World Chess Championship: Bright victories (including latest over USA) and disappointing defeats for Team Armenia

At the ending World Team Chess Championship in Bursa, Turkey, Armenia beat the strong USA team in the penultimate round, having already disposed of chess grand Israel, held chess powerhouses Russia and India to a draw, beaten historical foe Turkey (in a revanche of sorts for soccer), but, disappointedly, lost to regional archrival Azerbaijan.

In Armenia v USA on Tuesday, Armenian grandmaster Levon Aronyan beat Nakamura Hikaru on the first board, while his teammates drew their games, giving Armenia an overall 2 ½ to 1 ½ victory.

With the final round in progress today, Armenia is fifth with 17.5 points among ten teams participating in the tournament. The leader is Russia with 21 points, followed by the United States (19.5 points), Azerbaijan (20.5 points) and India (17.5 points). Armenia’s opponent in the closing round is Egypt. Other pairs include Azerbaijan v USA, Israel v Russia, Brazil v India and Greece v Turkey.

Team Armenia (led by current N5 FIDE ranked player Aronyan and including GMs Vladimir Hakobyan, Gabriel Sargsyan and Arman Pashikyan on the 2nd to 4th boards, with two reserve players Tigran L. Petrosyan and Tigran Kotanjyan) has unpredictably during the current championship, alternating bright performance with incomprehensible failures. The team that won the last two World Chess Olympiads (2006 and 2008) suffered a disappointing defeat from archrival Azerbaijan in the opening round.

Then the Armenian chessmen recovered by staging a series of victories over Israel, Turkey and Brazil and a draw with one of the favorites of the tournament, India.

Armenia dropped crucial points that cost it the prospect of gold in Round 6, losing to the undistinguished Greece team. An incomprehensibly crushing defeat from the Hellenic team, 1-3, pushed Team Armenia to fifth position.

The draw against Russia and the win over Team USA in Rounds 7 and 8 offered an opportunity for Armenia to win bronze or even silver (if things go Armenia’s way in the last round), which, however, will still be beneath the expectations of Armenian fans spoilt by their favorite team’s gold performances of late.