x
Chess - Play & Learn

Chess.com

FREE - In Google Play

FREE - in Win Phone Store

VIEW
Azerbaijan Wins Gold Amidst Controversy
Gold for Azerbaijan. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Azerbaijan Wins Gold Amidst Controversy

Azerbaijan played 2-2 vs Ukraine and had some scary moments as Russia beat Germany 3-1 and reached the same amount of match points. At the end of the day the tiebreak worked out well for the Azerbaijani, who won gold at the European Team Championship but not without a controversy about arranged draws.

The final day in Hersonissos was a dramatic one. After beating Russia convincingly on Sunday, most fans expected Azerbaijan to take fate in its own hands, win against Ukraine and secure the gold medals. But it went a bit differently.

Bo. 2 Azerbaijan Rtg - 3 Ukraine Rtg 2-2
1/1 GM Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar (w) 2791 - GM Eljanov, Pavel (b) 2720 ½ - ½
1/2 GM Radjabov, Teimour (b) 2741 - GM Kryvoruchko, Yuriy (w) 2692 ½ - ½
1/3 GM Naiditsch, Arkadij (w) 2702 - GM Ponomariov, Ruslan (b) 2687 ½ - ½
1/4 GM Mamedov, Rauf (b) 2678 - GM Kuzubov, Yuriy (w) 2690 ½ - ½

After several hours of play, the Kryvoruchko-Radjabov and Kuzubov-Mamedov games had ended in (fairly balanced) draws. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov had failed to get an initiative going vs Pavel Eljanov and was defending a worse position. A draw seemed the most likely result though, and Arkadij Naiditsch had reached a winning position with brilliant play. 

Everything seemed to be going Azerbaijan's way...but then something happened.

null

The start of the Azerbaijan-Ukraine match.

Sources told Chess.com that they saw the two team captains, GM Eltaj Safarli for Azerbaijan and GM Alexander Sulypa for Ukraine, talking to each other and then approaching the chief arbiter. Then, almost at the same time, a draw was agreed in the last two games that were still going, and the match ended 2-2.

Over the last few decades it has been quite common in chess that draws among several boards at team events were "negotiated" by team captains. A famous story is about the match between Netherlands and Russia at the Thessaloniki Olympiad in 1988 when, not long after the start, all of a sudden Russian-born Genna Sosonko stopped all four clocks. Nobody protested.

The chief arbiter in Crete, Takis Nikolopoulos, couldn't comment to Chess.com as to whether the captains had made an agreement because he didn't see such a thing. Russia's Alexander Grischuk, who had finished his game, witnessed the moment and then joined the live broadcast, saying "I cannot speak about this."

Video footage shows Safarli and Sulypa shaking hands when Mamedyarov-Eljanov had been agreed to a draw, but before Naiditsch-Ponomariov ended.

The "proof" of this story was still somewhat thin, until Ian Nepomniachtchi tweeted about it:

The controversy didn't blow up to a full scandal because the final positions in both games were drawn. However, especially in Naiditsch-Ponomariov, White could have played on a bit more, and Black needed to find some accurate moves.

Here's the game—after brilliant opening and middlegame play (where Naiditsch might have been helped by the fact that he once beat Magnus Carlsen in a very similar structure!) he let his opponent slip away:

null

During the broadcast Grischuk felt that 3-1 might be just enough for Russia to overtake Azerbaijan in the standings, but it wasn't. The tiebreak rule, which kept the Azeri's in first place, was the "Olympiad-Sonneborn-Berger-Tie-Break without lowest result," meaning that big victories against lower-ranked teams matter less than wins against direct competitors.

Bo. 9 Germany Rtg - 1 Russia Rtg 1-3
2/1 GM Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter (w) 2672 - GM Grischuk, Alexander (b) 2785 ½ - ½
2/2 GM Meier, Georg (b) 2655 - GM Nepomniachtchi, Ian (w) 2733 0 - 1
2/3 GM Bluebaum, Matthias (w) 2643 - GM Vitiugov, Nikita (b) 2728 0 - 1
2/4 GM Fridman, Daniel (b) 2626 - GM Matlakov, Maxim (w) 2730 ½ - ½

Both Ian Nepomniachtchi and Nikita Vitiugov won their games in rook endgames. It seems that Meier was quite close to the draw:

null

Ian Nepomniachtchi won a long game vs Georg Meier. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Azerbijan won the title for the third time, after victories in 2009 in Novi Sad and 2013 in Warsaw, and silver in 2011 in Porto Carras (behind Germany, who still had Naiditsch in their team!). In 2009 and 2011 the late Vugar Gashimov was part of the team—no doubt the players will be thinking about him tonight as well.

null

The winning team (without Teimour Radjabov, who did not attend the ceremony) and the media. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Two countries in the top 10 outperformed positively. First Croatia, who was 14th seeded and finished fourth after beating Turkey in the last round. As Nepomniachtchi pointed out in his tweet, if Naiditsch had beaten Ponomariov, Croatia would have won bronze instead of Ukraine.

Bo. 18 Turkey Rtg - 14 Croatia Rtg 1½-2½
3/1 GM Solak, Dragan (w) 2626 - GM Saric, Ivan (b) 2662 0 - 1
3/2 GM Yilmaz, Mustafa (b) 2633 - GM Bosiocic, Marin (w) 2619 0 - 1
3/3 GM Can, Emre (w) 2604 - GM Stevic, Hrvoje (b) 2616 1 - 0
3/4 GM Sanal, Vahap (b) 2549 - GM Martinovic, Sasa (w) 2565 ½ - ½

Here's Ivan Saric beating Dragan Solak on board one, using an interesting, long-term pawn sacrifice in a Sicilian:

null

Croatia finished in an excellent fourth place. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Then there was Romania, who was 20th seeded and finished in seventh place after beating Spain in the final round.

Bo. 15 Spain Rtg - 20 Romania Rtg 1½-2½
5/1 GM Anton Guijarro, David (w) 2651 - GM Lupulescu, Constantin (b) 2620 1 - 0
5/2 GM Salgado Lopez, Ivan (b) 2629 - GM Parligras, Mircea-Emilian (w) 2616 0 - 1
5/3 GM Lopez Martinez, Josep Manuel (w) 2607 - GM Deac, Bogdan-Daniel (b) 2560 ½ - ½
5/4 GM Korneev, Oleg (b) 2557 - GM Szabo, Gergely-Andras-Gyula (w) 2563 0 - 1

Armenia's 12th place was rather disappointing but it was partly because of a 2-2 vs Serbia in the final round, when a certain top GM was given rest. If Levon Aronian is not playing in the final round, you know something went wrong with Armenia.

England cannot be happy either, finishing in 16th place as the fourth seeded team. All players dropped rating points and a total of 47.9 points was donated to other countries.

The best individual performance was achieved by Rauf Mamedov, board four for the winning team Azerbaijan. He scored 8/9, a 2920(!) performance rating and won 22.8 Elo points.

Norway's IM Johan-Sebastian Christiansen played a remarkable tournament. He didn't draw a single game, scored 6/9 and reached a performance rating of exactly 2600 which was just good enough for a GM norm over nine rounds. IM Filip Pancevski of Macedonia also scored a GM norm over nine rounds.

ETCC 2017 | Standings After Round 9

Rk. SNo Fed Team + = - TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4 TB5
1 2 Azerbaijan 6 2 1 14 230 25 174 136,25
2 1 Russia 7 0 2 14 217,5 22 185,5 138
3 3 Ukraine 6 1 2 13 210 23 172 120
4 14 Croatia 6 1 2 13 170 18,5 177 123
5 7 Hungary 5 2 2 12 233 22,5 184 116,5
6 5 Israel 5 2 2 12 172 20 173,5 114,5
7 20 Romania 5 2 2 12 166,5 20,5 175,5 110,5
8 9 Germany 4 3 2 11 208,5 21 171 102
9 10 Netherlands 5 1 3 11 180,5 20 179,5 109,25
10 8 Poland 4 3 2 11 180 20,5 173,5 102,5
11 18 Turkey 5 1 3 11 170 19,5 168,5 101
12 6 Armenia 3 4 2 10 179 19 186 99
13 15 Spain 3 4 2 10 162,5 19,5 175 94
14 11 Czech Republic 4 2 3 10 152 19 174,5 89
15 22 Italy 4 2 3 10 150,5 16,5 181 99,5
16 4 England 3 4 2 10 147,5 18 171,5 92
17 28 Slovakia 3 4 2 10 126,5 18 162 86,75
18 16 Belarus 4 1 4 9 169,5 20 170 78,5
19 13 Georgia 4 1 4 9 160,5 19 165,5 77,25
20 12 France 4 1 4 9 154 18,5 174 82,25
21 21 Slovenia 4 1 4 9 149 19,5 165 74,75
22 17 Serbia 3 3 3 9 147,5 20,5 154,5 71
23 25 Norway 4 1 4 9 135,5 18,5 149,5 72,5
24 23 Austria 4 1 4 9 102 15,5 173 76
25 19 Greece 1 4 0 5 8 148 20 149 54
26 29 Greece 2 2 4 3 8 128 17 156,5 63,75
27 27 Iceland 4 0 5 8 119 18 157 59
28 33 FYROM 3 2 4 8 116 18,5 138,5 59,25
29 24 Moldova 3 2 4 8 112,5 17 153 56,5
30 26 Switzerland 3 2 4 8 111 18 148 62
31 32 Finland 3 1 5 7 106 14 164,5 63,25
32 30 Montenegro 3 1 5 7 79 16,5 141,5 41
33 39 Greece - Crete 2 3 4 7 76,5 13,5 147,5 50,5
34 31 Denmark 3 0 6 6 103 16,5 144 38,5
35 34 Portugal 3 0 6 6 83 14 149 36,5
36 35 Faroe Islands 2 2 5 6 80,5 14,5 143 39,25
37 36 Belgium 2 1 6 5 83,5 15 135,5 31,25
38 40 Scotland 2 1 6 5 57,5 11 144 36,25
39 37 Albania 2 0 7 4 60 12 140,5 21,5
40 38 Kosovo* 1 0 8 2 56 10,5 133 15

null

Top performances on board one: 1. Levon Aronian (4.5/7), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (5/8), David Navara (6/9). | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

null

Top performers on board two: 1. Marin Bosiocic (6/8), 2. Teimour Radjabov (5.5/8; prize collected by Eltaj Safarli), 3. Jan-Krzysztof Duda (6/9)

nullTop performers on board three: 1. Nikita Vitiugov (4.5/6), 2. Gabriel Sargissian (6.5/9), 3. Kacper Piorun (6/9). | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

null

Top performers on board four: 1. Rauf Mamedov, 2. Maxim Matlakov, 3. Zoltan Almasi. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

null

Top performers for board five: 1. Rasmus Svane (5.5/7), 2. Carlos Ibarra (4/6), 3. Jorden van Foreest (5/7). | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Download Tournament PGN

Games from TWIC.


Previous reports:

Online Now