Adams, Laznicka, Werle lead European Union Ch

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
At the European Union Championships in Liverpool two Dutch GMs are to be found on boards 1 and 2 today. Jan Werle plays top seed Michael Adams while Erwin L'Ami faces the young Czech GM Viktor Laznicka. Again we have Manuel Weeks reporting.

The eighth round mark has been reached in the European Union Championships currently being held in Liverpool without too many dramas but thankfully many interesting games. The organising team has been happy at all the interest shown in the large online audience watching the games live of their favourite players.

There has been some spectacular games where guessing the previous moves would have been a worthy puzzle. Witness the position of Lawrence Trent versus Vassilious Kotronias and try to reconstruct how to reach such a position where the white rook and bishop have come behind enemy lines with all 8 pawns still on the board!

After 7 rounds we have three leaders who have all reached their score of 6 /7 in different ways. Tournament favourite England's own Michael Adams has been fighting the long drawn out battles, forever trying to squeeze that extra half point, never in danger of losing, a classy player in every way.

Yesterday he reached a slight edge against Luxemburg's Alberto David and gently increased the pressure and built up his position until there it became untenable. The two young guns alongside him on the crosstable have come through in different ways. Viktor Laznicka from the Czech Republic has been solid throughout and yesterday was the recipient of some good fortune when up and coming English star David Howell had a mind blackout when he overstepped the time limit at move 25 (!) in a not overly complicated position.

Dutch GM Jan Werle has been our all or nothing man - six wins, one loss no draws. He had an unfortunate moment when in trying to win a Black side of an exchange Spanish (against Langrock) he sacrificed a piece for some dangerous passed pawns and rejected the repetiton of moves only to find himself lost. Since then he has simply done everything in his power to avoid the draw.

Yesterday he played a wild game against Germany's Daniel Fridman where first he sacrificed a piece and later it was raised to a rook. He always had some initiative for it but I am sure the computers would not be impressed. Fridman had one moment for a clear path to victory after 36.d5, Jan mentioned he held his heart in his hands since he saw that 36...Rxe5 would result in a lost position for him but after missing this the position even while still being a piece down became increasingly hard to play for Fridman. Werle suddenly reached a position where he realized not only that he wasn't losing but he was better. His reward now is to meet Adams on board one.

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"459","attributes":{"class":"media-image","typeof":"foaf:Image","height":"344","width":"425","style":""}}]] Here's a quick glimpse of play during round 7

Erwin L'Ami is all alone half a point behind on 5.5 / 7 and will push hard today as White against Laznicka. The young Dutch players have been clearly enjoying their time in Liverpool and L'Ami won a very complicated game against the ever creative grandmaster Sarunas Sulskis from Latvia. L'Ami seemed to have improved on theory with 14.Qe4 and the position deserves close attention. The Dutch GM has been lurking quietly behind the leaders but make no mistake they are all sharp ambitious players who can defeat anyone on their day.

There were many impressive games played yesterday. All worthy candidates for game of the day. Demolitions by grandmasters Peter Wells and Mark Hebden of international masters Sam Collins and Eva Moser were two standout games. Wells sacrificed the exchange for long term pressure till he could get at blacks King while Hebden was rather more direct in a 19 move Phillidor where he first sacrificed a bishop on h6 and crowed the game with a rook deflection sacrifice on d6 for an attractive minature.

There are always players in the hunt for the coveted grandmaster title and in Liverpool the two players who are closing in on their final norms to reach this milestone are France's Thal Abergel and Scotland's Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant. Abergel has been solid once he reached his desired plus score and will defend his position. Arakhamia-Grant won yesterday against England's Danny Gormally in a sharp Sicilian Najdorf to also come within striking distance.

There still has not been an outright leader and with three rounds to go it would be easy to say Adams is still favourite but in such a strong open event any one of the many strong players like Etienne Bacrot, Nigel Short or Maxime Vachier-Lagrave could win the last few rounds and become EU champion themselves. Or maybe a young Dutch star could break through and win his first major event?

A small additition by your editor-in-chief:

You might remember 19-year-old Ali Bitalzadeh, the 2310 rated FM who finished first at the Dutch Open Ch in July, ahead of 6 GMs and 7 IMs, scoring his third IM and first GM norm.

At the EU Ch Bitalzadeh had a great start with 4 out of 5, beating two GMS and drawing two. He then lost two games in a row, but he still has a good chance to score his second GM norm while officially he's not even an IM yet! Here's his draw against France's finest, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave:


Tournament hall (boards 1-22)

Round 4: Nigel Short - Robert Ris

Round 6: Tiger Hillarp Persson - Sergey Tiviakov

Round 7: Michael Adams versus David Alberto

Temporarily the strongest FM in the world? - Ali Bitalzadeh

Jan Werle, another Dutchman in good form

Photos ?Ǭ© John Saunders, editor-in-chief British Chess Magazine


"^Reports^^^1221587463^1314785601^manuel "Hou Yifan escapes again"^"After a miraculous escape yesterday, also in the third game of the Women World Championship Final, Hou Yifan managed to draw an ending that seemed completely lost. Alexandra Kosteniuk needs a 4th game to prove that she's the strongest in Nalchik.

Photo: Ilya Akhobekov | ?Ǭ© FIDE

Again Hou Yifan didn't play very convincingly with the white pieces and from a pawn up (with good compensation for Kosteniuk, though) she ended up in an ending with a pawn down. Although she missed a few opportunities to draw the game earlier, the 14-year-old Chinese defended the rook ending superbly to a draw. Here's the fascinating third game of the match:

A few hours after the game Kosteniuk probably still wonders how such a young and slender Chinese body can be packed with so much fighting spirit, but it is the case: Hou Yifan simply refuses to give up without a fight and thus she gained herself a fourth game. A must-win, to reach the tiebreaks, but normally Kosteniuk should be able to score at least a draw with White. If she's able to forget all those missed wins.

A handshake before the third game of the final

Alexandra Kosteniuk concentrating before the start of the game
Hou Yifan writing on her score sheet, surrounded by photographers... Photos Ilya Akhobekov ?Ǭ© FIDE
...yes, many photographers! | Photo Evgeny Atarov ?Ǭ© FIDE

Scores, Final:

Nat. Name Rtg
RUS Kosteniuk, Alexandra 2510
CHN Hou, Yifan 2557


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