2015 Euro Ch Rd5: A very crowded podium

by Yochanan Afek
3/2/2015 – Round five was another fairly controlled affair, with only three decisive games on the top sixteen boards. This isn't to say they were not played out, but clearly the players preferred to err on the side of caution than not when making decisions. This worked out well for Korobov, who drew but stays in the lead. Still, there was room for creative play.

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Look who is hitting the gong: It’s no other than Michael Tal. A practical joke? Not quite! The son
of tournament director Rami Tal happens to have the same name as the eighth world champion.
(photo by Dr. Mark Livshits)

Three major upsets were scored in the fifth round of the European championship when three experienced grandmasters found themselves on the receiving end as they faced young Israeli talents. GM Khuzman lost to Omer Reshef, Israeli GM Dan Zoler fell to Matan Gorodetsky (more than 300 Elo points lower) and finally Russian Mikhail Antipov succumbed to Jonathan Bakalchuk (more than 250 points lower).

Last Saturday was the first of two free days and most foreign guests joined the excursion to Masada and the Dead Sea previously reported on. The general enthusiasm from this highly enjoyable experience definitely had a positive influence on the fighting spirit, however not on the number of decisive games in the fifth round. 

The two leaders of the first half clashed in round five

On the first sixteen boards only three games were decided including the loss of the highest Israeli player in the tournament Maxim Rodshtein against Russian Alexander Shimanov. The Ukrainian Anton Korobov drew his game with Czech David Navara but owing to the multiple draws among the runners up he still kept the lead, albeit no longer with a perfect score.

Among the Russians with good results this year are Denis Khismatullin, who won the rapid
stage of the first leg of the Russian Chess Cup...

... but Ernesto Inarkiev's fantastic 8.0/9 win at the recent Moscow Open topped it.

It wasn't all bad news for those seeking entertaining chess. With so many strong players, it is not hard to find players on board 30 or more with near 2700 ratings. Without seeking so far down the list, here is a game played on board 13 between Georgian Levan Pantsulaia and Gabriel Sargissian from Armenia in which Black not only demonstrated great technique in clamping down his opponent, but also imaginative play.

Levan Pantsulaia vs Gabriel Sargissian:

[Event "16th ch-EUR Indiv 2015"] [Site "Jerusalem ISR"] [Date "2015.03.01"] [Round "5.13"] [White "Pantsulaia, Levan"] [Black "Sargissian, Gabriel"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A07"] [WhiteElo "2615"] [BlackElo "2668"] [PlyCount "80"] [EventDate "2015.02.24"] 1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 g6 3. c4 dxc4 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. Na3 Nc6 6. Nxc4 e5 7. d3 e4 8. dxe4 Qxd1+ 9. Kxd1 Nf6 10. Nfd2 Be6 11. e3 O-O-O 12. Ke2 Rhe8 13. f3 Nd7 14. Rb1 Nb4 15. a3 Na2 $3 {[#] An astonishing shot, especially when you consider that the idea is *not* to simply take on c1 as one might think without looking any deeper.} 16. Ra1 Nb6 $1 17. Rxa2 (17. Nxb6+ axb6 {Now taking on c1 is indeed the threat, since the b-pawn will fall. White's enormous difficulties in developing his pieces is paralyzing. For example,} 18. Rb1 Bd7 {and Black is clearly ahead.}) 17... Nxc4 18. b3 ({Obviously not} 18. Nxc4 Bxc4+) 18... Nxd2 19. Rxd2 Bxb3 {Beyond the obviously more active pieces, Black's queenside majority will move considerably faster than White's kingside.} 20. h4 Bc3 21. Rxd8+ Rxd8 22. f4 b5 23. e5 a5 {Odd.} ({The rather compelling} 23... c5 {was in fact more precise.}) 24. Bc6 {Now the king will be forced to go around with Kb8-a7-b6} b4 25. axb4 axb4 26. h5 Be6 27. hxg6 hxg6 28. Kf3 Kb8 29. g4 Ka7 30. Be4 Bc4 31. Bb1 Kb6 32. e4 c5 33. Be3 Kb5 34. g5 b3 35. Rc1 Bb2 36. Rh1 Bc3 37. Rc1 Kb4 38. Bxc5+ Kxc5 39. Rxc3 Rd1 40. Bc2 Rc1 $1 ({White was still hoping for } 40... bxc2 41. Rxc2 {when he can still try to eliminate Black's pawns and give himself drawing chances.}) 0-1

Although Korobov maintains the lead, he is now followed very closely by 15 players just a half point behind, and it is once again anyone's game.

Viktor Laznicka (2670) is representing the Czech Republic

Azeri Rauf Mamedov (2650) has had a lukewarm start

Standings after five rounds

Rk
SNo
Ti.
Name
FED
Rtg
Pts
1
11
GM
Korobov Anton
2687
4.5
2
1
GM
Navara David
2735
4.0
3
37
GM
Najer Evgeniy
2634
4.0
4
71
GM
Vovk Yuri
2588
4.0
5
22
GM
Motylev Alexander
2665
4.0
6
3
GM
Eljanov Pavel
2727
4.0
7
4
GM
Nepomniachtchi Ian
2714
4.0
8
65
GM
Shimanov Aleksandr
2594
4.0
9
33
GM
Volokitin Andrei
2646
4.0
10
30
GM
Smirin Ilia
2650
4.0
11
20
GM
Sargissian Gabriel
2668
4.0
12
45
GM
Sutovsky Emil
2626
4.0
13
38
GM
Dubov Daniil
2632
4.0
14
47
GM
Kempinski Robert
2625
4.0
15
39
GM
Bartel Mateusz
2631
4.0
16
27
GM
Nisipeanu Liviu-Dieter
2654
4.0
17
84
GM
Stefansson Hannes
2573
3.5
18
49
GM
Beliavsky Alexander G
2623
3.5
19
64
GM
Grigoryan Karen H.
2596
3.5
20
109
GM
Godena Michele
2502
3.5

Click for complete standings

Report by Yachanan Afek and Albert Silver
Photos by Yoav Nis


Links

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Yochanan was born (1952) and grew up in Tel-Aviv, and now lives in Amsterdam. He has been involved in nearly every aspect of chess, both as a professional and a volunteer, for the last 48 years, and remains an active player, composer, writer, organizer, trainer and commentator. He is an International Master and International Arbiter for chess as well as International Grandmaster for chess composition.
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