SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
(This is part 2 of the series that I am presenting on this blog this week for the duration of the championship)
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.
Below we can see the first 26 places of the tournament at the end of 6 rounds of play. Efimenko and Jobava are half a point ahead of 5 players, and a large group is just half a point behind them. Today was the middle of the tournament, and with 5 rounds left anything is still possible.
I continue with snapshots of some of the most interesting games and positions. The following game is from Round 5.
One of the most brilliant games of the year! The Romanian star introduced an important theoretical novelty
POSITION AFTER BLACK’S 13th MOVE (13…Qd7)
Both players have entered into a complex but popular opening variation. White has sacrificed a pawn earlier in order to develop quickly and put pressure on the Black position. In particular, the Black King is in a delicate situation while confined to the center.
Normal now is for White to exchange Queens (it had been thought necessary, but this game will clearly change that mindset) when it appears that Black is ok. One such game continued 14. Qxd7 Nxd7 15. ed Bf6 16. Nc3 O-O-O with counterplay, 0-1, 55 moves, Shulman,Y – Bacrot,E , Montreal-2009
14… Nb4! This move was thought by the theoreticians to be too strong to be allowed…
Now if 15. Qd2?! de is fine for Black; or if 15. Qb3 Bd5! 16. Qe3 de 17. Nc3 e4 18. Ne1 Qe6 and Black is fine again.
15… Ba6 Virtually forced
Now if 16. Qd2 Ne4! 17. Qe3 d5!
It is too late for Black to do otherwise.
17… Nxa1 18. ef Bxf6
Depressing would be18… gf 19. b4 O-O-O 20. Bb2 and White will soon be completely dominating the board
It is good to take stock: White should be able to pick up the Knight on a1, and so the relative piece count will be (not counting pawns) that White will have two minor pieces for a Rook. But this is where the pawn count is important: Black will have 2 pawns and a Rook for two minor pieces. Should he be able to advance his d-pawn and then support them with his Rooks, then he will be looking to a promising future.
The problem is, however, (and this Nisipeanu probably worked out at home in his preparations) that Black will not have time to do all of this, and White will be able to put his pieces into really strong squares and outposts.
It appears, after studying this game, that Black might just lost in the above position! However, we spectators can enjoy the fine play that Nisipeanu continues with in exploiting his possibilities
19. Re1! This disorganizes Black’s pieces even further.
Of course not19. Ne5 Bxe5 20. Bxa8 O-O 21. Bg2 Re8 and Black is better
Now insufficient is 19… Kf8 20. Ne5!; Or if 19… Kd8 20. Nc3 Re8 21. Rd1! And Black hás not solved any of his problems
No doubt a painful decision, as the Bishop is poorly posed here.
20. Nc3 Aiming to go to d5
Now 20… Bb7 solves nothing since after 21. Qe2 Kf8 22. Bf4! Re8 23. Rxa1 Black still has development problems
20… O-O?! Finally, but it is too late: White now pounces with his minor pieces
The only chance is to castle long. Black can fight still, but I don’t see how Black will defend in the long run after the manoeuvre Qd5-d3; Bd2 and Rxa1; then a4! and a5! I believe that the White minor pieces combined with the opening of the a-file must win. But it would still be a fight in a practical game…
Of course not 21… Qc7?? 22. Nd5 Qd8 23. Nc6 winning immediately
22. Nc6! A really strong move
Now if 22… Bf6?! 23. Nd5 threatens to rip open the Black Kingside, so Black must go back
A picturesque position! The two Knights dominate the entire Black army. Of course Black can not take the knight on c6 because it will cost him his Queen
There is nothing better. If 23… Kh8 24. Nxd8 Qxd8 (24… Rxd8 25. b3) 25. Qc3! Re8 26. Be3 Qd7 27. Rxa1 Bb7?! 28. Nf6 and Black is dead lost
The White Bishop will be very strong along the a1-h8 diagonal, and will be able to participate in any Kingside attack that White conjures up
Black must try to get rid of those White Knights
About the same thing is 25. Re4!? Nxb3 26. ab Qd7 27. Nce7 Kh8 28. Bb2
Now best is 25… Qd7 but even so, after 26. Nce7 Kh8 27. Bb2 it is likely that White will soon have a winning combination against the Black Kingside.
25… Qh5?? But this just loses the house
The Black Queen will now become a target for the White Knights, and Black will lose a piece in the process of her Majesty’s flight
26… Kh8 27. Nf4!
Now after 27… Qh6 28. Nf5 Qf6 29. Bxb7 Qxf5 30. Bxa8 White is simply up material. Black resigns.[1:0] _________________________________________________________________ SNAPSHOTS FROM ROUND 4
Andrei Volokitin (born 1986) became a GM at 15. Ukrainian champion in 2004, his peak rating has been 2691. He has an aggressive style of play and excellent combinative vision.
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 23rd MOVE (23.Rc1)
Things have not been going very well for Black since the early middlegame, but that is no excuse for jumping from the pan into the fire! Black is a pawn down with little compensation, but he can still put up stiff resistance. The White b and d pawns are both targets.
But what can one really do when we should have never gotten out of bed? Black’s next move is a real blunder!
23…Rxb5 ??? 24. QxR! oops! Black forgot about his back rank! If he now recaptures the White Queen then 25.Rc8ch will soon be mate. Black resigns
Grandmaster Ivan Sokolov (born 1968 of Bulgarian father and Croatian mother) has been one of Europe’s strongest grandmasters for almost 2 decades. He was once married to a Canadian woman and had a home in Toronto, but lives today in Holland.
He thought very briefly about playing for Canada, and asked my advice. I was quite honest in my evaluation of Canadian chess (brutally honest, in the best Canadian tradition) , about how even the CFC has no respect for the game, about the rampant corruption (and this was long before the times of Hal Bond and his side-kick Barry Thorvardsson, and the disappearance of 120,000 dollars from Trillium Foundation!) , the Ottawa and Toronto chess-mafias and how under these general circumstances no corporate sponsor wants to get involved. When I saw him the next time, he told me that I had exaggerated: it was much worse than I had told him!! By that time he had even divorced his Canadian wife…and she didn’t even play chess!
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 31st MOVE (31.Qh4)
Up to now a typical Sokolov mess! Now he appears to be getting the better of it, but it is still a tough fight. Black should now play 31…Nbd5 Instead, Black immediately blundered and had to resign 2 moves later!
Probably with the idea of continuing with Nd4 shutting out the White Bishop. He must have competely overlooked Sokolov’s next move
32. Bxf6! gxf6 (He can not take the Rook because of Qg5 mating
33. Be4 ouch!!
Threatening both mate on h7 and the Knight on c2. White wins a piece. Black resigns._________________________________________________________
Tamir Nabaty (born 1991) is an Israeli youngster with a bright future
POSITION AFTER WHITE’S 32nd MOVE (32.Qxh8)
After some real cowboy chess (wild, crazy and chaotic) where I have to confess I did not understand anything that was going on (!), the smoke has cleared and White is simply up a piece for nothing. Rather than resign, Black tries one last trick…
32…Qe3ch 33.Kh1 Qf2!!??
Cute and appropriately desperate!
Will the youngster fall for it? (34.RxQ?? Re1ch mates) This tactic reminds me of a famous game between Bobby Fischer and his arch-rival Sammy Reshevsky (Palma, 1970)
Fischer had just played 30…Qf2 and Reshevsky resigned since 31.Rg1 is met by the crushing 31…Re1
34. Nd5ch! Very nice!
The Israeli player does not fall for such tricks. If now Black takes the Knight then White plays 35.Qc3ch (covering e1!) and then takes the Black Queen next move
34…Kd7! White can still not take the Queen
35. Qc8 ch!! A real shocker
Black resigns! If Black takes the Queen then White captures the Rook with check and then the Black Queen. Or if Black plays 35…Kd6 then 36.Qd8ch does the same thing.