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Croatia Surprising Leader European Team Championship
Croatia leads in Crete after round 5. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com

Croatia Surprising Leader European Team Championship

Going into tomorrow's rest day, Croatia is the surprising sole leader at the European Team Championship in Greece. The team defeated Germany and saw co-leaders Armenia and Hungary play 2-2.

It's not the first country you would expect to see as the sole leader after five rounds, but Croatia it is. In their five matches, the 14th seeded team only lost one individual game, and especially Marin Bosiocic is doing great with 3.5/4.

Bo. 14 Croatia Rtg - 9 Germany Rtg 2½-1½
2/1 GM Saric, Ivan (w) 2662 - GM Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter (b) 2672 ½ - ½
2/2 GM Bosiocic, Marin (b) 2619 - GM Bluebaum, Matthias (w) 2643 1 - 0
2/3 GM Stevic, Hrvoje (w) 2616 - GM Fridman, Daniel (b) 2626 ½ - ½
2/4 GM Jankovic, Alojzije (b) 2575 - GM Svane, Rasmus (w) 2595 ½ - ½

The 29-year-old player from Rijeka, who happens to have a chess-themed birthday (8-8-'88!), scored the decisive point in the match with Germany today. That game, and also the match (since the other games had ended in draws already) saw a dramatic turnaround as Matthias Bluebaum was close to winning out of the opening (an exchange up!) but then completely blew it.

Just before the time control he chose the wrong square for his king and suddenly, to avoid mate, he had to give a full rook. What a disaster! With two pawns for the piece there was some hope for a draw, and indeed at some point Bosiocic let it slip, but Bluebaum failed to spot it. Double disaster.

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Marin Bosiocic, match winner for Croatia, next to Ivan Saric. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com

Bo. 7 Hungary Rtg - 6 Armenia Rtg 2-2
1/1 GM Leko, Peter (w) 2679 - GM Aronian, Levon (b) 2801 ½ - ½
1/2 GM Erdos, Viktor (b) 2624 - GM Movsesian, Sergei (w) 2671 ½ - ½
1/3 GM Rapport, Richard (w) 2686 - GM Sargissian, Gabriel (b) 2657 ½ - ½
1/4 GM Berkes, Ferenc (b) 2661 - GM Melkumyan, Hrant (w) 2642 ½ - ½

The other two teams on seven match points, Armenia and Hungary, tied 2-2, with little fireworks happening on the boards. The draw between Peter Leko and Levon Aronian was especially peaceful, but it is well known that the team captain of Armenia, GM Arshak Petrosian, is Leko's father-in-law. When it's not absolutely necessary, better not make the lady unhappy...

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Team captains GM Csaba Balogh and GM Arshak Petrosian shake hands after the 2-2 is on the score board. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com

Bo. 8 Poland Rtg - 16 Belarus Rtg 3-1
3/1 GM Wojtaszek, Radoslaw (w) 2737 - GM Zhigalko, Sergei (b) 2638 ½ - ½
3/2 GM Duda, Jan-Krzysztof (b) 2706 - GM Kovalev, Vladislav (w) 2636 ½ - ½
3/3 GM Piorun, Kacper (w) 2640 - GM Stupak, Kirill (b) 2578 1 - 0
3/4 GM Tomczak, Jacek (b) 2583 - GM Aleksandrov, Aleksej (w) 2588 1 - 0

Poland expectedly beat Belarus. On board three another 6...Qa5 Winawer French was beaten (remember Saric a few days ago?), this time by four-time five-time world champion in chess problem solving Kacper Piorun. His solving skills surely helped him to find his way in all the tactics today (and the pawn sac on e6 was nice!).

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A good win for Kacper Piorun (right) today. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com

Bo. 1 Russia Rtg - 18 Turkey Rtg 3½-½
4/1 GM Grischuk, Alexander (w) 2785 - GM Solak, Dragan (b) 2626 1 - 0
4/2 GM Nepomniachtchi, Ian (b) 2733 - GM Yilmaz, Mustafa (w) 2633 ½ - ½
4/3 GM Matlakov, Maxim (w) 2730 - GM Can, Emre (b) 2604 1 - 0
4/4 GM Dubov, Daniil (b) 2677 - GM Sanal, Vahap (w) 2549 1 - 0

Top seed Russia is back on track, and now among the teams trailing Croatia by a point. Today they didn't have problems with Turkey, and scored their biggest win so far. It was also the first win (after three draws) for board one Alexander Grischuk, who celebrated his 34th birthday yesterday. (It's hard to believe this man, who entered the world's top 20 in April 2002, is only 34.)

How he outplayed Dragan Solak in an endgame with only slightly more active pieces was impressive:

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Mouth watering endgame technique from Grischuk. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com

Bo. 2 Azerbaijan Rtg - 11 Czech Republic Rtg 3-1
5/1 GM Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar (w) 2791 - GM Navara, David (b) 2726 1 - 0
5/2 GM Radjabov, Teimour (b) 2741 - GM Laznicka, Viktor (w) 2654 ½ - ½
5/3 GM Naiditsch, Arkadij (w) 2702 - GM Stocek, Jiri (b) 2581 ½ - ½
5/4 GM Mamedov, Rauf (b) 2678 - GM Plat, Vojtech (w) 2551 1 - 0

Azerbaijan is the second seed, behind Russia, and still much in contention as well. The team beat Czech Republic convincingly, with two draws and two wins. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov scored his third win, and hasn't drawn a game in Crete yet. It was with both preparation and aggressive tactics that he defeated David Navara in trademark style:

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Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, next to Teimour Radjabov. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com 

Three more teams reached seven match points today: France, Israel and Romania. The French team scored a narrow 2.5-1.5 win vs Serbia, where board one Christian Bauer actually lost but Tigran Gharamian and Sebastien Maze scored points.

Bo. 17 Serbia Rtg - 12 France Rtg 1½-2½
6/1 GM Markus, Robert (w) 2644 - GM Bauer, Christian (b) 2647 1 - 0
6/2 GM Ivanisevic, Ivan (b) 2593 - GM Gharamian, Tigran (w) 2626 0 - 1
6/3 GM Perunovic, Milos (w) 2608 - GM Fressinet, Laurent (b) 2657 ½ - ½
6/4 GM Indjic, Aleksandar (b) 2591 - GM Maze, Sebastien (w) 2614 0 - 1

How Ivan Ivanisevic dropped a pawn was remarkable. Did he simply forget to trade on g3 first?

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Tigran Gharamian grabbed the pawn and held on to it. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com

Bo. 13 Georgia Rtg - 5 Israel Rtg 1½-2½
7/1 GM Jobava, Baadur (w) 2705 - GM Gelfand, Boris (b) 2737 ½ - ½
7/2 GM Mchedlishvili, Mikheil (b) 2604 - GM Rodshtein, Maxim (w) 2699 0 - 1
7/3 GM Pantsulaia, Levan (w) 2586 - GM Sutovsky, Emil (b) 2683 ½ - ½
7/4 GM Paichadze, Luka (b) 2580 - GM Nabaty, Tamir (w) 2661 ½ - ½

Israel recovered from their loss to Croatia, and especially Maxim Rodshtein, who was the one going down the other day. Using the rare 4.Bf4 vs the Pirc, eventually he decided the game in a bishop ending:

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Maxim Rodshtein, from match loser to match winner. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Bo. 10 Netherlands Rtg - 20 Romania Rtg 1½-2½
8/1 GM Giri, Anish (w) 2762 - GM Lupulescu, Constantin (b) 2620 1 - 0
8/2 GM l'Ami, Erwin (b) 2611 - GM Parligras, Mircea-Emilian (w) 2616 0 - 1
8/3 GM Sokolov, Ivan (w) 2603 - GM Deac, Bogdan-Daniel (b) 2560 ½ - ½
8/4 GM Van Foreest, Jorden (b) 2609 - GM Nevednichy, Vladislav (w) 2524 0 - 1

Romania managed to pull off an upset vs The Netherlands, despite a beatiful win for Anish Giri on board one, which included a long-term queen sacrifice. Just like against Eljanov, the Dutch number one got some kind of Zugzwang position, and commented: "Yeah, it's my favorite theme. My whole chess is one big Zugzwang."

(Giri also made an interesting comment about dynamic players like Bent Larsen and Mark Taimanov being ahead of their time because they were less dogmatic than many of their contemporaries!)

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Giri was ready for battle today. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

However, the so far very solid Erwin l'Ami lost his first game, and then Jorden van Foreest couldn't save his game vs Vladislav Nevednichy. Not a great day at the office for the Dutch.

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Van Foreest couldn't hold a difficult ending. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The women's tournament will be covered in a separate report by IM Jovanka Houska.

The European Team Championship takes place 28 October - 6 November in the Creta Maris Resort in Hersonissos, Crete, Greece. The Open section has 40 teams with in total 199 players, including 138 grandmasters.

Teams consist of four players but countries are allowed to bring one extra player. The tournament is a 9-round Swiss. The time control is 90 minutes for 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game, with a 30-second increment per move starting from move one. Draw offers are only allowed after move 30.

ETCC 2017 | Standings After Round 5

Rk. SNo Fed Team + = - TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4 TB5
1 14 Croatia 4 1 0 9 61 12 57,5 137,8
2 7 Hungary 3 2 0 8 70,5 13 55,5 143,8
3 1 Russia 4 0 1 8 63 12,5 57,5 141,8
4 6 Armenia 3 2 0 8 58,5 12 56,5 133,8
5 8 Poland 3 2 0 8 57 12,5 53 132,5
6 5 Israel 3 1 1 7 56 12 51,5 122,3
7 2 Azerbaijan 3 1 1 7 54,5 14,5 44,5 126,5
8 12 France 3 1 1 7 52,5 12 52 120
9 20 Romania 3 1 1 7 38,5 12 52,5 114,8
10 9 Germany 2 2 1 6 61 12,5 50 118,8
11 16 Belarus 3 0 2 6 56 12 52,5 116,8
12 3 Ukraine 3 0 2 6 51,5 13,5 46,5 119,8
13 15 Spain 2 2 1 6 44 10,5 57 115
14 4 England 2 2 1 6 41 11 45,5 97,8
15 18 Turkey 3 0 2 6 38,5 11 50,5 104,8
16 21 Slovenia 3 0 2 6 38 11 49,5 99,8
17 32 Finland 3 0 2 6 27,5 9 49,5 86,3
18 10 Netherlands 2 1 2 5 53,5 10,5 57 115,3
19 22 Italy 2 1 2 5 47,5 8 62,5 98,8
20 13 Georgia 2 1 2 5 46 11,5 52,5 116
21 11 Czech Republic 2 1 2 5 41,5 10,5 60,5 121
22 17 Serbia 2 1 2 5 41 12 47 100,8
23 23 Austria 2 1 2 5 18,5 8 50 60,5
24 19 Greece 1 2 0 3 4 40 11 47 89,3
25 34 Portugal 2 0 3 4 38,5 9 49,5 79,8
26 29 Greece 2 1 2 2 4 37 9 50,5 86
27 28 Slovakia 0 4 1 4 37 8,5 51,5 84,3
28 27 Iceland 2 0 3 4 31,5 8,5 50,5 77,3
29 26 Switzerland 2 0 3 4 31 10 44 75,5
30 31 Denmark 2 0 3 4 31 10 43 75,8
31 33 FYROM 1 2 2 4 28 9,5 40 72,8
32 25 Norway 1 1 3 3 36 8,5 51,5 83
33 24 Moldova 1 1 3 3 26,5 7,5 51,5 64
34 35 Faroe Islands 1 1 3 3 19 7,5 41,5 57,8
35 40 null Scotland 1 1 3 3 18 6,5 50 59,8
36 39 Greece - Crete 1 1 3 3 13 6 44 46,5
37 30 Montenegro 1 0 4 2 15 6,5 47,5 52,8
38 37 Albania 1 0 4 2 14,5 6 46 48,5
39 38 Kosovo* 1 0 4 2 12 6,5 38,5 45
40 36 Belgium 0 0 5 0 18,5 6 42,5 47,8

Top pairings for round six, on Friday: Hungary-Croatia, Poland-Russia, Armenia-Azerbaijan, Romania-Israel, Ukraine-France.

Download Tournament PGN

Games from TWIC.

 


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