Abu Dhabi, Asian Team Cup. China, India. Who is third?

The Indian men's team won the Asian Cup, in which 22 teams from 20 countries took part (the host nation was allowed 3 teams). The Chinese retained the women's title. The tournament was organised by the UAE chess federation, under the auspices of the Asian Chess Federation, and held at the hotel ​​«Novotel Abu Dhabi Al Bustan».

In the men's event, as already reported in our previous article, the destination of the gold medals was effectively decided two rounds before the end. Victory in their meeting with the Chinese, and a draw in the tough match China - Kazakhstan left no doubt that the Indian team would take gold. The players involved were grandmasters B. Adhiban, S. P. Sethuraman, Vidit Santosh Gujrathi, Krishnan Sasikiran and Deep Sengupta; the captain was GM R.B. Ramesh.

In the last round, the sporting intrigue had already disappeared almost entirely. India clinched the title against Vietnam (3: 1), China easily won all four against the hosts UAE-1 – 4: 0. The Kazaks were ahead of their main rivals on tie-break and thus a draw would have been enough for them, but they beat Mongolia 2,5:1,5 and took bronze. .

The best individual results on each board were: 1. GM Bu Xiangzhi (China) – 5,5 (7), performance 2765, 2. Wang Yue  (China) – 6 (7), performance 2828, 3. Vidit Santosh (India) – 7 (9), performance 2655, 4. Firouzja Alireza (Iran) – 5,5 (7), performance 2644 5.Zhou Jianchao (China) – 6 (7), performance 2605.

Thus, despite winning three individual golds, the Olympiad champions had to settle for silver overall. One can hardly describe as failures the results of the 3rd and 4th boards, Wei Yi (5/8) and Liu Shanlei (5/7). On total of board points, the Chinese scored a full point more than the champions, but the team event was all decided by the result of one match.

The tournament had an almost ideal line-up, the only noticeable absentee being the many-time winners, Philippines. Whether it was financial problems, or just the feeling that after the transfer of Wesley So to the USA, the chances of Campomanes' compatriots getting a top medal were reduced, but for whatever reason, the players from the numerous islands of the Philippines were absent. A pity! 

We should point out the result of 13-year old wunderkind Firouzja Alireza. The youngster drew with Wei Yi, Sasikiran, the experienced Vietnamese Dao, and beat all his other opponents. In January, he sensationally became Iranian men's champion and now this new success. Maybe a great new star has appeared?  

As was to be expected, the women's event was won by the Chinese, although this time it was much closer than they might have hoped. The destination of the silver medals was decided in the match Kazakhstan - Vietnam. The last games were watched with great interest not only by the players and trainers of the Kazakh team, by also by the Uzbeks, who had a direct interest in the outcome. The result of this match would determine whether they finished third (if Vietnam lost) or in a prestigious second place, behind China, a result of which they could only have dreamt before the tournament. 

Dauletova Gulmira (Kazakhstan)– Thi Thanh An Nguen (Vietnam)

Black's 50th move

So, what is going on? How can there be a miracle here? But in women's chess, they play to the very end and the Vietnamese girl decided to play on. And, as it turned out, not in vain. 25 moves later, this was the position on the board: 

Later efforts came to nothing. Draw! Both in the game and the match. The Uzbek girls embraced each other, feeling that no greater gift could have been received, whilst the Kazakhs' disappointment is impossible to put into words. They led three rounds from the end, then were almost guaranteed silver, yet they ended with "only" the bronze. But despite this bitter setback, one must note the fine achievements of the Central Asians. In this event, they were the only ones to challenge the hegemony of India and China. Their federations take a very serious approach to preparing their sportsmen and women, running a full training camp before the event and sending a strong team of trainers. (P Kotsur and S Temibaev), as well as other specialists. The participation of Pavel Tregubov undoubtedly helped both teams. 

Despite taking bronze, the Kazakh ladies can be considered one of the unluckiest teams in the event

The best individual results: 1.Ju Wenjun (China) – 6 (8), 2.Zhao Xue (China) – 5,5 (7), 3.Gevorgyan Irina (Uzbeckistan) – 7 (8), 4.Guo Qi (China) – 5,5 (6)

After the classical phase, there will follow rapid and blitz. The event ends on 8 April. 

Links: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Text: Sergey Kim