Sabina Foisor on the Women's World Team

Team USA members: Katerina Nemcova, Sabina Foisor, Jennifer Yu and Akshita Gorti with team coach Melik Khachiyan.
The Women’s World Team Championship came to an end with the thrilling victory of the Russian Team. They won in the final round by a score of 3-1 over Ukraine, spearheaded by victories from Valentina Gunina and Olga Girya. While the home country emerged victorious, the US team had reason to celebrate too. The US Squad came with experienced players in Anna Zatonskih, myself and Katerina Nemcova. The team was completed by promising youngsters Jennifer Yu and Akshita Gorti. We immediately felt the absence of a couple of our top players as we lost a tough match to Ukraine in the first round. In an otherwise drawn match, Osmak Iulija won a long game on board 4 to clinch the match for our opponents. Jennifer Yu's opponent didn’t miss the chance to finish the game with a typical sacrifice.

[Event "Women's World Team Chess Championship"]
[Site "Khanty-Mansiysk, RUS."]
[Date "2017.06.17"]
[White "Osmak Iulija (UKR)"]
[Black "Yu Jennifer R (USA)"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D00"]
[Annotator "Sabina"]
[PlyCount "83"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:38:57"]
[BlackClock "0:31:47"]

1. d4 d5 2. Bf4 Nf6 3. e3 e6 4. Bd3 c5 5. c3 Nc6 6. Nf3 Bd6 7. Bg3 O-O 8. Nbd2
b6 9. Ne5 Bb7 10. f4 Nd7 11. Qb1 f5 12. Ndf3 Ndxe5 13. fxe5 Be7 14. h4 c4 15.
Bc2 b5 16. a3 a5 17. Bf4 Bc8 18. g4 Bd7 19. gxf5 exf5 20. Kd2 b4 21. Qg1 bxc3+
22. bxc3 Qe8 23. Qg2 Nd8 24. Ng5 Ne6 25. Rag1 Bxg5 26. Bxg5 Nxg5 27. hxg5 Be6 {
[#]} 28. Rxh7 Qg6 29. Rgh1 Qxh7 30. Rxh7 Kxh7 31. g6+ Kh6 32. Bd1 Rh8 33. Ke2
Raf8 34. Kf3 f4 35. exf4 Rf5 36. Qh3+ Rh5 37. Qxe6 Rf8 38. Qg4 a4 39. Kg3 Rff5
40. Qxh5+ Rxh5 41. Bxh5 Kxh5 42. f5 1-0[/pgn]
In round 2 our woes continued as we lost to India. I suffered a tough loss against IM Tania Sachdev:

[Event "Women's World Team Chess Championship"]
[Site "Khanty-Mansiysk, RUS."]
[Date "2017.06.18"]
[White "Tania Sachdev (IND)"]
[Black "Foisor Sabina-Francesca (USA)"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D37"]
[WhiteElo "2408"]
[BlackElo "2331"]
[Annotator "Sabina"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "2r3k1/4P3/2p5/1p1p2bP/1P1P4/p2N4/P1KnN3/7R b - - 0 32"]
[PlyCount "38"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:24:46"]
[BlackClock "0:20:30"]

{In this position
that I failed to realize the strength of my opponent's h pawn and continued}
32... Kf7 $4 (32... Ne4 {would have given me the opportunity to hold the
position a little bit more, but of course white still has the advantage} 33.
Nc3 Nxc3 34. Kxc3 Bxe7 35. Rg1+ Kf7 36. Rg6) 33. Nef4 (33. Ne5+ {would have
clinched the win a little faster} Kxe7 34. h6 {and black will have to
sacrifice a piece to stop the h pawn}) 33... Ne4 {this seems like the natural
approach to bring the knight to f6 and help the stopping the h pawn, but it is}
(33... Nc4 {which was necessary to stop Ne5} 34. Rg1 Bxf4 35. Nxf4 Kxe7 36. h6
Kf6 37. h7 Rh8 38. Nh5+ Kf5 39. Rg7 {of course white maintains a big advantage
and I would have to do the impossible to hold the game}) 34. Ng6 $1 Bxe7 35.
Nde5+ Ke6 36. h6 {and now white is clearly winning.} Nf6 37. Nxe7 Kxe7 38. h7
Nxh7 39. Rxh7+ Ke6 40. Rh6+ Kf5 41. Rxc6 Rh8 42. Rc3 Ke4 43. Nc6 Ra8 44. Kb3
Ra6 45. Rc5 Kd3 46. Ne7 Rb6 47. Nxd5 Rb8 48. Nc3 Kxd4 49. Nxb5+ Kd3 50. Kxa3
Ke4 51. Kb3 1-0[/pgn]
Despite these two painful losses, soon enough we were playing at full strength, thanks in no small part to the help of our captain and coach, Melikset Khachiyan. In round 3, we got on the scoreboard after drawing a tense match with Poland. My own game was quite interesting:

[Event "Women's World Team Chess Championship"]
[Site "Khanty-Mansiysk, RUS."]
[Date "2017.06.19"]
[White "Foisor Sabina-Francesca (USA)"]
[Black "Szczepkowska Karina (POL)"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A17"]
[WhiteElo "2331"]
[Annotator "Sabina"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "5nk1/2q1nrpp/p2b1p2/2p1p2P/2PpP2N/P2P2PK/3BQP1N/1R6 b - - 0 31"]
[PlyCount "82"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:02:54"]
[BlackClock "0:05:28"]

{In this position both my opponent and I were in some time trouble
and she made a bad decision of opening the position and helping me get my
knights into play} 31... f5 $2 32. N2f3 $6 {I didn't take the opportunity
immediately as I should with} (32. Nxf5 Nxf5 33. exf5 Rxf5 34. Kg2 {followed by
Qe4 and a much better positional game}) 32... h6 33. Kg2 Qc6 {here however, I
didn't miss the chance} 34. exf5 Nxf5 35. Nxf5 Rxf5 36. Qe4 $1 Qxe4 37. dxe4
Rf6 38. Rb7 Re6 39. Nh4 Nh7 40. Nf5 Bf8 41. f3 Nf6 42. g4 Ne8 43. Kg3 Nd6 44.
Nxd6 Rxd6 45. f4 exf4+ 46. Bxf4 Rd8 47. e5 d3 48. Bd2 Rd4 49. Kf3 Rxc4 50. e6
Bd6 51. Rd7 Rd4 52. Rd8+ Kh7 53. Bc3 d2 54. Bxd2 Rxd2 55. e7 Bxe7 56. Rxd2 c4
57. Ra2 c3 58. Ke2 Kg8 59. Kd3 Bf6 60. Re2 Kf7 61. Re4 Bd8 62. Kxc3 Kf6 63. Kd3
a5 64. Ke3 Be7 65. Ra4 Bd8 66. Ke4 Kg5 67. Kf3 Kf6 68. Rc4 Be7 69. Rc6+ Ke5 70.
Ra6 Bd8 71. Ra7 Kf6 72. Kf4 1-0[/pgn]
IM Anna Zatonskih, Photo
Next up for US Chess was Egypt, and we won decisively. I did not play in this match, but I enjoyed watching my teammates, especially since after taking a short run, Anna was already winning before I got back.

[Event "Women's World Team Chess Championship"]
[Site "Khanty-Mansiysk, RUS."]
[Date "2017.06.20"]
[White "Zatonskih Anna (USA)"]
[Black "Wafa Shrook (EGY)"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E18"]
[WhiteElo "2417"]
[BlackElo "2141"]
[Annotator "Sabina"]
[PlyCount "43"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:41:40"]
[BlackClock "1:14:26"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. g3 b6 4. Bg2 Bb7 5. O-O Be7 6. c4 O-O 7. Nc3 d6 8. Qc2 {
Just a normal opening so far and nobody was expecting what happened next.
Despite having created some upsets in this tournament, Anna's opponent
unexpectedly played} Nfd7 $4 {[#] allowing for a typical and beautiful
tactical idea} 9. Ng5 $1 {following which white wins big} Bxg5 10. Bxb7 Bxc1
11. Raxc1 Na6 12. Bxa6 f5 13. Bb7 Rb8 14. Bg2 f4 15. Qe4 Rf6 16. e3 g5 17. exf4
gxf4 18. Ne2 fxg3 19. fxg3 Qe7 20. Nf4 Re8 21. Rce1 Qg7 22. Bh3 1-0[/pgn]
In addition, our young girls notched critical victories as well. I am sure this is a sign of more great things to come from them.

[Event "Women's World Team Chess Championship"]
[Site "Khanty-Mansiysk, RUS."]
[Date "2017.06.20"]
[White "Yu Jennifer R (USA)"]
[Black "Elansary Eman (EGY)"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A25"]
[BlackElo "1887"]
[Annotator "Sabina"]
[PlyCount "151"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:05:38"]
[BlackClock "0:08:40"]

1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 d6 4. Bg2 g6 5. e3 Bg7 6. Nge2 Be6 7. Nd5 Nge7 8. d3
O-O 9. O-O Rb8 10. b3 Qd7 11. Bb2 Nf5 12. Qd2 h5 13. f4 Nce7 14. e4 Nh6 15.
fxe5 dxe5 16. Nf6+ Bxf6 17. Rxf6 Ng4 18. Rff1 Kh7 19. h3 Nh6 20. Bxe5 Bxh3 21.
Nf4 Bxg2 22. Kxg2 Ng4 23. Bb2 f6 24. d4 Rbe8 25. Rae1 b6 26. Qc2 c6 27. Ba3
Qxd4 28. Ne6 Qe5 29. Nxf8+ Rxf8 30. Bb2 Qe6 31. Qd2 c5 32. Re2 Rf7 33. Rd1 Nc6
34. Qd5 Re7 35. Qxe6 Rxe6 36. Rd7+ Kh6 37. Re1 Nge5 38. Bxe5 Nxe5 39. Rxa7 Rd6
40. Re2 Kg5 41. Rf2 Nd3 42. Rf1 Kg4 43. Rf7 Kg5 44. Rd1 h4 45. gxh4+ Kxh4 46.
Rxd3 Rxd3 47. Rxf6 g5 48. e5 Re3 49. Kf2 Rxe5 50. Kf3 Kh5 51. Rxb6 g4+ 52. Kf4
{[#] Jennifer had the advantage throughout the game, but due to time trouble
she made some small mistakes and let go of the win. However, once the
opportunity to take home the full point was presented to her again in
this endgame she didn't miss the chance again.} Rg5 $4 {although this should
be the place for the rook (behind the pawn) to help it push forward, in this
position tactically it does not work. And Jennifer was well of this idea, as
earlier this year in the US Championship she won unexpectedly aganist Anna
with a similar idea of badly placed king and rook.} (52... Re1) 53. Rb8 $1 {
nd now black fails to be able to protect their g4 pawn} Rg7 (53... Kh4 {
loses the king and pawn endgame} 54. Rh8+ Rh5 55. Rxh5+ Kxh5 56. Kg3) 54. Rh8+
Kg6 55. Kxg4 {leading to a winning endgame} Kf6+ 56. Kf4 Ke6 57. Ra8 Rg1 58.
Rd8 Rf1+ 59. Ke3 Ra1 60. Rd5 Rxa2 61. Rxc5 Rb2 62. Rb5 Kd6 63. Kd3 Kc6 64. Kc3
Rh2 65. Rg5 Rf2 66. Rg6+ Kc7 67. Kb4 Rf3 68. c5 Rf7 69. Kb5 Kb7 70. b4 Re7 71.
Rb6+ Kc7 72. Ra6 Kb7 73. c6+ Kb8 74. Ra1 Re5+ 75. Kb6 Re7 76. c7+ 1-0[/pgn]

[Event "Women's World Team Chess Championship"]
[Site "Khanty-Mansiysk, RUS."]
[Date "2017.06.20"]
[White "Ehab Tasneem (EGY)"]
[Black "Gorti Akshita (USA)"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A40"]
[WhiteElo "1750"]
[BlackElo "2240"]
[Annotator "Sabina"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "3r2k1/4qp2/1p3r2/p1pp1bpp/P3n3/2P1PNPP/1P2BP1K/R2R2Q1 w - - 0 31"]
[PlyCount "32"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:23:35"]
[BlackClock "0:35:56"]

{Akshita converted her game in a beautiful style after her opponent missed a
tactical idea} 31. Rf1 $2 Bxh3 $3 32. Kxh3 g4+ 33. Kg2 gxf3+ 34. Bxf3 Nd2 35.
Bxh5 Nxf1 36. Rxf1 Qe4+ 37. f3 Qxa4 38. Qh2 Re8 39. Qh3 Rxe3 40. Qc8+ Re8 41.
Qc7 Re2+ 42. Kg1 Qe8 43. Qb7 Qe6 44. Qa8+ Kg7 45. f4 Qe3+ 46. Kh1 Qxg3 0-1[/pgn]
At this point we were in much better spirits; a little better adjusted to the time change, and more confident in our play. Melik in particular was satisfied with the quality of our games. Up next was Russia, the eventual champions and juggernaut squad that seemed untouchable so far. But we were not intimidated.
Team USA members, Yu, coach Khachiyan, Gorti, Nemcova and Foisor (plus a photobomb!)
The match was ultimately tied at 2-2 with 4 draws, but this does not tell the whole story. Anna in particular had kept up her excellent form from the first four rounds, and had clear chances against former World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk.

[Event "Women's World Team Chess Championship"]
[Site "Khanty-Mansiysk, RUS."]
[Date "2017.06.21"]
[White "Kosteniuk Alexandra (RUS)"]
[Black "Zatonskih Anna (USA)"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "C42"]
[WhiteElo "2542"]
[BlackElo "2417"]
[Annotator "Sabina"]
[PlyCount "62"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:14:59"]
[BlackClock "0:02:42"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bd3 Nc6 7. O-O Bg4 8. c3
Be7 9. Nbd2 Nxd2 10. Bxd2 O-O 11. h3 Bh5 12. g3 Na5 13. Re1 Re8 14. Bf4 Bg6 15.
Bxg6 hxg6 16. Qd3 Nc4 17. b3 Nd6 18. c4 Ne4 19. h4 Bb4 20. Re3 c6 21. Ne5 a6
22. c5 Ba5 23. f3 Nf6 24. Kg2 Nd7 25. Rh1 Nxe5 26. dxe5 Re6 27. Bg5 Qe8 28. Qd4
Bc7 29. Rhe1 Rb8 30. Qg4 {[#] Alexandra Kosteniuk is very
knowledgeable in the Petroff defense, but Anna played brilliantly equalizing
in this position.} b6 31. cxb6 Bxb6 {here even Anna could have probably play
on further for an advantage. However, considering the pressure of time she
offered a draw and her opponent accepted it.} 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
Russia v. the USA, Photo
My game against former European Champion Katerina Lagno was quite balanced. Akshita had a nice edge from the opening.

[Event "Women's World Team Chess Championship"]
[Site "Khanty-Mansiysk, RUS."]
[Date "2017.06.21"]
[White "Gorti Akshita (USA)"]
[Black "Girya Olga (RUS)"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D11"]
[WhiteElo "2240"]
[BlackElo "2480"]
[Annotator "Sabina"]
[PlyCount "84"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:18:48"]
[BlackClock "0:33:04"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bg4 5. Qb3 Qb6 6. Nc3 e6 7. Nh4 Bh5 8. h3
Nbd7 9. g4 Bg6 10. Nxg6 hxg6 11. Bg2 g5 12. Bd2 Be7 13. O-O-O a5 14. Qxb6 Nxb6
15. c5 Nbd7 16. e4 Nxe4 17. Bxe4 dxe4 18. Nxe4 f6 19. f4 gxf4 20. Bxf4 b6 21.
Rde1 {[#]} {In this position Girya forgot her preparation and went for} bxc5 $6
({instead} 21... Kf7 {had to be played to maintain equality}) 22. Nd6+ Kf8 23.
Rxe6 cxd4 24. Nf5 Nc5 25. Rxe7 Nd3+ {[#]} {In this position Akshita missed the
opportunity to keep her advantage and although she took a natural decision of
moving her king in the center, she had to act contrary to that} 26. Kd2 $6 (26.
Kb1 {was the right choice as now after} Nxf4 27. Rxg7 Re8 {will not allow
black to activate the rook on the 2nd rank with tempo so white can push her
passed pawn} 28. h4) 26... Nxf4 27. Rxg7 Re8 28. Rc7 (28. Rb7 {would have
still given Akshita some chances, it seems that protecting the b pawn is more
important than trading it for the c pawn}) 28... Re2+ 29. Kc1 Rxh3 30. Rxh3
Nxh3 31. Nxd4 Re4 32. Nf5 Re6 33. Rc8+ Kf7 34. Rc7+ Kf8 35. Rc8+ Kf7 36. Nd4
Re4 37. Nxc6 a4 38. b4 axb3 39. axb3 Nf2 40. Rd8 Nxg4 41. Rd4 Rxd4 42. Nxd4 Ke7
Katerina defended extremely well to save a long game against Goryachkina, Russia’s youngest player. So even though the match was tied, it very easily could have gone in our favor.

[Event "Women's World Team Chess Championship"]
[Site "Khanty-Mansiysk, RUS."]
[Date "2017.06.21"]
[White "Goryachkina Aleksandra (RUS)"]
[Black "Nemcova Katerina (USA)"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D22"]
[WhiteElo "2477"]
[BlackElo "2313"]
[Annotator "Sabina"]
[PlyCount "178"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:00:57"]
[BlackClock "0:02:47"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. Nf3 a6 4. e3 b5 5. a4 Bb7 6. b3 e6 7. bxc4 bxc4 8. Bxc4
Nf6 9. O-O c5 10. Nbd2 cxd4 11. Nxd4 Nc6 12. N4f3 Bb4 13. Bb2 O-O 14. Qe2 Qe7
15. Bd3 Rfd8 16. Nc4 Na5 17. Nce5 Nc6 18. Rac1 Nxe5 19. Nxe5 Bd6 20. Rfd1 a5
21. Nc6 Bxc6 22. Rxc6 Rac8 23. Rxc8 Rxc8 24. g3 h6 25. Bb1 Ba3 26. Qa6 Re8 27.
Bxa3 Qxa3 28. Qxa5 Nd5 29. Qb5 Kf8 30. Bc2 Nc3 31. Qd3 Rc8 32. Qa6 Qc5 33. Re1
Rc6 34. Qa8+ Rc8 35. Qb7 Rc7 36. Qb8+ Rc8 37. Qb7 Rc7 38. Qa8+ Rc8 39. Qf3 Qb4
40. Kg2 Qc4 41. a5 Nd5 42. Be4 Qc3 43. Rd1 Qxa5 44. Bxd5 exd5 45. Rxd5 Qc7 46.
h4 Rd8 47. Rf5 g6 48. Rb5 h5 49. Rb4 Qe5 50. Rf4 Rd7 51. Kh2 Kg7 52. Qe2 Re7
53. Qd2 Kg8 54. Rd4 Re8 55. Rd8 Rxd8 56. Qxd8+ Kh7 57. Qd4 Qf5 58. Kg2 Kg8 59.
Kf1 Qb1+ 60. Ke2 Qc2+ 61. Qd2 Qf5 62. Qd3 Qg4+ 63. Kf1 Qh3+ 64. Ke1 Qe6 65. Qd4
Qf5 66. e4 Qe6 67. Kd2 Qb3 68. Ke2 Kh7 69. Qd5 Qc2+ 70. Kf3 Qc3+ 71. Kg2 Kg7
72. Qg5 Qd4 73. Qf4 Qd1 74. Qe5+ Kg8 75. Qf6 Qd7 76. Qe5 Kh7 77. Qd5 Qc7 78. e5
Qe7 79. Kf3 Kg7 80. Qd6 Qb7+ 81. Kf4 Qa7 82. Qf6+ Kh7 83. Kg5 Qd7 84. f3 Qe8
85. Qd6 Qa8 {In this position White has some interesting ideas to try to
convert the game. However, with little time on the clock it is not easy to give up two pawns by playing Kf6} 86. Qf6 {[#] with this
move white lost all chances to a win and Katerina didn't miss the opportunity
to finish the game and help us draw against the eventual champions} (86. Kf6 $5 Qxf3+ 87. Ke7 {he idea is that white managed to
take the f7 pawn and in the same time stop black from giving a perpetual check}
Qxg3 88. Qf6) 86... Qf8 $1 {threatening mate} 87. Kf4 {only move, but now the
perpetual check cannot be stopped} Qb4+ 88. Ke3 Qc3+ 89. Ke4 Qc4+ 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
Rest day selfie,
Holding the best team in the world to a draw put us in good spirits going into the rest day. Our team enjoyed a bus tour throughout Khanty-Mansiysk, a very agreeable experience that was well deserved. I particularly enjoyed seeing the mammoth statues, and we also saw the Irkutsk River as well their beautiful church. While it was good to get a breath of fresh air, before long we had to start playing again. Unfortunately, in round 6, we had another tough loss to China. It was a tough break to be playing against the two highest rated teams in a row, but ultimately our Chinese counterparts played better than us. I had a particularly painful loss to the Women’s World Champion, Tan Zhongyi, which was even more disheartening since I did not get my revenge from earlier this year in the World Championship in Tehran. Still, the middle game was a very interesting struggle.

[Event "Women's World Team Chess Championship"]
[Site "Khanty-Mansiysk, RUS."]
[Date "2017.06.23"]
[White "Tan Zhongyi (CHN)"]
[Black "Foisor Sabina-Francesca (USA)"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D61"]
[WhiteElo "2517"]
[BlackElo "2331"]
[Annotator "Sabina"]
[PlyCount "99"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:54:08"]
[BlackClock "0:18:01"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Nf3 O-O 7. Qc2 c6 8. h3
Ne4 9. Bf4 Ndf6 10. Bd3 Nxc3 11. bxc3 dxc4 12. Bxc4 c5 13. O-O b6 14. Rfd1 Bb7
15. Ne5 Qc8 16. Qb3 Bd5 17. Bg5 Rd8 18. Rac1 Qb7 19. dxc5 Bxc4 20. Qxc4 {[#]} {
In this position I failed to realize how bad it is to allow the weakening of
my king} Bxc5 $2 (20... Qc7 {had to be played with a balance position}) 21.
Bxf6 gxf6 22. Qg4+ Kf8 23. Rxd8+ Rxd8 24. Qh4 $1 {Here I became disheartened
as I realized the mistake I have done and made another bad decision which lead
to me loosing way too much material.} Ke7 $4 (24... Kg7 {had to be played} 25.
Ng4 Be7 26. Qh6+ Kg8 27. Nxf6+ Bxf6 28. Qxf6 Rd2 {of course this is not ideal
for black, but I would keep fighting.}) 25. Ng4 (25. Nxf7 $1 {would have won
on the spot}) {still this is winning for white} 25... Qe4 26. Qxf6+ Ke8 27. Qh4
Qg6 28. Nf6+ Ke7 29. Nd5+ Kd7 30. Qa4+ Kd6 31. Nf4 Qg5 32. Qxa7 Qe7 33. Qa6 Kc6
34. a4 Qb7 35. Qb5+ Kc7 36. Nd3 Rg8 37. Ne1 Qd5 38. a5 Qc6 39. axb6+ Bxb6 40.
Qh5 Rg6 41. Qxh7 Qd7 42. Qh4 e5 43. Qe4 f5 44. Qxe5+ Kc8 45. Ra1 Kb7 46. c4 Rc6
47. Qd5 Qg7 48. Rd1 Kc7 49. Qd8+ Kb7 50. Rd7+ 1-0[/pgn]
While trying to save the match, Katerina made a mistake and lost a tough game as well, but Anna and Jennifer held draws, keeping up their excellent form. Next up we played against Vietnam, and although the match was drawn, things could have gone either way. Do not be fooled by the fact that it looked as if Anna has been almost effortlessly cruising along the tournament.  Hard work and determination were behind her success, but this time she got into some trouble. It is the mark of a champion to play bad positions with the same tenacity as good positions, and she saved it.

[Event "Women's World Team Chess Championship"]
[Site "Khanty-Mansiysk, RUS."]
[Date "2017.06.24"]
[White "Pham Le Thao Nguyen (VIE)"]
[Black "Zatonskih Anna (USA)"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D02"]
[WhiteElo "2344"]
[BlackElo "2417"]
[Annotator "Sabina"]
[PlyCount "45"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:10:58"]
[BlackClock "0:03:00"]

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Bf4 c5 4. e3 Nc6 5. Nbd2 Qb6 6. dxc5 Qxb2 7. Rb1 Qc3 8.
Bb5 e6 9. O-O Be7 10. Nd4 Bd7 11. N2b3 O-O 12. Bd3 e5 13. Nb5 Qb4 14. Bg5 Rac8
15. h3 h6 16. a3 Qa4 17. Nc3 Qxa3 18. Bxf6 Bxf6 19. Nxd5 Bg5 {[#]} {In this
position white failed to realize her advantage and decided to repeat the
position} 20. Ra1 (20. Qd2 {would have given white a big advantage} e4 21. Bxe4
Be6 22. c4 {white is a pawn up and black's queen is still out of play}) 20...
Qb2 21. Rb1 Qa3 22. Ra1 Qb2 23. Rb1 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
The hero of the match was Jennifer, who also got a very bad position, but she was resourceful and emerged on top after a wild time scramble before move 40. I’m sure it was a great relief for her to realize she was completely winning once she had the time to really think about the position.

[Event "Women's World Team Chess Championship"]
[Site "Khanty-Mansiysk, RUS."]
[Date "2017.06.24"]
[White "Vo Thi Kim Phung (VIE)"]
[Black "Yu Jennifer R (USA)"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "D11"]
[WhiteElo "2378"]
[BlackElo "2319"]
[Annotator "Sabina"]
[PlyCount "94"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:11:32"]
[BlackClock "0:26:02"]

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. g3 c6 4. Bg2 Bf5 5. O-O e6 6. c4 Nbd7 7. Nc3 dxc4 8. Nh4
Bg4 9. h3 Bh5 10. g4 Nd5 11. e4 Nb4 12. Nf3 Bg6 13. Be3 Nd3 14. a3 Nxb2 15. Qb1
Qb6 16. Nd2 h5 17. gxh5 Rxh5 18. Qc2 c5 19. dxc5 Bxc5 20. Rab1 Bxe3 21. Rxb2
Qc5 22. Rb5 Qxa3 23. Nxc4 Qa6 24. Rxh5 Bxh5 25. Nxe3 Rc8 26. Qb2 Rc5 27. Ra1
Qd3 28. Ncd1 Rg5 29. Qxb7 Bf3 30. Qb1 Bxg2 31. Nxg2 Qxh3 32. Nde3 Rh5 33. f4 a5
34. Kf2 g5 35. f5 g4 36. Ke2 Qf3+ 37. Kd3 exf5 38. exf5 Rxf5 {[#]} 39. Qe1 $4 {
was played instead and Jennifer didn't miss the chance to take the advantage} (
{in this position white lost the advantage completely, but could keep the game
balanced with} 39. Qf1) 39... Re5 40. Rxa5 Qe4+ $1 41. Kc3 Rxa5 42. Nc4 Qxe1+
43. Nxe1 Ra1 44. Ng2 Ra2 45. Nce3 Rf2 46. Kd4 g3 47. Nh4 Rf4+ 0-1[/pgn]
I myself had some chances to win the game, but I overestimated the position and ended up giving the advantage away and had to settle for half a point. It was hard to motivate ourselves to keep going when we were still stuck on a -2 score after 7 rounds, but through teamwork and motivation from each other and from Melik, we proceeded on as if it was Round 1. Next up was Azerbaijan, whom we had dead to rights but some disaster occurred in Akshita’s game right before she could force a draw. I played first board that match, giving Anna her first rest of the tournament. She had been playing very well and definitely deserved it! I was delighted to win my debut game on first board for the United States of America.

[Event "Women's World Team Chess Championship"]
[Site "Khanty-Mansiysk, RUS."]
[Date "2017.06.25"]
[White "Foisor Sabina-Francesca (USA)"]
[Black "Mamedjarova Zeinab (AZE)"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D20"]
[WhiteElo "2331"]
[BlackElo "2289"]
[Annotator "Sabina"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "q3nr1k/1ppr2pp/p2b2n1/3Pp3/2N1N3/P3B1P1/1P2QP1P/2RR2K1 w - - 0 26"]
[PlyCount "37"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:39:10"]
[BlackClock "0:27:10"]

26. Qg4 Re7 27. h4 Ref7 28. Ncxd6 Nxd6 29. Ng5 Qe8 30. Nxf7+ Rxf7 31. Bc5 Nf5
32. d6 cxd6 33. Bxd6 Rf6 34. Bc7 Nd4 35. Rxd4 exd4 36. Qxd4 Qe2 37. Be5 Rf7 38.
Rc8+ Nf8 39. Bxg7+ Kg8 40. Bxf8 Qe1+ 41. Kg2 Qe6 42. Rd8 Rxf8 43. Rxf8+ Kxf8
44. Qh8+ 1-0[/pgn]
In the final round, we played against Georgia, who will be hosting the next Chess Olympiad. They famously produced strong female teams, and this year was no exception as we faced a 2400+ lineup on all four boards. We lost 3-1, but could have gotten many more points with some better play at critical moments. I missed a beautiful win against Nana Dzagnidze, the current Women’s European Champion.

[Event "Women's World Team Chess Championship"]
[Site "Khanty-Mansiysk, RUS."]
[Date "2017.06.26"]
[White "Dzagnidze, Nana"]
[Black "Foisor, Sabina"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "E39"]
[WhiteElo "2533"]
[BlackElo "2331"]
[Annotator "Sabina"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "5rk1/1b4pp/1p1p3q/pNn5/2PQ4/1P2rPp1/PB2P1B1/R3RK2 b - - 0 25"]
[PlyCount "15"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]

{After having complicated the game we reached this interesting position and I
failed to realize the winning move} 25... Bxf3 (25... Ne6 $3 {after which
white does not have ways to stop the sacrifice in f3; if} 26. Qg4 (26. Qxd6 Qh2
$1 {the idea is that now white's queen does not protect the f2 square so the
sacrifice in f3 will simply win the game}) (26. Qxb6 {would allow} Bxf3 27.
exf3 Rfxf3+ 28. Bxf3 Qh3+ $1 29. Bg2 Rf3+ 30. Ke2 Qxg2+ 31. Kd1 Qxb2 {and a
mate would soon be inevitable}) 26... Qh2 $1 {this is a very strong move which
I overlooked} 27. Bd4 Nxd4 28. Nxd4 Bc8 {followed by Bh3 with a win}) 26. exf3
Rfxf3+ 27. Bxf3 {here once again I didn't make the right evaluation and played}
Rxf3+ {after which it is a draw} ({instead I had to trust my intuition and go
for} 27... Qh3+ 28. Bg2 Rf3+ $1 29. Ke2 Qxg2+ 30. Kd1 Rd3+ 31. Qxd3 Nxd3 32.
Re8+ Kf7 33. Nxd6+ Kg6 34. Re6+ Kh5 {and here despite the extra material white
cannot survive the strength of the queen + knight, but most importantly the g-pawn} 35. Bc3 (35. Bxg7 Nf4) 35... Nf2+ 36. Kc1 Qf1+ 37. Kc2 g2) 28. Ke2 Rf2+
29. Kd1 Qh5+ 30. Kc1 Qg5+ 31. Kd1 Qh5+ 32. Kc1 Qg5+ 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
WGM Katerina Nemcova, Photo
Katerina had an excellent position against GM Bela Khotenashvili, but fatigue may have set in and she did not manage to convert it into a win.

[Event "Women's World Team Chess Championship"]
[Site "Khanty-Mansiysk, RUS."]
[Date "2017.06.26"]
[White "Nemcova Katerina (USA)"]
[Black "Khotenashvili Bela (GEO)"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "A45"]
[WhiteElo "2313"]
[BlackElo "2452"]
[Annotator "Sabina"]
[SetUp "1"]
[FEN "3r2k1/5p2/q3n1p1/P2QP2p/4P2P/4B3/5KP1/2R5 w - - 0 65"]
[PlyCount "1"]
[EventDate "2017.??.??"]
[WhiteClock "0:01:12"]
[BlackClock "0:02:20"]

65. Qa2 (65. Rc6 {would have been the way to convert followed by}
Qb7 66. Rd6 Qb2+ 67. Kf3 {now black is out of checks and the a pawn would
head toward promotion}) 1/2-1/2[/pgn]
Jennifer and Akshita put up ferocious fights, but ultimately succumbed to their higher rated opponents. I was very impressed by these young girls who showed a lot of fighting spirit, especially Jennifer because she played black in 5 of her 7 games. While we finished in seventh place with a final score of -3, this does not tell the whole story. Anna performed extremely well on board 1 and would have won a silver medal if board prizes were given out. I gained 23 rating points and narrowly missed an IM norm, and the young girls proved their worthiness and gained valuable experience that will benefit them as they continue to play for the team in years to come. I’d like to thank my teammates and Melik for his coaching, and I hope to play many more times for team USA.