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Final spurt to the title

August 28, 2023

Round 9

WR Chess vs. Chess Pensioners 3,5:2,5

22.Rxg6! and out – the game of the ninth round. 22.Rxg6! and out – the game of the ninth round.

Peter Svidler was late for his 'pensioneers' match against WR Chess. Tongue hanging out and at the last minute, he arrived at the board where Ian Nepomniachtchi was to sit opposite him. Svidler was soon to wish he hadn't played the game at all and just sat it out. In terms of the result, that wouldn't have made any difference, but on the other hand, chess history would then be missing a furious King's Gambit attacking game.

It was 1.5:0.5 after "Nepo" swept his longtime companion off the board. Previously, Nodirbek Abdusattorov had drawn the game early against Lenier Dominguez on the first board, in the spirit of the self-proclaimed retirees on the other side of the table. And there were indications that it would be close. Wadim Rosenstein soon found himself in trouble, while Hou Yifan, despite nominal superiority, had achieved nothing more than an even, draw-prone endgame.

Round 9
Pragg had to hold to secure the team victory. And he held – the only half point he was to give up during the course of the tournament. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/WR Chess

WR hopes rested on Vincent Keymer, who was in charge against Darmen Sadvaksov, and Praggnanandhaa to withstand the pressure from former world champion Vladimir Kramnik. In fact, Keymer won while Pragg held, ending up with 3.5 points and another team win.

Round 10

WR Chess vs. Armenia 3:3

The Armenians' long streak of success at Chess Olympiads shows that they are particularly strong in team competitions. Apparently this also applies to the World Rapid Team Championship. The Armenians were the first team to take a point from WR Chess. There was even a risk of defeat. Vincent Keymer in a must-win game at the end of the match and Alexandra Kosteniuk ensured at least partial success with their victories on the WR side.

Round 10
Thank you, Vincent: Wadim Rosenstein congratulates Vincent Keymer, who saved the point for WR Chess when the score was 2:3. | Photo: Lennart Ootes/WR Chess

It was now clear that there could only be a duel for the title. Either WR Chess becomes World Champion or team "Freedom", which was two points behind. All other teams were eliminated from the title race after this tenth round.

Round 11

WR Chess vs. ASV AlphaEchecs Linz

The Austrian team, who were highly valued before the tournament and were nominally about the same strength, suffered a setback right at the beginning. Etienne Bacrot had lost an exchange after the opening against Praggnanandhaa and had to deal with an annoying pin on top of that. It was soon 1-0.

Duda crushing through. Duda crushing through.

Then Wadim Rosenstein won a piece against eight-year-old wonder boy Marc Llari, and another victory for the WR team loomed. In the end it was another smashing victory even, crowned by Jan-Krzysztof Duda with a nice bang on g3.

And more than that: One round before the finish, team "WR Chess" was the world champion.

Round 12

WR Chess vs. Berlin Chess Federation 3:3

13.Nxe6! and white wins.13.Nxe6! and white wins.

The title was secured, so a draw against the valiantly fighting delegation from Berlin didn't hurt too much. Nodirbek Abdusattorov scored a full points for WR with a nice tactical impact from the opening. Also top scorer Praggnanandhaa won again. This win increased his tournament record to a fantastic 6.5 points from 7 games, performance 2976.

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