China is the 2022 World Team Champion

by Assi Philosoph

The World Team Championship has come to an end and China is the new champion. The team started the duel against the Olympic gold medal holders – the team of Uzbekistan – with an important win out of the 2 matches, with Bai scoring on the 3rd board against Vokhidov.

First moves of Uzbekistan – China | photo: Mark Livshitz

In the diagram position, Black (Vokhidov) has just played 33…Rb8 (D) attacking the White’s queen:

Bai (W) found a super creative way of generating counterplay 34.f4! Qxf4 (34…Rxb6 35.exf6 is crushing; 34…Qd6!? 35.Qxb5! Rxb5 36.Rxd6 with advantage) 35.Qa7 Qe5 36.Rxf6! Kxf6 (36…Qxf6 White will play 37.Rf1+ anyway) 37.Rf1+ Kg5 38.Rxf7 Rh8 39.Qe7+ Kh6 40.Qh4+ Qh5 41.Qf6 Rg8 42.Bf3 and the queen is gone. 1 – 0.

Jinshi Bai. Finished with 4,5 out of 6 and a 2730 performance | photo: Mark Livshitz

All the other 3 games ended in a draw, finishing the match with 2.5 – 1.5 in China’s favour:

In the second match, GM Ivan Sokolov, the captain of Uzbekistan, decided to change the squad with Nigmatov replacing Vokhitov who had just lost. China stayed consistent with the same squad since the second round (the captain Wen Yang played only the first round, allowing Shanglei Lu to rest).

The match was exciting until the very end. Yakubboev played an impressive strategical game against Lu and got a winning position.

Here (diagram) he had the opportunity to exchange rooks and get an easy winning endgame with 59.Rxb5 Bxb5 and 60.Nxf5+, but decided to play 59.Ra8. The game continued Bc6 60.Rf8 Rb2+ 61.Ne2, a compromising move instead of escaping with the king  Ke7 62.Rf7+ Ke8 63.Rxf5 Bb5 and now Black has enough counterplay to reach a draw a few moves later.

Unfortunately for Uzbekistan, winning on the first board would not help, since Li managed to outplay Nigmatov in an equal endgame, and China won yet another match 2.5 – 1.5. Congratulations to China for their gold medal and convincing play in the World Team Championship, finishing the tournament impressively without losing a single match.

In the third-place duel, the first match tied.

The 3rd place match: Spain vs India | photo: Mark Livshitz

In the current diagram, Santos Ruiz (W) has just played 35.Nd6 expecting Rb8

Sasikiran, with a few seconds on his clock, played the wrong move 35…Ra5 and immediately put his hands on his head after seeing the continuation 36.Rxa5 Qxa5 37.Qb3. Now there is no way of defending the f7-square Qc5 38.Qxf7+ Kh6 39.Qe7 Qc1+ 40.Kh2 Qf4+ 41.g3 Ng8 42.Qxd7 Qxf3 43.Nf7+ 1-0

Miguel Santos Ruiz. Important win | photo: Mark Livshitz

Anton lost to Nihal in the last game of the match, making an unnecessary exchange sacrifice and allowing India to equalise the match.

In the second match of the duel, India made the same replacement as Uzbekistan with Gupta joining the team instead of Sasikiran, who lost in the first match. In the Spanish squad, Shirov took a rest and Yuffa entered in his place.

Vidit and Narayanan drew in 30 moves each while playing against Santos Latasa and Yuffa, leaving the duel closer to a tiebreak. Gupta and Santos Ruiz also drew in 33 moves, leaving Nihal and Anton to draw last in a rook endgame and introduce some blitz excitement to end the tournament.

The blitz was decided in a few minutes of excitement, with the time control set to 3 min + 2 sec. Shirov was back to the team making a draw against Narayanan while Santos Ruiz drew with Gupta on board 4. But the difference was made on boards 1 and 2 with Santos Latasa defeating Vidit and Anton defeating Nihal, bringing the bronze medal to Spain.

Santos Latasa and Anton Guijarro. Guerreros. | photo: Mark Livshitz

In the closing ceremony, Mr. Arkady Dvorkovich congratulated the participants and the winners, distributing the medals and trophies. He thanked the Israeli Chess Federation for hosting and added: “It is important that every team feel comfortable to play in every country”.

FIDE President – Arkady Dvorkovich | photo: Mark Livshitz
Gold medal: China | photo: Mark Livshitz
Silver medal: Uzbekistan | photo: Mark Livshitz
Bronze medal: Spain | photo: Mark Livshitz

And now is our opportunity to thank the staff that worked hard during this tournament. Thanks to the commentators, IM Almira Skripchenko and the 5-time World Champion and current Deputy President of FIDE, GM Viswanathan Anand.

Anand had a busy week, commenting, playing blindfold simultaneous games and participating in the FIDE council. He also made a great gesture in participating in the closing ceremony of the Dudakov tournament. Find here the final results and report.

Anand and Almira. “Leitraot” | photo: Mark Livshitz

Individual Board Awards

Players assigned to the same board number competed for individual medals (5 games minimum):

Board 1

Gold: Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime (FRA)

Silver: Lu, Shanglei (CHN)

Bronze: Mamedyarov, Shakhiryar (AZE)

Board 2

Gold: Sindarov, Javokhir (UZB)

Silver: Nabaty, Tamir (ISR)

Bronze: Shevchenko, Kirill (UKR)

Board 3

Gold: Fressinet, Laurent (FRA)

Silver: Guseinov, Gadir (AZE)

Bronze: Narayanan, S.L. (IND)

Board 4

Gold: Bai, Jinshi (CHN)

Silver: Vakhidov, Jakhongir (UZB)

Bronze: Gumularz, Szymon (POL)

Board 5

Gold: Li, Di (CHN)

Silver: Santos Ruiz, Miguel (ESP)

Bronze: Kevlishvili, Robby (NED)

We would like to thank the organisers of the tournament. The team headed by IA Amiram Kaplan – Chairman, Rami Tal – Chief Manager, Dr. Tzvika Barkai – ICF Chairman, Gil Boruchovski – ICF General Manager. The ICF staff led by Gila Falik, Miri Dan, Orit Saposhnikof, Yair Twito and Nir Shaulker. The photographer Mark Livshitz. Shalom Elbaz and Raanan Weiss for PR.

The FIDE office staff, David Llada – Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Alexey Root – FIDE Press Officer, Vladimir Kokaev and Baira Marilova for website support, and the social media managers Niki Riga and Anna Burtasova.

The arbiters IA Alex Holowczak – Chief Arbiter, IA Alon Shulman – Deputy Chief, IA Alon Cohen, FA Andrei Gurbanov , FA Eran Lapushninan and FA Paz Avineri. Also Gopakumar Sudhakaran – Fair Play Officer, and last but not least GM Alik Gershon for the broadcasting of the games.

We hope you enjoyed the event as much as we did and we look forward to seeing you at future events. All the best!