SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
For my North American readers, any European Championship is like life on another planet! No part of the world has a higher concentration of chess talent or a greater number of Grandmasters. This Championship is typical: there are 196 GMs, 107 IMs, 42 WGMs and 39 WIMs. Nine players are rated 2700 or higher! The 95th ranked player is rated 2600. In total, there are 440 players taking part in two tournaments: a mens tournament and a womens tournament.
European Individual Championships (men and female)
This event is taking place from March 6th to 18th 2010 in Rijeka, Croatia. It is open to all players representing the chess federations which comprise the European Chess Union (FIDE zones 1.1 to 1.9) regardless of their title or rating. There is also no limit of participants per federation.
Top players include Almasi, Bacrot, Movsesian, Navara, Vallejo, Motylev, Adams, Tomashevsky, Alekseev, Naiditsch, Akopian, Volokitin, Bologan and Jobava. 18 players from Armenia are participating.
The event is being organized by the chess club “Rijeka” together with the Croatian Chess Federation under the auspices of the City of Rijeka and the European Chess Union. All players who represent chess federations of the European Chess Union are eligible to participate. The European Championship is a qualification event for the next World Cup, with 22 players qualifying.
The championship is an 11 round Swiss tournament with a playing rate of 90 minutes for 40 moves, 30 minutes for the rest of the game, and an increment of 30 seconds per move starting from move one. As always, the tournament is run in accordance with the ECU Tournament Rules and FIDE Rules of Chess.
Games start at 3:30 p.m. EST. Saturday, March 13 is a rest day.
The tournament website is truly well done and it is possible to follow games live. The address is http://www.eurorijeka2010.com/home Tons of pics, videos, games and other information to keep you busy!
There is a total of 180,000 euros in prizes, with 1st place in the men’s tournament walking away with 20k and in the women’s tournament 10k.
Spectators? No! These pretty ladies are all participants in the European Individual Championship! All of them are experienced masters!
I am enjoying following this tournament very much. The play is sharp and entertaining. Many great games have been played (I will present about a dozen here in the following days) and, surprisingly, an unusal number of blunders have also been seen. Probably the pressure of having almost 200 Grandmasters under one roof has been creating psychic waves!?
This kind of tournament is what chess is all about! Very different from the closed and elitist tournaments like Linares, this tournament gives the opportunity to everybody to play some of the greatest players of the day, to match wits and seek fame and fortune. It is , in my opinion, sad that great players such as Ivanchuk and Aronian, Shirov and Anand are not participating.
B.Jobava (born 1983) leads the championship after 8 rounds
The classification of the first 46 players , after the completion of the 8th round (yesterday), is given below. As we can see, the Georgian star Jobava has isolated himself from the pack with 7 points. Right below him are 3 players with half a point less (Efimenko, Sokolov and Nepomniachtchi (phew!) ). Right below them is a hungry pack of 13 wolves just a half point less. And so on…the tournament is extremely close and it is still too early to make predictions. With 3 rounds to go, it is possible that someone not on the chart below can end up winning!
THE MAKING OF A WORLD CHAMPION
One player who has caught my eye is the young Russian star Ian Nepomniachtchi (born July 14,1990). I am very impressed with Ian , so much so that I will go so far as to predict that he could be a World Champion contender sometime in the next 5 years!
His current rating is 2657 and after 8 rounds he finds himself with 6.5 points, half a point shy of first place. His play is very scientific, well prepared and Ian has a nice style for the spectators: his games usually finish with some flashy tactics.
Learning the game at age 4, Ian soon afterwards started attending chess classes, quickly showing talent and great love for the game. He won the European Youth Chess Championship three times, in 2000 in the U10 class and in 2001 and 2002 in the U12 class, having defeated Magnus Carlsen enroute. In 2002 he also won the World Youth Chess Championship in the U12 class.
Ian (left) about to play GM Tregubov when he was 13 years old. Ian’s first loss
By winning the Aeroflot Open in Moscow in February 2008 (!), he qualified for the 2008 Dortmund Sparkassen Chess Meeting.
Ian playing top Armenian star Aronian
Ian Nepomniachtchi’s progress to the top has been carefully measured and consistant. His current trainer is Sergie Janovsky and it is likely that he will break the 2700 barrier sometime this year. Below is Ian’s FIDE rating chart over the years. One can not help notice how much progress he has made, and how he has never had a setback.
Today Nepomniachtchi (W) plays Jobava (B). The news just came in that Nepomniachtchi crushed Jobava in 31 moves. I will analyze the game tomorrow!
POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 34th MOVE (34…Rb6)
The opening was a Spanish game, an opening which Ian plays as expertly as Anand or Kasparov. Black has been under pressure since the early middlegame, and while he has defended as best he could, Ian has succeeded in positioning his pieces well. White is now ready for the break thru.
A stock sacrifice that brings all of Black’s problems to the fore: Black has no choice but to take the Knight.33… Kxf7 34. ed
opening up the e-file34… cd 35. Rc7!
Now if 35… Qa6 White wins handily with 36. Ng5 Kg8 37. Qxa6 Rxa6 38. Nxe6 when further losses will follow. Clearly Black can not take the Rook with the Knight because White will simply take the Knight on e7 and next the Rook on d8, all with check!35… Rd7
Best under the circumstances, but Black is busted in anycase. Please see the pgn-viewer above to see how Ian finished the game 9 moves later.
POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 18th MOVE (18…Bxd5)
The position is almost balanced except that Black’s Queen is offside and plays an unproductive role. For this reason Ian decides to start active operations on the other side of the board.
The opening of the f-file is bad news to Black19… ef 20. Bxf4 Re8
Threatening to win the White Queen (…Bc5ch
A nice move that strengthens White’s center
White is not afraid of ghosts! The Rook on the e-file does not prevent White from following thru on his intentions. Black now tries to ease his position with an exchange of his dark square Bishop21… Bg5 22. Qf2 Bxf4 23. Qxf4 Nf6
Black seems quite fine, but Ian finds a way to build up pressure24. Ne3!
Now if 24… Re7 25. Qg3 threatening Nf524… Be625. Qf3!
I think that Black began to realize about now that something is not quite right in his position. The Bishop on a4 is particularly annoying, and the Black Queen finds herself very uncomfortably placed having to play nursemaid to the Black Knight on c625… Bd7 26. Nd5!
Watch how White’s Knights come to life26… Re6 27. Ne4! ouch!
With just simple moves Nepomniachtchi has managed to create serious threats, here specifically on c5 and f6. His play reminds me a lot of the young Anatoly Karpov and the Cuban Capablanca. Black now has no choice but to grab the best of a bad bargain…27… Nxe4 28. Qxf7 Kh8 29. Qxd7
The smoke has cleared and Black is busted. White has various manners to win material.29… Rd6
30. Bxc6 Rxc6 Ofcourse 30… Qxc6 is possible, but after 31. Qxc6 Rxc6 32. Nxb4 White wins with ease in an ending. Black prefers to go try his chances in the middlegame. 31. Qe7!?
Hitting the Knight on e4 and in some lines threatening to bring his King Rook into play. Black is not given a chance to breath…31… Rd632. Rf8!32… Rxf8 33. Qxf8 Kh7
The exchange of Rooks has helped White to proceed with his attack34. Ne7!
Threatening mate in one move!34… Nf6 forced
Now if only Black can have one move to bring his Queen into play…35. Rf1! Decisive
There is no defence to White taking on f6 and then mating on g8. Black resigns. Notice that the Black Queen never moved from b7. There is a moral here somewhere…