By Tony Rich
[imagefield_assist|fid=1756|preset=fullsize|lightbox=true|title=|desc=From left: Yuri Shulman, Alexander Onischuk and Hikaru Nakamura squared off against the Turkish team in round one. Varuzhan Akobian (not pictured) also played in round one.|link=none|align=left|width=360|height=240]BURSA, TURKEY -- The U.S. made an impression in the first round of the World Team Championship with a convincing victory over Turkey.
When discussing round one with GM Ben Finegold just hours before it was to start, he predicted a 3-1 victory for the U.S. team; Finegold's clairvoyance proved to be accurate as GMs Hikaru Nakamura, Alexander Onischuk and Varuzhan Akobian each scored fine victories. In the Akobian game, Baris Esen walked into excellent team preparation from the U.S. and never really recovered.
Unfortunately, Yuri Shulman missed an opportunity for an advantage in time trouble (21... Nc6! instead of 21... f5) and succumbed to a strong kingside attack.
In addition to the U.S. vs. Turkey match, another important match to follow was Armenia vs. Azerbaijan. In a surprising defeat, Armenia capitulated on board three and lost the match 2.5-1.5. Armenia, who has won the last two Olympiads, typically does well in team events so they are sure to come back with a vengeance in round two.
Egypt was routed by Israel in a 3-1 defeat and will face a tough round two opponent in Brazil. Both Ahmed Adly and Bassem Amin held their own against their Israeli opponents, but Mohamed Ezat and Khaled Abdel Razik were struggling from the beginning against the higher-rated Emil Sutovsky and Evgeny Postny. All other matches ended as ratings would predict: India 2.5 - 1.5 over Greece and Russia 2.5 - 1.5 atop Brazil.
The Americans are taking their win today in stride and are sure to fight hard every round. The two key face-offs will occur in rounds three and eight, where the U.S. will battle Russia and Armenia respectively. Remember that you can always follow the games live at the official site - wtcc2009.tsf.org.tr and find Grandmaster analysis, photos and reports at saintlouischessclub.org and uschess.org.
The time control is 40/90 followed by G/30 with a 30-second increment from move one. The event is scored based on match points; however, the first tie-break is game points, so every victory counts. When asked just how important individual game victories are, Nakamura said: "We need to think first about winning each match. I'm confident in each team member's ability to win games."
Round two starts at 8 a.m. EST. The U.S. faces India in what is sure to be a nail-biter. To their detriment, the Indian team is without a number of their top players, including World Champion Vishy Anand as he prepares for Corus.
What will the U.S. team have in store tomorrow? Who will play, and what is their preparation? While I'm not clairvoyant, I predict that all will become clear soon!