China and Uzbekistan to the finals. Wojtaszek and Nabaty give hope to Poland and Israel

by Assi Philosoph

The second day left Pool A with more clarity and Pool B feeling tense. In Pool A, China has won all their matches so far, and today Ukraine and the Netherlands were the victims with scores of 3 – 1 and 3.5 – 0.5 respectively. France and Ukraine also made it through to the quarter-finals. Tomorrow, Spain is facing South Africa and it looks like the Netherlands are on the way out as well, even if mathematically it is still possible for them to succeed.

The Chinese team in action against the Netherlands | photo: Mark Livshitz

Below are the results of the 3rd and 4th rounds of Pool A:

Jorden Van Foreest… not the expected outcome | photo: Mark Livshitz

The crosstable before the last round:

An interesting rook endgame occurred on board 3 between Jinshi and Volokitin in the China-Ukraine match. In the following position, the Ukrainian (B) played the great rook activating move 42…Rb8!

After a few moves, he got a winning position: 43.Rxa5 Rb3+ 44.Ke2 Rxg3 45.Ra6 Kxf4 46.Rxc6 Re3+ 47.Kd2 g3 48.Rc7 f5 49.Rg7 Re4 50.Kd3 Re1 (D)

Both players were in time trouble, and Jinshi tested Volokitin with 51.Kd2 which was correctly answered with 51…Ra1, preparing Ra8 if needed. But afterwards 52.c6 Ra6? was a mistakeAlthough it looks natural to put the rook behind the pawn, Black should first advance with his king to f3, which would support his passed pawn, in contrast with the one of his opponent.

 53.c7 Rc6 54.Ke2!= Rc2+ 55.Kd3 Rc1 56.Kd2 (D)

52…Rxc7?? A surprising blunder which only time pressure explainsKeeping the rook on the c-file would be an easy draw. 57.Rxc7 g2 58.Rg7 Kf3 59.Ke1 f4 60.Rg6 1-0

Pool B

Radoslaw Wojtaszek, the top board for Poland, had a great day and achieved two wins against Rodshtein and Radjabov.

In the 3rd round, the Polish faced the Israeli with the white pieces:

After 25…h4 (D) Wojtaszek introduced a wonderful idea with 26.Rd3 c5 27.Rh3 and after Rxd4 played the unexpected 28.Be2! allowing White to take on h4 with the queen, without exchanging it – Qg7 29.Qxh4 Bb7 30.Rg3. The control over the g-file is an important part of the idea Qd7 31.Kf2 and Black cannot stop Qxh6 in a reasonable way.

Going back to the 27th move, Black had the difficult task under time pressure to find 27…Bb7!, avoiding White’s idea, because of 28.Be2 Qg7 and Black cannot take with the queen on h4 due to mate on g2. And if White plays 28.Bxe6 Rxd4 29.Rxh4 Qg6 30.Bb3 Rad8 Black is more active.

In the fourth round, Wojtaszek met the 11th world-ranked Teimour Radjabov. Can you guess what his move was? The answer is below the diagram:

24.Rxg7+! Now if the king takes the rook Qxe5 followed by another check, the rook recovers with a strong attack. Try the lines!

Black played 24…Kh8 and after 25.h4 Re6 26.Rg5 e4 27.f5 Re7 28.f6 Rf7 29.Qxe4 Qxc3 (D)

White concluded nicely with 30.Qe8+ Rf8 31.f7 Qd4+ 32.Kh1 1-0

Elegant play by Wojtaszek today | photo: Mark Livshitz

Unfortunately for Poland, the two wins of Radoslaw were only enough to secure a draw against Israel and Azerbaijan. Here are today’s results in Pool B:

The table also shows that Tamir Nabaty, second board of the Israeli team, managed to win twice today, achieving a draw for the Israeli team against Poland and a surprising win against the USA, sending the Americans to the bottom of the table. The Americans lost to the Israelis and the Uzbekis by the same result 2.5 – 1.5 and only a miracle will help them to go through to the quarter-finals.

Tamir Nabaty with a well-deserved smile | photo: Mark Livshitz

In the third round, an unusual endgame arose in the Vokhidov-Akobian game when after 69.Kf4 (D) both black knights are dominated by White’s king. Varuzhan found a great solution to it:

69…Nd6 70.Kxg3 Nc4 and now White cannot win 71.Rc8 Kd3 72.Rd8+ Kc2 73.Rd4

73…b2! 74.Rxc4+ Kb3 75.Rc3+ Ka4 76.Rc4+ Kb3 77.Bxb2 Kxc4 and a draw.

To conclude the day, Yakubboev, playing the black pieces against Vidit, presented a good technique and made sure that he won the pawn on g4 and exchanged queens as well:

62…Qf4+ 63.Qf3 b4! Zugzwang. Now, if the king moves, White takes g4 pinning the queen, and if White exchanges the queen, the king’s endgame is lost.