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FIDE World Teams Round 7: Adhiban! Adhiban!

by Sagar Shah - 25/06/2017

The thing about champions is that they never ever fail to make a comeback. After a tough loss against Yilmaz, Adhiban found himself facing a stronger opponent in the seventh round in the form of Anton Korobov. He played a fine game to beat his Ukrainian opponent and give India the much needed 2.5-1.5 victory. In the women's section we were trailing 2-1 in the match against China, but Padmini showed her class, and beat Guo Qi in an equal endgame to level the scores. Analysis of both these games, and a small flashback to Baku 2016.

Photos by Anastasiya Balakhontseva

Indian men beat Ukraine 2.5-1.5; women hold China 2-2

Let's go down the memory lane a bit. The date was 11th of September 2016. It was the ninth round of the Chess Olympiad held in Baku. The Indian team was pitted against Ukraine. It was a crucial match for us from the medal point of view.

Harikrishna on the top board drew his game against Eljanov. Adhiban and Vidit held Ponomariov and Kryvoruchko. It all hinged on Sethu's game against Anton Korobov.

Sethuraman built up a winning advantage
With the move ...Rf5!?!? Korobov muddied the water to such an extent that Sethuraman went wrong and India lost the match 2.5-1.5

The man responsible for India's defeat in Baku 2016 - Anton Korobov (photo by David Llada)

Fast forward to the present:

India was facing Ukraine in the seventh round of the World Team Championship 2017. Three boards ended in draws once again. Vidit held Ponomariov on the top board, Sasi quickly split the point with Areshchenko from the black side of the Marshall and Negi had some edge against Moiseenko but the game ended in a draw. Once again Korobov was in the thick of the action, but this time against B. Adhiban.

"Let's have a Baku encore!" Anton Korobov getting some good wishes from Natalia Zhukova before the start of the game
But this time Adhiban had different intentions!


When you look at this position, you feel that Black should be fine. But this is a static situation where White has many ways to strengthen his position, while Black is at a loss for what is to be done. Hence, Kd2-e3 followed by Ng3 led to a loss for Black and Korobov was left wondering what was it that he could have done better!

[Event "11th World Teams 2017"]
[Site "Khanty-Mansiysk RUS"]
[Date "2017.06.24"]
[Round "7.2"]
[White "Adhiban, Baskaran"]
[Black "Korobov, Anton"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C11"]
[WhiteElo "2670"]
[BlackElo "2711"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "67"]
[EventDate "2017.06.17"]
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 Be7 8. Qd2
O-O 9. dxc5 (9. O-O-O c4 {is supposed to give Black a very strong attack on
the queenside. And hence before 0-0-0 White takes on c5.}) 9... Nxc5 10. O-O-O
Qa5 11. Kb1 Rd8 12. Nd4 Bf8 13. g4 {Adhiban's play has been very logical. He
has 0-0-0, put his knight on d4 to prevent Black from playing d4 and now
begins with his kingside expansion.} Bd7 14. h4 Rab8 {This is the tough moment
in the game. White has to decide on what course of action he would like to
take in the game now. Would he like to indulge in a race with h5-h6 and Black
coming down with b5-b4 or he would like to play an endgame, like Adhiban did
in the game.} 15. Nce2 $5 {Objectively not the best move, but Adhiban surely
must have some psychological objectives in mind when he made this move.} Qxd2
16. Rxd2 Ne4 17. Rd1 Nxd4 18. Bxd4 (18. Nxd4 Ng3) 18... b6 19. Bg2 Bb5 20. Rhe1
Bb4 (20... Nc5 {After what happened in the game I was thinking if this was a
better option, but I think White can just go} 21. Be3 $14 {Put the knight on
d4 and be better.}) 21. c3 Be7 22. Bxe4 dxe4 23. g5 {Well White is not better
in this position yet, but Black has to be careful. White is threatening Ng3,
and there would not be a good way to save the e4 pawn.} Bd3+ (23... Rbc8 $5 24.
Kc1 $5 (24. Ng3 Bd3+ 25. Ka1 Bb4 $1 26. Nxe4 (26. Re3 Rxd4 27. cxd4 Bd2 $1 $15)
26... Rxd4 27. cxd4 Bxe1 28. Nd6 Rc2 29. Rxe1 Rh2 $132) 24... h6 25. Kd2 hxg5
26. hxg5 $14 {I still get the feeling that with Ke3 and Ng3 White is just
better.}) 24. Kc1 h5 {[%cal Gc1d2,Gd2e3,Ge2g3,Gg3e4] The question on my mind
is - why h5? The battle is revolving around the e4 pawn, what would be the
reason for Korobov to make a move like h5? Well, I think he was tempting
Adhiban to go for Ng3. So h5 was more like a trap.} (24... a5 25. Kd2 a4 26.
Ke3 Bc4 27. a3 $16 {This is the problem for Black. He will lose the e4 pawn
without any compensation.}) 25. Kd2 $1 {A strong move by Adhiban. He sees
through his opponent's plans. Now Ng3 is a strong threat. Also Ke3 just
strengthening the position is possible.} (25. Ng3 Rxd4 $1 26. cxd4 Rc8+ 27. Kd2
Bb4+ 28. Ke3 Bxe1 29. Rxe1 Rc2 30. Nxe4 Bxe4 31. Kxe4 Rxb2 $11 {And the game
would most probably ended in a draw.}) 25... Bc5 {Well, this move is really
not a good idea, but I think Black was already short of ideas in the position.}
26. Ke3 Rbc8 (26... Bxe2 27. Rxe2 Bxd4+ 28. Rxd4 Rxd4 29. cxd4 (29. Kxd4 Rd8+
30. Kxe4 Rd1 {with good drawing chances.}) 29... Rc8 30. Kxe4 g6 {Once again,
White will push here, but I think draw is a possibility.}) 27. Bxc5 Rxc5 (27...
bxc5 28. Ng3 $16) 28. Ng3 Rcd5 (28... g6 29. Nxe4 $18) 29. Nxh5 {The bad news
for Black at this point is that the e4 pawn is still weak and he is a pawn
down!} Bc4 30. Rd4 $1 Bxa2 31. Ra1 Rxd4 32. cxd4 Bd5 33. Rxa7 g6 34. Rd7 $1 {
A nice finishing stroke. The knight will pick up all the pawns! A controlled
and matured game by Adhiban. It's really tough to say where Korobov went wrong
in the game.} 1-0

Some interesting stats by coach R.B. Ramesh:

Results of round seven:

Rank Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 MP Pts.
1 CHINA *   2 2   12 18½
2 RUSSIA * 3     2 3 3 11 18½
3 POLAND   1 *   3 3 10 16
4 INDIA   * 2   9 16
5 UNITED STATES 2   ½ * 3 2   3 8 14½
6 TURKEY 2 2 2 1 *   2   8 14
7 BELARUS ½ 1   2   * 2 6 14
8 UKRAINE 1   2 2 * 3   4 12½
9 NORWAY   1   ½ 1 * 2
10 EGYPT ½ ½ 1 1   ½   * 0

India has climbed one spot on the rankings list. The Russian team lost against China and now the Asian super giants are in the lead. India faces Russia today and if we beat them we are sure in with a chance for a podium finish.

Women's section:

India faced the strong Chinese team in round seven. Harika was solid on board one and drew her game against World Championship Challenger Ju Wenjun. On board two Tania held the World Champion Tan Zhongyi to a draw quite easily. One could argue that with the additional space, and risk free position, Tania should have played on. It would have put some pressure on the Chinese players. Eesha was outplayed by Lei Tingje (who is having a wonderful event with a score of 6.0/7). Once again the onus was on Padmini to deliver.

White to play. How did Padmini create something from nothing?
[Event "11th World Teams Women"]
[Site "Khanty-Mansiysk RUS"]
[Date "2017.06.24"]
[Round "7.4"]
[White "Padmini, Rout"]
[Black "Guo, Qi"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B12"]
[WhiteElo "2375"]
[BlackElo "2417"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "121"]
[EventDate "2017.06.17"]
1. e4 c6 {It seems like Padmini's opponents have found her Achilles heel. Caro
Kann.} 2. d4 d5 3. e5 Bf5 4. Nf3 e6 5. Be2 Nd7 6. O-O Ne7 7. Nbd2 c5 8. c4 a6
9. Re1 Rc8 10. dxc5 Nxc5 11. Nb3 Nd7 12. Bd2 dxc4 13. Na5 Nd5 14. Nxc4 {
With more space, White is surely slightly better.} Bc5 15. Bg5 $1 f6 16. exf6
N7xf6 17. Bd3 {At this point, it would seem like White has quite a bit of
initiative in the position, but Guo Qi defends well.} O-O 18. Bxf5 exf5 19. Qb3
Kh8 20. Rad1 Qc7 21. Nce5 Qb6 22. Qxb6 Bxb6 23. Nd7 Nxd7 24. Rxd5 Nc5 25. Be3
Na4 26. Bxb6 Nxb6 27. Rd6 Na4 28. b3 Nc5 29. h3 {Truth be told, this position
is round about even. White should have a small pull thanks to her active
pieces, but with accurate defence Black can nullify the initiative.} Kg8 30.
Nd4 g6 31. Re5 Ne4 {Already Black is fine.} 32. Rd7 Rf7 33. Rxf7 Kxf7 34. g4
Rd8 $15 {The tables have turned. Suddenly it is Black's pieces that are much
more active.} 35. Nf3 Kf6 36. Kg2 h6 37. Ra5 Nc3 (37... Rc8 $15 38. gxf5 Rc2
$17) 38. Rc5 Nd5 39. Kg3 Ke6 40. Rc2 Nf6 41. Rc7 Ne4+ 42. Kg2 Nd6 43. g5 $3 {
One can say that this is the winning move of the game. Positionally it seems
incorrect because it breaks the structure. But if you look deeper, it helps
White to create some sort of mating nets against the Black king.} hxg5 44.
Nxg5+ Ke5 (44... Kf6 45. f4 $14 {is not what Guo Qi wanted. Her knight is tied
down to the defence of the f7 square.}) 45. Kg3 Rc8 46. Nf7+ $1 {Padmini has
seen it all!} Ke6 (46... Kf6 47. Nxd6 Rxc7 48. Ne8+ $18) (46... Kd5 47. Rxc8
Nxc8 48. Kh4 {And Kg5 gives White the advantage.}) 47. Rxc8 Nxc8 48. Nd8+ {
And there we have it! White has won a crucial pawn. And knight endgames are a
lot like pawn endgames. A pawn up position is more often than not winning.} Ke5
49. Nxb7 Ne7 50. Na5 Nd5 51. Nc4+ Kd4 52. h4 Nb4 53. Kf4 $1 {One of the
important skills in an endgame is when to leave control and start the race.
Padmini realizes that her h-pawn is extremely strong and doesn't care about
anything else.} Nd3+ 54. Kg5 Nxf2 55. Kxg6 f4 56. h5 Ng4 57. Kf5 Nf6 (57... f3
58. Kxg4 f2 59. Nd2 Ke3 60. Nf1+ Ke2 61. Ng3+ $18) 58. Kxf6 f3 59. Nd2 f2 60.
Nf1 Kd3 61. h6 {With this win India levelled the scores. Once again Padmini
proved that she has some amazing nerves.} 1-0

Results of round seven:

Round 7 on 2017/06/24 at 15:00
No. SNo. Team Res. Team SNo.
1 4 EGYPT 0.5-3.5 BELARUS 10
3 6 UKRAINE 1.5-2.5 INDIA 2
4 7 RUSSIA 1.5-2.5 CHINA 1
5 8 NORWAY 1.5-2.5 POLAND 9

For a board wise break down, click here

Indian women's team now face Vietnam in round eight.

Rank Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 MP Pts.
1 RUSSIA *   3 3 2 3 2   12 19
2 UKRAINE   * 2   2 3 12 17
3 CHINA 1 2 * 2   3 2   9 16
4 GEORGIA   ½ * 2 2   3 3 4 8 16
5 INDIA 1 2 2 *     3 8 14½
6 POLAND ½ 2   2 * 2   7 15
7 UNITED STATES 2 1   2 * 2   5 13½
8 VIETNAM 1 1 1     2 * 4 5 13
9 AZERBAIJAN 2 2 1   ½   * 4 4 12½
10 EGYPT     0 1 ½ ½ 0 0 * 0

The chances of Indian team winning a medal grows slimmer by the day. It's true that the teams we are left to face are not the strongest, but Russia and Ukraine have taken an insurmountable lead. As for China and Georgia, one of them will make it to the podium it seems. Our only hope is for two match wins, and some miracle that China and Georgia falter big time.

Live broadcast and GM commentary

Evgenij Miroshnichenko and Anna Rudolf are doing a great job giving the live commentary
ChessBase India has setup a live games page where you can not only listen to the GM commentary, but also play over the live games, and also check some light annotations by the Tactical Analysis feature.
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Previous reports on World Teams 2017:

India has excellent chances at World Teams 2017

From Moscow with love

Opening ceremony of World Teams 2017

Live Games from the World Teams 2017

Round one: Viji's unbelievable miss

Round two: Tania powers team India to a win over USA

Round three: The tale of two Hedgehogs

R1-3 on Firstpost: World Team Chess Championship 2017: Vidit Gujrathi shows mettle, but India blunder in initial rounds

Round four: Indian explosion in Khanty Mansiysk

Round five: Egypt gives Indian a scare

Round six: Deadlock with Turkey

R4-6 on Firstpost: World Team Chess Championship 2017: India falter after initial spark in both men's, women's sections