European Chess Club Cup: Carlsen 4.3 Points Ahead Of Caruana
The handshake between Carlsen and Donchenko today. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

European Chess Club Cup: Carlsen 4.3 Points Ahead Of Caruana

| 51 | Chess Event Coverage

After drawing two games in a row at the European Club CupMagnus Carlsen saw his lead over Fabiano Caruana in the live ratings decrease to just 4.3 points. Alkaloid and Padova lead the championship after four rounds.

It shouldn't be the main story of the European Club Cup, but it is definitely one that a lot of fans are keeping an eye on. Carlsen playing the event, and putting his number-one status on the line, is something to follow now that the gap between the world number-one and two is so small.

Just one loss for Carlsen can tip the balance. 



As board one for Valerenga Sjakklub, Carlsen drew with Novy Bor's Radek Wojtaszek on Sunday (no fireworks there), and then faced DJK Aufwaerts Aachen's Alexander Donchenko on Monday.

Read our report on rounds one and two here.

The 20-year-old, Moscow-born German grandmaster held the world champion to a draw as the latter missed some chances:

Magnus Carlsen European Club Cup 2018

Carlsen, not in shorts anymore but wearing his regular suit and shirt with and sponsor logos. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

GM Simon Williams rightly reminded everyone that it's actually just great that Carlsen is playing in a social event like this, and willing to risk something that does matter to him, because playing is always better than not playing:

Carlsen won't be bothered too much anyway, as Valerenga eventually won the match 5-1. They're in shared third place behind two leaders: Obiettivo Risarcimento Padova and Alkaloid.

The day before, the Norwegian team had snatched a match point from the strong Novy Bor team. Being 2-3 down, David Howell saved the day on board two with a win in the far endgame vs Pentala Harikrishna

David Howell European Club Cup

Valerenga vs Novy Bor in round three. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Obiettivo Risarcimento Padova scored an easy 5.5-0.5 win vs Eynatten (Belgium) in round three, but today struggled to a 3.5-2.5 victory against Dunajska Streda. On board one, 2700-GM Wang Hao lost to IM Miklos Nemeth after failing to get an attack off the ground. It was Black who distracted him with his passed a-pawn, only to get a decisive attack himself later:

Wang Hao European Club Cup

Wang Hao (left) chatting with Peter Leko. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Board three Francisco Vallejo Pons, who skipped the Olympiad, won an excellent game with White. Black resigned early, but he's just helpless in the final position.


Paco Vallejo, back at the chessboard. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

The other leader, top seed Alkaloid, defeated Werder Bremen 5-1 on Sunday, and faced its first serious opponent today: Mednyi Vsadnik of St. Petersburg. Its top board, Peter Svidler, had a horrible start in Porto Carras as he lost all three games. Today it mattered, as Alkaloid ended up winning 3.5-2.5.

Meanwhile, Svidler's opponent Ding Liren hasn't lost a game in 13 months. His streak now runs 91 games, only four short of leveling Mikhail Tal's famous run in the early 1970s.

Another favorite, Odlar Yurdu of Azerbaijan, dropped its first match point today. Nijat Abasov moved to 4/4 on the last board, but veteran grandmaster Alexander Huzman, mostly active as Boris Gelfand's second, defeated Eltaj Safarli as Black:

Alexander Huzman European Club Cup

Alexander Huzman. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

2018 European Club Cup | Round 4 Standings

Rk. SNo Fed Team TB1 TB2 TB3
1 6 Obiettivo Risarcimento Padova 8 74,0 20,0
2 1 Alkaloid 8 63,0 20,0
3 3 Odlar Yurdu 7 81,0 20,5
4 5 Valerenga Sjakklubb 7 75,0 17,0
5 8 Beer Sheva Chess Club 7 70,0 18,0
6 2 AVE Novy Bor 7 67,5 19,5
7 4 Mednyi Vsadnik St.Petersburg 6 71,0 17,0
8 15 Dunajska Streda 6 58,0 15,5
9 7 Molodezhka 6 56,5 18,5
10 9 Itaka 6 49,0 16,0
11 11 KGSRL 6 46,0 14,0
12 20 Schachgesellschaft Zurich 6 42,5 14,5
13 22 Nordstrand Sjakklubb 6 39,0 15,0
14 19 Reykjavik Chess Club 6 39,0 13,5
15 21 Eynatten 6 39,0 13,0
16 35 Echiquier Amaytois 6 37,5 15,0
17 17 E.S. Thessalonikis 5 49,5 14,0
18 24 BSG 5 37,0 14,0
19 18 Schachgesellschaft Winterthur 5 36,0 12,5

The women's section is organized quite differently this year. The teams have been put in two groups of six, and play a round robin over five rounds. On days six, the highest team in group A (A1) plays the number-two in group B (B2), and so on: A1 vs B2, A2 vs B1, A3 vs B4, and A4 vs B3. The last day will see the finals.

In group A, team Nona (which is basically Georgia's national team) leads with four victories. The top clash so far was against Ugra (2.5-1.5) where IM Lela Javakhishvili defeated WGM Olga Girya in the winning game.

In group B, also one team started with four wins: Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo. Its top scorer is the 55-year-old GM Pia Cramling, who faced her strongest opponent in round four: IM Elisabeth Paehtz

Pia Cramling European Club Cup

Pia Cramling (left) chatting with Almira Skripchenko. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

2018 European Club Cup (Women) | Round 4 Combined Standings

SNo. Fed Team Games + = - Score
1 Nona 4 4 0 0 8
2 Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo 4 4 0 0 8
3 Caissa Italia Pentole Agnelli 4 2 1 1 5
4 Ugra 4 3 0 1 6
5 Kyiv Chess Federation 4 3 0 1 6
6 Odlar Yurdu 4 2 0 2 4
7 SSHOR 4 2 2 0 6
8 Mulhouse Philidor 4 1 1 2 3
9 Beer Sheva Chess Club 4 0 1 3 1
10 ZSK Maribor 4 0 1 3 1
11 Caissa Italia Banca Alpi Marittime 4 0 0 4 0
12 AMO Galaxias Thessaloniki 4 0 0 4 0

Games via TWIC.

Previous report:

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

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