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European Teams: Azerbaijan, Russia Clash On Sunday
Russia's Dubov & Matlakov. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

European Teams: Azerbaijan, Russia Clash On Sunday

Top favorites Russian (in clear first place) and Azerbaijan (sole second) will meet each other in the penultimate round of the European Team Championship on Sunday in Greece. Both teams won with 3-1 today.

Both teams suffered a setback earlier in the tournament, but after seven rounds the situation is back to normal with Russia on top and Azerbaijan trailing. The clash on Sunday will be crucial for this year's championship, although there's also one more round on Monday.

As always you can follow the games live in Live Chess starting from 3 p.m. local time (2 p.m. Central Europe; 9 a.m. New York; 6 a.m. Pacific).

Russia's "bad record" mentioned in the previous report obviously referred to their performance at Olympiads since 2002, but at the European Team Championship things aren't as dramatic actually. Russia is defending their 2016 title and they also won in 2007 and 2003. Note that the tournament is held every two years.

Azerbaijan climbed to second place as the first team that managed to beat Hungary. With draws on the first two boards, Arkadij Naiditsch and Rauf Mamedov rose to the occasion and won difficult games.

Bo. 2 Azerbaijan Rtg - 7 Hungary Rtg 3-1
1/1 GM Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar (w) 2791 - GM Leko, Peter (b) 2679 ½ - ½
1/2 GM Radjabov, Teimour (b) 2741 - GM Erdos, Viktor (w) 2624 ½ - ½
1/3 GM Naiditsch, Arkadij (w) 2702 - GM Rapport, Richard (b) 2686 1 - 0
1/4 GM Mamedov, Rauf (b) 2678 - GM Berkes, Ferenc (w) 2661

1 - 0

Naiditsch beat Richard Rapport in a game with incredibly difficult tactics but luckily for this author GM Dejan Bojkov decided to have a look at it!

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Rauf Mamedov should be mentioned too. For 50 moves he was under pressure, then found a trick, and managed to grind down his opponent in another 30 moves. What a game to reach 6.5/7 and a 2700 rating. The coaching by Alexander Khalifman seems to deliver results.

Russia is looking better and better. The perfect match victory (win with White, draw with Black) was executed against Croatia.

Bo. 14 Croatia Rtg - 1 Russia Rtg 1-3
2/1 GM Saric, Ivan (w) 2662 - GM Grischuk, Alexander (b) 2785 ½ - ½
2/2 GM Bosiocic, Marin (b) 2619 - GM Vitiugov, Nikita (w) 2728 0 - 1
2/3 GM Stevic, Hrvoje (w) 2616 - GM Matlakov, Maxim (b) 2730 ½ - ½
2/4 GM Jankovic, Alojzije (b) 2575 - GM Dubov, Daniil (w) 2677 0 - 1

That included an amazing save by Alexander Grischuk vs Ivan Saric. How he held this to a draw is incredible.

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A heroic save by Grischuk vs. Saric. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

On board four Daniil Dubov showed his Russian technique in a knight ending:

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Daniil Dubov reminded us that there's more to chess than studying openings! | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Pavel Eljanov is recovering from a bad start, and the Ukrainian team is returning to the higher ranks. The board one player started with a loss and a draw, but now won two games in a row and in this round he decided the match.

Bo. 3 Ukraine Rtg - 20 Romania Rtg 2½-1½
3/1 GM Eljanov, Pavel (w) 2720 - GM Lupulescu, Constantin (b) 2620 1 - 0
3/2 GM Kryvoruchko, Yuriy (b) 2692 - GM Parligras, Mircea-Emilian (w) 2616 ½ - ½
3/3 GM Kuzubov, Yuriy (w) 2690 - GM Szabo, Gergely-Andras-Gyula (b) 2563 ½ - ½
3/4 GM Kravtsiv, Martyn (b) 2677 - GM Nevednichy, Vladislav (w) 2524 ½ - ½

In a worse position, Lupulescu dropped a full rook:

Israel is having a more than decent tournament so far, with only one match loss. They defeated the strong Polish team on boards three and four.

Bo. 5 Israel Rtg - 8 Poland Rtg 2½-1½
4/1 GM Gelfand, Boris (w) 2737 - GM Wojtaszek, Radoslaw (b) 2737 ½ - ½
4/2 GM Rodshtein, Maxim (b) 2699 - GM Duda, Jan-Krzysztof (w) 2706 0 - 1
4/3 GM Sutovsky, Emil (w) 2683 - GM Piorun, Kacper (b) 2640 1 - 0
4/4 GM Nabaty, Tamir (b) 2661 - GM Bartel, Mateusz (w) 2613 1 - 0

Emil Sutovsky is known to be extremely active on Facebook, but during the tournament he has completely shut off, and it's bearing fruit. Maybe not too much in results yet (plus one), but to play a masterpiece like the one against Kacper Piorun is all worth it:

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Sutovsky should definitely consider writing a best games biography. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Armenia suffered a slightly surprising loss to Germany, and seem definitely out of contention for first place. 

Bo. 9 Germany Rtg - 6 Armenia Rtg 2½-1½
5/1 GM Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter (w) 2672 - GM Aronian, Levon (b) 2801 ½ - ½
5/2 GM Bluebaum, Matthias (b) 2643 - GM Sargissian, Gabriel (w) 2657 ½ - ½
5/3 GM Fridman, Daniel (w) 2626 - GM Melkumyan, Hrant (b) 2642 ½ - ½
5/4 GM Svane, Rasmus (b) 2595 - GM Gabuzyan, Hovhannes (w) 2583 1 - 0

Rasmus Svane was the man of the match as he tricked his opponent, won an exchange and finished it off without too much trouble. 

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Rasmus Svane took the match home for Germany. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

ETCC 2017 | Standings After Round 7

Rk. SNo Fed Team + = - TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4 TB5
1 1 Russia 6 0 1 12 128,5 18 106 88,5
2 2 Azerbaijan 5 1 1 11 125,5 20 98 78,75
3 7 Hungary 4 2 1 10 134,5 17,5 110,5 75
4 3 Ukraine 5 0 2 10 118,5 18,5 98,5 67
5 5 Israel 4 2 1 10 112 16,5 101 73,5
6 9 Germany 3 3 1 9 113 17 97,5 62
7 10 Netherlands 4 1 2 9 107,5 16 107,5 68,25
8 12 France 4 1 2 9 103 16 105,5 63,25
9 14 Croatia 4 1 2 9 100,5 13,5 112 69
10 18 Turkey 4 1 2 9 95 15,5 104 65,5
11 6 Armenia 3 2 2 8 110,5 15 115 62,5
12 8 Poland 3 2 2 8 110 15,5 107,5 58
13 20 Romania 3 2 2 8 100,5 15,5 109,5 57,25
14 19 Greece 1 4 0 3 8 98 17 88 43
15 15 Spain 2 4 1 8 97 14,5 110 62,25
16 17 Serbia 3 2 2 8 90,5 17 91,5 48,75
17 4 England 2 4 1 8 83 15 94,5 52,25
18 13 Georgia 3 1 3 7 97 16 98 43,75
19 11 Czech Republic 3 1 3 7 97 14,5 113 50,5
20 16 Belarus 3 1 3 7 96 15 104,5 47,5
21 21 Slovenia 3 1 3 7 84,5 14,5 101 44,75
22 22 Italy 3 1 3 7 82,5 12 114,5 55,5
23 32 Finland 3 1 3 7 71 12 101 48,5
24 23 Austria 3 1 3 7 54 12,5 103 41
25 29 Greece 2 1 4 2 6 74 13 95,5 37,75
26 26 Switzerland 2 2 3 6 67,5 14 89 34
27 24 Moldova 2 2 3 6 66,5 12 101 37,5
28 28 Slovakia 1 4 2 6 65,5 13 93 37,25
29 31 Denmark 3 0 4 6 63,5 13,5 87,5 29,5
30 27 Iceland 3 0 4 6 56,5 12,5 95,5 33
31 39 Greece - Crete 2 2 3 6 36,5 10,5 86,5 31,75
32 25 Norway 2 1 4 5 72,5 12,5 97 33,75
33 35 Faroe Islands 2 1 4 5 44,5 12,5 78,5 24
34 30 Montenegro 2 1 4 5 39 11,5 87,5 22
35 33 FYROM 1 2 4 4 58,5 11,5 85 24,25
36 34 Portugal 2 0 5 4 57,5 11 91,5 20,5
37 37 Albania 2 0 5 4 35,5 10,5 84 16,5
38 36 Belgium 1 1 5 3 50,5 11 82,5 16,25
39 40 Scotland 1 1 5 3 39 8 92 17,75
40 38 Kosovo* 1 0 6 2 31 8,5 82,5 11

Top pairings for round eight: Russia-Azerbaijan, Hungary-Ukraine, Israel-Germany, Netherlands-Turkey, France-Croatia.

Download Tournament PGN

Games from TWIC.


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