European Chess Club Cup: Carlsen Escapes, Valerenga Sole Leader
Carlsen congratulates Grandelius as Valerenga beats Alkaloid. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

European Chess Club Cup: Carlsen Escapes, Valerenga Sole Leader

33 | Chess Event Coverage

Magnus Carlsen avoided losing to Ding Liren and dropping to number two in the world rankings, and then saw his team Valerenga grab sole lead at the European Club Cup as Nils Grandelius became the match winner.

It was an eventful day for the world champion. After missing a tactic, he was looking at a lost endgame vs Ding, and was almost certain of playing next month's world championship match as world number-two.

But things ended well for Carlsen, who managed to save the game and his rating, and then saw his team, fifth seed in Porto Carras, beating top seed Alkaloid. What an evening this group of friends must have had.

Olympic Hall Porto Carras

The venue in Porto Carras. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Carlsen had chosen the quiet Scotch Four Knights, and after the trade of queens the position was equal. Then, all of a sudden, he played the horrible 23.g4, a move that can be refuted in two ways, in fact.

Ding dominated the game from that moment, and Carlsen's position was hanging by a thread. The Norwegian GM was closer than ever to losing his number-one status, for the first time in seven years. But...Ding couldn't convert.

Ding, who did prolong his non-losing streak to 92 games, was Carlsen's second 2800 opponent in a row, as the match was Valerenga's second upset in a row. A boring draw on Tuesday for Carlsen vs Shakhriyar Mamedyarov was part of a narrow and 3.5-2.5 victory for his team against the strong Odlar Yurdu ("land of fires," a nickname for Azerbaijan).

Valerenga vs Odlar Yurdu

Valerenga vs Odlar Yurdu. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Borki Predojevic got lots of pats on the back from Carlsen and his teammates after deciding the match with the black pieces:

A day later it was Nils Grandelius who brought home the two match points for Valerenga in a match with draws on all other boards. Like Predojevic, the Swedish GM ground down his opponent in a long and difficult endgame:

Nils Grandelius European Club Cup

Grandelius congratulated by David Howell (and probably also the other way around). | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Beating both Odlar Yurdu and Alkaloid is already a tremendous achievement, and it means that the chess club from Valerenga (named after an Oslo neighborhood) is in sole lead with one round to go.

Valerenga ECCC 2018

Happy moments for Valerenga. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

In the final round, the team will face Mednyi Vsadnik of St. Petersburg. Carlsen will be playing the struggling Peter Svidler on board one. A terrible 0/3 became a horrific 0/4 for the eight-time Russian champion in round five as he blundered away a winning position in just one move—the infamous 41st.

A popular commentator when not playing, Svidler made his many fans happy again as he finally managed to win his round-six game:a 66-move fight where the last 22 moves involved an instructive two-vs-one rook endgame that was a draw from the start.

Peter Svidler beats Erik Blomqvist

Svidler vs Blomqvist, next to Nikita Vitiugov vs Johan Salomon. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Peter Svidler Magnus Carlsen

"I guess we'll be playing tomorrow?" | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

2018 European Club Cup | Round 6 Standings

Rk. SNo Fed Team TB1 TB2 TB3
1 5 Valerenga Sjakklubb 11 168,0 24,0
2 6 Obiettivo Risarcimento Padova 10 183,5 26,0
3 2 AVE Novy Bor 10 168,0 26,0
4 4 Mednyi Vsadnik St.Petersburg 10 158,0 26,5
5 7 Molodezhka 10 156,0 28,0
6 3 Odlar Yurdu 9 165,0 28,5
7 1 Alkaloid 9 163,5 25,5
8 8 Beer Sheva Chess Club 9 143,5 25,0
9 21 Eynatten 9 102,5 20,0
10 9 Itaka 8 118,0 22,0
11 22 Nordstrand Sjakklubb 8 108,5 20,5
12 29 Wood Green 8 99,5 21,0
13 27 CC Gambit Asseco SEE 8 92,5 19,5
14 24 BSG 8 91,5 21,0
15 15 Dunajska Streda 7 119,0 19,0
16 14 Schachgesellschaft Solingen 7 109,0 20,0
17 11 KGSRL 7 108,5 19,0
18 13 Sloven Ruma 7 108,0 23,0
19 10 SV Werder Bremen 7 107,5 20,0
20 12 Schachfreunde Berlin 1903 7 98,0 18,0

The women's section played the last regular round on Tuesday, and then the playoffs round on Wednesday.

Playing Hall Porto Carras Chess

The playing hall seen from the women's section. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

It's not a surprise that on Thursday the final will be played between Nona of Georgia (GM Nana Dzagnidze, GM Nino Batsiashvili, IM Lela Javakhishvili, GM Bela Khotenashvili and IM Salome Melia) vs Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo (GM Anna MuzychukGM Pia CramlingGM Monika SockoIM Deimante Cornette and IM Almira Skripchenko)

The best performer is still Cramling, who is on 5.5/6 and a splendid 2729 performance rating. Here's her endgame grind vs Pogonina:

Cramling Pogonina European Club Cup

Cramling, about to win against Pogonina. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

Almira Skripchenko Pia Cramling

Pia Cramling (right) with team captain Almira Skripchenko. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/

2018 European Club Cup (Women) | Round 6 Combined Standings

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

Games via TWIC.

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