The Daily Update: Russia Beats Ukraine And Leads The World Team Championship; Shirov Beats Dubov Again
There’s still a round to go at the World Team Championship, but for practical purposes the winner and the medalists seem to have been decided. In the key match of the tournament, the leading Ukranians took on the Russians, hoping to keep or extend their lead of a single match point (half a point in normal chess scoring). The first three boards were drawn, but Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi defeated Yuriy Kryvoruchko, and his team won the match. As the Russians’ final opponent is the Egyptian team, which has lost all its matches and has only managed eight points in their eight matches – in 32 games – it would seem to be a foregone conclusion. If so, it would mark the first time in quite a while that the Russian team has managed to win a major team competition.
Ukraine is now a point behind, but their chances of catching or leapfrogging the Russians are exceedingly slim, as we just noted. Worse, they’re not in second right now but in third. The Chinese team beat the Germans – also 2.5-1.5 with the sole victory coming on board four – and while they are tied with Ukraine on match points they are ahead in board points. Better still for the Chinese, Ukraine must play the tough and motivated Armenian team, while China will play the next-to-last placed Turks. If Armenia wins, they will finish ahead of Ukraine (they are the only other team besides the Russians and the Chinese) who can do so, but before we assume that the Chinese are a shoo-in for second there’s a warning to be issued.
The American team played Turkey in this round, and if they had won they still would have been in the medal hunt. They were apparently confident enough to rest Hikaru Nakamura, and they paid the price. Ray Robson was convincingly beaten on board 3, and only Varuzhan Akobian’s fine endgame play enabled them to save a tie thanks to Akobian’s win on board 4.
Meanwhile, in the other noteworthy ongoing event Alexei Shirov won again to take a 2.5-.5 lead over Daniil Dubov in their match (and to get back over 2700). They’ve reached the halfway point, and have a rest day tomorrow.