2011 European Championship: And then there were...twelve

by Albert Silver
4/2/2011 – With the leader taking his foot off the accelerator, it is not really surprising now to see twelve players sharing the lead with 7.0/9. Notables who joined the leader are Polgar, Jobava, Wojtaszek, and Vallejo-Pons, who is actually ahead on tiebreak. We also have a video report, endgame analysis by GM Karsten Müller and, in reply to the open letter, a video interview with Sébastien Feller.

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The 2011 European Individual Championship (Mixed) is currently underway, and will run from March 21st to April 3rd in Aix-les-Bains, France. The first round is on March 22nd, and the last on April 2nd, with no tie-break matches to decide the final places. Besides determining the title of European Champion, the top 23 finishers also qualify for the 2011 World Cup.

Prizes: place 1-25 (113,700 €): 20,000 €, 15,000 €, 11,000 €, 8,000 €, 7,000 €, 6,000 €, 5,500 €, 5,000 €, 4,500 €, 4,000 €, 3,500 €, 3,000 €, 2,500 €, 2,200 €, 2,000 €, 1,900 €, 1,800 €, 1,700 €, 1,600 €, 1,500 €, 1,400 €, 1,300 €, 1,200 €, 1,100 €, 1,000 €
Special Prizes (perf - rating): 6,300 €: 1,000 €, 800 €, 700 €, 600 €, 500 €, 450 €, 400 €, 350 €, 300 €, 2 x 250 €, 2 x 200 €, 2 x 150 €
Tourney system: Swiss system, 11 rounds
Time control: 90 minutes/40 moves + 30 minutes + 30 seconds/move starting with the first move
Game start: all rounds, everyday 15:00
Rest day: 29th March


The playing hall

Rounds eight and nine

As predicted, the leaderboard is now crowded with players bustling and jostling for the top honors. While Potkin drew his game in round nine, a number of players took advantage to level with him, and there are now no fewer than twelve with 7.0/9. Among those joining him, are Judit Polgar, who has scored three wins in her last three games, Jobava (2707), Vitiugov, Wojtaszek, and slightly more prominently, Spaniard Vallejo-Pons, fresh from his success in Reggio Emilia, and is actually a fraction ahead of Potkin by virtue of tiebreak.

Vallejo Pons,Francisco (2707) - Korobov,Anton (2647) [B06]
12th ch-EUR Aix-les-Bains FRA (9), 31.03.2011

1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.Bg5 h6 5.Bh4 Nc6 6.d5 Nd4 7.Qd2 c5 8.Nd1 Bd7 9.c3 Nb5 10.f4 Nf6 11.Bd3 Nc7 12.Nf3 b5 13.0-0 0-0 14.Bc2 Nh5 15.f5 gxf5. Trying to block the position with 15...g5?








has the straightforward counter 16.Bxg5! hxg5 17.Qxg5 Nf6 18.Ne3 c4 19.Qh4! Followed by g4-g5 and a fierce attack. 16.exf5 Nf6 17.Ne3 Bc8 18.a4 a6 19.b3 Bb7 20.c4 Qd7 21.Bxf6 exf6. Black is dead in the water and it is only a question of time. 22.Ng4 h5 23.Nf2 Rfe8 24.Ne4 bxc4 25.bxc4 a5 26.Ng3 Na6 27.Nxh5 Nb4 28.Qf4 Kf8 29.Be4 Ba6 30.Rac1 Bh8 31.Nh4 Ke7








32.Ng6+! fxg6 33.fxg6 Kd8 34.Bf5 Qe7 35.Rce1 Qf8 36.g7 Bxg7 37.Nxg7 Kc7 38.Rxe8 Rxe8 39.Ne6+ Rxe6 40.dxe6 1-0. [Click to replay]

One trend that has been noted is the massive caution applied once reaching the top. It is not merely Potkin who has draw three straight games, but one need only recall the rather surprising draw fest in round seven on all the top boards. In round nine, all those who had already drawn level with Potkin drew, and the wins came from those chasing from behind. This might seem a safe approach, but remember that contrary to past years where matches were played to break the ties, this year the rules explicitly state no such matches will take place. Gentlemen (and gentlewomen), may the hostilities begin!

We also bring you some endgame analysis from the CBM Blog, in which the tireless endgame expert GM Karsten Mueller takes a look at a rook endgame from an earlier round.

Young Hungarian grandmaster Richard Rapport provided us with more proof of Dr Tarrasch's old maxim by defending actively in this Aix-les-Bains game.

All rook endings are drawn

Note that in the replay window below you can click on the notation to follow the game.

 

Europe Echecs was kind enough to provide an English video report.

We are also including their French video report as it contains a short interview of Sébastien Feller, with comments on the Open Letter, and the current status of the cheating affair.

 

For the non-French speakers, here is a translated transcription of the cheating-related questions and answers:

Robert Fontaine (Europe-Echecs): Did the open letter bother you as well as the attitude of some players. Could you also tell me where you are at in the affair with Cyril (Marzolo) and Arnaud (Hauchard)?

Sébastien Feller: The open letter is bothersome to be sure. To wake up in the morning and see something like that. I think it is something they should have done at the start of the event, and not the day before playing me. I think it is also to put psychological pressure on me above all, and to destabilize me. As to the affair, I try not to think too much about it during my event, to focus on my games and my preparation, since it is very time-consuming. For the moment we are going to wait to see how it unravels in the courts, plus my father is taking care of this so I can concentrate on my games.

Concretely, what is the process now? You are going to appeal and this can lead to penal courts?

Well, we are going to appeal, and it will depend on the decision of the Appeals Committee. We also initiated legal action suing for damages.

So it can take quite a few months still.

Yes, it's possible.

Good luck in the last two rounds.

Thank you.

(Transcription and translation by Albert Silver)

Standings after nine rounds

Rk
Tit
Name Nat
Rtg
Pts
 TB1 
 TB2 
 TB3 
1
GM
Vallejo Pons Francisco ESP
2707
7.0
2898
41.5
54.0
2
GM
Potkin Vladimir RUS
2653
7.0
2839
42.0
53.0
3
GM
Ragger Markus AUT
2614
7.0
2827
40.0
51.0
4
GM
Iordachescu Viorel MDA
2626
7.0
2806
39.5
51.0
5
GM
Mamedov Rauf AZE
2667
7.0
2794
38.0
49.5
6
GM
Zhigalko Sergei BLR
2680
7.0
2785
37.0
47.0
7
GM
Parligras Mircea-Emilian ROU
2598
7.0
2767
41.5
52.5
8
GM
Wojtaszek Radoslaw POL
2711
7.0
2751
40.5
52.5
9
GM
Khairullin Ildar RUS
2634
7.0
2736
40.0
50.0
10
GM
Polgar Judit HUN
2686
7.0
2723
38.5
49.5
11
GM
Vitiugov Nikita RUS
2720
7.0
2708
40.5
52.0
12
GM
Jobava Baadur GEO
2707
7.0
2675
37.5
47.5

Click here for complete standings

Pictures from the official site


Links

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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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