2014 Euro-Ch: Motylev seizes lead at midway point

by Albert Silver
3/8/2014 – By now, six rounds out of eleven have been played, the midway point has been reached with a rest day for Sunday. The rankings have shown non-stop swings and changes, and not one player has been able to keep the lead for more than a round. Still, the leading group can now be pointed out as the clear tournament favorites, with Alexander Motylev the sole leader. Report, pictures, and games.

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The championship is an eleven-round Swiss system in accordance with the ECU Tournament Rules and FIDE Laws of Chess. and is held in Yerevan, Armenia from March 2 (day of arrival) until March 15 (day of departure) 2014. The tournament is held at the Elite Plaza Business Centre.  The rate of play is 90 minutes for 40 moves plus 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move, starting from move one.

The tournament does not allow players to draw before the 40th move, and the controversial zero-tolerance rule will be in effect. In case of pre-arranged results the Chief Arbiter can decide that the result of the respective game is 0 - 0. If a prize-winner is absent during the closing ceremony, then the money prize will be reduced by 20%.

The total prizefund is 160 thousand Euros, with 20 thousand for first place, 16 thousand for second, down to 1000 for 25th place. There are also prizes for the best overperformer, meaning the player who performs highest over his rating.

The European Individual Championship 2014 is a qualification event for the next World Cup. According to FIDE regulations and the decision of the ECU Board, 23 players will qualify.

Round five

The playing hall with cameras to follow the live action

The charming help desk

In round five, Evgeny Najer, the hero of the round four report, and sole player with 4.0/4, fell to Alexander Riazantsev in a game that held more meaning to the two than just the top spots of the championship. Both players share the esteemed position as a coach of the Russian Women’s team, and though colleagues, there was bound to be some rivalry involved in the game. It showed, and the game was clearly very tense with mistakes from both sides and more than one swing in the balance.

Sanan Sjugirov

Kovalenko and Cheparinov, both on 3.5/4 split the point, and the only other player to climb the rankings was Alexander Motylev, a regular in the top division of the marathon Chinese Chess League, who defeated third round leader, IM Vladislav Artemiev.

Laurent Fressinet is one of France's top representatives

This left both Riazantsev and Motylev at the top with 4.5/5, followed by eleven players on 4.0/5. The top-most of the group is Russian junior GM Vladimir Fedoseev (2641), who beat top-seed Etienne Bacrot (2739).

19-year-old Vladimir Fedoseev is the third highest rated junior

[Event "15th ch-EUR Indiv 2014"] [Site "Yerevan ARM"] [Date "2014.03.07"] [Round "5.5"] [White "Fedoseev, Vladimir"] [Black "Bacrot, Etienne"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E14"] [WhiteElo "2641"] [BlackElo "2739"] [PlyCount "71"] [EventDate "2014.03.03"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Be7 5. b3 O-O 6. Bb2 b6 7. Bd3 Bb7 8. O-O c5 9. Qe2 cxd4 10. exd4 Nc6 11. Nbd2 Re8 12. Rac1 Rc8 13. Rfd1 Bf8 14. g3 {So far , so theory in this classical (4.e3) line of the Queen's Indian. This however is a novelty, and an odd looking one. At first view it makes little to no sense, weakening the white squares on the long diagonal precisely where the bishop on b7 is pointed.} (14. Nf1 g6 15. Ne3 Bg7 16. c5 Nd7 17. Bb5 a6 18. Bxc6 Bxc6 19. b4 Ba4 20. Re1 Nb8 21. Ne5 bxc5 22. dxc5 f6 23. Nf3 Nc6 24. Qd3 Rb8 25. Qa3 Bb5 26. Qb3 a5 27. a4 Bc4 28. Nxc4 Rxb4 29. Qa2 dxc4 30. Bc3 Rb3 31. Nd2 Nb4 32. Bxb4 Rxb4 33. Nxc4 Qd5 34. Red1 Qc6 35. Nxa5 Qxa4 36. Qxa4 Rxa4 37. Nb7 Bh6 38. Rc2 Bf4 39. g3 Bc7 40. Rd7 Rc8 41. Rcd2 e5 42. Re7 Rd4 43. Ra2 e4 44. Ra7 Bb8 45. Ra8 Rf8 46. Na5 Ra4 47. Kg2 f5 48. c6 Bd6 49. Rxf8+ Kxf8 50. c7 Bxc7 51. Rxc7 Rxa5 52. Rxh7 Ra2 53. Kg1 Ra1+ 54. Kg2 Ra2 55. Kg1 Ra1+ 56. Kg2 Ra2 {1/2-1/2 (56) Le Quang,L (2715)-Kramnik,V (2781) Dortmund 2011}) 14... g6 15. Ne5 dxc4 16. bxc4 Bg7 17. Bc2 Nd7 {The position is uncomfortable for Black. It is cramped and the queen is subject to the x-ray attack of the rook on d1.} (17... Nxd4 {looks like trouble after} 18. Bxd4 Qxd4 19. Nb3 Qb2 20. Nxf7 $1 {and the knight cannot be taken since} Kxf7 $2 {loses the queen to} 21. Bxg6+ {AKA pawn-grubbing punishment at its finest.}) 18. Ba4 Qc7 19. f4 Ba8 { [%cal Ra8h1] Black finds the only plan to keep counterchances and not fall into complete (and fatal) passivity. With Ba8 followed by Qb7, the threats on the long diagonal will force White to tread carefully.} 20. Ne4 f5 21. Ng5 Ncxe5 22. fxe5 Qb7 23. d5 {White's space advantage is huge, and the d5 looks crushing, which may have led Black to panic.} exd5 $4 ({The right continuation was} 23... Bh6 {after which} 24. h4 Bxg5 25. hxg5 Rf8 {was ok. How is that possible? The answer lies in the queen and bishop battery on b7-a8. If the pawn on d5 moves things may turn around in the blink of an eye.} ({or} 25... Red8)) 24. cxd5 {Now it is over, and Black's position collapses.} Rxc1 25. Rxc1 Bxe5 26. Bc6 Qb8 27. Ne6 Bxc6 28. dxc6 Nc5 29. Bxe5 Rxe6 30. Bxb8 Rxe2 31. Bxa7 Ne6 32. Bxb6 Rxa2 33. c7 Nxc7 34. Rxc7 Ra4 35. Be3 h5 36. h4 1-0

Round six

With only two players at 4.5/5, their meeting was an important one. A draw would be unsatisfactory for either since with eleven others a half point behind, there would be a high chance they would be caught by more than one. It was to be Alexander Motylev’s day as he defeated Alexander Riazantsev in a fairly lopsided game where the latter never solved his development problems, and was punished swiftly for it.

Alexander Motylev is sole leader with 5.5/6 and a 2938 performance

While Motylev took the sole lead with 5.5/6, staking an important claim to the prestigious title, three other players moved in just behind him with 5.0/6, all with 2800+ performances and all clearly players in form. Edging out Armenian GM Hrant Melkumyan and Czech GM Viktor Laznicka by tiebreak is Polish GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek.

One can watch all the live boards from here

Wojtaszek had had a fantastic transition from 2013 to 2014, winning two opens with significant scores, but gave up most of his Elo gains in a lackadaisical Wjik aan Zee performance. In round six, his win over Fedoseev suggested he was a force to contend with, as he completely outplayed his younger opponent in a dead equal endgame.

Someone is having a good day

Sunday will be a rest day, and play will resume on Monday.

Photos by Arman Karakhanyan

Standings after six rounds

Rk Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts  TB Perf
1 GM Motylev Alexander RUS 2656 5.5 2568 2938
2 GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw POL 2713 5.0 2611 2858
3 GM Melkumyan Hrant ARM 2613 5.0 2606 2827
4 GM Laznicka Viktor CZE 2681 5.0 2558 2807
5 GM Goganov Aleksey RUS 2569 4.5 2657 2768
6 GM Riazantsev Alexander RUS 2689 4.5 2613 2774
7 GM Eljanov Pavel UKR 2723 4.5 2612 2781
8 GM Jakovenko Dmitry RUS 2723 4.5 2608 2774
9 GM Najer Evgeniy RUS 2633 4.5 2605 2753
10 GM Solak Dragan TUR 2610 4.5 2591 2731
11 GM Kotanjian Tigran ARM 2531 4.5 2582 2700
12 GM Jobava Baadur GEO 2716 4.5 2580 2738
13 GM Sargissian Gabriel ARM 2676 4.5 2575 2738
14 GM Smirin Ilia ISR 2644 4.5 2567 2726
15 GM Tregubov Pavel V. RUS 2614 4.5 2556 2701
16 GM Akopian Vladimir ARM 2682 4.5 2555 2724
17 GM Sjugirov Sanan RUS 2653 4.5 2530 2697
18 GM Bartel Mateusz POL 2662 4.5 2522 2692
19 GM Onischuk Vladimir UKR 2583 4.0 2687 2734
20 GM Pashikian Arman ARM 2612 4.0 2652 2715
21 GM Antipov Mikhail Al. RUS 2507 4.0 2639 2675
22 GM Fedoseev Vladimir RUS 2641 4.0 2635 2713
23 GM Huzman Alexander ISR 2569 4.0 2629 2677
24 GM Shimanov Aleksandr RUS 2649 4.0 2627 2709
25 GM Kovalenko Igor LAT 2626 4.0 2614 2693

Click for complete standings


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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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