The 2021 FIDE Women’s World Team Championship kicked off in Sitges, Spain on Monday, September 27, with favorite Russia showing brilliant form. The team scored the maximum of 4 match points after the first two rounds of Pool A. Known as the “Jewel on the Mediterranean”, with its pristine beaches and warming sun, the coastal town is famous for its “Sunway Chess Festival” events and has become the first official FIDE team event host since the global pandemic strike.
FIDE Women’s World Team Championship matches are available at Chess.com/events: Pool A | Pool B. Live commentary for all rounds is broadcast on Chess.com/tv.
Live coverage of the first round. Watch all the coverage live on youtube.com/chess.
The 2021 FIDE Women’s World Team Championship is the first official OTB team event organized by FIDE after the onset of the global pandemic, and its effects have been felt in various ways. On the bright side, the tournament was held under strict social distancing protocols, which meant large spaces between the boards and individual seats, even in this team event:
The tournament takes place without admitting spectators or journalists, and even players are presented with curious (if not funny) protocols, as shown in the following excerpt from “Action plan to prevent the contagion of Covid-19“by the organizers:
“5.11. Before and after games start, players will not be able to shake hands. If they want to greet each other, they will have to do so by using a punch, nodding their heads or putting their hands on their chest. or with a similar gesture. “
The words “some similar gesture” stir the imagination, and most players will recall that there was a time in the world of chess when refusing to shake hands created controversy, unlike the other way around. Joking aside, players seemed to agree and abide by FIDE’s COVID rules, which created a safer environment for everyone involved in the event.
One of the more curious effects of the pandemic on chess could be the new tendency for players to go for not-so-fundamentally healthy openings. With online chess tournaments in faster time checks becoming more and more popular, players seem to have gotten used to more cheeky openings. Some players become more daring and seem to carry the idea that they will not be easily punished by their opponents for using questionable or daring opening lines.
The top draw of one of the strongest teams in the event faced one of these “daring opponents” in the first round:
Aside from that adventurous GM victory Alexandra Kosteniuk, IM Alina Kashlinskaya scored another impressive victory for the Russian team. With these two wins, the Russian team started the event with an impressive 4-0 score against the hosts Spain.
IM Tania Sachdev was yet another player who played a bit “too creatively” in the opening. The Indian international master played a shock in his fourth move with the black pieces, deviating from the proven variations commonly seen in the Queen’s Gambit Declined, one of the oldest known openings in the game. wrong that she suffered throughout the match due to her opening choice, it was more because of time issues that she got lost in the closing minutes of the match:
With the exception of WGM Vaishali Rameshbabu (who is incredibly underrated at 2,149 in quick games), India had the highest rated player in all other tables. Still, the tenacious Azerbaijani played well and the team held India to a 2-2 draw.
In the France-Armenia match, a special moment caught everyone’s attention:
Armenia beat France 2.5-1.5.
In a heavyweight battle, Georgia faced the strong Ukrainian side. GM Nino Batsiashvili’s surprisingly one-sided victory over former GM Women’s World Champion Mariya Muzychuk helped Georgia defeat Ukraine with a whopping 3-1 score.
The combined FIDE Americas team won 2.5-1.5 over Poland. Despite the negative overall score, the match featured two remarkable matches for the Polish players:
Just like when GM Monika Socko demonstrated the virtues of not moving the king at all, her colleague IM Klaudia Kulon took a different approach:
Meanwhile, Germany and Kazakhstan drew 2-2.
Russia once again dominated the game and won 3.5-0.5 against France. However, one of their wins was a jaw-dropping blunder in a pawn final stage featuring the classic “corner stop”, where White could have saved the game.
Armenia and Azerbaijan were stuck in a 2-2 draw in a game with nothing but decisive results, where IM Gulnar Mammadova produced a brilliant attack figure:
An exceptional victory for the best Azerbaijani player!
Meanwhile, India scored 2.5-1.5 against Spain with the only victory coming from Vaishali.
Georgia and Kazakhstan tied their game 2-2, with two brilliant finishes:
The next game features a rare but beautiful pawn checkmate delivered by IM Lela Javakhishvili:
Ukraine came back eager to avenge their defeat in the first round and took a 3.5-0.5 win over FIDE Americas, while Germany prevailed 2.5-1.5 over Poland.
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The 2021 FIDE Women’s World Team Championship is a 12-team event featuring teams representing chess nations from around the world. The event runs from September 27 to October 2 and is streamed live with expert commentary on Chess.com.