4th World Team Chess Championship: Lucerne 1997

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Basic data

4th World Team Chess Championship
(see all-time tournament summary)
Date: 25th October - 2nd November 1997
City: Lucerne, Switzerland
Venue: Grand Casino Luzern
Secretary of Organizing Committee: Mr. Alfred Becker (SUI)
Chief Arbiter: IA Horst Metzing (GER)
Teams participating: Switzerland - host nation;
Russia, Ukraine, USA - top three teams from 1996 Olympiad;
England - winners of 1997 European Team Championship;
Kazakhstan - winners of Asian play-off;
Cuba - winners of 1995 Panamerican Team Championship;
Egypt - winners of African Team Championship (did not arrive);
Croatia, Georgia (women) - invited teams;
Armenia - invited team; replaced Egypt.
Players participating: 60 (incl. 46 GMs, 2 WGMs, 9 IMs and 2 FMs)
Games played: 180
Competition format: Four board round robin.
Final order decided by: 1. Game points; 2. Match points; 3. Direct score; 4. Berlin system; 5. Extra match; 6. Drawing of lots
Time control: 40 moves in 2 hours, then 20 moves in 1 hour
Official logo: LUCERNE 1997
Website: http://www.tasc.nl/lucerne97 (cached)
Downloadable game file: 97wtch.zip

Tournament review

4th World Team Championship was traditionally held at the Lucerne Casino. Every invited team but Egypt (who were replaced by Armenia, winners of 4th place at the Yerevan Olympiad) arrived. To the amusement of the fans one of invited teams were Georgian girls, women's Olympiad winners from Yerevan. As usual many of world's top players were missing. USA, the titleholders were seeded 5th with an average ELO of 2603. England (Short, Adams, Sadler) and Russia (Bareev, Svidler, Khalifman) were seeded in joint first (ELO 2659). Other major teams of the competition were Ukraine (no Ponomarov yet, but with Onyschuk who left to USA soon after) and Armenia, notorious bronze medals' winners. Georgian girls led by legendary ex-World Champions Maia Chiburdanidze and Nona Gaprindashvili were by far the weakest of the teams.

The Champions produced impressive start leap as they beat Ukraine thanks to Kaidanov's win. But it was Russia who took the lead after wiping out Cuba 3½-½ followed by England who scored 3-1 vs Croatia. Georgian women beat Kazakhstan to find themselves in tied third. Round 2 saw draws vs top teams, namely Russia vs Armenia and Croatia vs USA. Ukraine easily outplayed Georgia by a margin of clear 3 points. England levelled on points with Russia with a 2½-1½ over Switzerland. On the next day the Britons lost to USA however and Russia did surprisingly bad vs Switzerland to held to a 2-2 draw. Ukraine dropped 2 points vs Cuba and Georgia attained second tournament win. Russia stayed in a lead a fraction ahead of Ukraine, USA and England. Round 4 brought a true hit: England-Russia. The match went to a well-deserved draw (Khalifman-Adams 1-0 but also Sadler-Dreev 1-0). Armenia ran over Ukraine despite of Akopian's loss vs Ivanchuk at board 1. USA took all their chances and wiped out poor Georgia 3½-½ to move into clear lead.

On the next day Russia conceded fourth consecutive draw (vs Kazakhstan) and were lucky to retain 2nd position, 1½ point behind the shoulders of the leaders. The US team extended their lead with a 2½-1½ over Cuba. Ukraine's brisk 2-2 vs Switzerland must have been disappointment for their fans. England fastened their pace a bit beating Georgia 2½-1½ (Gurieli-Hodgson 1-0). Round 6 virtually dispelled Ukrainian hopes for win as they lost to Russia 3-1. England defeated Kazakhstan but only 2½-1½ - far too little. USA fought hard to hold Armenia to a 2-2 draw. Standings: USA 15, Russia 14½, England 14. On the next day the entire leading trio went to a 3-1 win, vs Switzerland, Croatia and Cuba respectively. The other two matches finished in a 3-1 result too, making that day a day of perfect status quo for top 5.

The penultimate round saw decisive USA-Russia match. A hard fight under utter tension went to a well-deserved 2-2 (Svidler-Benjamin 0-1, Rublevsky-Christiansen 1-0). Ukraine-England was a four-draw 2-2. Armenia beat Cuba but the margin was too small to retain their gold medal hopes. On the last day of the event Armenia defeated England (Lputian-Sadler 1-0) to jump into bronze medal position at the cost of their rivals. USA easily beat Kazakhstan and it seemed like everything is OK for them but team Russia scored a sensational and thumping 4-0 victory over Georgian girls, a result that has brought many equivocal comments and aroused some suspicion. It has been claimed that Georgian's play seemed artificially weak on that day. On the other hand there was an ELO difference of 190 points, so 4-0 is not very far from theoretical 3-1. Still it was Russia who enjoyed their first ever World Championship title.

Russia did not show particularly amazing form yet decent shape of decent players was enough for hard-fought gold. As much as 4 game losses were compensated by 15 wins and no match loss. USA did excellent job (again) and were very unlucky not to get the gold. As it happened, again both reserve players were in top form. Alex Yermolinsky, the team leader scored a single win and six draws (no loss). The credit for Armenia's bronze goes to Lputian for his excellent +5=4 result. As much as three players, including legendary Vaganian, failed to achieve a plus score! England were unhappy to miss medal but they in fact did not deserve it given their leader Short conceded sole eight draws, no single decisive game! Players to be honoured: Sadler and Speelman. Ukraine couldn't really to anything better, since their boards 3-6 scored a shameful record of +2=11-8. Ivanchuk's +4=4 and Onyschuk's +3=3-1 couldn't compensate those, of course. Croatia's sixth place must be contributed to all the members of the team while Switzerland, the host nation couldn't achieve more with Kortschnoj's 4/8 (all games drawn!). Temirbaev of Kazakhstan scored impressive 6/9 (ELO 2688). Georgian women not only proved too weak for men's competition but they also did much worse than their ELO prediction (overall ELO performed 2416 compared to average ELO of the players of 2473).

Best board results

1st Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. GM Ivanchuk, Vasyl UKR 6 8 75.0
2. GM Bareev, Evgeny RUS 4 6 66.7
3. GM Yermolinsky, Alexander USA 4 7 57.1

2nd Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. GM Onyschuk, Alexandr UKR 7 64.3
1. GM Svidler, Peter RUS 7 64.3
3. GM Adams, Michael ENG 5 8 62.5

3rd Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. GM Lputian, Smbat ARM 7 9 77.8
2. IM Kazhgaleyev, Murtas KAZ 6 9 66.7
2. GM Sadler, Matthew ENG 6 9 66.7

4th Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. GM Rublevsky, Sergei RUS 4 6 66.7
1. GM Speelman, Jonathan Simon ENG 4 6 66.7
3. GM Minasian, Artashes ARM 7 64.3

1st Reserve Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. GM Kaidanov, Gregory USA 5 6 83.3
2. GM Dizdar, Goran CRO 7 64.3
3. FM Forster, Richard SUI 3 5 60.0

2nd Reserve Board
no. name flag code pts gms %
1. GM Zviagintsev, Vadim RUS 4 5 80.0
2. GM Christiansen, Larry USA 5 7 71.4
3. IM Borges Mateos, Juan CUB 6 41.7

Interesting games

Shortest decisive game.
Arencibia, Walter (CUB) - Ivanchuk, Vasyl (UKR) 0 - 1

That sort of chronic tension must be truly depressive.
Lalić, Bogdan (CRO) - Kotsur, Pavel (KAZ) 0 - 1

Beautiful Queen sac with a mate sequel.
Benjamin, Joel (USA) - Kožul, Zdenko (CRO) 0 - 1

It seems so easy following Ivanchuk's routes.
Ivanchuk, Vasyl (UKR) - Akopian, Vladimir (ARM) 1 - 0

Brave yet unsuccessful plan of trading Queen for couple of other pieces.
Khalifman, Alexander (RUS) - Adams, Michael (ENG) 1 - 0

Biggest upset of the competition.
Pelletier, Yannick (SUI) - Rublevsky, Sergei (RUS) 1 - 0

Who claims that a Three Knight's Game is an obsolete opening?
Svidler, Peter (RUS) - Akopian, Vladimir (ARM) ½ - ½

Watch out a dream pattern of white pieces after move 32.
Lputian, Smbat (ARM) - Sadler, Matthew (ENG) 1 - 0

That was a draw, yes, but extremely hard fought and vivid.
Yermolinsky, Alexander (USA) - Bareev, Evgeny (RUS) ½ - ½

An interesting judge's case. White claimed a draw
although the ending (lone BvR) is actually NOT a theoretical draw.
Akopian, Vladimir (ARM) - Chiburdanidze, Maia (GEOw) ½ - ½