Kramnik Sits Out As European Club Cup Takes Off
The European Club Cup started on Sunday in Göynük/Antalya, Turkey. Vladimir Kramnik, who needs every Elo point he can get in the coming weeks to keep hopes for qualifying for the Candidates', didn't play in round one.
The European Club Cup and the European Club Cup for women were officially opened on Saturday in the Avantgarde Resort Hotel in Göynük/Antalya. On Sunday the first of seven rounds was played. It's a team tournament with clubs from all over Europe getting paired according to the Swiss system. Thirty-six clubs are playing in the open section and 12 clubs in the women's section (which will be covered in a separate report).
Sergey Karjakin flanked by Turkish Chess Federation president Turkish Gülkiz Tulay and European Chess Union president Zurab Azmaiparashvili. | Photo: ECC/David Llada.
Each team plays with six players each round. A team victory yields two match points, and in case of 3-3 the teams share one match point each. The standard FIDE time control is in use: 90 minutes for 40 moves, then 30 minutes to finish game with a 30-second increment from move one. No draw offers are allowed before move 30.
The location of the European Club Cup.
The absolute favorite this year is Russian team Globus, the former Siberia team that has a new sponsor. Yet again its line-up is impressive:
Its average rating is 2772, 48 points more than the second seed. Board one is none other than Vladimir Kramnik, who came to Turkey shortly after doing not very well in the Chess.com Isle of Man tournament. Taking some extra rest, and avoiding an opponent with a relatively low rating, Kramnik decided to sit out in the first round today. He saw his team winning 6-0 vs the Fjölnir Chess Club of Iceland.
The start of the first round, with Globus's board six of the day Denis Khismatullin vs Jon Arni Halldorsson. | Photo: ECC/David Llada.
Second seed, and reigning champion, is Alkaloid of Macedonia.
First board is World Cup finalist and 2018 Candidate Ding Liren of China, but boards two to six are not too shabby either! It remains to be seen how often the local players, both rated below 2500, will be used. In the first round Eljanov (also active in Isle of Man!) took some rest and IM Pancevski played for him (and lost).
Next on the list are Mednyi Vsadnik—named after the Peter the Great statue in St. Petersburg—with mostly players who did quite well in the World Cup:
Other well known players active this week are GMs Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Pentala Harikrishna, David Navara (all three playing for 2013 champions Novy Bor, Czech Republic), Ernesto Inarkiev, Evgeniy Najer (SHSM Legacy Square Capital, Russia), Arkadij Naiditsch (Odlar Yurdu, Azerbaijan), Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu (Csm Baia Mare, Romania), Jon Ludvig Hammer (Oslo Schakselskap, Norway) and Aryan Tari (Vålerenga Sjakklubb, Norway).
Odlar Yurdu's top boards Arkadij Naiditsch and Rauf Mamedov. | Photo: ECC/David Llada.
The first round saw walkovers in most matches, which is logical as the top half played the lower half like in any Swiss. There was one exception: Turkish team Karaman Belediyesi Spor Kulübü, with a modest rating average of 2084, held the Oslo Schakselskap (average 2359) to 3-3. Hammer drew with 19-year-old Ulvi Sadikhov (2487) of Azerbaijan.
Only a draw for Hammer in round one. | Photo: ECC/David Llada.
Reigning champion Alkaloid scored 4.5 points in its win vs Augusta Perusia of Italy, which only played with IMs and FMs. World Cup finalist Ding Liren's very first game after Tbilisi didn't go well. After a failed opening he decided to take a draw:
Also only a draw for Ding Liren. | Photo: ECC/David Llada.
A truly spectacular game was played in Novy Bor vs the Vålerenga Sjakklubb, where Johan-Sebastian Christiansen threw everything but the kitchen sink towards David Navara's king. The Norwegian's sacrificial play might have worked against many opponents, but Navara managed to keep is head cool.
The Adare Chess Club was lower rated on all boards vs Riga Technical University, but lost only 2-4 as it managed to win on the two top boards. Board one was in a similar mood as Christiansen, and unlike the Norwegian he was awarded for his courage:
The blunder of the day was committed by IM Olav Sepp vs GM Maxim Matlakov on board one of the match Etelä-Vantaan Shakki vs Mednyi Vsadnik, one of the battles that ended in 0-6.
You can follow a selection of top games every day in live chess. A live broadcast provided by the organizers, with commentary by GM Bartlomiej Heberla & IM Can Arduman, can be found at Chess.com/TV during the rounds.