European Club Cup: SOCAR Takes Revenge, Batumi Leads Women's Section

European Club Cup: SOCAR Takes Revenge, Batumi Leads Women's Section

| 10 | Chess Event Coverage

Last year it lost, but today SOCAR of Azerbaijan took revenge and beat Novy Bor of Czech Republic to grab sole lead at the European Clup Cup in Bilbao.

In the women's section, Batumi of Georgia keeps on winning. Wednesday was a rest day for the Masters Final, although the four participants did get a bit tired!

Before moving on to the European Club Cup, let's start with what was a brief but fun morning activity for the four participants of the Masters Final. 

Organized by the Herri Kirolak Federation of Biscay and the City Hall of Bilbao, Viswanathan Anand, Levon Aronian, Ruslan Ponomariov and Paco Vallejo participated in a competition that consisted of a combination of three events, called lokotxak, txingas and soka-tira — Basque rural sports, rooted in the traditional lifestyles of the Basque people.

During the first round of lokotxak and txingas, Ponomariov defeated Anand, being seven seconds faster.

However, Aronian and Vallejo both managed to finish under the Ukrainian's time, and so they both qualified for the final. Vallejo then beat Aronian in soka-tira to win the overall competition.

He won a trophy representing an aizkolari (wood-chopping) hard at work, while his three rivals got several acknowledging trophies, such as an harrijazotzaile lifting a rock.

European Clup Cup

Whereas it suffered a surprising loss against the same opponents last year, SOCAR this time defeated Novy Bor in what was the match between the two tournament leaders.

Shakhriyar Mayedarov faced a very solid Radek Wojtaszek in a game that was always equal. Anish Giri scored the first point for the Azeris and was warmly congratulated by Vladimir Tukmakov, who is SOCAR's team captain but also Giri's personal coach.

From a slightly worse position, Laznicka tried to create something on the queenside but it completely backfired:

With this victory the young Dutchman climbed even further in the rankings; in the live list he's now world number nine!

Anish Giri moves up in the rankings.

Teimour Radjabov often plays quiet systems with White these days, but for this game he had apparently prepared something. An English Attack came on the board, the position got very sharp and and he outsmarted his opponent in the complications.

Veselin Topalov beat David Navara as Black, and so Wang Hao's loss against Mateusz Bartel didn't matter anymore: 4-2 for SOCAR.

SOCAR, the only team with four wins.

Obiettivo Risarcimento is another serious candidate for winning the cup this year, and in round four, Beer Sheva of Israel was put aside: 4.5-1.5. Fabiano Caruana scored a smooth win to decrease his gap with Magnus Carlsen in the live ratings to less than 25 points:

Caruana and Nakamura on top boards for Obiettivo Risarcimento.

Maxim Rodshtein played a fine game against Hikaru Nakamura but lost the control at some point. The ending looked drawish, but it turned out to be quite difficult to defend in practice. In the end it was RN vs RR, but the knight would always be trapped.

Etienne Bacrot found a nice combination in a double rook ending:

Malakhite beat St Petersburg 4-2 with four draws and two wins, both scored with the black pieces: Alexander Grischuk beat Leinier Dominguez, and Vladimir Malakhov won against Sergei Movsesian. Look how Grischuk turns a drawish rook ending into a win thanks to more active pieces:

Two more teams are on seven match points: Odlar Yourdu of Azerbaijan and Ladya of Russia. The second Azeri team has ACP President Emil Sutovsky on board one, and he defeated Arkadij Naiditsch in an extremely sharp game. 

Ladya also has a strong GM on board one: Gata Kamky, who won his game against Markus Ragger in a deep ending to secure both match points for his team:

Kamsky vs Ragger.

European Clup Cub | Open section | Round 4 Standings (Top 20)

Rk Team Fed MatPnt SB1_MG GamPnt Buc_G SB_GM
1 SOCAR Azerbaijan AZE 8 81.5 19 59 118
2 Obiettivo Risarcimento ITA 7 61.5 18.5 49.5 86
3 Malakhite RUS 7 59 16 57 99
4 Odlar Yourdu AZE 7 53.5 17 50 84.5
5 Ladya RUS 7 49.5 15.5 52.5 90
6 G-Team Novy Bor CZE 6 74 18.5 55 72
7 SHSM Nashe Nasledie RUS 6 50.5 15.5 55.5 73
8 SK Hohenems AUT 6 49 15 48 67.5
9 Huginn Chessclub ISL 6 43 17 45 58
10 Haladas VSE HUN 6 43 14.5 43 59
11 Minsk BLR 6 39.5 16.5 47.5 69
12 SK Rockaden SWE 6 39 13.5 53 69
13 SG Solingen GER 5 60.5 15.5 58 68
14 SPB RUS 5 59 13 66 81.5
15 Beer Sheva ISR 5 51.5 15 57.5 62
16 KSK47-Eynatten BEL 5 45.5 14 55 61
17 Schachfreunde Berlin GER 5 39 14.5 41 43
18 SV Muelheim Nord GER 5 34 16 34.5 39.5
19 Royal Salzburg AUT 5 34 15 36.5 33
20 SK Team Viking SWE 5 23.5 12 48.5 48

(Full standings here)

The Batumi Chess Club "Nona" also won its fourth match in the women’s section.

On Wednesday, the Georgian ladies were too strong for Ugra of Russia: 2.5-1.5. Ladya, also from Russia, is in clear second place after beating Israel’s Rishon Letzion.

Batumi vs Ugra was a hard-fought match with tough battles on all four boards. Only Marina Guseva and Nino Batsiashvili drew their game on board four, but the other three games ended decisively.

Nana Dzagnidze was the first to win her game on board one against Anna Ushenina. In a QB vs QB ending she made the most of the black squares and won with an attack on the king.

Ugra vs Batumi, just before the start of the match.

Baira Kovanova soon leveled the score; she was only a pawn up but Salome Melia’s king lacked enough protection. It came down to the game Bela Khotenashvili vs Natalija Pogonina, one of the last games still underway in an almost empty playing hall.

Khotenashvili easily won a queen ending with two connected passed pawns to secure both match points.

Only one team is trailing Batumi by two points: Ladya, who beat Rishon Letzion of Israel. Shlomit Vardi, rated 1957, managed to draw with Ekaterina Atalik (2421) in that match. Playing without Hou Yifan, Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo crushed Herzliya Chess Club 4-0.

The third Russian team, SHSM Nashe Nasledie, dropped a match point against SC Bad Konigshofen. Valentina Gunina and Elisabeth Pähtz drew their game and so did Alexandra Kosteniuk and Lilit Mkrtchian. Ekaterina Kovalevskaya then scored against Maria Schoene, but Olga Giriya couldn’t save herself against Anastasia Savina in a knight ending.

A friendly atmosphere at the start, a fierce battle ahead.

Tomorrow’s fifth round will see the leaders from Georgia facing runner-up Ladya, so that should be an exciting and match!

European Clup Cup | Women's section | Round 4 Standings

Rk Team Fed MatPnt SB1_MG GamPnt SB_GM
1 Batumi Chess Club Nona GEO 8 27.5 11.5 58
2 Ladya RUS 6 25.5 11.5 27
3 SHSM Nashe Nasledie RUS 5 29 8.5 46.5
4 Ugra RUS 4 34.5 9.5 30
5 Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo MNC 4 27 9.5 20
6 SC Bad Konigshofen GER 3 28 8.5 15.5
7 Rishon Letzion ISR 2 4.5 3.5 3
8 Herzliya Chess Club ISR 0 0 1.5 0

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