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With Only 3 Board Wins Russia Leads European Teams
Ian Nepomniachtchi decided today's match in Russia's favor. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

With Only 3 Board Wins Russia Leads European Teams

Three individual board wins were enough for Russia to grab clear first place at the European Team Championship in Greece, as Hungary-Netherlands and Croatia-Armenia ended in 2-2 and Italy lost to Germany.

It must be a unique little statistic for a team tournament like this: With nine draws and three wins, Russia is the only team on six match points. Obviously that's also because many other teams dropped points today, but the fact that the Russians won their third match with "only" 2.5-1.5 makes it special.

Bo. 11 Czech Republic Rtg - 1 Russia Rtg 1½-2½
2/1 GM Navara, David (w) 2726 - GM Grischuk, Alexander (b) 2785 ½ - ½
2/2 GM Laznicka, Viktor (b) 2654 - GM Nepomniachtchi, Ian (w) 2733 0 - 1
2/3 GM Hracek, Zbynek (w) 2610 - GM Vitiugov, Nikita (b) 2728 ½ - ½
2/4 GM Plat, Vojtech (b) 2551 - GM Matlakov, Maxim (w) 2730 ½ - ½

Their win today was a quick one, by Ian Nepomniachtchi, on board two. He managed to surprise Viktor Laznicka in a Caro-Kann and quickly got a devastating attack. It's not clear how deep Nepomniachtchi's preparation went, but taking into account that he only spent some time on move 17, 19, 22 and 23 and his opponent had three losses in this line before, the answer is probably: much.

Twenty years ago Garry Kasparov tended to blow away opponents in the exact same fashion.

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Bo. 7 Hungary Rtg - 10 Netherlands Rtg 2-2
1/1 GM Leko, Peter (w) 2679 - GM Giri, Anish (b) 2762 ½ - ½
1/2 GM Erdos, Viktor (b) 2624 - GM L'ami, Erwin (w) 2611 ½ - ½
1/3 GM Rapport, Richard (w) 2686 - GM Bok, Benjamin (b) 2611 ½ - ½
1/4 GM Almasi, Zoltan (b) 2707 - GM Van Foreest, Jorden (w) 2609 ½ - ½
Bo. 14 Croatia Rtg - 6 Armenia Rtg 2-2
3/1 GM Saric, Ivan (w) 2662 - GM Aronian, Levon (b) 2801 ½ - ½
3/2 GM Stevic, Hrvoje (b) 2616 - GM Movsesian, Sergei (w) 2671 ½ - ½
3/3 GM Jankovic, Alojzije (w) 2575 - GM Sargissian, Gabriel (b) 2657 ½ - ½
3/4 GM Martinovic, Sasa (b) 2565 - GM Melkumyan, Hrant (w) 2642 ½ - ½

Hungary-Netherlands saw four draws. The Dutch were relieved as Benjamin Bok finished last and held a slightly worse ending against Richard Rapport. Croatia did very well by also drawing all four games against Armenia, despite having an 88-Elo point lower average rating.

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Ivan Saric drew with Levon Aronian in a main line Marshall Ruy Lopez. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Bo. 22 Italy Rtg - 9 Germany Rtg ½-3½
4/1 GM Vocaturo, Daniele (w) 2607 - GM Nisipeanu, Liviu-Dieter (b) 2672 ½ - ½
4/2 GM Brunello, Sabino (b) 2555 - GM Meier, Georg (w) 2655 0 - 1
4/3 GM Dvirnyy, Danyyil (w) 2542 - GM Bluebaum, Matthias (b) 2643 0 - 1
4/4 GM Godena, Michele (b) 2489 - GM Svane, Rasmus (w) 2595 0 - 1

Italy's success story came to an end today. Germany was double warned of course, and played a very strong match. The score of 3.5-0.5 said enough.

Sabino Brunello, who was on 2/2, had to throw in the towel when not one, but two knights were caught in a deadly pin vs. Georg Meier:

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The German team that ruthlessly ended Italy's successful start. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Bo. 5 Israel Rtg - 12 France Rtg 3-1
5/1 GM Gelfand, Boris (w) 2737 - GM Edouard, Romain (b) 2607 1 - 0
5/2 GM Rodshtein, Maxim (b) 2699 - GM Bauer, Christian (w) 2647 1 - 0
5/3 GM Smirin, Ilia (w) 2635 - GM Fressinet, Laurent (b) 2657 ½ - ½
5/4 GM Nabaty, Tamir (b) 2661 - GM Maze, Sebastien (w) 2614 ½ - ½

Israel needed to warm up and started with 2-2 vs. Norway but after Moldova they also beat France today, who are clearly weakened without Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Etienne Bacrot. On board one Boris Gelfand played a nice, straightforward game as white vs Romain Edouard where he used a new idea in the English Four Knights:

Gelfand joined commentator Jan Gustafsson in the studio, and noted: "We are maybe one of the oldest teams in the event. Three players, each of us played 15, 20 international events." He pointed out that his first Olympiad was in 1990, and Smirin's in 1992. The two then spoke about a King's Indian game between Garry Kasparov and Smirin, and Gelfand obviously knew it. "A great game from boths sides. Recently the computer found a way to defend for Black."

The author of these lines, who used to be a KID player too, cannot refrain from including this game here.

In the same match, Maxim Rodshtein played a nice game against Christian Bauer. Can you find how he won this game?

Bo. 8 Poland Rtg - 4 England Rtg 2½-1½
6/1 GM Wojtaszek, Radoslaw (w) 2737 - GM Adams, Michael (b) 2727 1 - 0
6/2 GM Duda, Jan-Krzysztof (b) 2706 - GM Short, Nigel D (w) 2698 ½ - ½
6/3 GM Piorun, Kacper (w) 2640 - GM Howell, David W L (b) 2698 ½ - ½
6/4 GM Bartel, Mateusz (b) 2613 - GM Jones, Gawain C B (w) 2662 ½ - ½

Radek Wojtaszek was the match winner in the encounter between Poland and England. On move 29 Michael Adams blundered a pawn, and it was impressive how the Polish GM fulfilled the technical task. This is why these players are so strong: they know how to win winning positions.

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Radek Wojtaszek (left) and Jan-Krzysztof Duda, with Mateusz Bartel checking their positions. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Bo. 15 Spain Rtg - 2 Azerbaijan Rtg 2-2
7/1 GM Anton Guijarro, David (w) 2651 - GM Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar (b) 2791 1 - 0
7/2 GM Salgado Lopez, Ivan (b) 2629 - GM Radjabov, Teimour (w) 2741 ½ - ½
7/3 GM Korneev, Oleg (w) 2557 - GM Naiditsch, Arkadij (b) 2702 0 - 1
7/4 GM Ibarra Jerez, Jose Carlos (b) 2561 - GM Mamedov, Rauf (w) 2678 ½ - ½

With Russia, Azerbaijan is the only team that has an average Elo above 2700. However, after their surprising loss in round one, another match point was dropped today. On board one David Anton played a wonderful, almost Karpov-like game (hat tip: David Llada) against Shakhriyar Mamedyarov that was decided in bishop ending:

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"Modern-day Karpov" David Anton vs. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Arkadij Naiditsch avoided bigger trouble for the Azerbaijani as he beat Oleg Korneev as Black. In the middlegame it seemed hard to break through, but he managed to lure his opponent into taking the d4 pawn and then "won" two rooks for a queen. Combined with the bishop pair, that was enough in the long run.

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Arkadij Naiditsch (r.) won for Azerbaijan. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

A cool queen sacrifice from the Denmark-Finland derby ends this report. Although the Danes couldn't prevent a loss for the team, board one Allan Stig Rasmussen could smile:

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 | Top Pairings, Round 4

No. SNo Team MP Res. : Res. MP Team SNo
1 1 Russia 6 : 5 Hungary 7
2 9 Germany 5 : 5 Poland 8
3 5 Israel 5 : 5 Croatia 14
4 6 Armenia 5 : 5 Netherlands 10
5 18 Turkey 4 : 4 Ukraine 3
6 11 Czech Republic 4 : 4 Serbia 17
7 4 England 3 : 4 Italy 22
8 20 Romania 4 : 4 Georgia 13
9 16 Belarus 4 : 4 Spain 15
10 2 Azerbaijan 3 : 3 Moldova 24
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Games from TWIC.

 


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