PUNE: The finals of the chess.com Online Nations Cup 2020 was played between Team China and Team USA. China had already qualified to the finals with two rounds to spare, thanks to their dominating performance in the round robin part of the tournament, where they finished first after scoring 17 match points out of 20.
Their only loss came against USA itself in the last round of the qualifiers. Coming to the finals, as per the tournament rules, in case of a draw, the winner would be the team which was placed highest in the qualifiers. Thus China was in favourable position already before the match started, having draw odds and perhaps also seeking revenge for their only loss of the tournament .
China’s Yu Yangyi on board three played the game of the day against So Wesley, after having lost to the same opponent on the previous day. Wesley, playing black, suffered from poor development throughout the game.
After the 24th move, all of white’s pieces had been developed and ideally placed while, all of black’s queenside pieces were still in their initial positions. Vishy Anand, while joining the live commentary team, aptly described the situation, “It looks like Black has resigned and is setting up the board by bringing his pieces back to their original squares".
Yu Yangyi pounced upon black’s king by first sacrificing a knight on g5 and he culminated the attack with the beautiful 31. Kg2, clearing the path for his rook to come to the h file and deliver checkmate.
On board one Hikaru Nakamura agreed to a draw against Ding Liren from black, in a position where it looked like only black could play for a win. From a team point of view, this was a curious decision since by the time their game ended, it was clear that the third board result was going to be in China’s favour.
On board four USA’s Irina Krush did well to hold Former Women’s World Champion Hou Yifan to a draw. Fabiano Caruana equalised the score for USA by defeating Wei Yi from the white side of the Scandinavian defence. However, this win was sufficient only to draw the match, and the Chinese Team won the tournament.