Kazakhstan, Georgia, USA and Poland advance to quarterfinals

Kazakhstan scored their fourth victory in a row and seems unstoppable, while the USA emerges as the strongest team from Pool B.

Round 3

Pool A

Kazakhstan (2½-1½) France
Georgia (3½-½) Egypt
Ukraine (2½-1½) India

Pool B

USA (2-2) FIDE Americas
China (1-3) Bulgaria
Poland (2½-1½) Germany

The leaders in Pool A, Kazakhstan, were off to a great start, as Bibisara Assaubayeva got a very promising position against Deimante Daulyte-Cornette. However, Bibisara didn’t play precisely enough and let her early advantage fade away. Kazakhstan’s victory came in their boards where they had the black pieces: Meruert Kamalidenova convincingly beat Sophie Millet, and Amina Kairbekova scored a full point against Natasha Benmesbah. The reigning French Champion, Mitra Hejazipour, clinched her first victory playing for the national team, but that was not enough to change the fate of the match.

Georgia cruised over Egypt to recover from the defeat in the previous round. Shahenda Wafa was very close to winning against Nino Batsiashvili, as she was a pawn up for most of the game, but she prematurely traded the queens and liquidated to a rook endgame that was a theoretical draw.

The match against Ukraine was a cold shower for India. Towards the end of the round, 3-1 looked as the most likely outcome, as Vantika Agrawal had an overwhelming position against Buksa, while Savitha Shri also reached a favourable endgame in her game with Yelyzaveta Hrebenshchykova. In the end, Savitha had to settle for a draw, but the worst was yet to come: on board two, Agrawal made a horrible blunder (29.d7??) and lost almost on the spot. A serious setback for India and a miraculous triumph for the Ukranians.

In pool B, the most relevant result was probably the surprising defeat of China in the hands of Bulgaria by 3-1. At some point, Stefanova’s position against Yuxin Song looked slightly dubious, but she demonstrated her class with a slashing counter-attack on the kingside. Viktoria Radeva scored the second victory for the Bulgarians after Yiyi Xiao fell into a simple tactic.

Poland also notched up a big win against their historical rival, Germany. On the fourth board, Klaudia Kulon, a very aggressive and dynamic player, got the kind of position that she enjoys playing, being one pawn down in exchange for the initiative. Her victory against Hanna Marie Klek forced Dinara Wagner to push for a win in a very delicate position, which resulted in Monika Socko’s getting a decisive advantage. However, in the time trouble, Socko fell for a simple perpetual check that, but thankfully for the Polish team, it was enough to seal the victory in the match.

In “the Battle of the Americas”, the North and South split the points. Alice Lee continued her impressive performance beating Cuban IM Lisandra Ordaz, while the Argentinian Maria Jose Campos got a victory for FIDE Americas against Annie Wang. The final score 2-2 was a fair result.

Round 4

Pool A

France (3-1) Egypt
Kazakhstan (2½-1½) Ukraine
India (1-3) Georgia

Pool B

USA (2½-1½) China
FIDE Americas (1½-2½) Germany
Bulgaria (2-2) Poland

In Round 4, Kazakhstan extended their winning run with an important victory against Ukraine (2½-1½). Bibisara played a fine game against Anna Ushenina and smoothly converted her extra pawn in a bishop endgame. Alua Nurmanova scored the second full point for the Kazakhstani, while Natalia Zhukova got her second win in a row in the fourth board.

The clash between two main contenders for the final victory, India and Georgia, was decided in favour of the Georgians by 3-1. The Indians were still a bit shaky after their dramatic defeat in the previous round, and Harika lost with White in an instructive game very well played by Bella Khotenashvili. The second victory for Georgia also came with the black pieces: Divya Deshmukh tried to defend a weak pawn with some tactics that didn’t really work, and Nino Batsiashvili got a very comfortable position with an extra pawn. The GM from Batumi got sweet revenge for the defeat she had suffered last week at the hands of Deshmukh in the Tata Steel Chess India.

France – Egypt was a very one-sided match, won by the Europeans by an indisputable 3-1. The good news is that Egypt achieved its maiden board victory after Ayah Moaataz (1959) checkmated Sophie Millet (2335) on the third board.

In Pool B, the main clash of the fourth round was the match between the USA and China, where the Americans came on top by 2½-1½. It was the second defeat of the day for the young Chinese team, a disappointing result after their good performance on the first day of competition. 13-year-old Alice Lee won again and is now on 3½/4, having conceded only one draw in the first round. The way she played an equal endgame against Yuxin Song speaks volumes about how confident the young American feels at the chess board, always trying to keep the game going, waiting for an opportunity.

FIDE Americas vs. Germany was a very close match, but in the end, it was decided in favour of the Europeans thanks to a victory in the fourth board, where Jana Schneider outplayed Maria Jose Campos from Argentina.

Poland had to settle for a draw against Bulgaria. Klaudia Kulon is on fire and won her third game in a row, this time against Beloslava Krasteva, but Gergana Peycheva levelled the score. This result, however, was good enough for the home team to advance to the knockout stage, regardless of their result tomorrow.

With these results, Kazakhstan and Georgia qualified for the knockout stage from Pool A, while France, Ukraine and India will fight in Round 5 for the remaining two qualification spots.

As for Pool B, USA and Poland have secured their place in the quarterfinals. No less than four teams – China, Bulgaria, FIDE Americas and Germany – will battle for two remaining places in the knockout stage. 

Written by David Llada

Photos: Michal Walusza

About the event

The 2023 FIDE World Women’s Team Championship takes place from 5-12 September in Bydgoszcz (Poland). 

Twelve teams participate: Georgia, USA, China, India, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, FIDE Americas, France, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, and Egypt, each with four players (plus two reserves). They are divided into two pools of approximate strength. Four teams will be eliminated at the pool stage, with the best eight teams advancing to a double-round knockout stage. 

The matches are decided by team points, with 2 points for the winning team and 1 each in case of a draw. Time control is 45 minutes for the whole game, with an increment of 10 seconds per move starting from move 1.

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