When chess players, officials, and fans arrived at the Western Wall Plaza on Wednesday morning, they saw over one hundred Ethiopian Jews celebrating Sigd. Tour guide Shuki Cohen told the chess group, “The Ethiopian Jews are here in big numbers today, as Sigd is a once-a-year holiday.”
Likewise, the FIDE World Team Championship is a once-a-year event. After their tour of the Old City, which also included the Tower of David and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the USA team players and captain speculated about where the championship might be held next year. Perhaps the championship’s next location will be discussed by the FIDE Council, which will be meeting on November 25 here in Jerusalem.
Dozens of fans attend each round of the FIDE World Team Championship 2022. One is Fernando Maar from Toronto, Canada. From inside the playing hall, Maar watches the players’ faces and their moves on the display screens. Another fan is Mark Flaum from Ashdod, Israel. Flaum prefers the commentary room to the playing hall. Flaum said, “I don’t even need the commentary, just sitting five meters from the legend Vishy Anand is fantastic. However, I like Almira and Vishy’s commentary too because they don’t use computers. It’s human thinking.” Menachem Wertheim, tour guide, visited the tournament because his friend Moshe Slav, Chairman of the Israel Chess Federation, invited him. Wertheim was honoured to see Anand again, because he played against Anand in a 2017 simul in Jerusalem.
Every team remaining in the FIDE World Team Championship 2022 is composed of grandmasters. At the start of the quarterfinals, three of the world’s top 25 rapid-rated players were competing: France’s Maxim Vachier Lagrave (2775) is ranked seventh in the world. Azerbaijan’s Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2747) is ranked 12th, and his teammate Teimour Radjabov (2718) is ranked 25th. By the end of the quarterfinals, the teams of these three top players had been eliminated.
Quarterfinals, Round 1
Leontxo Garcia, journalist for El Pais since 1985, rang the gong to start the first round of the quarterfinals. In yesterday’s match against the United States of America, India won 3-1 by winning two games as Black and drawing two games as White. In the first round of the quarterfinals, India repeated that winning formula. That is, India won 3-1 against France by winning two games as Black and drawing two games as White.
First board Vidit Santosh Gujrathi as Black defeated Maxim Vachier Lagrave of France. Third board S. L. Narayanan won as Black against Laurent Fressinet of France. Boards 2 and 4, where India had White, were draws. The last game to finish was board 4, where France’s Tigran Gharamian held a draw with one knight against Krishnan Sasikiran’s g- and h-pawns.
Uzbekistan won 3-1, against Poland. The Uzbeks won as White on boards 2 and 4 and drew as Black on boards 1 and 3. Javokhir Sindarov won against Kirill Shevchenko and Jakhongir Vakhidov won against Igor Kovalenko.
Spain and Azerbaijan tied their match 2-2, with every game drawn. China won against Poland 2.5-1.5. First board Lu Shanglei, as White, defeated Radoslaw Wojtaszek. Third board Bai Jinshi, as White, defeated Mateusz Bartel. Poland’s Szymon Gumularz won as White on fourth board against Di Li.
Quarterfinals, Round 2
Before round 2 of the quarterfinals, Elisha Sagi, the under-10 champion for all of Israel, rang the gong. In an exact reversal of round 1, France defeated India 3-1 by winning two games as Black and drawing two games as White. First board Maxim Vachier Lagrave as Black defeated Vidit Santosh Gujrathi. Third board Laurent Fressinet won as Black against S. L. Narayanan. Boards 2 and 4, where France had White, were draws.
Spain defeated Azerbaijan 2.5-1.5. The last game to finish in that match was David Anton Guijarro’s win as White on board 2 against Teimour Radjabov of Azerbaijan. Since Spain tied round 1, winning the round 2 match means that Spain advances to the semifinals. The Chinese players drew all four games against the Polish players. By tying round 2 after winning round 1, China advances to the semifinals.
Uzbekistan won 2.5 to 1.5 against Ukraine, advancing to semifinals since it also won the previous round. In an interview, the Uzbek first board Nordirbek Yakubboev says that his team intends to win gold in Jerusalem, just as it did in Chennai at the 2022 Olympiad.
Tiebreak France and India played a blitz tiebreak, with a time control of 3 minutes with a two-second increment. India won the tiebreak 2.5 to 1.5.
Report by Press Officer Alexey Root