2004 European Club Cup
While Peter Leko and Vladimir Kramnik duel in Switzerland, most of the
world's top players have congregated in Cesme, Turkey for the European Club
Cup. After four rounds (of seven), super-power NAO Chess Club of France has
taken the clear lead by being the only team to win all of its matches. Four
heavyweight teams are a point back and the matches between the leaders are still
would think that NAO would be vulnerable by the absence of their first board,
Vladimir Kramnik. You would think that until you saw the rest of their line-up.
Put it this way, Teimour Radjabov is rated 2663 and he's on board six! England's
Mickey Adams has taken the mantle of top board. Those two, together with
Bacrot and Vallejo Pons, gives NAO the top-rated players from four different
countries. (Azerbaijan, England, France, Spain.)
This Real Madrid of the chess world has yet to give up even a drawn match.
NAO predictably crushed weaker teams in the first rounds and then continued
to crush even the stronger teams. In round four they wiped out the powerful
Tomsk 400 led by Alexander Khalifman with a 5-1 score. Tomsk is supposed to
have Alexander Morozevich on board one, but the mercurial Russian hasn't shown
up in Cesme. He has a history of late drop-outs and his exciting chess will
A local open? No, the world's best packed in side by side.
Many eyes have been on the world's top ranked player, Garry Kasparov, who is
leading the Max Ven Ekaterinburg team, which has the second-highest average
rating. Last year in this event Kasparov stormed out with four straight wins
before a shocking blunder and loss to Huzman. This year he started out with
a loss, losing to Rublevsky in a rook and pawn endgame.
Maybe it was the shirt? Rublevsky beat Kasparov in round two.
Kasparov got back on track in the next round thanks to one of his favorite
customers, Alexei Shirov. We've applied the mercy rule and stopped counting
how many losses for Shirov that makes against Kasparov without a win. Let's
just say it's over a dozen.
Just what Kasparov needed after a loss: white against Shirov.
Postcard from a real chess tourist
Before the third round we received an email with a unique onsite report from
one of the players. Instead of boring Grandmaster game analysis, we got interesting
tidbits from Jonathan O'Connor, the second board of the 35th-ranked (of
36) Dublin Chess Club, where he is also the Secretary. It shouldn't surprise
that Jonathan's eyes were on the collection of chess stars he was suddenly playing
with as much as on the board. He even got an autograph from Kasparov after his
loss and lived to tell the tale. (Jonathan also wrote an
interesting article for ChessBase last year.)
I'm a real chess tourist playing for Dublin CC here in Turkey. It's absolutely
wonderful that ordinary club players like myself can play in the same competition
as players like Kasparov.
Yesterday, of course, was not a good day for Garry. I watched the end of
the game behind a wall of people crowding the edge of the room. Garry was shaking
his head. More to shake off tiredness than saying his position was bad. In the
last few minutes, Rublevsky kept glancing at Kasparov, trying to see when Garry
would accept his position was lost. Once he played Rf5, Garry resigned immediately,
his hand shooting across the board. Score sheets were signed, and he left the
playing hall at high speed.
Later, he ate in the restaurant with all the other players. According to
my team mate, Eddie O'Connor, he seemed jovial enough. However, an hour later
I found myself standing beside him at the notice board, looking the standings,
and he was furious. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I got him to
autograph a chess book I had in my hand. He did it, but he never said a word.
I don't feel particularly good about this.
You should also have a look at the game Pinter-Shirov. The times on the
clocks were Pinter 30 minutes, Shirov 90 seconds. Shirov had the 2 bishops against
B+N. [With pawns. -ed.] And he played to win. Amazingly he succeeded.
He looked pretty happy about it too, when he signed the scoresheets.
As for my own games, Ivanchuk said I played perfectly in yesterday's game
Agopov-O'Connor. I think I'll frame that comment! And I was quite pleased with
my win today. Not bad for a tourist!
BTW, No sign of Morozevich.
Ciao, Jonathan O'Connor
add to Ivanchuk's praise. O'Connor played a brilliant attack to win with black
against a player rated 200 points higher in his trouncing of Agopov. First he
sacrificed the exchange to crash through and here finished things off with a
splendid series as White's heavy pieces look on helplessly.
Agopov-O'Connor after 22.Kc1
22...Rd3! 23.cxd3? Allowing a quick end. [23.Qg4 Qxc3 24.Ra2 (24.Kb1
Re3 The pawns will triumph quickly.) 24...Qd2+ 25.Kb1 Re3-+] 23...Qxc3+ 24.Kb1
Qb3+ 25.Kc1 c3 26.Rb1 Qxa3+ 27.Kd1 [ 27.Kc2 Ba4+ 28.Rb3 Qb2+ 29.Kd1 Qd2#]
27...Qa2 0-1 [ 27...Qa2 28.Ke1 Qxb1+ 29.Kf2 c2]
Replay and download selected games from
Player photo gallery
Alexander Khalifman – Teimour Radjabov
Boris Gelfand – Sergey Movsesian
The 2004 European Club Cup is being played in Izmir Cesme (Smyrna) in Turkey.
A total of 36 men's and 10 women's teams from 22 countries are taking part.
Looking at the list of participants we have counted a total of 86 GMs and 41
IMs. Remarkable there are 38 players rated over 2600. The star, of course, is
Garry Kasparov, playing for the Max Ven Ekaterinburg, together with Vaganian,
Aleksandrov, Beliavsky, Motylev, Rustemov and Shariyazdanov. The Elo average
of 2682 is second to the NAO Chess Club, with Adams, Grischuk, Bacrot, Vallejo
Pons, Lautier, Radjabov, Fressinet and Nataf, with an average of 2698. The lowest
average is 1717, held by the team Minatori Mitrovice.
All pictures from the official tournament page