After coming back from a bad start in the World Team Championship and beating Ukraine yesterday in the match of the tournament, round 9 against the heavily outrated and winless Egyptian team should have been a near-triviality. Instead, it was a near-disaster. They drew their Black games easily enough, and Ian Nepomniachtchi took advantage over Samy Shoker's characteristically energetic but positionally careless style to grind out a win, but it was Vladimir Kramnik whose chess proved rather unwieldy.
His opponent, Mohamed Ezat, went for a queen sac line against Kramnik's Reti that looks exciting if you've never seen it before, but which is generally considered a way to suffer one's way to a draw - if all goes well. Indeed, Kramnik was not surprised and was probably winning, but somewhere around moves 25 and 26 (or both) he lost the thread, and soon it was only Ezat who could play for the win.
The game resolved itself into an ending after White's 35th move in which Kramnik had a queen and an a-pawn against a rook and two bishops, with both players having f-, g- and h-pawns. To win, Ezat needed to do one of two things: round up the a-pawn, or keep the a-pawn under control while going after White's f-pawn. Ultimately Ezat didn't manage to execute either aim, and Kramnik achieved enough counterplay to save the game. (As it turned out, the Russians would have won the gold on board points even if Kramnik had lost, but even that wasn't clear until fairly late as Ding Liren was pressing Mustafa Yilmaz before that game finished in a draw.)
In the meantime, the Chinese team defeated Turkey 3-1 and assured themselves of the silver, ahead of Ukraine on board points. To their credit, the Ukranians bounced back from yesterday's disappointment to defeat Armenia 2.5-1.5 thanks to Anton Korobov's victory over Vladimir Akopian.
With a win in that match the Armenians might have taken the bronze; instead, they finished behind the Americans (who drew their final match against the Dutch team) on tiebreaks.
And so another exciting event comes to a close, but chess fans don't have to wait long for the next big thing. The Shirov-Dubov match continues tomorrow, and the latest edition of the London Chess Classic starts on Saturday, with the "real" event starting Wednesday, December 11. (Among the participants are Kramnik, Anand, Nakamura, Caruana, Gelfand, Adams and Svidler.)