''…the 6th place is not such a bad result, although at some point we had hopes for more.''
Anish on the World Team Championship with game analyses.
The final stage of my three-part report on the team events has finally arrived and now I am there to share with you my impressions on the World Team Championship in Antalya.
The event was a round-robin team tournament with ten strongest teams participating, representing all continents of the World. One may wonder, how on Earth did the Dutch squad qualify into such créme de la créme of team chess, and if you do, you should certainly look up my good old euphoric article on the Istanbul Olympiad, where we managed to get into Top-6 and thus qualify. Other teams were the usual favourites- Russia, Armenia, Ukraine, USA, China, Azerbaijan (this time rather weakened) and somewhat weaker teams, Germany, Turkey, Egypt (from Africa). With the current state of chess, when strong chess players pop-up in all parts of the globe, there is no more domination of one or two countries and so we were all eagerly awaiting to see how far we can reach and who will emerge at the podium.
The event took place in a five star resort in Turkey, not a bad place at all, obviously, but if you are not into cats, you may consider other touristic destinations. Eventually cats found their way to the dining hall and even the playing hall, but on the other hand, if you áre into cats, then that's definitely the place to be. The weather was a little too cold to swim, at least for the conventional people, myself being one of them, and so there was nothing to distract us from the struggles at the chessboard.
Our team started very badly, losing our first two matches- to China and to Azerbaijan. In fact, throughout the whole tournament the team result was representing my play, which is pretty logical, if you cosider that I was the team leader. In the first two rounds I played decent, but too slow and unconfident, the unfortunate trend that continued throughout the tournament. Thus, Ding Liren and Rauf Mamedov easily gained a draw against me and our team collapsed in both matches.
Our next match was now-or-never fight with Germany. I finally managed to play a good game and secured the match victory by beating Khenkin on board one. In general, the new trend of messing up your line-up by putting the weaker players in front seems to be too risky strategy, as it puts too much pressure on both, the first board, who is supposed to hold and the last board, who is supposed to strike. In fact, in this round we dominated our opponents on both of them.
The next round we managed to gain some momentum by beating Turkey as well. Yet again I was feeling somewhat shaky; nevertheless I managed to make quite a few good moves and won another nice game.
Game analysis: A. Ipatov - A. Giri (click arrows to view the annotation)
Having had two wins and playing Egypt we were obviously eager to win one more and so we did. I have to say I experienced an uncomfortable moment in my game versus Abdel Razik Khaled as well, who sacrificed a whole rook in an interesting manner, but we quickly passed the critical point and the victory was easy. I wouldn't have paid any attention to this game at all, if not for the last round, when Ezat Mohammed managed to outplay Vladimir Kramnik with a similar sacrifice (of a queen, this time), you should definitely look that jewel up.
Tough second half!
After that game we had a rest day and had some time to adjust to the new situation. We already avoided embarrassment in the final standing and now could only fight for more. The opponents though were not the easy ones- Ukraine, Russia, Armenia, USA.
In the first five rounds it was Ukraine which grabbed the lead. Ivanchuk seemed to have stabilized himself at the board 1 and Korobov was a striking force on board 2. Guess what happened in round 6. They met the mighty Dutch!
Game analysis: A. Korobov - L. van Wely (click arrows to view the annotation)
Myself I misplayed completely my opening and decided to just trade everything off and make a draw. In the process I took things a little too carelessly; nevertheless, the position never got too much out of control and the game was drawn. And so it was 2,5-1,5.
Some of our teammates might have got too euphoric and some not euphoric enough (pointing fingers to the mirror, in my case), but our next two rounds were a total collapse.
Game analysis: V. Kramnik - A. Giri (click arrows to view the annotation)
Similar thing happened versus Armenia, when things went very badly wrong for me, at the moment when nothing could go wrong anymore.
Game analysis: A. Giri - L. Aronian (click arrows to view the annotation)
In the last round, again, the team result was representing my play. We had some chances, but finally it was a 2-2. I managed to out-prepare Hikaru in the Grunfeld and even had some chances to fight for the advantage with Black, but after two bad days I decided to play it safe and kept things too much under control.
The 6th place
At the end the event was won by Russians. The final touch was quite incredible, having Egypt in the last round it seemed that nothing could go wrong for the future champions, but it was board 1 that suddenly came under some serious pressure, proving once again that in the modern times the difference between the players can not at all be visible in a given game.
Just in a couple of days there is the usual fun-tournament in China, where I will be testing my skills in rapids and blitz and then of course there will be yet another Wijk aan Zee, but that's already next year.
Official Website of the Tournament