Rd 4 in Astana: U.S. vs. Kazakhstan

There may have been “shots fired” across the board, but it was “U.S.-Kazakhstan Friendship Day” in the World Team Championship today in Astana. Both American teams faced their Kazakh counterparts, and a delegation from the American Embassy was on-hand to help celebrate the occasion. With today being International Women’s Day, the ladies were presented with roses, and Rochelle Wu’s 13th birthday was also marked before the round.

The U.S. Open team drew their match against the Kazakhs, leaving them tied for 2nd-4th place and one match-point behind leaders Russia. The Women lost to Kazakhstan by a score of 2.5-1.5, and currently sit tied for 6th-7th place with the tournament hosts.

OPEN RESULTS

With draws by GMs Dariusz Swiercz and Sam Sevian and a loss by GM Zviad Izoria, it was up to GM Alex Lenderman to save the match by converting a long endgame against GM Murtas Kazhgaleyev. He did not disappoint.

GM Alex Lenderman, Rd 3 (photo Llada)

Swiercz’s game was notable for its striking pawn configuration (seen here after White’s 30th move). If there are precedents for these quintupled pawns in the database, I was unable to find them.

WOMENS RESULTS

WGM Katerina Nemcova was today’s star player for the American women, defeating IM Dinara Saduakassova with excellent positional play and incisive tactics.

Katerina Nemcova, Rd 3 (photo Emelianova)

WGM Sabina Foisor drew against WIM Gulmira Dauletova, with the opening mirroring today’s Yu-Ganguly game (more on that shortly) for 13 moves. WGM Tatev Abrahamyan lost to IM Zhansaya Abdumalik, who recently competed in the Cairns Cup. With her third Black in four games, FM Carissa Yip fell to fellow junior and FM Bibisara Assaubayeva.

EMBASSY VISIT, WU BIRTHDAY

Representatives from the American embassy in Astana were present for the round’s first moves to mark the dual U.S. – Kazakhstan competitions. Deputy Chief of Mission Theodore Lyng, himself a former US Chess member, was on hand along with Counselor for Public Affairs Christian Wright and Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer Lance Erickson. All three diplomats met with the U.S. delegation and posed for photographs.

Theodore Lyng poses with US teams (photo Llada)

Once a “frustrated young chess player,” Theodore Lyng told official event photographer David Llada that “it has been sort of fulfilling a dream to visit this Championship.” Lyng made the ceremonial first move in WGM Abrahamyan’s game, while Christian Wright did the honors on GM Swiercz’s board.

Today marked another auspicious occasion – WCM Rochelle Wu’s birthday! The youngest player in this year’s World Teams, and almost certainly the youngest person to represent the United States in a World Teams or Olympiad, Wu was presented with gifts by the tournament organizers. She was also gifted the day off by Team Captain Melik Khachiyan.

NOTEWORTHY GAMES

There are interesting games being played in every round in Astana, and two of today’s games are particularly noteworthy.

In the first – Safarli (Azerbaijan) vs. Johansson (Sweden) – White essays a tasty looking exchange sacrifice that soon backfires.

In the second – Yu (China) vs. Ganguly (India) – Black’s dark squared bishop gets quite a workout, windmilling back and forth as Ganguly brings home the full point for his team.

STANDINGS AFTER RD 4

Open Division:

Women’s Division:

Tomorrow the U.S. plays Azerbaijan in the Open section, while the Women take on Armenia. Rounds begin at 3pm local time, or 4am EST. Live on-site coverage is available at the official website:  http://kazchess.kz/world_astana2019/

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