by Assi Philosoph
Starting with the “quiet” news – in Pool A, no big surprises were expected and none occurred. Spain defeated South Africa 4 – 0 and earned their ticket to the quarter-finals. China drew with France, breaking their winning streak, but finished first anyway. Ukraine also drew against the Netherlands.
France, Spain and Ukraine finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively, all three of them gaining 6 points. The final positions were decided by the tie breaks and influenced which opponent each team will face in the quarter-finals. More details are included at the end of the article.
The final standings:
The results of Pool A today:
However, even Pool A did not leave us without excitement. Miguel Santos Ruiz sacrificed four pieces (two rooks and two knights) in 25 moves (!) while playing versus Mhango Banele. The first was in the following position:
White got a development advantage after 15 moves, leaving Black’s king stuck in the center. Ruiz decided to sacrifice his first piece here: 16.Nf5
16…Nbc4 Black decided not to take it, probably because it would be hard to find moves afterwards. Notice that 16…Nf3 is not possible in view of 17.Qf2 with both knights attacked 17.Bxc4 Nxc4 18.Qd4 Nxe3 19.Qxe3 now it is probably too late to take it since the queen is placed on the e-file. For example 19…exf5 20.exf5 Kf8 21.Nd5 and the bishop is gone Qc7 20.Nxe7 Kxe7
The offered sacrifice was declined, so a second piece was put on the line: 21.Rd5! if Black takes the piece, there will be a knight fork Bd7 22.Rxg5 Qc4
The rook is no longer en prise, so Ruiz sacrifices the second knight:
23.Nd5+! exd5 24.exd5+ Be6
And the final move was another rook sacrifice: 25.Rxe6+
Black resigned in view of 25…fxe6 26.Qxe6 with a deadly attack. And if 25…Kf8 26.Rxg8 Kxg8 27.Rh6 with two pawns up and an attack against the exposed black king. A great exemplary game of sacrificing pieces on d5/f5-squares in the Sicilian.
The real excitement happened in Pool B, since Uzbekistan was the only team to mathematically confirm their ticket to the quarter-finals. They faced Poland with their top two players resting before the finals. The match started with one early win for each side:
Wojtaszek lost to Vokhidov (board 1) and Gumularz won against Abdisalimov (board 4). Afterwards two draws came on boards 2 and 3, and the match ended 2 – 2. Poland achieved a total of 4 points, equalling the Israeli team which lost 2.5 – 1.5 despite Nabaty’s third consecutive win, this time against Radjabov.
Both teams ended with 4 points and the first tie break was equal: 9.5 game points. So in the second tie break, Berger decided the issue with 24 points to Poland and only 14 to Israel, leaving the host team out.
India won 3 – 1 against the USA and finished third – thanks to this result they did not have to worry about tie breaks with Poland and Israel. The final standings of the group:
Today the tournament was accompanied by two special events. Earlier in the morning, FIDE Deputy President and former World Champion GM Vishy Anand, who is the live commentator of the WTC, and FIDE CEO GM Emil Sutovsky played a blind simultaneous exhibition in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament.
Anand’s opponents were Ze’ev Elkin, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Minister of Housing and Construction, Yoav Kish, a member of the Knesset and Eli Nacht, founder of the Israel Empowerment Lobby.
Sutovsky’s opponents were Raz Frohlich, General Manager at the Ministry of Sports and Culture, Netanel Izak, the Director-General of the Ministry Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage, and Aviad Friedman, Director General of the Ministry of Construction and Housing.
Both Vishy and Emil won all the games.
The members of the Parliament faced a big challenge today | photo: Mark Livshitz
After the fifth round, the current Israeli champion (in classical and blitz sections), GM Viktor Mikhalevski, also gave a simultaneous exhibition in Dan Hotel, the Venue of the WTC. Israeli players of different ages came across to challenge the national champion. Mikhalevski played against 30 players and scored 27 points out of 30 (25 wins, 4 draws, and only one loss).
With the pool stage now completed, tomorrow the knockouts start:
(1st Pool A) China – Poland (4th Pool B)
(2nd Pool A) France – India (3rd Pool B)
(3rd Pool A) Spain – Azerbaijan (2nd Pool B)
(4th Pool A) Ukraine – Uzbekistan (1st Pool B)
Games start at 15:00 local time. Join us on/offline for the upcoming exciting matches.