increment starting on turn one.


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