The World Team Championship in Astana, Kazakhstan, finished last week with a victory for Russia but with an outstanding team silver medal for England — our best result for decades.
The final scores at the top (out of 18) were as follows: Russia 16, England 13, China 12, India and USA 11, Iran and Azerbaijan 8, Kazakhstan and Sweden 4, Egypt 3. The individual English scores were as follows: Michael Adams 3½/9, Luke McShane (individual gold medal) 6/9, David Howell (individual bronze medal) 6/9, Gawain Jones (individual silver medal) 5½/8 and Jon Speelman 0/1.
The hero of the English squad was the individual gold medallist Luke McShane, who was the only team member to go through this powerful event without losing a single game. This week’s puzzle pays tribute to his success. Michael Adams struggled on board one for England but the opposition was formidable. Indeed, the former World Championship challenger Sergei Karjakin, playing on board one for Russia, could only muster 3/7. Here is Mickey’s final round win from our 3½-½ annihilation of Sweden.
Adams-Grandelius: World Team Championship, Astana 2019; Sicilian Defence
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 Bb5+ Nd7 4 a4 e6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be2 b6 7 d4 cxd4 8 Qxd4 Bb7 9 0-0 Ngf6 After some vicissitudes of move order in the early opening the game has transposed into something resembling a standard open Sicilian. 10 Rd1 Be7 Standard procedure here is to play 10 ... Qc7 with the idea of preventing White from playing e5. The importance of this precaution will be observed in the further course of play. 11 Be3 0-0 12 e5 White seeks to disrupt the central zone. 12 ... Bxf3 13 exd6 Bxe2 14 Nxe2 Nd5 15 dxe7 Qxe7 16 Nc3 Nxe3 17 Qxe3 Rfd8 (see diagram 1) The smoke has cleared and White retains the most minute of advantages based primarily on his queenside pawn majority. In fact, however, Black’s last move was slightly inaccurate, permitting White the following transaction. 17 ... Rfc8, targeting White’s pawn on c2, would have been an improvement. 18 Nd5 Qf8 19 Nxb6 Nxb6 20 Qxb6 Rdb8 21 Qd4 Rb4 22 Qe5 Qc8 23 Rd2 f6 24 Qe2 Rxb2 25 Rad1 Kh8 Although White has not succeeded in preserving his extra pawn his domination of the d-file grants him a continuing advantage. 26 Rd7 is one way to proceed while the startling 26 Qxa6 is also possible, speculating on back rank mates to preserve White’s advantage. 26 h3 h6 27 Rd6 Rab8 28 R1d2 R2b6 29 Rd7 R6b7 30 R7d6 Rb6 31 c4 Rxd6 32 Rxd6 e5 33 Qe4 a5 34 Rd5 Qc7 35 g3 Rc8 36 c5 Qb8 37 Qf5 Qb7 38 Rd6 Qc7 39 c6 Qb8 40 h4 (see diagram 2) White’s domination of the board now extends to both wings. 40 ... Qc7 41 Qe6 Kh7 42 h5 Qb8 43 Rd7 Qb1+ 44 Kh2 Rf8 45 Qg4 Rg8 46 c7 Qb6 47 Rxg7+ Black resigns After 47 ... Rxg7 48 Qf5+ and 49 c8Q wins.