European Championship: Mamedyarov defaulted again, quits tournament

3/30/2012 – The second seed Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who lost a game owing to the "zero tolerance" rule yesterday, today defaulted by breaking the "Sofia Rule", which does not allow draw offers to be made before move 40, and always through the arbiter. A second game, Baron-Safarli, was similarly defaulted. Mamedyarov quit the tournament and will not be playing in the remaining rounds. What a mess.

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The 13th European Individual Championship is taking place in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, from March 20th to 31st, 2012. 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 total prize fund is 100,000 Euros, with the top three taking 14,000, 11,000 and 9,000 Euros respectively.

Round nine – Shakriyar Mamedarov defaults, again

First let us take a pro forma look at the key results. On the top board Vladimir Akopyan (2684, Armenia) and Vladimir Malahov (2705, Russia) drew their game in 16 moves with threefold repetition of the position.

Akopian,Vladimir (2684) - Malakhov,Vladimir (2705) [C67]
13th EICC round_9 Plovdiv BUL (9.1), 29.03.2012
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.d4 Nd6 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.dxe5 Nf5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.Nc3 Ke8 10.h3 h5 11.Rd1 Be7 12.Ne2 Be6 13.Nf4 Bc8 14.Ne2 Be6 15.Nf4 Bc8 16.Ne2 ½-½.

Mikhail Kobalia (2666, Russia) beat Baadur Jobava (2706, Georgia), Ernesto Inarkiev (2695, Russia) beat Ivan Sokolov (2653, Netherlands) and Laurent Fressinet (2693, France) won against Anton Korobov (2679, Ukraine). This left seven players – five Russians, one Armenian and one Frenchman – in the lead, with 7.0/9 points and performances in the 2800 range – see our standings below.

There is one game you will want to take note of: 14-year-old Turkish player Vahap Sanal, rated 2286 defended a rook and pawn vs queen ending against his compatriot Emre Can, 2476. Now comes the juicy bit: the game lasted seven hours and 52 minutes, and a total of 228 moves were made. Guinness people, are you reading this?

And now the traumatic part. As we reported yesterday, the second seed in this Championship, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, had just begun his second-half surge when he ran afoul of the "zero tolerance" rule that punishes any player who is not seated at the board when the starting gong for a round sounds with immediate forfeit. The Azeri GM arrived "about ten seconds late" (he said) for his round eight game and was defaulted. Today he topped it by breaking a different rule: the Sofia Rule which forbids players to offer or accept draws before move 40. In his black game against Alvar Alonso Rosell, rated 2513, the two agreed to a draw after move 19 and were immediately defaulted. The game was scored 0:0.

Defaulted GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov,

Alonso Rosell,Alvar (2513) - Mamedyarov,Shakhriyar (2752) [E90]
13th EICC round_9 Plovdiv BUL (9.76), 29.03.2012
1.d4 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.e4 d6 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.h3 c5 7.d5 b5 8.cxb5 a6 9.a4 Nbd7 10.Rb1 axb5 11.axb5 Nb6 12.Be2 e6 13.dxe6 Bxe6 14.0-0 d5 15.exd5 Nbxd5 16.Nxd5 Nxd5 17.Bg5 Qb6 18.Qd2 Nc7 19.Bh6 Nxb5 0:0.

Another game, lower down on the table, ended in a similar default:

Baron,Tal (2497) - Safarli,Eltaj (2645) [E05]
13th EICC round_9 Plovdiv BUL (9.80), 29.03.2012
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Nf3 Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 dxc4 7.Qc2 a6 8.Qxc4 b5 9.Qc2 Bb7 10.Bd2 Be4 11.Qc1 Bb7 12.Qc2 Be4 13.Qc1 Bb7 14.Qc2 0:0.

But hang on, we hear you cry, why was the Akopian-Malakhov 16-move game quoted above allowed to stand, while these two were forfeited? Baron-Safarli was also a three-fold repetition, but – and this is the critical difference – while Akopian and Malakhov formally asked the referee permission to abandon their game, Baron and Safarli did not. They simply signed the scoresheets and quit.

Agitated players (except Mamedyarov, who is smiling) discussing with the arbiters.
Photo by Chess-News, where you can also hear the conversation in an audio file.

And what about Alonso-Mamedyarov? Well, they did not even repeat, but simply agreed to a draw. Mamedyarov has in the meantime abandoned the tournament and will not play the final rounds.

Steve Giddins, who drew our attention to what had transpired in Plovdiv – Steve speaks fluent Russian and can follow a bit of Bulgarian – criticizes the organisers sharply on his blog, but writes: "In the specific case of Mamedyarov, anyone who has had dealings with him will probably suspect that he was not especially near the front of the queue, when the interpersonal skills were being handed out, and so may not feel very sympathetic towards him. Agreeing the draw without waiting for 40 moves was especially silly."

And GM Romain Edouard, who contacted us with a computer problem around midnight, said:

"About the forfeit problems today, I did not see anything. According to what I heard, Mamedyarov and his opponent agreed a draw before move 40 and were given 0-0 according to the rules. Baron and Safarli's case is different: it seems they repeated the position and signed for a draw without getting the confirmation of the arbiter, and also were given 0-0. About this second case, if this is actually what happened, I understand that arbiters should apply the rules, but I don't understand the rule itself, since I guess chess players should be clever enough to count up to three...

About the zero-tolerance rule, I am against it in general, especially in big open tournaments. I will just give one argument: nobody is happy to see someone lose because he didn't run fast enough to the game (spectators are ashamed, and most of the times opponents are unhappy), and I'm not sure anyone cares if someone arrives ten seconds late, while there are 300 players here. Of course it would give a bad image if everyone was coming late every day. But this never happens. On the other hand, if on round 11, a player on the first board comes three seconds late to the game, it will ruin the entire European Championship."

But let's have some real chess. Here is a very exciting game from round nine, annotated by GM Alejandro Ramirez.

[Event "European Individual Championship"]
[Site "?"]
[Date "2012.03.29"]
[Round "9"]
[White "Jones, Gawain C"]
[Black "Volokitin, Andrei"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "E32"]
[WhiteElo "2635"]
[BlackElo "2695"]
[Annotator "Ramirez,Alejandro"]
[PlyCount "165"]
[EventDate "2012.??.??"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 O-O 5. e4 d5 6. e5 Ne4 7. Bd3 c5 8. Nf3
cxd4 9. Nxd4 {This interesting line has been seen quite a few times. Famously,
Aronian used it to defeat Carlsen in 2004 with Black.} Nc5 $5 (9... Nd7 10. Bf4
Ndc5 11. O-O Bxc3 12. bxc3 Bd7 13. Be2 {with a complex game. This has been
seen in many games.}) 10. Bxh7+ Kh8 11. Nf3 $5 {The game starts going crazy
after this.} d4 {Black is not only threatening on c3, but also to play d3.
White has only one satisfactory reply.} (11... dxc4 $2 12. O-O Nd3 13. Be4 $16
{Li Chao - Ni Hua, 2011 Chinese Championship}) 12. Bg5 f6 (12... Qc7 {loses
control over d3} 13. a3 Ba5 14. b4 dxc3 15. bxc5 $1 $14) (12... Qd7 $2 13. Rd1
$18) 13. exf6 (13. Rd1 $5 {I'm sure we will see this move in some game, I'm
not sure who stands better - but my initial impression is that Black can hold
with his extra piece after 13... d3}) 13... gxf6 14. Bf4 {The Computer really
hates this move, but it isn't so clear yet.} (14. Bh6 dxc3 15. bxc3 Bxc3+ 16.
Qxc3 Kxh7 17. Rd1 Bd7 18. Bxf8 Qxf8 $15 {surely favors Black.}) (14. O-O-O $5
fxg5 15. h4 g4 16. Rxd4 Qe7 17. Ng5 $17 {Should not be enough compensation,
but it looks pretty cool anyways}) 14... d3 15. Qd1 Kxh7 16. O-O {A computer
will win this position basically every time. However it is not so easy for a
human in time pressure to figure out what the best moves are here. White does
have some serious attacking prospects and Black is underdeveloped.} Nc6 (16...
Bxc3 $1 17. bxc3 Rg8 {Neutralized a lot of threats. Volokitin makes the
innacuracy of letting that knight live.}) 17. Nh4 Qe8 {The human move,
preventing entry onto h5. However it gives White a lot of resources.} (17...
Rf7 $1 18. Nb5 e5 19. Qh5+ Kg8 20. Bh6 {looks scary} Ne6 $1 $19 {But Black
still seems to be fine.}) 18. Nb5 (18. Bd6 $5) 18... e5 19. Nd6 Qd7 20. Nhf5 {
The Knight's seem unstable, but they are currently creating very strong
threats.} Kh8 $1 21. Bh6 Rf7 (21... Qh7 {is the computer's suggestion,
destroying the powerful knights}) 22. a3 Ne4 23. Qh5 {White's attack is raging,
but there are still resources for Black. The game is very complex.} Rh7 24.
axb4 Nxd6 25. Nxd6 Ne7 26. Bg7+ (26. Ne8 $1 {Posed severe problems} Nf5 27.
Nxf6 Rxh6 28. Qxh6+ Nxh6 29. Nxd7 Bxd7 30. f3 $14 {and if d3 falls, Black will
be lost.}) 26... Kxg7 27. Qf7+ (27. Ne8+ Kh8 28. Qxh7+ Kxh7 29. Nxf6+ Kg7 30.
Nxd7 Bxd7 31. f3 Be6 {is a much better piece placement than the previous line
for Black.} 32. b3 Nc6 $1 $15) 27... Kh6 28. Qxf6+ Ng6 29. f4 {The attack must
go on.} Qe7 {But Black puts an end to it. He sacrifices another pawn to reach
an endgame.} 30. fxe5 Qxf6 31. exf6 Bg4 {This is a very difficult position to
evaluate over the board. White has three pawns for the piece, which are all
passed, while Black's pieces lack coordination and his king is exposed.
However Black has the d3 pawn trump card, which forces White to be very
careful on how he proceeds- any reckless move will allow the pawn to push to
the final rank.} 32. Rf2 (32. h3 Be2 33. Rf2 Ne5 $17 {was already very bad for
White.}) (32. Nf5+ {Was an attempt to get control over d1, but alas after} Bxf5
33. Rxf5 Rd7 $1 $17) 32... Rd7 33. c5 Ne5 34. Kf1 Nf7 35. Nc4 Re8 $1 {It has
become clear with the past few moves that Black has been able to control
White's pieces. He is now coordinated an fully developed,m so he hold a
decisive advantage.} 36. Rxa7 Re4 37. Nd2 Rxb4 38. b3 Rc7 39. Ra4 Rxa4 40. bxa4
Rxc5 41. Rf4 Rf5 42. Rxf5 Bxf5 {White's only hope is that Black's pawn count
is very reduced, so trading all the kingside pawns for the d pawn, and then
the a pawn for the b pawn is enough to draw.} 43. Kf2 Kg5 44. Ke3 Kxf6 (44...
Ne5 $1 {Was better, stubbornly clinging on to the d-pawn.}) 45. g4 Bxg4 (45...
Bh7 46. h4 Ne5 47. Kf4 Ng6+ 48. Kg3 {was maybe still better - Black did need
that d-pawn!}) 46. Kxd3 Ne5+ 47. Kc3 Ke6 48. Kb4 Kd5 49. Kb5 Nd7 {White Can't
get close to the bpawn, but that doesn't mean that he should give up just yet.}
50. Nb1 Kd4 51. h4 $2 Be2+ $2 (51... Bf5 $1 52. Nd2 (52. Na3 Kc3 {is a very
similar story} 53. Ka5 Kb3 54. Nb5 Bd3 55. Nd4+ Kc4 $1 {And it's over.}) 52...
Kc3 {Is a beautiful checkmate threat. This would've finished the game
instantly.}) 52. Kb4 Nf6 53. Nd2 Nd5+ 54. Ka3 Ne3 55. Kb4 Nc2+ 56. Kb3 Bd1 57.
Nb1 Ne3+ 58. Kb4 Nd5+ 59. Ka3 Nc3 {Black has manoeuvered well, and now the
exchange of knights leads to an instant loss.} 60. Nd2 (60. Nxc3 Kxc3 61. a5
Be2 62. Ka4 Kc4 63. a6 b5+ 64. Ka5 b4 {And Black's pawn is faster.}) 60... Bxa4
(60... Ne4 $1 {Kept the knight under lock} 61. Nxe4 (61. Nf1 Be2 62. Nh2 Kc3
$19) 61... Kxe4 62. a5 Be2 63. Kb4 Kf4 $19) 61. h5 Bc2 62. Nf3+ Kc4 63. Ne5+
Kd5 64. Ng4 Bf5 65. h6 Ke6 66. Kb4 Nd5+ 67. Kc5 b6+ 68. Kb5 Kd6 $6 (68... Bd3+
69. Kc6 Bg6 $1 $19) 69. Kc4 Bg6 70. Kd4 Ne7 71. Kc4 {Black is having trouble
making any progress.} Nd5 72. Kd4 Nc7 $4 {But this juts lets the win slip.
Surely there were better tries. Now the draw is obvious.} 73. Nf6 Ne6+ 74. Kc4
Kc6 (74... Nf8 75. Kb5 {And Black can't hold on to the b-pawn.}) 75. h7 b5+ 76.
Kb4 Bxh7 77. Nxh7 Nc7 78. Nf6 Na6+ 79. Ka5 b4 80. Kxa6 b3 81. Ne4 b2 82. Nc3
b1=Q 83. Nxb1 {A roller coaster game, in which Volokitin played quite well.
However at the end he kept missing the final stroke, and Jones luckily escaped
with a draw.} 1/2-1/2

Top rankings after round nine

Rk. Ti. Name FED Rtg
1 GM Fressinet Laurent FRA 2693
2 GM Inarkiev Ernesto RUS 2695
3 GM Malakhov Vladimir   RUS 2705
4 GM Kobalia Mikhail RUS 2666
5 GM Andreikin Dmitry RUS 2689
6 GM Matlakov Maxim RUS 2632
7 GM Akopian Vladimir ARM 2684
8 GM Jones Gawain ENG 2635
9 GM Kuzubov Yuriy UKR 2615
10 GM Bacrot Etienne FRA 2706
11 GM Vitiugov Nikita RUS 2709
12 GM Jakovenko Dmitry RUS 2729
13 GM Caruana Fabiano ITA 2767
14 GM Dreev Aleksey RUS 2698
15 GM Khismatullin Denis RUS 2656
16 GM Nisipeanu Liviu-D. ROU 2643
17 GM Zhigalko Sergei BLR 2649
18 GM Vachier-Lagrave M. FRA 2682
19 GM Bologan Viktor MDA 2687
20 GM Azarov Sergei BLR 2667
21 GM Vallejo Francisco ESP 2693
22 GM Berkes Ferenc HUN 2682
23 GM Ragger Markus AUT 2654
24 GM Volokitin Andrei UKR 2695
25 GM Balogh Csaba HUN 2664
26 GM Khenkin Igor GER 2632
Rk. Ti. Name FED Rtg
27 GM Khalifman Alexander   RUS 2649
28 GM Smeets Jan NED 2610
29 GM Lenic Luka SLO 2637
30 GM Movsesian Sergei ARM 2702
31 GM Cheparinov Ivan BUL 2664
32 GM Durarbeyli Vasif AZE 2543
33 GM Jobava Baadur GEO 2706
34 GM Khairullin Ildar RUS 2626
35 GM Sokolov Ivan NED 2653
36 GM Korobov Anton UKR 2679
37 GM Kryvoruchko Yuriy UKR 2666
38 GM Fridman Daniel GER 2653
39 GM Najer Evgeniy RUS 2640
40 GM Sargissian Gabriel ARM 2674
41 GM Georgiev Kiril BUL 2671
42 GM Ivanisevic Ivan SRB 2645
43 GM Sjugirov Sanan RUS 2610
44 GM Istratescu Andrei FRA 2633
45 GM Petrosian Tigran L ARM 2643
46 GM L'ami Erwin NED 2611
47 GM Efimenko Zahar UKR 2695
48 GM Saric Ivan CRO 2649
49 GM Nikolov Momchil BUL 2550
50 GM Vuckovic Bojan SRB 2628
51 GM Grigoriants Sergey RUS 2561
52 GM Edouard Romain FRA 2607

Remaining schedule + Playchess commentary

After every round there will be special wrap-up commentary on Playchess. This starts at 20:00h Server time (= CET, = , 22:00h Moscow, 19:00h London, 3 p.m. New York, 12:00 noon California, 03:00h Beijing, 00:30h New Delhi – you can find the time in your location here). Commentary is in English.

Day Date Time Program Playchess commentary
Friday March 30 15:00 Round 10 Robert Ris
Saturday March 31 13:00 Round 11 Valeri Lilov
Saturday March 31 20:00 Closing  
Sunday April 01     Departure  


Some of the games are being broadcast live on the official web site and some on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 11 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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