The European Club Cup is presently taking place in the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv and has attracted many of the world’s top rated players. There is a separate competition for women, no doubt the logical result of a boom in interest in women chess in recent years. The men’s competition is referred to as the ‘open‘ competition, as it might include one or two female participants, and is the primary focus of interest and prestige of this club event.
WOMEN COMPETITON(top 50 rated players)
According to the regulations, each European country member of the ECU (European Chess Union) may participate in this tournament. Depending on how well developed and organized the club championship is in each country, 2 or even 3 clubs may participate from that country.
Ekonomist SGSEU Saratov (Russia), is the current cup holder in the men’s competition, while Spartak Vidnoe (Russia), is the current cup holder in the women’s competition.
The highest rated team is SOCAR (Azerbaïdjan) ,with an average rating of 2732 Elo. The players include: Mamedyarov, Grischuk, Shirov, Radjabov , Vachier-Lagrave, Rustam Kasimdzhanov, Mamedov and Safarli. That is some team!
A total of 351 players will participate in the open section, of which 135 GMs, 61 IMs, and 247 titled altogether. The women section will have 64 players with 10 GMs, 23 IMs, and 51 players titled.
FIDE president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov inaugurating the championship yesterday.
SOME GAMES AND POSITIONS FROM ROUND 1
THE BIG BANG
POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 28th MOVE:
Black has been suffering for a while now, but White finds a way to put an end to it!
29.Rxb7ch! KxR 30.Rb1ch Ka7 31.Be3ch
It is forced mate. Black resigns
THE SMALL BANG
POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 31st MOVE:STOJCEVSKIVachier-Lagrave
32. Bxg5! hxg5 33. Rxg5 Kh8 34. Qg6!?
Black’s position is horrible: the 2 Knights do nothing, the Queen is out of play and the King position is wide open and just waiting for the axe to fall. The young French grandmaster does not miss his chance:
Good enough, but perhaps 34. Bc4 Qxf3 35. Kg1 is quicker34… Qh7 35. Rh5!
The point! With the Bishop coming to c4 anytime now and the h-pawn ready to advance, Black is hopeless. See the pgn viewer for the whole game!
A VERY COOL SHOT!
POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 28th MOVE:
Black’s threat (29…Qa1ch) means that White must probably take on f7 and exchange 2 Rooks for the Queen. However, in the resulting ending it is not clear if White would be able to make any headway because Black’s position is just so solid. And playing 29.Rxd6 cd6 30. Rd3 is answered very effectively by 30…Na5! WHAT DID WHITE COME UP WITH?
A magnificent finesse that leads to a won ending. Clearly Black can not take the Queen because of mate in 3 moves!
29… Qd5 30. Rdxf7! Qxf7 31. Rxf7 Kxf7 32. Qb3! Ke7 33. Qxb7
Now all of Black’s pawns are vulnerable. White won on the 55th move. Take a look at the whole game in the pgn viewer!
CANNON FODDER!POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 12th MOVE (12.Qf3):BERNARDYEMELIN
Black is worse but not dead. Here he should consider 12… Ne7!?, and after 13. Nxc6 Qb7! 14. Ne5 Qxf3 15. Nxf3 c4!? he would have a lot of fight left in him despite the pawn deficit. Instead, probably feeling depressed, Black jumps from the proverbial frying pan into the fire:12… Bxe5? 13. Qxc6 ch! Ke7
Now what happens to Black is gruesome. I recommend readers with a sensitive stomach to not watch the rest…14. Rxe5! Qxe5 15. Qb7 ch!
A precise move designed to increase Black’s torment. Objectively best is now 15… Ke8 but after 16. Qxa8 ch Kd7 17. Nd2 it is completely depressing. 15… Kd6?! 16. Na3! There is nothing quite like developing a Knight that also threatens mate in 1 move!
16… Qe1 ch 17. Kg2 Be4 ch!?
Why should Black also not join in the fun? If instead 17… Qb4 18. Nc4! looks convincing enough. I suppose Black’s idea is that if White captures with the Queen then Black exchanges Queens and survives a lot longer. 18. dxe4 Qb4 What else?
19. Bf4 ch e5 20. Rd1 ch Ke6 21. Qd7ch It is mate next move!
The 2010 British Champion, Mickey Adams, proved that he is in top shape today, cleverly exploiting a tiny error from his less experienced rival. Adams is probably the very best player in the world in ‘cat and mouse’
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 26th MOVE (26.Bf1):
A typical Spanish Opening position. Not much is happening; Black has to worry about b5 and d6; White has to find a way to out-manoeuvre (cat and mouse) Black so that he can make something out of it! I evaluate the position as being only slightly better for White.
Black should sit and wait, intelligently, anticipating a long and protracted struggle. Instead, Black misplaced his Bishop with 26…Bd8(?) and this gave Adams the opportunity to spring on his opponent with the surprising 27.c4! See the pgn viewer for happened next!
POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 31st MOVE:
VAN DER WERF
White has an obvious positional advantage and a sacrifice on e5 is begging to be made! Alekseev does not disappoint…the 2 White Bishops soon become dominating.32. Nxe5! dxe5 33. Rxe5!?
Also strong is 33. Bxe5 Rxe5 34. Rxe5, but Alekseev wanted to preserve the Bishop pair. 33… Reg7 34. Rd5! Qf8 35. Be5 Nf6
Here Alekseev misses a relatively quick win with the ironic 36. Rd1! Nxd5 37. Qxg5! when White has serious chances to deliver mate! However, White’s move is also good enough to keep a big advantage, though it now becomes tedious work.36. Rxd8!? Qxd8 37. Qxd8 Rxd8 38. Bxf6
And White went on to win….See how the game went in the pgn viewer below!
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS