ECC Concludes in Rhodes

10/28/2013 – The European Club Championship has come to an end in Rhodes, Greece and the two tournaments could not have been any different. Novy Bor, ranked fifth in the tournament, surprised many people and took home the gold after a decisive victory over SOCAR in round 6. In the Women's section Monte Carlo simply crushed the opposition. Full report and analysis of the spectacular event.

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The European Chess Club Cup (ECC) is poised to start tomorrow as the players are settling in Rhodes, Greece. This is one of the strongest tournaments of the year with over one hundred grandmasters and people flying in from all around the world to participate. From each national club championship in Europe one to four clubs qualify to the European Club Cup, depending on the strength of each national event. The European Club Cup will be held in 7 rounds for both categories (open/men teams with 6 boards and women teams with 4 boards), played with the Swiss system.

Zero tolerance, dress code and Sophia rules are all in effect. Round will commence daily at 15:00 CET.

The time control will be 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. Players may only agree to a draw after the 40th move has been made by black.

According to FIDE regulations, the European Club Cup offers the possibility for players to achieve GM, IM, WGM and WIM norms based on 7 games - an exception to the normal rule.

The winners of the European Club Cup (currently SOCAR Azerbaijan) and the European Women’s Club Cup (currently Cercle d’Echecs de Monte Carlo) qualified directly to next year’s European Club Cup. SOCAR and Cercle d'Echecs de Monte Carlo are this year's top two teams.

The tournament had the participation of over 100 grandmasters and well over 250 titled players. The top four teams all featured an average rating of over 2700. However it was not a "2700 team" that won the event...

Open

SOCAR: from right to left, Topalov, Kamsky, Wang Hao, Giri, Safarli

The open section had four clear favorites, and they all started with a rolling over their opponents. The top four crushed their rivals on the first three rounds, but then in round four a strange pairing happened. Malachite played Novy Bor, Ugra played Saint Petersburg but Socar played Clichy 92 who only had 5 points out of 6. This were the results of this round:

Korobov gave Ugra the win against Saint Petersburg in round 4

Bo. 2 Malachite Rtg
3 : 3
5 G-Team Novy Bor Rtg
1.1 GM Grischuk, Alexander 2786
1 - 0
GM Navara, David 2703
1.2 GM Karjakin, Sergey 2762
½ - ½
GM Wojtaszek, Radoslaw 2698
1.3 GM Morozevich, Alexander 2734
0 - 1
GM Laznicka, Viktor 2666
1.4 GM Shirov, Alexei 2685
1 - 0
GM Sasikiran, Krishnan 2662
1.5 GM Malakhov, Vladimir 2711
½ - ½
GM Hracek, Zbynek 2636
1.6 GM Riazantsev, Alexander 2697
0 - 1
GM Bartel, Mateusz 2638
Bo. 4 Ugra Rtg
3½:2½
3 Saint-Petersburg Rtg
2.1 GM Jakovenko, Dmitry 2719
½ - ½
GM Svidler, Peter 2740
2.2 GM Leko, Peter 2732
½ - ½
GM Dominguez Perez, Leinier 2753
2.3 GM Korobov, Anton 2716
1 - 0
GM Vitiugov, Nikita 2729
2.4 GM Rublevsky, Sergei 2695
½ - ½
GM Movsesian, Sergei 2696
2.5 GM Dreev, Aleksey 2679
½ - ½
GM Matlakov, Maxim 2682
2.6 GM Khismatullin, Denis 2656
½ - ½
GM Efimenko, Zahar 2661
Bo. 9 Clichy Echecs 92 Rtg
2 : 4
1 SOCAR Rtg
3.1 GM Vachier-Lagrave, Maxime 2742
½ - ½
GM Caruana, Fabiano 2779
3.2 GM Rapport, Richard 2676
½ - ½
GM Radjabov, Teimour 2723
3.3 GM Tregubov, Pavel V. 2606
½ - ½
GM Kamsky, Gata 2725
3.4 GM Lagarde, Maxime 2523
0 - 1
GM Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2759
3.5 IM Delorme, Axel 2482
½ - ½
GM Wang, Hao 2733
3.6 IM Mullon, Jean-Baptiste 2445
0 - 1
GM Giri, Anish 2749

Things were looking good for the rating favorites, SOCAR, as they took care of Clichy with important wins by Mamedyarov and Giri. The top board tie left Malachite and Novy Bor a point behind them while Ugra was the only one that also had a perfect score as a vital win by Korobov tilted the balance in their favor. SOCAR continued strong in round 5:

Bo. 1 SOCAR Rtg
4 : 2
4 Ugra Rtg
1.1 GM Caruana, Fabiano 2779
½ - ½
GM Jakovenko, Dmitry 2719
1.2 GM Radjabov, Teimour 2723
½ - ½
GM Leko, Peter 2732
1.3 GM Topalov, Veselin 2771
1 - 0
GM Korobov, Anton 2716
1.4 GM Kamsky, Gata 2725
½ - ½
GM Rublevsky, Sergei 2695
1.5 GM Wang, Hao 2733
1 - 0
GM Dreev, Aleksey 2679
1.6 GM Giri, Anish 2749
½ - ½
GM Khismatullin, Denis 2656

Topalov's 2795 performance included key victories for SOCAR

Wang Hao and Topalov gave SOCAR an important victory. Odlar Yurdu, a strong team from Azerbaijan, drew against Malachite and that meant that SOCAR was leading by a point over Novy Bor.

Round 6 was the decisive and crucial round in the European Chess Championship. Novy Bor, the underdogs and being down a point compared to SOCAR, had a single 2700 in their line-up. To put it this way, SOCAR's lowest rated player, Wang Hao, was a full 30 points ahead of Novy Bor's first board - Navara.

Things kicked off well for SOCAR as Giri demolished Bartel

Giri's destruction of Bartel seemed to give SOCAR good hopes to take the title again

[Event "29th ECC Open 2013"] [Site "Rhodes GRE"] [Date "2013.10.25"] [Round "6.1"] [White "Giri, Anish"] [Black "Bartel, Mateusz"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D02"] [WhiteElo "2749"] [BlackElo "2638"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "45"] [EventDate "2013.10.20"] [WhiteTeam "SOCAR"] [BlackTeam "G-Team Novy Bor"] 1. Nf3 d5 2. d4 a6 {Not the dumbest move on the board. Bartel's Polish teammate, Socko.} 3. Bg5 (3. c4 dxc4 4. e3 {transposes to a normal queen's gambit accepted.}) 3... c6 4. e3 Qb6 {This is not a game that you can show beginners and point to Black's position and say "this is how grandmasters develop!". This is however a game that you can show them and explain to them why they normally don't develop like this.} 5. Bd3 Qxb2 6. Nbd2 Qa3 7. O-O Bg4 8. Qb1 {Black's a full pawn ahead. However his position could not be any worse. He has no coordination, development, his structure is under attack, he won't castle any time soon and his only active piece is his queen.} b5 9. c4 $1 { Pretty and strong. The pawn is not taboo just yet, but the one on b5 cannot take.} Bxf3 10. Nxf3 dxc4 11. Bxc4 e6 (11... bxc4 12. Qb7 {is obviously winning for White.}) 12. e4 Be7 13. Bc1 Qa5 14. d5 {Not the most exact, its possible both players missed the following:} exd5 $2 (14... cxd5 15. exd5 $4 bxc4 {and suddenly} 16. Qb7 {does not work anymore because} Qxd5 $19) 15. exd5 {Now there are simply too many lines open against Black's king. The rest is easy for Giri.} Nf6 16. d6 $1 Bxd6 17. Re1+ Kf8 18. Qf5 Nbd7 19. Bxf7 Ne5 ( 19... Kxf7 20. Qe6+ Kf8 21. Qxd6+ {is mate soon.}) 20. Rxe5 Bxe5 21. Bb3 (21. Qxe5 {there was nothing wrong with this.}) 21... Re8 22. Be3 b4 23. Bf4 { Black's position is lost no matter what.} 1-0

However SOCAR's top three boards completely collapsed. With important wins there, like this one by Navara against Caruana, Novy Bor took the lead in the tournament.

[Event "29th ECC Open 2013"] [Site "Rhodes GRE"] [Date "2013.10.25"] [Round "6.1"] [White "Navara, David"] [Black "Caruana, Fabiano"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C84"] [WhiteElo "2703"] [BlackElo "2779"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "121"] [EventDate "2013.10.20"] [WhiteTeam "G-Team Novy Bor"] [BlackTeam "SOCAR"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. d3 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. a4 Bd7 9. c3 Na5 10. Bc2 c5 11. d4 Qb8 12. Bg5 h6 13. Bxf6 {a new move} (13. Bh4 Be6 14. Nbd2 O-O 15. h3 {led to a draw in Ponomariov-Caruana, Makedonia GP 2013.}) 13... Bxf6 14. dxc5 dxc5 15. Qd5 Nb7 16. axb5 Be6 17. Qc6+ Bd7 18. Qd5 Be6 {It's important to force the queen away from b5 before retaking the pawn.} 19. Qd1 axb5 20. Rxa8 Qxa8 21. Na3 Qa5 22. Nxb5 {White has won a pawn, but this comes at a big cost.} Bc4 $6 {Caruana goes for the material rather than the compensation.} (22... O-O 23. Qe2 c4 24. Na3 Nd6 {Is a great deal of compensation for the pawn. Black will activate his rook and it is not easy for White to create any play as his bishop on c2 is particularly terrible.}) 23. Nd6+ Nxd6 24. Qxd6 Bxf1 25. Kxf1 {Black is up an exchange for a pawn, but he cannot castle and he is bound to lose one more pawn. Caruana cannot possibly come out on top from this position.} Qb5+ 26. Ke1 c4 27. g3 h5 28. h4 Be7 { Caruana gives back a pawn immediately.} 29. Qxe5 Qxe5 30. Nxe5 {Unfortunately for him he will also have to give up c4. He must create counterplay as soon as possible before White's pawns on the queenside start rolling.} g5 31. Ba4+ Kf8 32. hxg5 Bxg5 33. Bc6 $1 {Black's c4 pawn isn't going anywhere. The bishop would rather defend e4 from d5 than from c2.} h4 34. gxh4 Rxh4 35. Nxc4 f5 36. Ne5 Rh1+ 37. Ke2 Rb1 38. Nd3 fxe4 39. Bxe4 {Of course, Black has no hopes of winning this position. It is practically difficult to defend it though as White's plan is obvious while Black has no clear method of preventing the pawns from advancing for too long.} Ke7 40. f4 Bh6 41. b4 Bg7 42. Kd2 Ra1 43. Bd5 Kd6 44. c4 Bd4 45. Kc2 Ra3 46. f5 Rc3+ 47. Kd2 Ra3 48. Be4 Ra2+ 49. Kd1 Be3 50. c5+ Ke7 51. Ne5 Rb2 52. Bc2 $1 {Slowly but surely Black's rook is dominated and the pawns advance and advance.} Bg5 {Losing immediately.} (52... Ra2 {would have kept up the fight} 53. f6+ Ke6 (53... Kd8 $1) 54. Bb3+ $1 Kxe5 55. Bxa2 Kxf6 {is actually winning for White.} 56. Ke2 Bf4 57. Kd3 Ke7 58. b5 Kd7 59. Kc4 {and this position is a known win despite the opposite colored bishops.}) 53. c6 Ra2 54. b5 Be3 55. f6+ Kd8 56. f7 Bc5 57. b6 Ra1+ 58. Ke2 Ra2 59. Kd3 Rb2 60. Nc4 Rb5 61. Bd1 {A superb game by Navara.} 1-0

The results on the top match was as follows:

Bo. 5 G-Team Novy Bor Rtg
3½:2½
1 SOCAR Rtg
1.1 GM Navara, David 2703
1 - 0
GM Caruana, Fabiano 2779
1.2 GM Wojtaszek, Radoslaw 2698
1 - 0
GM Topalov, Veselin 2771
1.3 GM Laznicka, Viktor 2666
1 - 0
GM Kamsky, Gata 2725
1.4 GM Sasikiran, Krishnan 2662
½ - ½
GM Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar 2759
1.5 GM Hracek, Zbynek 2636
0 - 1
GM Wang, Hao 2733
1.6 GM Bartel, Mateusz 2638
0 - 1
GM Giri, Anish 2749

Navara's win on round 6 was instrumental to Novy Bor's championship

After this fateful round six, it was smooth cruising for Novy Bor. Their last round opponent, Minsk, was too low rated and the massive rating differences in boards three, four and five simply cost the Belorussian team the match and gave Novy Bor the tournament win!

Final Standings

Rk. FED Team Games   +    =    -   Pts 
1 CZE G-Team Novy Bor 7 6 1 0 13
2 RUS Malachite 7 5 2 0 12
3 AZE SOCAR 7 5 1 1 11
4 FRA Clichy Echecs 92 7 5 1 1 11
5 RUS Saint-Petersburg 7 5 1 1 11
6 RUS Ugra 7 5 0 2 10
7 RUS PGMB-Rostov 7 5 0 2 10
8 BLR Minsk 7 5 0 2 10
9 SUI Reichenstein SSB 7 5 0 2 10
10 ITA O.R. Padova 7 5 0 2 10

The tournament of course had its group of heroes. Novy Bor could not have won the tournament without Wojtaszek's spectacular performance with 2876 over five games. Kryavkin had a perfect result on board six, however, and he obtained the best performance of the tournament. Malachite has Grischuk and Shirov to thank for their second place.

Shirov (left) had a fantastic event, while Malakhov's was certainly not bad

No. Name Rtg Team Rp Pts. Games % Bo.
1 GM Kryakvin Dmitry 2584 PGMB-Rostov 3007 4.0 4 100.0 6
2 GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw 2698 G-Team Novy Bor 2876 5.0 6 83.3 2
3 GM Grischuk Alexander 2786 Malachite 2869 5.0 6 83.3 1
4 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime 2742 Clichy Echecs 92 2851 5.0 6 83.3 1
5 GM Zhigalko Sergei 2683 PGMB-Rostov 2851 5.0 6 83.3 2
6 GM Shirov Alexei 2685 Malachite 2832 4.5 5 90.0 3
7 GM Rublevsky Sergei 2695 Ugra 2830 5.0 6 83.3 4
8 IM Kovalev Vladislav 2563 Minsk 2820 6.0 7 85.7 2
9 GM Vitiugov Nikita 2729 Saint-Petersburg 2806 4.5 6 75.0 2
10 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2759 SOCAR 2799 4.0 5 80.0 4

It seems surprising that only one of Novy Bor's players is among the top 10 performance ratings, but Novy Bor did not crush their opponents, they simply won the matches when they had to and they won the tournament.

Zhigalko and Jobava represented Rostov quite well, one with deep opening understanding and the other one playing whatever random thing he wanted

The surprising winners: Novy Bor

Women

The women section was nowhere near as exciting as the Open. If anything, it was a tournament to determine second place while Monaco demolished everyone. The second place finisher, Ugra, was a full four points behind Monte Carlo by the time the tournament finished. Hou Yifan, Koneru and Muzychuk were simply unstoppable, and Cramling had a good performance as well. Despite this Monte Carlo did edge their opponent's 2.5-1.5 in three different rounds, but they won 4-0 in all the other ones.

Ugra obtained its second place thanks to Pogonina's brilliant tournament with a 2597 performance, but unfortunately for Ugra it got smashed in round three by Monte Carlo 4-0. Hou Yifan beat Anna Ushenina, again, and the rest of the games were simply not better for the Russian team.

Anna Ushenina had an ok event. She led her team's first board onto a silver medal, which was mainly thanks to their board two, Pogonina.

SHSM Nashe Nasledie, the second team by rating, simply underperformed and was never a threat to the leaders. However they rebounded towards the end and caught up with Mika Chess Club, both of which got 9.0/14

[Event "18th ECC w 2013"] [Site "Rhodes GRE"] [Date "2013.10.23"] [Round "4.1"] [White "Kosteniuk, Alexandra"] [Black "Hou, Yifan"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B82"] [WhiteElo "2495"] [BlackElo "2621"] [Annotator "Ramirez Alvarez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "74"] [EventDate "2013.10.20"] [WhiteTeam "SHSM Nashe Nasledie"] [BlackTeam "Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nc6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Be3 Nf6 {Hou Yifan loves this Scheveningen systems that do not come from the Najdorf move order. Of course, that exposes her to quick Keres attacks.} 7. f4 Be7 8. Qf3 Qc7 9. O-O-O a6 10. h3 $6 {The point of this move is a mystery to me, there is no reason to 'prepare' g4.} (10. g4 Nd7 11. g5 b5 {has been seen before. Hou Yifan even had this position with Black back in 2008 against Zawadska.}) 10... Rb8 11. g4 b5 12. g5 Nd7 {Rb8 is clearly more useful than h3, but that's not the end of the world.} 13. Nxc6 Qxc6 14. Bg2 Bb7 15. Bd4 $6 {It's not clear what Kosteniuk was hoping to achieve with her setup. There are some variation in which the bishop on d4 proves to be very useful, but they don't come to light in the game at all.} O-O 16. Rhe1 Rfc8 17. Rd2 Qc7 $1 {A subtle idea. The queen relocate to a5 where it is more powerful, at the same time the bishop on b7 puts direct pressure on e4.} 18. Kb1 Qa5 19. Qe3 b4 20. Ne2 e5 { A typical Sicilian break, utilizing the fact that the bishop on d4 is not feeling comfortable.} 21. fxe5 Nxe5 (21... dxe5 $2 22. Ba7 {fails tactically as now the rook on b8 and the knight on d7 are under attack.}) 22. b3 Ng6 $1 { Very brave. Normally Black doesn't want to go pawn hunting on the kingside as that simply opens up files for the enemy rooks, but Hou Yifan has this under control.} 23. h4 Nxh4 {g5 is also defenseless, and White can't really use the open files.} 24. Bh1 Bxg5 25. Qg1 Ng6 (25... Bxd2 26. Qxg7# {is not something the World Champion will fall for.}) 26. Rd3 Rxc2 $1 {When ahead, get more ahead. A phrase from a strategical mastermind in another game, describing what to do with an advantage.} 27. Kxc2 Qxa2+ 28. Bb2 Bf6 {Black will regain some of her material and she will be left with a winning position. The game is now over.} 29. Kd2 Qxb2+ 30. Ke3 h6 31. Red1 Bg5+ 32. Kf2 Nf4 33. Re3 Bc6 34. Rb1 Qf6 35. Ke1 Nxe2 36. Rxe2 Qc3+ 37. Kf2 Bb5 {This game basically represents how the tournament went. On paper it seemed like it would be interesting, maybe, but at the end the rating difference was just too much.} 0-1

Hou Yifan was a monster in this tournament with a 2736 performance. However her teammate Koneru had an equally good event with a 2725 TPR.

Monte Carlo's opponents weren't helped by the fact that Anna Muzychuk also had a brilliant event...

Kateryna Lagno's 2533 performance was good but it wasn't enough to allow her team to medal

Rk. FED Team
Games
+
Pts 
1 MNC Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo
7
7
0
0
14
2 RUS Ugra
7
4
2
1
10
3 RUS SHSM Nashe Nasledie
7
3
3
1
9
4 ARM Mika Chess Club
7
4
1
2
9
5 ROU CS Politechnica-Antibiotice Iasi
7
3
1
3
7

The performance table is the easiest way to summarize the event. Savina obtained 3/3 against lower rated players and that made her rating performance unbelievably high, but the next three clearly deserved their spots:

No. Name Rtg Team Rp Pts. Games % Bo.
1 IM Savina Anastasia 2403 SHSM Nashe Nasledie 2995 3.0 3 100.0 4
2 GM Hou Yifan 2621 Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo 2736 5.0 6 83.3 1
3 GM Koneru Humpy 2607 Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo 2725 6.0 7 85.7 1
4 GM Muzychuk Anna 2560 Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo 2643 5.0 6 83.3 2
5 WGM Pogonina Natalija 2485 Ugra 2597 4.0 6 66.7 2
6 GM Zhukova Natalia 2456 Jelica PEP 2555 4.5 6 75.0 1
7 GM Kosteniuk Alexandra 2495 SHSM Nashe Nasledie 2553 3.0 5 60.0 1
8 GM Cramling Pia 2515 Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo 2548 5.0 6 83.3 3
9 GM Danielian Elina 2471 Mika Chess Club 2533 4.5 6 75.0 3
10 GM Lagno Kateryna 2534 CS Politechnica-Antibiotice Iasi 2533 4.5 7 64.3 1

The Russian ladies didn't have their best tournament, but it was still good enough for third

Monte Carlo: Cramlin, Muzychuk, Skripchenko, the arbiter of the event, Hou Yifan and Koneru

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