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Bobby Ang

Chess Piece

19th European Individual Championship
Batumi, Georgia
March 16-29, 2018

Final Top Standings

1. GM Ivan Saric CRO 2657, 8.5/11

2-8. GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek POL 2738, GM Sanan Sjugirov RUS 2652, GM Gawain CB Jones ENG 2651, GM Maxim Matlakov RUS 2707, LGM Luke McShane ENG 2647, GM Anton Korobov UKR 2664, GM Eltaj Safarli AZE 2639, 8.0/11

9-24. GM Tamir Nabaty ISR 2690, GM Evgeniy Najer RUS 2683, GM Anton Demchenko RUS 2672, GM Nils Grandelius SWE 2646, GM Daniil Yuffa RUS 2521, GM David Navara CZE 2737, GM Ernesto Inarkiev RUS 2684, GM Robert Hovhannisyan ARM 2601, GM Ivan Cheparinov BUL 2693, GM Benjamin Bok NED 2622, IM Miguel Santos Ruiz ESP 2488, GM Nijat Abasov AZE 2608, GM Arman Pashikian ARM 2585, GM Alexey Sarana RUS 2577, GM David Anton Guijarro ESP 2647, GM Mircea-Emilian Parligras ROU 2642, , 7.5/11

Total Number of Participants: 302

Time Control: 90 minutes for the first 40 moves then 30 minutes play-to-finish with 30 seconds added after every move starting move 1.

The 19th European Individual Chess Championship was held March 17-28 in the Sheraton Hotel in Batumi, Georgia. It was an 11-round swiss system tournament with a total of 302 players from 34 federations participating, 135 of whom were grandmasters.

The top 23 players will qualify for the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk next year. GM David Anton Guijarro of Spain and Mircea-Emilian Parligras of Romania finished on the exact same tiebreaks on 23rd place, so there was a question as to whether they should play a match to determine who will go to Khanty-Mansiysk but the organizers decided to do away with any playoff as anyway chances are some players who finished higher in the tournament might qualify by rating instead and one or two additional slots could open up.

Several high-profile players were not able to finish in the top 23 — for example the highest rated player and no. 1 seed Dmitry Jakovenko with his ultra-solid style had too many draws and finished in 52nd (!) place. Paco Vallejo Pons (4th seed) had to withdraw for personal reasons. Other non-qualifiers are hometown favorite Baadur Jobava and former FIDE World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov.

Ivanchuk alternated beautiful wins with disastrous losses and in the end finished half a point short of qualification. For example you have just got to see this: Ivanchuk comes up with a new idea and when Ivanisevic does not respond in the most accurate fashion he gets an iron grip on the position and does not let go.

Ivanisevic, Ivan (2587) — Ivanchuk, Vassily (2713) [D11]
19th ch-EUR Indiv 2018 Batumi GEO (9.21), 26.03.2018

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.g3 Bg4 5.Ne5 Bf5 6.Nc3 e6 7.Qb3 Nbd7!?

A new move, completely ignoring his weakness on b7. Everybody else played 7…Qb6 here.

8.cxd5

Taking the pawn on b7 right away is met by 8.Qxb7 Nxe5 9.dxe5 Nd7 10.Qxc6 Rc8 11.Qa6 d4 followed by Bb4+ and the White King is brought out to the center of the board.

8…Nxd5 9.Qxb7 Nxe5 10.dxe5 Bb4 11.Qxc6+ Kf8 12.Bd2 Rc8 13.Qa4 a5 14.Bg2 Nxc3 15.bxc3 Rxc3 16.Qd1

White has to watch out for tactical tricks. For example 16.Rd1 Qxd2+! 17.Rxd2 Rc1+ White has to give back the queen and after 18.Qd1 Rxd1+ 19.Kxd1 Ke7! Black’s two bishops is going to give him trouble.

16…Bc2 17.Qc1 Rc4 18.Bxb4+ axb4 19.Qb2 Ke7 20.0–0 Qa5 21.Rfc1 Rhc8 22.e3 Rc3 23.Bf3 Qc5

Chuckie’s idea is to play 24…Be4! 25.Rxc3 bxc3 26.Qe2 Bxf3 27.Qxf3 c2 when the passed pawn on c2 will give White fits. For example… 28.Rc1 Qb5 29.e4 Qb2 30.Qe3 Qxa2 and Black has all the play.

24.Re1 h6 25.Bd1 Be4 26.Ba4 Ra8 27.Bb3 Qxe5 28.Rac1 Rac8 29.Qd2 Qc5 30.Rcd1 Bd3 31.e4 Bb5 32.Qd4 Qxd4 33.Rxd4 Rc1 34.Rxc1

After 34.Rdd1 Rxd1 35.Rxd1 Be2 36.Re1 Bf3 it is not so hard to break Black’s grip on the position. He will be following up with g7–g5 and h7–h5 with all sorts of threats.

34…Rxc1+ 35.Kg2

This is Ivanisevic’s idea — the b4–pawn cannot be held. Is he out of the woods now?

35…Bf1+ 36.Kf3 Rc3+ 37.Kg4 Be2+ 38.Kh3 <D

POSITION AFTER 38.KH3

38…g5! 39.Rxb4?

Correct is 39.f4! gxf4 40.Kg2 fxg3 41.hxg3 White is still inferior but at least he is not being mated.

39…h5!

With the idea of Bf1 checkmate.

40.Kg2 Bf3+ 41.Kh3 Rc1! 0–1

Black intends to play Rg1 followed by Bg2 mate. The only way to avoid this entails ruinous material loss, so Ivanisevic gives up.

Going over the list of qualifiers I notice the name of GM Gawain Jones, the reigning British Chess Champion. He is one of my favorite players as he plays the openings which I used to play myself, for example the Sicilian Dragon and the King’s Indian. Here is one such thriller.

Baron, Tal (2529) — Jones, Gawain C B (2651) [E81]
19th ch-EUR Indiv 2018 Batumi GEO (2.20), 18.03.2018

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 0–0 6.Be3 c5 7.Nge2 Nc6 8.d5 Ne5

If this variation seems familiar to you, that is because the game Bersamina vs Pichot from the Baku Olympiad also started out this way.

9.Ng3 h5 10.Be2 h4 11.Nf1 e6 12.Bg5

Bersamina-Pichot continued 12.f4 Nxc4!? the jury is still out whether this sacrifice is sound or not, but as of now Black is scoring 60% with it. 13.Bxc4 b5 14.Bxb5 exd5 15.exd5 Rb8 16.h3 Nh5 17.Be2 Rxb2 18.Rc1 Re8 19.Kf2 Ng3 20.Nxg3 hxg3+ 21.Kf3 Qh4 22.Qg1 Bf5 23.Bb5 Re7 24.Bxc5 dxc5 25.d6 g5 26.fxg5 Be4+ 27.Nxe4 Qxe4+ 28.Kxg3 Be5# 0–1 (28) Bersamina,P (2408)-Pichot,A (2536) Baku 2016.

12…Qb6 13.Qd2 exd5 14.cxd5 h3 15.gxh3 Bxh3 16.Ne3 Nh7 17.Bf4 Qd8

Black is threatening 18…Ng5 with a double attack on f3. This more or less forces his opponent to exchange off his dark-squared bishop with 19.Bxe5 Bxe5 and now Black has a foothold on d4.

18.Bg3

Maybe better is to castle queenside.

18…Ng5 19.Qd1

With the counter-threat of f4.

19…b5! 20.f4 b4 21.Na4 Nxe4 22.Qc2

[22.fxe5 Bxe5 23.Bxe5 dxe5 and now White cannot prevent Qh4+. After 24.Rg1 Qh4+ 25.Rg3 Nxg3 26.hxg3 Qxg3+ 27.Kd2 Qf4 Black has a winning attack]

22…Re8! 23.fxe5 Bxe5 24.Nf1

[24.0–0–0 Qg5! the White knight on e3 is defenseless if 25.Qd3 then 25…c4!]

24…Bxf1! 25.Rxf1 Bxg3+ 26.hxg3 Nxg3 27.Rf2 Nxe2 28.Kf1 0–1

Tal Baron avoids 28.Rxe2 Qh4+ 29.Kf1 Qh1+; 28.Kf1 but now he notices that Gawain can play 28…Nd4 followed by Qh4 so he resigns without waiting for Black’s reply.

And another.

Jones,Gawain C B (2651) — Inarkiev, Ernesto (2684) [B51]
19th ch-EUR Indiv 2018 Batumi GEO (7.3), 24.03.2018

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bb5+ Nd7 4.a4

GM Krisztian Szabo wrote a theoretical on this line in NIC Yearbook 126. He say “this is a new and fashionable idea. White avoids the direct lines (4.d4 and 4.0–0) and goes for a positional way to handle this line. First he stops Black’s queenside pawns, avoiding the quick …a7–a6, …b7–b5 plans, and then he plays the natural developing moves 0–0, Nc3 and d2–d3 or d2–d4. This line was played in 2017 by Magnus Carlsen, Michael Adams, Gata Kamsky, Gawain Jones, Aleksandra Goryachkina and others.”

4…Ngf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 b6 7.0–0 Bb7 8.Re1 g6 9.d4 cxd4 10.Nxd4 Bg7 11.Bg5 h6

Of course not 11…Nxe4? 12.Nxe4 Bxe4 13.Bc4 the bishop cannot move because of the weakness of the e7 square.

12.Bh4 0–0 13.Bc4 Re8 14.Nf3 Qc7 15.Bb3 Rac8 16.Qd2 Qc5 17.Rad1 Nh5 18.Nd5

Threatening Nxe7+, which explains Black’s next move.

18…g5 19.Bxg5 hxg5 20.Qxg5 e6 21.Ne7+ Rxe7

Inarkiev didn’t believe in White’s attack, otherwise he would have gone for 21…Kf8 22.Nxc8 Qxg5 23.Nxg5 Bxc8 24.Rxd6 where he has bishop and knight vs white’s rook and 3 pawns. Both sides have chances.

22.Qxe7 Nhf6

The white queen is in danger of getting trapped by …Bf8.

23.Bxe6 fxe6 24.Qxe6+ Kf8?

Inarkiev must have missed something. 24…Kh8 leads to 25.Qh3+ Qh5 26.Qxh5+ Nxh5 27.Rxd6 Nc5 with still a big fight ahead of us.

25.Nh4 Qg5?

[25…Ne5 only move]

26.Qxd6+ Kg8

[26…Ke8 27.Nf5 Bf8 28.Qe6+ Kd8 29.h4 wins]

27.Qe6+ Kh7

The king cannot go back anymore because of 27…Kf8 28.Rxd7 Nxd7 29.Ng6+

28.Nf3 Qf4 29.Qh3+ Qh6 30.Ng5+ Kg8 31.Qe6+ Kh8 32.Nf7+ Kh7 33.Nxh6 Nc5 34.Qf5+ Kxh6 35.Re3 Bh8 36.Rg3 1–0

 

Bobby Ang is a founding member of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines and its first Executive Director. A Certified Public Accountant, he taught accounting in the University of Santo Tomas for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.

bobby@cpamd.net