European Teams: Hungary, Russia On Top
After the rest day the fun was over for Croatia at the European Team Championship in Greece. The leaders lost to Hungary, who are now tied for first place with Russia, who beat Poland.
The European Team Championship is being held in the 5-star Creta Maris Beach Resort along the beach of Hersonissos. It wasn't too hard to find a pleasant way to spend the rest day. Besides the nearby beach and the pool, some players went on an excursion, but most of the top players stayed in the hotel.
Everyone who decided to take a stroll must have seen a few stray cats here and there; you'll find those in big numbers. Everyone who didn't, could have seen one in the playing hall at the start of the sixth round! A kitten had managed to avoid the security check, and entered the playing hall.
Takis Nikolopoulos, who by the way had celebrated his 60th birthday the night before, saw the list of tasks for a Chief Arbiter extended by one.
An uninvited, but most cute guest visited the tournament today! | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Nikolopoulos carefully taking the cat out of the playing hall. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
The amazing coincidence was that one of Nikolopoulos' gifts the night before was this painting of three cats!
There was plenty of time to prepare for the next round, which had a big match, and a big board one game on the program.
|3/1||GM||Aronian, Levon (w)||2801||-||GM||Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar (b)||2791||1 - 0|
|3/2||GM||Movsesian, Sergei (b)||2671||-||GM||Radjabov, Teimour (w)||2741||0 - 1|
|3/3||GM||Sargissian, Gabriel (w)||2657||-||GM||Naiditsch, Arkadij (b)||2702||½ - ½|
|3/4||GM||Melkumyan, Hrant (b)||2642||-||GM||Mamedov, Rauf (w)||2678||0 - 1|
This was Levon Aronian vs Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, a.k.a. the world number three vs. the new number two! With his win against David Navara in round five Mamedyarov had surpassed Aronian and reached a 2801.5 rating. That didn't last long though; today Aronian beat him, and took over the number two position again.
Aronian-Mamedyarov was a great fight starting from a Symmetrical English. Both players showed their feel for the initiative, and a very dynamic game was balanced almost until move 40. Then, in time trouble, Mamedyarov missed a (rather pretty!) mating net.
Aronian back to world number two after beating Mamedyarov. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Azerbaijan went on winning the match anyway, as Teimour Radjabov and Rauf Mamedov beat Sergey Movsesian and Hrant Melkumyan respectively.
Mamedov was the last to finish, and the question was whether he could win a rook endgame that, despite the little material, was extremely complex.
His 58.h6+ in this position was frowned upon by one commentator, and indeed as soon as the black pawn left the board, the remaining rook endgame was a known theoretical draw.
Of course I mean h6 not a6. Got the job done anyway, well done Rauf!— Lawrence Trent ( @LawrenceTrentIM) November 3, 2017
The only thing Black needs to avoid, besides white protecting g5 with his king and giving a check with the rook, is White getting his rook to g7 to remove the king from g6. That went fine for a long time, but one "mouse slip" on move 86 was enough for Melkumyan and Armenia to lose game, set and match.
The moment of the match: Melkumyan resigns vs Mamedov... | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
...who is congratulated by Eltaj Safarli. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
This was in fact the match on "board three." The top boards saw Hungary ruthlessly putting an end to Croatia's success story: a shattering 3.5-0.5.
|1/1||GM||Leko, Peter (w)||2679||-||GM||Saric, Ivan (b)||2662||1 - 0|
|1/2||GM||Erdos, Viktor (b)||2624||-||GM||Bosiocic, Marin (w)||2619||½ - ½|
|1/3||GM||Almasi, Zoltan (w)||2707||-||GM||Stevic, Hrvoje (b)||2616||1 - 0|
|1/4||GM||Berkes, Ferenc (b)||2661||-||GM||Jankovic, Alojzije (w)||2575||1 - 0|
Peter Leko is still ultra-solid, and sometimes over-cautious perhaps, but to be able to put him against the top GMs on board one is extremely useful for the team. However, if he also starts winning games, who knows how far the Hungarians can get?
During the Isle of Man tournament Leko told Chess.com that, despite playing much less these days, he still works many hours a day to keep up an opening repertoire suitable for top level chess. He showed a piece of that in today's game against Ivan Saric.
A win for Leko like in his best days. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
|2/1||GM||Wojtaszek, Radoslaw (w)||2737||-||GM||Grischuk, Alexander (b)||2785||½ - ½|
|2/2||GM||Duda, Jan-Krzysztof (b)||2706||-||GM||Nepomniachtchi, Ian (w)||2733||0 - 1|
|2/3||GM||Piorun, Kacper (w)||2640||-||GM||Vitiugov, Nikita (b)||2728||½ - ½|
|2/4||GM||Tomczak, Jacek (b)||2583||-||GM||Matlakov, Maxim (w)||2730||½ - ½|
Ian Nepomniachtchi yet again played the main role in Russia's match. His win against Jan-Krzysztof Duda was the only decisive game, and thus a very important one. After an early setback, Russia is back at the top of the standings, with excellent chances to do something about their bad record as a team over the past 15 years.
Duda's Fort Knox French (yes, that's what this line with swapping the queen's bishop is called!) held on until the first time control, but from there it was torn apart:
Yet again Ian Nepomniachtchi plays the only decisive game for Russia. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Half of the matches on the top 10 boards ended in 2-2, but not Ukraine-France.
|5/1||GM||Eljanov, Pavel (w)||2720||-||GM||Edouard, Romain (b)||2607||1 - 0|
|5/2||GM||Kryvoruchko, Yuriy (b)||2692||-||GM||Gharamian, Tigran (w)||2626||½ - ½|
|5/3||GM||Ponomariov, Ruslan (w)||2687||-||GM||Fressinet, Laurent (b)||2657||½ - ½|
|5/4||GM||Kravtsiv, Martyn (b)||2677||-||GM||Maze, Sebastien (w)||2614||½ - ½|
Pavel Eljanov scored his first win, and won the match for Ukraine vs. France. That was a pretty disastrous turn of events for poor Romain Edouard, who has given away so many promising positions in his career. It happened again today.
Edouard was doing great vs Eljanov but lost anyway. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
|10/1||GM||Jobava, Baadur (w)||2705||-||GM||Brunello, Sabino (b)||2555||1 - 0|
|10/2||GM||Pantsulaia, Levan (b)||2586||-||GM||Dvirnyy, Danyyil (w)||2542||1 - 0|
|10/3||GM||Jojua, Davit (w)||2591||-||GM||Godena, Michele (b)||2489||½ - ½|
|10/4||GM||Paichadze, Luka (b)||2580||-||GM||Moroni, Luca Jr (w)||2506||½ - ½|
Italy had such a great start, but they're now dropping back. Georgia turned out to be too strong today, with Baadur Jobava finally winning his first game. A crazy game.
Jobava-Brunello, maybe the wildest game today! | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
|11/1||GM||Giri, Anish (w)||2762||-||GM||Navara, David (b)||2726||½ - ½|
|11/2||GM||L'ami, Erwin (b)||2611||-||GM||Laznicka, Viktor (w)||2654||½ - ½|
|11/3||GM||Bok, Benjamin (w)||2611||-||GM||Hracek, Zbynek (b)||2610||½ - ½|
|11/4||GM||Van Foreest, Jorden (b)||2609||-||GM||Stocek, Jiri (w)||2581||1 - 0|
The Netherlands finally won again and still have a chance for a good final result. The young GM Jorden van Foreest grabbed the spotlights has he profited from a huge blunder at the end of a long game that was always heading to a draw:
18-year-old Jorden van Foreest won the match for the Netherlands today. | 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 6
|31||39||Greece - Crete||2||1||3||5||21||8,5||64,5||80,8|
Top pairings for round seven: Azerbaijan-Hungary, Croatia-Russia, Ukraine-Romania, Israel-Poland, and Germany-Armenia.
Games from TWIC.