World Team Chess Championship

The WTCh trophyThe World Team Championship was established in 1985 and is being held in four year cycles. It was first planned that the event be played in Lucerne for keeps, but recently this idea has been dropped. Due to instability of the results produced by the Swiss system adopted at the Olympiads the World Team Championship was scheduled to be an invitational round robin event. Only ten teams qualify; the invitation rules varied over decades evolving to the following contemporary formula: the host team, three top teams from recent Olympiad, four continental champions, winners of Women's Olympiad and one invited team.

The winning team in the World Chess Team Championship receives a special trophy which is the property of FIDE and cannot be acquired in perpetuity. The dates of the tournaments and the names of the winners are engraved on the base of the trophy. The WTCh is not a very spectacular event and many top players find every excuse not to arrive. This is perhaps one explanation why USSR/Russia hasn't dominated the pool to the same extent as seen at the Olympiads.

The premier edition took place in 1985 and was played at six boards to give better comparison of level of play at lower boards. USSR won comfortably despite losing to Hungary on day five. France, led by former World Champion Spassky did surprisingly well finishing in fourth position. There was combined African team in that and the next championship because there was no African Team Championship those years and thus no African Champions. The second edition was won by the Soviet team once again. The Soviets earned clear 5 point margin over runners-up Yugoslavia. Third edition was played in 1993, already after collapse of the Soviet Union, thus post-Soviet teams composed half of a pool (Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Armenia, Uzbekistan). USA took sensational win scoring just 22½ (62.5% - lowest percentage ever needed to win), surprisingly the only player not to score positively was team's leader Gata Kamsky. Strong Russian team (Kramnik, Khaliman) came only third, edged out by Ukraine. In 1997 the championship visited hospitable city of Lucerne for the last time. Top three nations conceded no match loss. Russia won their first title as independent country winning just four matches and drawing five. USA came second ahead of Armenia. Participation of Georgian women (including legendary Nona Gaprindashvili) was no doubts one of highlights of this event. The 2001 tournament was won by superb Ukrainian team who denied the Russians. The 2005 Championship in Israel will be long remembered because of excellent play of unstoppable China and their awful mishap in the last round. Russia had to beat the Chinese by 3½-½ to outpace them and they did it! The next edition will take place in 2009, so medal winners from 2008 Olympiad and 2007 continental champions will qualify.

Winners: 3x Russia, 2x Soviet Union, 1x USA, 1x Ukraine




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