China and Uzbekistan reached the final of the World Team Chess Championship in Jerusalem. The two countries defeated Spain and India respectively, in the second match on Thursday, after both first matches had ended in a 2-2 tie. The final and the fight for third place begin on Friday, November 25, starting at 5 a.m. PT / 14:00 CET.
After winning their sensational gold at the Chennai Olympiad, the young players from Uzbekistan are once again showing the chess world that they are the real deal. Playing without GM Nodirbek Abdusattorov but still coached by Ivan Sokolov (who gave an insightful interview with Chess.com after Chennai) the Uzbeks are playing for the top medals also in Jerusalem.
Facing India in the first of two matches in the semifinals, the score was 2-2 with draws on boards one and two, GM S.L. Narayanan beating GM Shamsiddin Vokhidov on three and GM Jakhongir Vakhidov winning against GM S.P. Sethuraman on four. It was a tough loss for Sethuraman, who blundered in the early middlegame after he was much better out of the opening as his opponent played a somewhat dodgy accelerated Dragon.
The second match was won 2.5-1.5 by the Uzbeks. On the top board, GM Nodirbek Yakubboev defeated GM Vidit Gujrathi but Narayanan won again. With a draw on board four, Uzbekistan’s second win, scored by Sindarov, was decisive. His game with Nihal saw a pretty finish:
China’s tournament has been even more impressive, taking into account that they didn’t even bring a single one of their top eight rated players to Israel. While anger over the Chinese government’s harsh Covid rules grows back home, most of the Chinese players in Jerusalem are playing with face masks.
Their first match with Spain was a 2-2 as well, with wins for GM David Anton vs. GM Xu Xiangyu and GM Li Di vs. GM Miguel Santos. In the second match, China won both of their white games and drew their black games to set a 3-1 victory on the scoreboard. A crucial game was GM Bai Jinshi‘s win over GM Alexei Shirov and yes, there was fire on the board from the start!
The FIDE World Team Championship takes place November 19-26, 2022, in Jerusalem, Israel. The format is a round-robin for teams with five rounds, followed by a knockout with the top eight finishers. The time control is 45 minutes for the entire game plus a 10-second increment starting on move one.