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European Teams: Hungary Shocks Russia
Nepomniachtchi suffers as Russia loses the match. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

European Teams: Hungary Shocks Russia

Russia was the leader after three rounds, but today lost its first match at the European Team Championship in Greece to Hungary, which is now tied for first place with Armenia and Croatia.

As it was based on just three individual board victories, you could say that Russia's lead in the tournament was rather thin. And it didn't last long.

Bo. 1 Russia Rtg - 7 Hungary Rtg 1½-2½
1/1 GM Grischuk, Alexander (w) 2785 - GM Leko, Peter (b) 2679 ½ - ½
1/2 GM Nepomniachtchi, Ian (b) 2733 - GM Erdos, Viktor (w) 2624 0 - 1
1/3 GM Vitiugov, Nikita (w) 2728 - GM Rapport, Richard (b) 2686 ½ - ½
1/4 GM Dubov, Daniil (b) 2677 - GM Almasi, Zoltan (w) 2707 ½ - ½

Whereas he was the hero on Monday, Ian Nepomniachtchi today was mostly responsible for the top seeded team dropping two match points against Hungary. Viktor Erdos deserves credit not only for grinding down his opponent in an endgame that came from a Symmetrical English,  but also for actually choosing that line. It's not the kind of game that a dynamic player like Nepo will enjoy very much.

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Viktor Erdos vs Ian Nepomniachtchi, the critical game of the match. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Teimour Radjabov used the same endgame to beat Peter Svidler at the Geneva Grand Prix, showing that it might contain more venom than everyone always thought. Everyone, except for Ulf Andersson of course.

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Looking at the faces of Ian Nepomniachtchi and Daniil Dubov, one doesn't need to ask more. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Yesterday he failed to win a better endgame, but today Richard Rapport managed to hold a worse endgame himself, which got the Hungarians the crucial half point for victory.

Bo. 6 Armenia Rtg - 10 Netherlands Rtg 2½-1½
4/1 GM Aronian, Levon (w) 2801 - GM Giri, Anish (b) 2762 ½ - ½
4/2 GM Movsesian, Sergei (b) 2671 - GM L'ami, Erwin (w) 2611 0 - 1
4/3 GM Sargissian, Gabriel (w) 2657 - GM Bok, Benjamin (b) 2611 1 - 0
4/4 GM Melkumyan, Hrant (b) 2642 - GM Sokolov, Ivan (w) 2603 1 - 0

Armenia moved to shared first place thanks to a 2.5-1.5 win vs. The Netherlands. Anish Giri was very solid and held Levon Aronian to a draw, while Erwin l'Ami even won, vs Sergey Movsesian, thanks to a very interesting exchange sacrifice.

Two days ago Giri had tweeted the following.

Today, Giri tweeted this.

Armenia's win was decided on the lower two boards, where Gabriel Sargissian outwitted his opponent in the opening and Hrant Melkumyan was the better calculator vs Ivan Sokolov. The latter was probably trying to find a refutation of Black's play, because 7...dxc4, a novelty, looked rather suspicious.

But what Sokolov went for just wasn't working. Black's 18th and 19th move were just excellent, after which White was a pawn down, and Black was the one with compensation.

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The Armenia-Netherlands match today. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The third leader after four rounds is a surprising one. Croatia is the 14th seeded team but did very well so far, beating Portugal and Serbia, then a 2-2 vs Armenia, and today they pulled off a small upset vs. Israel.

Bo. 5 Israel Rtg - 14 Croatia Rtg 1½-2½
3/1 GM Gelfand, Boris (w) 2737 - GM Saric, Ivan (b) 2662 ½ - ½
3/2 GM Rodshtein, Maxim (b) 2699 - GM Bosiocic, Marin (w) 2619 0 - 1
3/3 GM Sutovsky, Emil (w) 2683 - GM Stevic, Hrvoje (b) 2616 ½ - ½
3/4 GM Smirin, Ilia (b) 2635 - GM Martinovic, Sasa (w) 2565 ½ - ½

The match winner was Marin Bosiocic, who slowly outplayed Maxim Rodshtein in a Grünfeld "queenless middlegame," as they call it. The antipositional 29...bxa4!? was probably necessary to create some pressure along the b-file; as it went, Rodshtein remained passive throughout.

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The start of Bosiocic vs. Rodshtein. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

However, Hrvoje Stevic was definitely a hero too. He was under enormous pressure against Emil Sutovsky, who is more venturous as a chess player than as an ACP President.

The complications started when Sutovsky sacrificed a pawn on c5 for which he got strong pressure on the dark squares around the black king. (Would you have dared to give up your dark-squared bishop for that pawn?)

Sutovsky's 30.Rxc5 looked like a hammer blow, but Stevic found a great defense with 35...Rcd8 and then held a queen ending a pawn down to a draw. This man deserves a glass of Slivovitz.

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The end of Sutovsky-Stevic, with Bosiocic (middle) watching. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Besides Russia, four more teams are tied for fourth place with six match points: Germany, Poland, Belarus and Turkey. The first two tied their 2-2 today, exchanging wins on boards two and three.

Bo. 9 Germany Rtg - 8 Poland Rtg 2-2
2/1 GM Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter (w) 2672 - GM Wojtaszek, Radoslaw (b) 2737 ½ - ½
2/2 GM Meier, Georg (b) 2655 - GM Duda, Jan-Krzysztof (w) 2706 0 - 1
2/3 GM Bluebaum, Matthias (w) 2643 - GM Piorun, Kacper (b) 2640 1 - 0
2/4 GM Fridman, Daniel (b) 2626 - GM Bartel, Mateusz (w) 2613 ½ - ½

Jan-Krzysztof Duda needed to win a difficult rook ending to save the match, and he did:

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Jan-Krzysztof Duda saved a match point for Poland today. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Bo. 18 Turkey Rtg - 3 Ukraine Rtg 2½-1½
5/1 GM Solak, Dragan (w) 2626 - GM Eljanov, Pavel (b) 2720 ½ - ½
5/2 GM Yilmaz, Mustafa (b) 2633 - GM Kryvoruchko, Yuriy (w) 2692 ½ - ½
5/3 GM Can, Emre (w) 2604 - GM Ponomariov, Ruslan (b) 2687 ½ - ½
5/4 GM Sanal, Vahap (b) 2549 - GM Kuzubov, Yuriy (w) 2690 1 - 0

Turkey surprisingly defeated Ukraine, who are playing without Vassily Ivanchuk just like at the last Olympiad. The top three boards in this match ended in draws, and it was 19-year-old Vahap Sanal, who became a grandmaster last year, who beat the strong Yuriy Kuzubov with the black pieces. Look how helpless his opponent was at the end:

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A big scalp for 19-year-old Vahap Sanal. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Bo. 16 Belarus Rtg - 15 Spain Rtg 3-1
9/1 GM Zhigalko, Sergei (w) 2638 - GM Anton Guijarro, David (b) 2651 ½ - ½
9/2 GM Kovalev, Vladislav (b) 2636 - GM Salgado Lopez, Ivan (w) 2629 ½ - ½
9/3 GM Aleksandrov, Aleksej (w) 2588 - GM Lopez Martinez, Josep Manuel (b) 2607 1 - 0
9/4 GM Fedorov, Alexei (b) 2582 - GM Ibarra Jerez, Jose Carlos (w) 2561 1 - 0

Belarus is rated about the same as Spain, but somehow their win felt like an upset too. (With Vallejo in the Spanish team, it definitely would have been.) Here are the adventures that took place on board four:

Bo. 4 England Rtg - 22 Italy Rtg 2-2
7/1 GM Adams, Michael (w) 2727 - GM Vocaturo, Daniele (b) 2607 ½ - ½
7/2 GM Short, Nigel D (b) 2698 - GM Brunello, Sabino (w) 2555 1 - 0
7/3 GM Howell, David W L (w) 2698 - GM Dvirnyy, Danyyil (b) 2542 0 - 1
7/4 GM Mcshane, Luke J (b) 2647 - GM Moroni, Luca Jr (w) 2506 ½ - ½

Several high-level matches ended in 2-2, such as Czech Republic-Serbia, Romania-Georgia and England-Italy. In the latter, Nigel Short was returned some fortune which he lacked the other day against Viktor Bologan.

Sabino Brunello actually lost on time on move 31, but in a lost position, after blundering away a winning position. Also take note of the start of the game; afterward Short said that he had looked at sensible openings but shortly before the game he "decided to play nonsensical openings."

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Nigel Short, checking the position of Mickey Adams. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

While Short was showing his game in the live broadcast, David Howell was expected to take home the match. But from a better endgame he went into an equal knight ending, and then lost the thread when queens appeared on the board:

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Disgusted about this turn of events, David Howell resigns his game vs Danyyil Dvirnyy. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Bo. 12 France Rtg - 25 Norway Rtg 3-1
11/1 GM Edouard, Romain (w) 2607 - GM Tari, Aryan (b) 2578 ½ - ½
11/2 GM Gharamian, Tigran (b) 2626 - GM Hammer, Jon Ludvig (w) 2632 ½ - ½
11/3 GM Fressinet, Laurent (w) 2657 - IM Christiansen, Johan-Sebastian (b) 2462 1 - 0
11/4 GM Maze, Sebastien (b) 2614 - IM Notkevich, Benjamin Arvola (w) 2458 1 - 0

Finally, a mention of the Norwegian team. Their 2-2 vs Israel was fine,  the loss vs. England not a big deal, and beating the Faroe Islands was normal. Today another big country awaited and, with this very young squad it's gonna be difficult against those big countries. France was just too strong. Board four gets picked for the remarkable resemblance of a King's Indian in this game which started as a Ruy Lopez:

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Norway's Benjamin Notkevich (l.) and Johan-Sebastian Christiansen suffered losses today. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

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 4 (Top 10)

Rk. SNo Fed Team + = - TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4 TB5
1 7 Hungary 3 1 0 7 42,5 11 34,5 94,8
2 14 Croatia 3 1 0 7 39 9,5 36 85
3 6 Armenia 3 1 0 7 36,5 10 34 83,3
4 1 Russia 3 0 1 6 38 9 40 89
5 9 Germany 2 2 0 6 37,5 11 31 83
6 8 Poland 2 2 0 6 34 9,5 33,5 78,8
7 16 Belarus 3 0 1 6 33 11 30 78,8
8 18 Turkey 3 0 1 6 24,5 10,5 29 73,5
9 5 Israel 2 1 1 5 34,5 9,5 32 74,8
10 10 Netherlands 2 1 1 5 34,5 9 36 77

Top pairings for round five: Hungary-Armenia, Croatia-Germany, Poland-Belarus, Russia-Turkey, Azerbaijan-Czech Republic, Serbia-France, Georgia-Israel and Netherlands-Romania.

Download Tournament PGN

Games from TWIC.

 


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