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Strong start for U.S. at World Team Championship Print E-mail
By Tony Rich   
January 5, 2010
US Champion Hikaru Nakamura, off to a good start at the World Team Championships, Photo Tony Rich of CCSCSL

BURSA, TURKEY -- The U.S. made an impression in the first round of the World Team Championship with a convincing victory over Turkey.

When discussing round one with GM Ben Finegold just hours before it was to start, he predicted a 3-1 victory for the U.S. team; Finegold's statement proved to be clairvoyant as GMs Hikaru Nakamura, Alexander Onischuk and Varuzhan Akobian each scored fine victories. In the Akobian game, Baris Esen walked into excellent team preparation from the U.S. and never really recovered.
A well prepared Varuzhan Akobian faces an unlucky Turkish opponent Photo Tony Rich of CCSCSL

Onischuk in action, Photo Tony Rich of CCSCSL

Unfortunately, Yuri Shulman missed an opportunity for an advantage in time trouble (21... Nc6! instead of 21... f5) and succumbed to a strong kingside attack.

Position after 21.Qe4

In addition to the U.S. vs. Turkey match, another important match to follow was Armenia vs. Azerbaijan. In a surprising defeat, Armenia capitulated on board three and lost the match 2.5-1.5. Armenia, who has won the last two Olympiads, typically does well in team events so they will attempt to come back with a vengeance in round two.

GM Robert Hess and IM John Donaldson, Photo Tony Rich of CCSCSL, Photo Tony Rich of CCSCSL

Egypt was routed by Israel in a 3-1 defeat and will face a tough round two opponent in Brazil. Both Ahmed Adly and Bassem Amin held their own against their Israeli opponents, but Mohamed Ezat and Khaled Abdel Razik were struggling from the beginning against the higher-rated Emil Sutovsky and Evgeny Postny. All other matches ended as ratings would predict: India 2.5 - 1.5 over Greece and Russia 2.5 - 1.5 atop Brazil.

The Americans are taking their win today in stride and are sure to fight hard every round. The two key face-offs will occur in rounds three and eight, where the U.S. will battle Russia and Armenia respectively. Remember that you can always follow the games live at the official site (starting at 8 AM EST) - and find Grandmaster analysis, photos and reports at saintlouischessclub.org and uschess.org.
Young GMs Ray Robson and Robert Hess analyze, Photo Tony Rich of CCSCSL

The time control is 40/90 followed by G/30 with a 30-second increment from move one. The event is scored based on match points; however, the first tie-break is game points, so every victory counts. When asked just how important individual game victories are, Nakamura said: "We need to think first about winning each match. I'm confident in each team member's ability to win games."

Round two starts at 8 a.m. EST. The U.S. faces India in what is sure to be a nail-biter. To their detriment, the Indian team is without a number of their top players, including World Champion Vishy Anand as he prepares for Corus.

What will the U.S. team have in store tomorrow? Who will play, and what is their preparation? While I'm not clairvoyant, I predict that all will become clear soon!

Check out the pairings for the entire event here. You can watch the games live on the official website starting at 8 AM EST. Also be sure to check out the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis homepage for daily exclusive annotations by their new GM-in-residence, Ben Finegold. Today's annotated game is Nakamura's Sicilian win.

January - Chess Life Online 2010

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