Back to Work in Astana

It was back to business in Astana today for Team America in the 2019 World Team Championship. After yesterday’s rest day, the Open team crushed Sweden 3.5-0.5, while the Women slumped to defeat against Russia by a score of 2.5-1.5.


Sweden vs U.S., Rd 6, Astana (photo Llada)

Some of the pressure on the Open team was released early in the round, when fourth board GM Zviad Izoria was gifted an exchange by his opponent, Swedish IM Linus Johansson.

GM Alexander Onischuk defeated GM Erik Blomqvist when the Swedish second board buckled under Onischuk’s consistent pressure, and GM Alex Lenderman won on the third board against GM Axel Smith, despite Smith’s not playing his “expected” 1.e3. (Smith wrote a book called e3 Poison that sketched an opening repertoire for White revolving around the move e2-e3.)


The U.S. Women could not overcome FM Carissa Yip’s loss against Russian GM Aleksandra Goryachkina on board three. While the other three games were drawn, the score could have been worse.

WCM Rochelle Wu was near defeat in her game against WGM Olga Girya when Girya went pawn grabbing, allowing Wu to find a neat perpetual check tactic.

Rochelle Wu, Rd 6, Astana (photo Emelianova)

And WGM Tatev Abrahamyan was dramatically worse in the final position against GM Kateryna Lagno, but having overlooked the key idea once already, Lagno did not press the issue and peace was soon declared.


England’s reserve player, 62-year-old GM Jon Speelman, was pressed into duty when GM Gawain Jones “failed his fitness test” and was unavailable for selection. The vastly experience Speelman, a one-time World Championship Candidate and author of many excellent books, faced Iran’s 15-year-old GM Alireza Firouzja on board four of the England-Iran match. Youth carried the day, as Speelman lost, but England rallied to win the match by a score of 3-1.

Jon Speelman, Rd 6, Astana (photo Llada)


Open Division:

Women’s Division:

Tomorrow the U.S. plays Russia in the Open section, while the Women take on India. Rounds begin at 3pm local time, or 4am EST. Live on-site coverage is available at the official website:



  1. It might be worth mentioning that the US Women were drastically lower-rated than the Russian team on every board. The final result is pretty darn amazing, considering. Well done!

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