Azerbaijan, France, Poland, and Ukraine are eliminated
When chess players, officials, and fans arrived at the Western Wall Plaza on Wednesday morning, they saw over one hundred Ethiopian Jews celebrating Sigd. Tour guide Shuki Cohen told the chess group, “The Ethiopian Jews are here in big numbers today, as Sigd is a once-a-year holiday.”
After their tour of the Old City, which also included the Tower of David and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the USA team players and captain speculated about where the next championship might be held. Perhaps the championship’s next location will be discussed by the FIDE Council, which will be meeting on November 25 here in Jerusalem.
Dozens of fans attend each round of the FIDE World Team Championship 2022. One is Fernando Maar from Toronto, Canada. From inside the playing hall, Maar watches the players’ faces and their moves on the display screens. Another fan is Mark Flaum from Ashdod, Israel. Flaum prefers the commentary room to the playing hall. Flaum said, “I don’t even need the commentary, just sitting five meters from the legend Vishy Anand is fantastic. However, I also like Almira and Vishy’s commentary because they don’t use computers. It’s human thinking.”
Menachem Wertheim, tour guide, visited the tournament because his friend Moshe Slav, a former Chairman of the Israel Chess Federation, invited him. Wertheim was honoured to see Anand again because he played against Anand in a 2017 simul in Jerusalem.
At the start of the quarterfinals, three of the world’s top 25 rapid-rated players were competing: France’s Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (2775) is ranked seventh in the world. Azerbaijan’s Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2747) is ranked 12th, and his teammate Teimour Radjabov (2718) is ranked 25th. By the end of the quarterfinals, the teams of these three top players had been eliminated.
Leontxo Garcia, a journalist for El Pais since 1985, rang the gong to start the first round of the quarterfinals.
In yesterday’s match against the United States of America, India won 3-1 by winning two games as Black and drawing two games as White. In the first round of the quarterfinals, India repeated that winning formula beating France by a score of 3-1.
First board Vidit Santosh Gujrathi as Black defeated Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in a topical line of the English opening. Third board S. L. Narayanan prevailed over against Laurence Fressinet after the Frenchman mishandled a slightly better endgame. Boards 2 and 4, where India had White, were draws. The last game to finish was board 4, where France’s Tigran Gharamian held a draw with one knight against Krishnan Sasikiran’s g- and h-pawns.
Uzbekistan wrestled down Ukraine by a score of 3-1. Javokhir Sindarov got the best of Kirill Shevchenko in a sharp Sicilian battle with White and Jakhongir Vakhidov scored an excellent strategic victory over Igor Kovalenko.
Spain and Azerbaijan tied their match 2-2, with every game drawn. China won over Poland 2.5-1.5 thanks to the victories of Lu Shanglei over Radoslaw Wojtaszek on the first board and Bai Jinshi over Mateusz Bartel (in both games, the Chinese players had White). Poland struck back on board 4, where Szymon Gumularz defeated Di Li but it was not enough to save the match.
Before round 2 of the quarterfinals, Elisha Sagi, the under-10 champion for all of Israel, rang the gong.
After losing 1-3 the first round the French players were faced a daunting task but “les bleus” did the almost-impossible. In an exact reversal of round 1, France defeated India 3-1 by winning two games as Black with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Laurent Fressinet taking revenge on their opponents.
Spain defeated Azerbaijan 2.5-1.5. After the squads exchanged blows on boards 3 and 4, all eyes were on the game David Anton Guijarro against Teimour Radjabov, in which the Spaniard eventually pulled out a victory in a long endgame. Since Spain tied round 1, winning the round 2 match means that Spain advances to the semifinals.
The Chinese players drew all four games against their Polish opponents. By tying round 2 after winning round 1, China progressed into the semifinals.
Uzbekistan won 2.5 to 1.5 against Ukraine, advancing to semifinals since it also won the previous round. In an interview, the Uzbek first board Nordirbek Yakubboev says that his team intends to win gold in Jerusalem, just as it did in Chennai at the 2022 Olympiad.
France and India played a blitz tiebreak, with a time control of 3 minutes with a two-second increment. India won the tiebreak 2.5 to 1.5.
This Year in Jerusalem
On the tour, Shuki Cohen said that Jews say, “Next year in Jerusalem.” The Chinese, Indian, Spanish, Uzbek players in the World Team Championship 2022 each hope that this year in Jerusalem will be when their team wins.
Text: WIM Alexey Root, FIDE Press Officer, Jerusalem
Photos: Dr. Mark Livshitz and Maria Emelianova
Official website: worldteams.fide.com/