Armenia Wins World Team Championship in Ningbo, China

(by Arno Nickel) 

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28.07.2011 – It was a kind of exclusive Olympiad, in which ten elite teams competed for top honours. The Chinese Chess Association with the patronage of the Ningbo Municipal Government was staging the 2011 World Team Chess Championship from July 15 to July 26, 2011, at the five-star New Century Grand Hotel Ningbo.

According to FIDE Regulations the following Federations were entitled to send a team:

China (host country)
Russia (winner 2009)
Ukraine (Olympiad 2010)
Israel (Olympiad 2010)
Hungary (Olympiad 2010)
Azerbaijan (Europe qualifier)
India (Asia qualifier)
USA (America"s qualifier)
Egypt (African qualifier)
Armenia (FIDE President"s nomination)

Each team consisted of 5 players (including one reserve) and one coach/captain of the team, for a total of 6 participants, who were provided with full hospitality including lodging, accommodation in a single room of in the five-star hotel. The team composition for each round had to be delivered to the arbiters at 9:00 am in the morning.

System and scoring

  • The World Chess Team Championship is a round robin, with each team playing a match against all other teams.
  • The time control is: 90 min for 40 moves, then 30 min for the rest of the game, with a 30 second increment per move, staring from move one.
  • The scoring is as in the FIDE Chess Olympiads: the winner gets two points, a draw gives each team one point, and a loss is scored as 0 points.
  • If teams end up with equal match points, the tie has to be resolved as follows:
    1. by board points in total;
    2. in case of a tie by the scores obtained by the tying teams against each other;
    3. if the tie is still not broken, by the Berger system;
    4. if it is still equal, by board count (Berlin System) as follows: a win on Board 1 = 4 points, a win on Board 2 = 3 points, a win on Board 3 = 2 points, a win on Board 4 = 1 points. In case   of   drawn games these points are shared.
    5. if the board-count does not results in the tie being broken, then the board points of Board 4 are cancelled, and so on upwards until the tie is broken.
    6. if a tie still results between teams in contention for medals, these teams play a match against each other at a fast time-rate (15 minutes per player for the entire game);
    7. if this match is indecisive, then lots are drawn (with a collective sigh of dismay by the arbiters)

Here is our round by round report:

Round 1
Russia beats US team 3-1
Defending champion Russia beat the US team (without their highest rated player, Nakamura), 3-1 to celebrate with a great opening round. The Armenian team went even higher and scored 3.5-0.5 against the Israeli team (without their No. 1, Gelfand); Ukraine beat Egypt 1.5-2.5, and Hungary drew against India 2-2, while the host Chinese team scored the same against Azerbaijan.

The Playing Hall (Fide.com)

Round 2
Ukraine loses to China 1,5-2,5
The 2nd round brought two very surprising results. The first was Ukraine"s loss to China. Ukraine might have been missing Ponomariov, but had an otherwise all-star team, and were the gold medalists at last year"s Olympiads. Still, China had all their best players, with the home advantage.

The second was the US team’s surprising draw against Armenia after Kamsky capitalized on errors by Aronian.
The Russians scored their second consecutive win with an impressive 3-1 score over Hungary, including a nice win by Russian champion Ian Nepomniachtchi over Judit Polgar when the latter got into time trouble and missed a decisive tactic.
The Azerbaijan 3-1 won India team, and Israel team 3-1 won over Eygpt team.

Round 3
Armenia draws with Russia 2-2
In a dramatic showdown Armenia drew with Russia 2-2. Taking Armenia team seriously, defending champion Russian team sent out all major line-up. Peter Svidler, board 4 of Russia, grasped the chance when his opponent in time panic and made a unbelivable mistake, to broke the balance position and took down one critical point. The extremely heavy pressure fell on Armenia"s top player Levon Aronian. But he successfully kept one-pawn advantage from opening to the ending, tortured Russian superstar Sergey Karyakin for five hours and won the game ultimately, helping Armenia team avoid taste of defeat.

The U.S.A team takes a great triumph over Egypt team with 3.5-0.5. Hungary team 2.5-1.5 beat Azerbaijan, when Judit Polgar was the hero(ine) of the round beating Mamedov. Ukraine edged out India 2.5-1.5. The next biggest result was Israel"s tournament comeback at the expense of the home team China, who lost 1.5-2.5.

Round 4
Azerbaijan crushes Russia 3-1
Armenia retook lead after the 4th round, as Azerbaijan comfortably beat Russia 3-1 with Gashimov and Guseinov coming up with the goods against Grischuk and Svidler respectively.
The Ukraine haven"t look that convincing so far and lost to Hungary thanks to a win on the black side of a Marshall by Leko against Ivanchuk.
If the Americans were on a high after their 3.5-0.5 win yesterday, they were on the receiving end this time after losing by the very same score to the Chinese.
Armenia beat Egypt comfortably and rested their number one Levon Aronian.
The Indians, who had been having trouble winning their matches, posted their first victory over Israel, with a first board win by Harikrishna over Sutovsky.

Radjabov, Azerbaijan – Karyakin, Russia (Fide.com)

Round 5
Armenia retains the lead, Russia and Hungary second
The most impressive result was Hungary"s third straight win, this time destroying Israel by 3.5-0.5. Peter Leko beat Michael Roiz when the latter went badly astray starting about move 25.
Among the top results were Armenia"s 2.5-1.5 win over China, while the Ukraine beat the Azerbaijanis, who were still enjoying their victory over defeating Russia. Alexander Moiseenko won a Rook and Pawn ending against Gadir Guseinov to win the match in the final game of the match.

The US showed their resilience as a team, after having lost badly to the Chinese, and bounced back inflicting a strong 3-1 defeat on India.
Russia completed an expected 3-1 victory over Egypt with wins for Grischuk and Nepomnichtchi. Nikita Vitiugov tried everything to exploit an extra pawn in a Queen ending against Mohamed Ezat but had to concede the draw after 158 moves and 6 and a half hours play. Samy Shoker drew with Peter Svidler.

Round 6
Armenia extends lead to two points
The most remarkable result was perhaps the drawn match between the USA and Hungary, thanks to Yasser Seirawan who saved the team by beating birthday girl Judit Polgar in an adventurous game, his first win over a top player in a long time, as he had been away from high level competition for many years.

There were no major changes in the team rankings in round six, with draws between Russia and Ukraine, and Israel against Azerbaijan. it could not have been better timed.
Armenia overcame India thanks to a nice win by Aronian against Harikishna, employing an interesting novelty in the Queen’s Gambit Declined (QGD). He launched a kingside attack with an early g4.

Though China beat Egypt handily, it was once more IM Samy Shoker who was the surprise of the team, holding GM Li Chao (2669) to a draw. It is worth mentioning that IM Shoker has the second lowest rating in the tournament with 2475, but has a 2663 performance until now, and has done his team proud.

Judit Polgar celebrating her 35th birthday on July 23th (Fide.com)

Round 7
Russia defeated by China
Russia lost dramatically to China when Karjakin lost a won game against Wang Hao. Wang Hao beat Sergey Karjakin in a fluctuating struggle. Karjakin was pushing for a win with black for some time but on the run up to the first time control there were a number of errors with Karjakin"s final error costing him the game.

However, the biggest surprise was USA"s win over Azerbaijan with Kamsky beating Radjabov and Seirawan defeating Mamedyarov for a 2800+ performance. On board one, Kamsky faced Radjabov and it was hard fought with a strange and dramatic end in and of itself. On move 39 he lost in a worse, but not resignable position. The question was whether he had a moment of blindness by resigning unnecessarily, or whether he simply lost on time seeking the only move whilst his pieces were hanging left and right.

Armenia beat Hungary, putting an end to their rise, and cementing a huge lead in the rankings, probably good for the gold.

India beat Egypt 2.5-1.5 with wins for Harikrishna and Ganguly for India and a win for Ezat for Egypt.

Round 8
Russia beating Israel 4-0
Russia completed the only (incredible!) 4-0 win of the event in beating Israel. Score leader Armenia team 2-2 drew with Azerbaijan, slowed their steps to the championship. Aiming to win the game, Armenian sent all their top line-up. However, their opponents Azerbaijan team could not been taken easily. After nearly five hours of fierce battle, two teams 2-2 tied. Chinese team 3-1 won over India and theoretically still got chance for the championship after their 3rd win in a narrow.

Ukraine scored a narrow victory over the US. Gata Kamsky only just held on against Vassily Ivanchuk who was close to winning at one stage

Hosts China beat India 3-1 to move into second place with wins from Wang Hao over Pentala Harikrishna and Wang Yue over Krishnan Sasikiran.

Hungary beat Egpyt with wins for Zoltan Almasi and Judit Polgar.

Aronjan, Armenia – Radjabov, Azerbaijan (Fide.com)

Round 9
Armenia gold, China silver, Ukraine bronze
Armenia and Ukraine drew 2-2 in the final round of the 8th World Team Championship. The games seem to have all been agreed drawn at the same time as part of a package deal arranged by the captains. Thus Armenia remained the only undefeated team and secured the gold medal.

Russia had a good chance of a medal going into the final round but went down to a surprise loss to India. Peter Svidler, clearly out of sorts, lost to Surya Shekar Ganguly in 24 moves. This placed extreme pressure on the rest of the team. Grischuk won a nice game for Russia against Pentala Harikrishna but Ian Nepomniachtchi went astray in trying to exploit a tiny advantage against Krishnan Sasikiran and Nikita Vitiugov couldn"t make anything of an advantage against Parimarjan Negi.

China"s match against Hungary was no less bloody. They did what they could to put pressure on Armenia and beat Hungary 2.5-1.5 with Wang Hao drawing with the ever solid Peter Leko, and Yu Yangyi going down in an entertainingly wild struggle. However Wang Yue, top scorer in the whole event defeated Zoltan Almasi (again decent position wrecked on the run up to first time control) and Judit Polgar too went astray in this phase to lose to Li Chao. With their fourth straight victory, the Chinese not only managed to take silver, but Wang Hao won the gold medal for board one with 6.0/9 and a 2854 performance, while Wang Yue scored 7.0/9 with a 2916 performance, the highest of the event.

USA completed a reasonably successful event with a 2.5-1.5 victory over Israel to finish 6th. Israel just collapsed towards the end after a reasonable start.

Egypt didn"t manage to get on the scoresheet, but they fought gamely throughout in spite of being vastly outrated on each board in all of the matches. Here they were rewarded with a win for Samy Shoker who ground down World Championship Candidate Shakhriyar Mamedyarov in an ending. Shoker scored a very creditable 4/9 in the event. Mohamed Ezat picked up another good draw against Gadir Guseinov. Teimour Radjabov beat Ahmed Adly (he had a really tough time on top board) and Gashimov beat Bassem Amin. Azerbaijan"s result, along with that of Russia can be counted as the most disappointing for them in the event.

8th World Teams Ningbo CHN Sun 17th Jul 2011 - Wed 27th Jul 2011
Final Round 9 Standings:

Rk Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 TB1 TB2
1 Armenia * 2 2 2 2 14 23
2 China * 2 3 13 23
3 Ukraine 2 * 2 12 20
4 Russia 2 2 * 3 3 1 4 3 10 21
5 Hungary 1 * 2 2 3 10 20
6 USA 2 ½ 1 2 * 3 10 19
7 Azerbaijan 2 2 3 * 3 2 9 19
8 India 1 2 1 1 * 7 16
9 Israel ½ 0 ½ 2 * 3 5 13
10 Egypt ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 * 0 9