Russia On The Brink Of Double Gold At European Team Championship

Russia On The Brink Of Double Gold At European Team Championship

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
Nov 20, 2015, 3:51 PM |
19 | Chess Event Coverage

In both the open and women's sections, Russia is dominating the European Team Championship. Magnus Carlsen scored 1.5/2 in rounds six and seven.

At the Olympiads it is, mysteriously, not working for the Russian men's team since 2002, but European Team Championships are different. It won in 2003 and 2007, and also in Reykjavik it is very likely to win gold now.

With two rounds to go, Russia's lead is a massive three match points. Both Georgia and France were defeated 1.5-2.5 in two exciting matches on the top boards.

On Thursday, Georgia's top board Baadur Jobava held Alexander Grischuk to a draw, and Levan Pantsulaia even won. Ian Nepomniachtchi's was the only loss for the Russian team in the tournament so far.


Pantsulaia also beat Yuri Kryvoruchko the next day to improve his score even further: 5.5/7, a 2845 performance and 24.9-point rating gain!

Levan Pantsulaia has played an amazing tournament so far. | Photo Hrafn Jökulsson.

Russia still won this match thanks to Dmitry Jakovenko and Evgeny Tomashevsky, who beat Luka Paichadze and Mikheil Mchedlishvili respectively. The latter lost in instructive fashion, as our annotator GM Dejan Bojkov shows:

France remained within striking distance (as in: one match point) thanks to a narrow victory over Ukraine. Remarkably, it was the rock-solid grandmaster Pavel Eljanov who made a rare two-move blunder, missing a relatively simple combination:


Azerbaijan, who had tied 2-2 with Russia earlier in the tournament, maintained its medal chances thanks to a 2.5-1.5 victory over the Netherlands.

It was Arkadij Naiditsch, the new team member for the Azerbaijanis, who decided the match against an off-form Ivan Sokolov. The game was full of subtle maneuvers by Naiditsch.


The sixth round saw the first win for Magnus Carlsen. The world champion played the black pieces in the Norway-vs-Hungary match, and faced Peter Leko. He won a very smooth game, as if he's in top shape:


Magnus Carlsen, back to winning games. | Photo Hrafn Jökulsson.

Judit Polgar didn't fancy the position of her top board Peter Leko after 19...d5 in this game. Hungary's team captain joined the Chess.com broadcast and reminded everyone of her wonderful personality. Many online viewers (fans!) were asking whether she is reconsidering her retirement.

“I wouldn't say that I will never play again,” said Polgar. “Maybe I was able to sacrifice my pawns and having weaknesses in the game but otherwise I'm pretty careful with my decisions. I really think it over.

“It is not something that people will see in the near future for sure, but I hope life is long and eventually I might be coming back in a veteran kind of tournament in some decade!”

Polgar is also one of the few top players who has met Bobby Fischer and played (private) chess games with him, when he lived in Budapest in the 1990s. She said about the 11th world champion:

“He was a very interesting man. It was sad to see him the way he was thinking about life, about prerranged games, about Russians, Americans, Jewish people, all these things. But on the other hand he was a cheerful person, smiling, laughing a lot.

“He loved to eat! He loved Hungarian food a lot, he loved the thermal baths of Hungary and probably that's why he came to Iceland also, to enjoy life. It was a very special experience.

“Somethimes I thought of it that, of course if I had never met him, I would have had a different opinion and he would be a different kind of legend in my memory. But still I am happy that I met him personally.”

Judit Polgar, for the first time ever in the role of team captain. | Photo Hrafn Jökulsson.

Fischer, who died in 2008, is buried in the small town of Selfoss in Iceland. In the playing hall the participants are reminded of his great match with Boris Spassky in 1972, because the official chairs, table and board are placed on an elevated stage. It's a popular spot for selfies before the rounds each day.

On Friday, Russia increased its lead to three points with an important win over its nearest rivals France. Peter Svidler was back in the team and drew with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, and also in Bacrot-Tomashevsky and Jakovenko-Tkachiev the point was split.

Alexander Grischuk, who skipped the first three rounds and is still somewhat under the weather, decided the match with a great win in a Berlin endgame against Laurent Fressinet.

It was already the fifth Berlin victory for White (against only one for Black and four draws) in this event. Will we finally see a shift in opening theory? Will top GMs start looking for something else? 

Although a bit under the weather, Alexander Grischuk won a good game in the Berlin. | Photo Hrafn Jökulsson.

Five teams are now trailing Russia in shared second place: France, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Hungary. Normally speaking, Azerbaijan would have been in sole second place, two points behind Russia, because it played the much lower-rated Latvia in round seven.

However, the Latvians put up a fantastic fight and were even leading the match 2-1, with Alexei Shirov having excellent drawing chances against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov! Expectedly, it was a fascinating game, and after five-and-a-half hours of play it went wrong for Shirov:


Ukraine is out of contention for medals after a surprising loss to Georgia today. Poor Alexander Areshchenko missed a win and eventually lost on time (not an easy thing to do when playing with increment), to the horror of his team members and captain GM Oleksandr Sulypa. 

Norway is in shared 10th place, but already have something to celebrate. IM Aryan Tari scored a GM norm over seven rounds today, and probably needs a draw out of two games to score a nine-round norm; his second.

Here's his win on Friday against one of the Mastrovasilis brothers, Athanasios:


2015 European Team Championship | Round 7 Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo FED Team + = - TB1 TB2 TB3
1 1 RUS Russia 6 1 0 13 135 18,5
2 4 FRA France 4 2 1 10 124,5 16,5
3 3 AZE Azerbaijan 4 2 1 10 118 18
4 6 ARM Armenia 4 2 1 10 111,5 17,5
5 17 GEO Georgia 4 2 1 10 108,5 17,5
6 7 HUN Hungary 4 2 1 10 108 17
7 10 GER Germany 4 1 2 9 97 15
8 13 LAT Latvia 4 1 2 9 91 17
9 9 NED Netherlands 4 1 2 9 88,5 16
10 2 UKR Ukraine 4 0 3 8 111 15
11 14 ESP Spain 4 0 3 8 108 15,5
12 8 POL Poland 3 2 2 8 101,5 14,5
13 23 ITA Italy 3 2 2 8 101 15,5
14 15 SRB Serbia 3 2 2 8 97,5 15
15 11 NOR Norway 4 0 3 8 88 15,5
16 25 MDA Moldova 3 2 2 8 86 15
17 5 ENG England 2 3 2 7 104 14
18 12 CZE Czech Republic 2 3 2 7 82,5 15
19 19 TUR Turkey 3 1 3 7 76,5 14,5
20 22 SWE Sweden 3 1 3 7 75,5 14

Russia is leading by two points in the women's section, so like its male colleagues, it can win the tournament tomorrow with a round to spare. Valentina Gunina won her game with a nice petite combinaison in the match with Hungary. Can you find it?

2015 European Women's Team Championship | Round 7 Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo FED Team + = - TB1 TB2 TB3
1 2 RUS Russia 6 1 0 13 162,5 20,5
2 3 UKR Ukraine 5 1 1 11 161,5 20
3 1 GEO Georgia 5 1 1 11 117 16
4 4 POL Poland 5 0 2 10 111,5 17
5 5 FRA France 4 1 2 9 121,5 17,5
6 12 SRB Serbia 3 3 1 9 109,5 17
7 9 HUN Hungary 4 1 2 9 99,5 14,5
8 7 GER Germany 4 1 2 9 99 17
9 8 ROU Romania 3 2 2 8 99,5 14
10 6 ARM Armenia 3 2 2 8 85,5 14
11 15 ITA Italy 4 0 3 8 81,5 15,5
12 19 AUT Austria 4 0 3 8 73 13,5
13 10 NED Netherlands 3 1 3 7 93 16
14 11 ESP Spain 3 1 3 7 88 15,5
15 14 TUR Turkey 3 1 3 7 87 15
16 13 AZE Azerbaijan 3 1 3 7 78 15,5
17 17 GRE Greece 3 1 3 7 74,5 14
18 20 SLO Slovenia 2 3 2 7 59 14
19 22 MNE Montenegro 3 1 3 7 45 11
20 21 LAT Latvia 3 0 4 6 80,5 15,5

xxx

Two more rounds will be played in the Laugardalshöll in Reykjavik. Besides team medals, the players are also playing for individual board prizes.

Chess.com is providing a daily live broadcast on Chess.com/TV with commentary by GM Simon William, WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni and guests. The penultimate round starts 3 p.m. local time (7 a.m. Pacific) and the last round will start four hours earlier.

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