After day one of the 2021 FIDE Women’s World Team Championship in Sitges, there was no doubt that Russia was the dominant force in Pool A, while Pool B looked like a relatively open race for all teams. Day two of the event was to be the most crucial, as the teams competed to finish in the top 4 of each group’s standings to earn a place in the knockout phase of the tournament.
Pool A matches went mainly in the expected direction, while Pool B had much more fiercely contested matches. Here is a detailed picture of the events as they unfolded.
How to look?
FIDE Women’s World Team Championship matches are available at Chess.com/events. Live commentary for all rounds will be broadcast on Chess.com/tv.
Russia continued to ride the competition, scoring a 3.5-0.5 win over Azerbaijan to maintain their winning record. GM Birthday Girl Alekandra Goryachkina performed an endgame masterpiece and beat IM Gulnar Mammadova. Goryachkina’s room was strategically so deep that she couldn’t have afforded herself a better gift on her birthday:
On another board, her colleague IM Alina Kashlinskaya also produced a positional beauty:
Overall, Russia had a problem-free 3.5-0.5 win over Azerbaijan.
WGM Tania Sachdev played an excellent tactical game to outsmart WGM Anna Sargysyan and claim an important victory for India:
India beat Armenia with a score of 2.5-1.5 while Spain beat France by the same margin.
Georgia took a massive 3.5-0.5 win over Germany, while Kazakhstan took a 2.5-1.5 win over the FIDE Americas team. The Ukraine-Poland match ended in a 2-2 draw, where GM Anna Muzychuk lost in time in a difficult position to Polish WGM Jolanta Zawadska.
The fourth round saw the group’s two leading teams, Russia and India, go head to head and produce a great fight. Although Russia were better on paper, with all of their players rated higher than their Indian opponents in their respective tables, the game turned out to be captivating.
After Goryachkina-Harika and Gomes-Shuvalova ended in draws, the general manager Alexandra Kosteniuk drew the first blood for Russia against WGM Vaishali.
After Kosteniuk’s victory, GM Kateryna Lagno scored another point for Russia against Sachdev in a nice late-game squeeze:
With these results, Russia beat India 3-1.
Armenia also scored a massive 3.5-0.5 win over Spain, but France’s victory over Azerbaijan with the same score was the biggest surprise of the round.
French WIM Natasha Benmesbah scored an easy victory over WGM Ulviyya Fataliyeva:
So, with Russia, Armenia and India already qualified for the round of 16, the fight for fourth place will likely be between Azerbaijan and Spain. The two teams will face each other in the finals on Wednesday 23 September.
However, France could still thwart their higher rated opponent in the final round, India. It is interesting to note that all the teams still have a chance to qualify for the next stage, keeping the competition until the very last round.
Poland held Georgia to a 2-2 draw. The same happened during the match between FIDE Americas and Germany. Ukraine had a difficult 2.5-1.5 win over Kazakhstan, with GM Anna Muzychuk scoring a classic victory over the Berlin defense:
In the crucial final round, Georgia play against FIDE Americas, Ukraine against Germany and Kazakhstan against Poland. That being the case with the top-ranked teams in the group playing against the lowest-ranked teams, qualifying for Pool B will be more about upheaval and tie-breaking than direct fights in the final round. Another exciting final trick is on the cards!
CLASSIFICATION AFTER ROUND 4
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 broadcast live on Chess.com.