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European Championship: Mamedyarov defaulted 'for ten second delay'

3/29/2012 – The "Zero Tolerance" rule strikes again. This time it was second seed Shakhriyar Mamedyarov who ran afoul of a rule that punishes any player who is not seated at the board when the starting gong for a round sounds with immediate forfeit. As the Azeri wrote in his Twitter, he arrived about ten seconds late for a game that was supposed to cement his second half comeback. Round eight report.
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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 seven – Sergei Azarov in the sole lead

Sergei Azarov (2667, BLR), ranked 32 in the starting list, became the sole leader with 6.0/7 points after beating Arkadij Naiditsch (2702, GER), who played inaccurately in the middle game and his position was already lost on move 30. Azarov chose a slower but secure continuation and won the game in 73 moves.

Sergei Azarov at the start of a very important game against Arkadij Naiditsch

The rest of the top board games were drawn. The struggles have become more intense, which is evidenced by the fact that not a single game ended in less than two hours, while most of the draws were made after more than four hours of play. Second seed Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2752, AZE) woke up from his “draw-sleep” with a quick win after the rest day. He beat Bulgarian youngster GM Grigor Grigorov (2489, BUL) in 32 moves and 2.5 hours of play. Also David Navara (2700, CZE) scored a clean win against Romanian Vlad-Cristian Jianu (2497, ROU).

Fourth seed, 18-year-old Dutchman Anish Giri (2717, NED) is still having a terrible time in this tournament. He suffered his third loss today, this time with the white pieces against Hungarian Tamas Fodor (2482, HUN). His rating performance is 2438 and he stands to lose 25 point on the FIDE list. The other prodigy, 15-year-old Illya Nyzhnyk (2585, UKR), also lost his game, against Ferenc Berkes (2682, HUN) and remained at 4.0/7 with a 2671. 13-year-old Bulgarian youngster Yavor Todorov (2029) defeated Serbian hopeful, 18-year-old FM Novak Cabarkapa (2314) in two hours.

Guest of the round was the Consul General of Turkey in Plovdiv, Ramis Shen, who came to support the ten Turkish participants in the European Championship. This visit was clearly inspiring for the young Turkish chess talents: European U14 champion Cemil Can Ali Marandi (2315, TUR) won against Andreas Diermair (2416, AUT), while another 14-year-old youngster, Vahap Sanal (2286, TUR) beat defeated another Austrian, Martin Neubauer, rated 2413.

Round eight – Mamedyarov defaulted for ten second delay

They say that life imitates art and assuredly today’s round illustrated this to the extreme as irony befitting a Shakespearian play unfolded. After round six’s Theatre of the Absurd, one would have thought the discussion on zero-tolerance to be over, but in fact it merely set the stage for what was to follow.

Round seven saw the elite Azeri player Shakhriyar Mamedyarov chalk up a quick and efficient win, and climb out of the hole he seemed to have fallen in. It was such that the trainer of the Azeri national team, Vladimir Tukmakov, felt this might be the start of Shakhriyar’s impending rise to the top, as this would give him the boost of confidence he had needed. In a live interview granted to Chess-News, he explained “I hope that this victory – a quick victory – will serve as a watershed between the first and second part of the tournament.”

Azeri trainer Vladimir Tukmaov during the interview, which you
can read and listen to (in Russian) on this Chess-News page

Tukmakov also had strong words on the Georgian fiasco, and the zero-tolerance rule per se, a rule that mandates player to be seated at the board when the starting gong sounds – or forfeit the game. “I think its stupid because from time to time and in many cases, regardless of the participants, for some objective reasons, such incidents happen here that happened in, say, in the sixth round, when the six players simultaneously received zeros. Some of these six players held very high positions. And this incident greatly affected the tournament. The argument that if an athlete is absent at the start in other sports means disqualification does not work. Because in other sports, the athletes are also not given an allotted time. In general, it's silly to compare chess with other sports.” He further added: “When a man (IM Shota Azaladze) is having possibly the tournament of his life, then to end such a high note in this basest possible way, it is, I think, just wrong.”

Tukmakov made it clear that he supported a professional attitude in chess, and was not dismissive of proper behavior. When asked about the dress code, he was supportive to avoid excesses, but worried that trying to define it too closely might allow a narrow-minded arbiter to find any reason to punish a player not abiding to the rules. There should always be room for common sense.

Round eight showed how direly some room for common sense was needed, and it could not have been more ironic. IM Shota Azaladze, who had drawn his round seven game, continued with a 2800+ performance, and was paired against…. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (picture above). The result? 1-0 for the Georgian player. As the Azeri wrote in his Twitter, he arrived about ten seconds late – the tournament bulletin claims "more than a minute" – for a four to eight hour game, and was promptly forfeited. Simply appalling.

Other games: tenth seed Malakhov Vladimir (2705, RUS) defeated Sergei Azarov (2667, BLR) to go into pole position on the scoreboard. Maxim Matlakov (2632, RUS) beat Viktor Bologan (2687, MDA) and Vladimir Akopyan (2684, ARM) defeated Dennis Hismatulin (2656, RUS). All three wins were with the white pieces, and all three winners are now leading with 6.5/8 points. GM Alejandro Ramirez has annotated the Matlakov-Bologan game below.

We need to mention the black piece win of 255th seed, 15-year-old FM Kirill Alekseenko of Russia (picture above), rated 2367, against fellow countryman GM Boris Savchenko, rated 2580. Alekseenko has been playing at a 2692 performance level and stands to gain 49 points from it for the next FIDE rating list.

Here's an interesting game from round eight, annotated by GM Alejandro Ramirez.

[Event "European Individual Championship"] [Site "Internet Chess Club"] [Date "2012.03.28"] [Round "8"] [White "Matlakov, Maksim"] [Black "Bologan, Viktor"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D31"] [WhiteElo "2632"] [BlackElo "2687"] [Annotator "Ramirez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "87"] [EventDate "2012.??.??"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 dxc4 5. a4 e6 6. e4 (6. e3 c5 7. Bxc4 Nc6 8. O-O {is the way Kasimdzhanov recommends to play in his 'Beat the Slav' DVD that came out recently. The text move is also very interesting.}) 6... Bb4 7. e5 Nd5 8. Bd2 b5 9. axb5 Bxc3 10. bxc3 cxb5 {Although this position specifically hasn't been reached all that many times, it does have a very common structure. Black is up a pawn, but he has less space in the center and kingside. However his position is solid and he has a strong N on d5. Unlike many of these setups, though, he has already lost the dark squared bishop, which will cause him much pain later.} 11. Ng5 h6 12. Qh5 (12. Ne4 O-O 13. Nd6 {is the computer recommendation but it seems premature to me. Black could even consider striking back at the center with f6!?}) 12... O-O 13. Ne4 Nc6 14. h4 $5 {It's always nice to have a game start out like this. You just know fireworks are in store!} f5 15. Nd6 Bd7 16. Rh3 {A logical move. I will not delve into the complications and many of the variations that could've arrived in this game - simply because I need more time to do them. You will be able to find the game fully annotated later on CBM, however.} (16. Bxh6 $5 {was already wild.}) 16... Be8 17. Qd1 Qe7 18. g4 Rd8 {Preparing the sacrifice on d6? I'm guessing that was the reason for this move, but f4 directly seemed better, sealing off the kingside for now.} 19. g5 f4 (19... h5 $2 20. Nxb5 Nxe5 21. dxe5 Bxb5 22. Qxh5 $16 {is an important detail}) 20. gxh6 gxh6 21. Nxb5 Nxe5 22. Rxa7 Qf6 23. Na3 Nd3+ 24. Rxd3 $5 {Sacrificing the exchange to obtain a nagging pressure agains many squares around the king. It's hard to say if this is entirely sound.} cxd3 25. Bxd3 Qxh4 26. Qf3 Rf7 27. Rxf7 Bxf7 28. c4 { Black has managed to trade off some pieces, but dangers remain. His king is exposed and his activity seems to not be the best just yet, however he holds the upper hand as his material should eventually show.} Ne3 $5 {Cool, but not best.} (28... Bh5 $1 {Wins, but I'm not going to get into it.}) 29. Qe4 Nf5 30. Nc2 Rb8 31. Bxf4 Rb1+ 32. Kd2 Qxf2+ 33. Kc3 {With both kings exposed and the clocks ticking, this game can still go either way. Material count is not as important as material activity anymore, since the only important factor is who is going to checkmate who first.} Kh7 34. Be5 Rd1 35. Be2 Rc1 36. Bd3 h5 $4 { The losing move.} (36... Rd1 {keeps things interesting.} 37. Qe3 $1 $13 {I don't think anyone would play this with their flags hanging.} (37. Qa8 $2 Qd2+ 38. Kb2 Qxd3 $17 {and Qh8+ is not quite mate.})) 37. Qa8 {Black is surprisingly helpless against this geometrical maneouver.} Kh6 (37... Bg8 38. Qf8 $1 {White is threatening to take on f5 and then mate on g7, and Qe1+ leads nowhere. Amazing!} Qe1+ 39. Kb3 Rb1+ 40. Ka2 $18 {And Black doesn't even have a perpetual.}) 38. Qf8+ Kg5 39. Qxf7 {The material is now in Whtie's favor, but more than that - his attack is lethal.} Qe1+ 40. Kb3 Rb1+ 41. Ka2 Qc1 42. d5 Rb6 43. Qg8+ Kh6 44. Qf8+ {Not the most precise game ever played, but intriguing and heart stopping. Look forward to this game being fully annotated in ChessBase Magazine!} 1-0

Top rankings after round eight

Rk. Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts. Perf
1 GM Malakhov Vladimir RUS 2705 6.5 2835
2 GM Matlakov Maxim RUS 2632 6.5 2821
3 GM Akopian Vladimir ARM 2684 6.5 2791
4 GM Jones Gawain C B ENG 2635 6.0 2810
5 GM Kuzubov Yuriy UKR 2615 6.0 2801
6 GM Vitiugov Nikita RUS 2709 6.0 2799
7 GM Bacrot Etienne FRA 2706 6.0 2798
8 GM Fressinet Laurent FRA 2693 6.0 2792
9 GM Inarkiev Ernesto RUS 2695 6.0 2783
10 GM Andreikin Dmitry RUS 2689 6.0 2779
11 GM Kobalia Mikhail RUS 2666 6.0 2773
12 GM Vachier-Lagrave M.   FRA 2682 6.0 2763
13 GM Jobava Baadur GEO 2706 6.0 2761
14 GM Vallejo Francisco ESP 2693 6.0 2761
15 GM Azarov Sergei BLR 2667 6.0 2751
16 GM Sokolov Ivan NED 2653 6.0 2749
17 GM Korobov Anton UKR 2679 6.0 2743
18 GM Volokitin Andrei UKR 2695 6.0 2730
19 GM Khenkin Igor GER 2632 6.0 2711
20 GM Istratescu Andrei FRA 2633 6.0 2707
21 IM Azaladze Shota GEO 2419 5.5 2826
22 GM Naiditsch Arkadij GER 2702 5.5 2748
23 GM Caruana Fabiano ITA 2767 5.5 2743
24 GM Jakovenko Dmitry RUS 2729 5.5 2743
25 GM Melkumyan Hrant ARM 2628 5.5 2739
26 GM Movsesian Sergei ARM 2702 5.5 2739
Rk. Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts. Perf
27 GM Dreev Aleksey RUS 2698 5.5 2728
28 GM Khismatullin Denis RUS 2656 5.5 2727
29 GM Timofeev Artyom RUS 2650 5.5 2712
30 GM Ragger Markus AUT 2654 5.5 2712
31 GM Bologan Viktor MDA 2687 5.5 2711
32 GM Berkes Ferenc HUN 2682 5.5 2706
33 GM Nisipeanu Liviu-Dieter   ROU 2643 5.5 2704
34 GM Zhigalko Sergei BLR 2649 5.5 2703
35 GM Kryvoruchko Yuriy UKR 2666 5.5 2699
36 GM Georgiev Kiril BUL 2671 5.5 2688
37 GM Sargissian Gabriel ARM 2674 5.5 2687
38 GM Najer Evgeniy RUS 2640 5.5 2683
39 GM Areshchenko Alex. UKR 2688 5.5 2679
40 GM Balogh Csaba HUN 2664 5.5 2679
41 GM Laznicka Viktor CZE 2702 5.5 2670
42 GM Mchedlishvili Mikheil GEO 2626 5.5 2668
43 GM Sjugirov Sanan RUS 2610 5.5 2662
44 GM Rodshtein Maxim ISR 2652 5.5 2656
45 GM Khalifman Alexander RUS 2649 5.5 2644
46 GM Stocek Jiri CZE 2606 5.5 2643
47 GM Smirin Ilia ISR 2657 5.5 2642
48 GM Volkov Sergey RUS 2623 5.5 2623
49 GM Saric Ivan CRO 2649 5.5 2621
50 GM Vuckovic Bojan SRB 2628 5.5 2617
51 GM Smeets Jan NED 2610 5.5 2591
52 GM Mastrovasilis A. GRE 2510 5.5 2551

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
Thursday March 29 15:00 Round 9 Robert Ris
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  


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