BEERSHEBA, Israel (AP) — Russia captured the world chess team championship Thursday with a last-minute, come-from-behind victory over the surprising Chinese team.
The two teams had been battling for the top spot since the tournament began Nov. 1, with the Russians edging ahead on the tournament's final day by winning its last three matches against the Chinese. Russia finished with 22 points, followed by China with 21.5 points.
The former Soviet Union traditionally dominated the sport, and its former republics have continued to lead the field since the bloc collapsed.
China came into the tournament as a heavy underdog, but led throughout the tournament before collapsing against the Russians on the final day with a tie and three losses.
China was seeking its first championship ever, but the team's coach, Ye Tiangchuan, said the second-place finish was still considered an astounding achievement.
The team championships were held in the desert city of Beersheba, which has the highest number of chess grand masters per capita in the world, most immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Israel owes them much of its success in the sport — finishing fifth in the world in the last Olympics.
The players on the nine competing teams included a 10-year-old Chinese girl and a 15-year-old Ukrainian boy.
Armenia finished in third place, followed by Ukraine, the United States, Israel, Georgia, Cuba and the Chinese women's team, the first time a woman's team has competed against men.