WR Chess Clinches Gold In Penultimate Round

WR Chess Clinches Gold In Penultimate Round


On the last day, WR Chess completed their phenomenal run at the World Rapid Team Championship, clinching first with a round to spare.

It was truly a team victory as every member contributed, and several players turned in dazzling performances. GM Ian Nepomniachtchi scored 7/9 on board two. GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda went undefeated, scoring 7/8 with a 2921 performance rating. GM Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu nearly swept his opponents with 6.5/7. GM Hou Yifan also scored one victory after another, giving up only a single draw to finish with 5.5/6. GM Alexandra Kosteniuk was yet another undefeated player, scoring 4.5/6.  

GM Viswanathan Anand‘s Freedom finished in clear second while GM Pentala Harikrishna‘s Team MGD1 came out ahead in the fight for bronze. 

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After WR Chess swept its way through the competition the first two days, their opponents gave them a fight in the final day. In round nine, the Chess Pensioners, representing the old guard with GMs Leinier Dominguez, Peter Svidler, and Vladimir Kramnik, came close to nicking the favorites for a draw. Wins by Nepomniachtchi and GM Vincent Keymer tipped the scales in the leaders’ favor. 

Showing no respect for his elder, Nepomniachtchi unleashed the King’s Gambit vs. Svidler. His irreverence paid off. The 33-year-old world championship challenger ripped his legendary opponent’s kingside to smittens in 21 moves, beginning with his thunderbolt on move 17. This inspired clash is our Game of the Day, analyzed by GM Rafael Leitao

Chess Pensioners vs. WR Chess. Note the 30 year age difference between Kramnik and Praggnanandhaa on board three. Photo: Niki Riga/FIDE.

In round 10, Armenia led by GM Gabriel Sargissian was on the verge of upsetting the favorites. Their amateur board, 14-year-old Alberto Atoyan, was in the midst of an incredible streak, ultimately scoring 10.5/12. He especially made his mark with his striking tactical blast vs. Wadim Rosenstein. 

With the match on the line, Kosteniuk and Keymer triumphed in must-win games to hold the team draw. Kosteniuk discovered a clever way to win a pawn vs. GM Elina Danielian.

Kosteniuk was a potent force for her team. Photo: Mark Livshitz/FIDE.

As the final game to finish, the pressure was especially on Keymer to convert his advantage vs. GM Samvel Ter-Sahakyan.

Seeing the leaders finally concede a draw gave the opposing teams fresh hope. In the penultimate round, WR Chess faced the fourth seed, ASV AlphaEchecs Linz. With WR Chess’s margin over the rest of the field, one more win, and the tournament would be theirs.

Despite WR Chess’s vast lead in score, the lineup of GMs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Alexander Grischuk, Parham Maghsoodloo, Etienne Bacrot, Kateryna Lagno, and CM Marc Llari on the amateur board presented an intriguing obstacle.

WR Chess was up to the challenge. The top two boards turned in two solid draws while the last four boards―Duda, Praggnanandhaa, Hou, and Wadim Rosenstein―swept their opposition. Duda found a beautiful finish to take down Maghsoodloo.

With this victory, WR Chess became uncatchable. Though the final round was unnecessary, GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov finished on a high note, defeating GM Robert Rabiega in a marvelous 14-move miniature. The 18-year-old grandmaster found a shocker in what appeared to be a standard opening position. 

For their extraordinary performance, WR Chess earned the gold cup, medals for every player, and 100,000 Euros. 

The ecstatic victors. Photo: Niki Riga/FIDE.

As usual for the chess elite, the team celebrated their victory with a lively bughouse session.

Freedom won out the battle for silver, scoring 20 match points. Their top-scorer was IM Polina Shuvalova who played almost every round and finished with 8/11. In the last round, Shuvalova showed what she can do with her back against the wall. IM Anna Zatonskih was in the midst of creating a brilliancy when she offered her opponent a breath of air for a move. That was all Shuvalova needed to flip the game in her favor. 

Shuvalova was Freedom’s secret weapon. Photo: Mark Livshitz/FIDE.

Team MGD1 closed out the tournament nearly sweeping the day’s rounds, winning three and drawing one to win bronze. GM Raunak Sadhwani came through with a winning streak in the last three rounds, saving the team draw vs. Germany and Friends and sealing the win vs. Chess Pensioners at the finish. He won a fighting gem vs. GM Artur Jakubiec in round 11.

Raunak’s compelling finish helped Team MGD1 inch ahead in the race for bronze. Photo: Niki Riga/FIDE.

Standings – Day 3 (Top 20)

The World Rapid Team Championship 2023 takes place August 25-28, 2023, in Dusseldorf, Germany. The format is a 12-round team Swiss. The time control is 15 minutes plus a 10-second increment starting on move one. Official website.

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