EuroTrip - Early May Edition

GM Illingworth
May 2, 2016, 2:26 AM |

This month has come to an exciting start with several strong tournaments either kicking off or winding up in the last few days! If you liked the 2004 film 'EuroTrip', you will love going around and enjoying the highlights in this post :)

Now we know that looking at pictures of a place isn't the same as actually going there, but in many cases you can still get into the spirit of a tournament without actually being there, thanks to the excellent live coverage and commentary provided by various chess websites, not least! And when you arrive at the tournament hall, there are so many boards to look at and you can only follow one properly at a time. Isn't it easier when someone picks out the most interesting game for you?

Okay, let's pack our bags, bring the camera along, and start our journey!

The Four Nations Chess League (4NCL), Birmingham, England. 

Accommodation: Holiday Inn Birmingham Airport.

Staying in such a lovely hotel, and as part of a great chess team, how could you not relax and play a good game of chess? 

Going into the last round (at 8pm Sydney time tonight), two teams are head and shoulders above the rest - Cheddleton and Guildford, with a score of 10 match points each! And to make things more exciting, they face each other in the last round!

While a certain group of chess players may be begging for me to show a loss of Nigel Short (representing Guildford), I will respect his wish to not have his losses published anymore, and instead share the following game by French GM Romain Edouard, not least for his opening idea:

Maybe this will convince you Dutch Defence devotees to ditch and learn a main line opening? Jokes aside, our team's benefactor will only pay us, a seasoned veteran on the circuit, for the nights where we play for their team, so let's search for new hunting grounds...

Hasselbacken Open, Stockholm, Sweden.


Indeed, what better way to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Stockholm's Chess Society than by playing in the same room as the likes of GMs Dmitry Andreikin, Alexei Shirov and many other 2600+ Grandmasters? Maybe you will even get to play one of them! 

And in that game, of course we want to at least give them a good run for our money. So let's play a solid London System, and let them bang their head against our brick wall! We've even made our own Bermuda Triangle from the b2-pawn to the f2-pawn all the way up to d4; what's not to like?

In our example, White has just played 8.Nf3-h4, attacking our bishop on f5. What are we going to do about this errant knight?

It will be some time before the big match-ups in this event, so let's take a plane to the former USSR...

Batumi FIDE Women's Grand Prix, Batumi, Georgia. 

The last round of this event is being played as I write, so let's hurry to get there before we miss out!
Already we have an outright winner in Russian GM Valentina Gunina, who stands on a 7/10 score at the time of writing. Of all her games in the tournament, this one would have to be the most exciting, showing her usual dynamic, enterprising style:

We shouldn't forget there is excellent prize money for the top female players in these tournaments, and therefore many of them bring along 'seconds' to help them for the tournament. The role of a 'second' in chess is to help a player with their opening preparation and make accurate observations about each opponent based on their games.

Finally, let's stop off at the strongest chess nation, at a city also along the Black Sea...

Russian Team Championship, Sochi, Russia.

This tournament has a slightly unusual format this time, with five teams participating in a double round-robin to decide who has the strongest team in Russia! Like with the 4NCL, the players are paid by the wealthy benefactors of clubs to play for them, and this represents one of the main sources of income for a professional chess player. (Trust me, it's less stressful being a chess coach!) 

Now you probably think that 2700 GMs never make tactical mistakes, right? Well, they do as well, just not as often as the rest of us! So let's take our opportunity to play better than a top GM at least once in our life...

Black has just played the tricky move 19...Qe5-d6 in this position. How are you going to respond?


That's all for today! I hope you enjoyed the EuroTrip, and please fill out our feedback form for what you liked about the tour, and how we can make it even better!