European Championship: six players default on DST

3/26/2012 – Daylight saving time is the practice of advancing clocks so that evenings have more daylight and mornings less. Clocks are adjusted forward one hour near the start of spring and backward in autumn. The date for the spring adjustment was Saturday night. Unfortunately the Georgian squad, with two players set to break performance records, did a Darwinian screw-up of the time switch.

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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 five – Three players lead

The sole leader after round four, Gawain Jones (2635, ENG) drew his game against Nikita Vitiugov (2709, RUS), while Laurent Fressinet (2693, FRA) beat Artyom Timofeev (2650, RUS) on board three and Yuriy Kuzubov (2615, UKR) outplayed Viktor Bologan 2687 (MDA) on board five. This left three players on top of the scoreboard with 4.5/5.0 points. Kiril Georgiev (2671, BUL) drew against 15-year-old "wunderkind" Illya Nyzhnyk (2585, UKR). Tigran L Petrosian (2643, ARM), as Black and Namig Guliyev (2532, AZE) played a very dramatic game that ended in stalemate after 73 moves.

"It’s not easy an4.y more – everybody knows how to play chess." This was evidenced by the fifth draw of second seed Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2752, AZE) against 15-year-old youngster Avital Boruchovsky (2333, ISR). Fourth seed Anish Giri (NED, 2717) registered a second loss in the tournament. the 18-year-old lost with the white pieces against Frank Holzke (2508, GER).

Round six – Six players default

Everyone loves a good underdog tale. The story of someone facing incredible odds and coming out on top is the kind we hold dear, and is always a source of hope that we too might be included in those ranks. The European Championship had two such examples, and both came from Georgia.

The first and foremost was IM Shota Azaladze, rated 2419,and ranked 222 in the starting list. After four games, the ranking list had him… second! Facing not a single opponent under 2614, he had scored 3.5/4 and had an astronomical 2970 performance. In round five he survived a crazy game against Ivan Sokolov, and entered round six with 4.0/5 and a giant 2878 performance.

The second Georgian underdog tale came from untitled Davit Lomsadze, rated 2338, whose weakest opponent, all of whom were grandmasters, only outrated him by a measly 240 Elo. He scored no less than 3.5/5 and was also performing over 400 Elo above his actual rating, with 2741. GM norms for both hardly seemed a stretch of the imagination, until round six.

Then came round six, which registered losses for both. But not because the laws of probability had finally caught up with them. The night before, Europe set their clocks one hour forward, but apparently this was not properly understood by the Georgian squad, who adjusted their clocks the other way around – the mnemonic is "Spring forward, Fall back", but they sprung back. They did not notice their mistake until it was too late, and six Georgian players forfeited their games in a Darwinian turn of events.

The leaderboard is very crowded at the top with no fewer than ten players at 5.0/6, and German GM Arkadij Naiditsch, who beat Ivan Sokolov in round six, is at the top due to his 2864 performance. One result of the curious day’s events is that his is only the second highest performance. IM Shota Azaladze, ranked 35th, is still the highest with 2878, since the forfeit does not count towards his rating performance.

Top seed Fabiano Caruana, beat Rauf Mamedov in 76 moves, and is at 4.5/6 with 23 others. Monday is a rest day.Fourth seed Anish Giri won his game against Romanian IM Alexandru Manea, 2381, but still hasn't make it back into the 2700+ live rating list.

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

[Event "European Individual Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2012.03.25"] [Round "6"] [White "Rodshtein, Maxim"] [Black "Inarkiev, Ernesto"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D17"] [Annotator "Ramirez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "56"] [SourceDate "2012.03.25"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 dxc4 5. a4 Bf5 6. Ne5 Nbd7 7. Nxc4 Qc7 8. g3 e5 9. dxe5 Nxe5 10. Bf4 Nfd7 11. Bg2 f6 (11... g5 12. Ne3 gxf4 13. Nxf5 { has been seen in hundreds of games.}) 12. O-O g5 $5 {A little bit of a strange move, as Black was able to play this move before. The point is that since g5 is defended, taking on e5 is forced.} 13. Bxe5 (13. Ne3 Be6 $11 {is a resource that was not possible before. Now the g5 pawn is defended.}) 13... Nxe5 14. Ne3 Be6 15. a5 a6 {Black seems to not have a good position. His structure is questionable, his queenside vulnerable, his development incomplete and his king on the center. The old masters would surely think that there is very little hope. However, in modern chess, things have changed a lot. Black has a strong pair of bishops, his king is not in any immediate danger and his pieces are relatively active. As long as he can patch up his holes on the lightsquares, he should be fine.} 16. Ne4 Be7 17. b4 f5 18. Nc5 Bxc5 19. bxc5 { Black doesn't have his pair of bishops anymore, but now it is White's structure that is suffering a little. Also, he can quickly start a surprisingly strong kingside initiative.} f4 20. Nc2 Rd8 21. Qc1 O-O {White is struggling to find good squares for his awkward knight on c2. Further, the coordination of his pieces is non existent. He would love to start pressuring b7, but that is not so easy.} 22. Rd1 Bc4 23. Nd4 Qe7 24. Qc3 Qf6 25. e3 Rd7 26. exf4 gxf4 27. gxf4 $6 {I'm not entirely sure what went through Rodshtein's mind when playing this. The move is obviously too weakening, but to be fair his position was already gloomy.} (27. Rd2 Rfd8 $15) 27... Qxf4 28. Qe3 Rg7 { White isn't down material yet, but that won't last long. Even worse, he is almost void of counterplay. A simple win by black who trusted modern chess concepts - such as initiative and space.} 0-1

And here's a key game from round six, annotated by GM Efstratios Grivas, who is in Plovdiv as the trainier of the Turkish players.

[Event "ECU-Ch"] [Site "Plovdiv"] [Date "2012.03.25"] [Round "6.6"] [White "Naiditsch, Arkadij"] [Black "Sokolov, Ivan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C84"] [WhiteElo "2702"] [BlackElo "2653"] [Annotator "Efstratios Grivas"] [PlyCount "66"] [EventDate "2012.03.25"] [EventCountry "BUL"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. d3 d6 7. c4 O-O 8. h3 Be6 9. Nc3 Nd7 10. Be3 f5 11. exf5 Bxf5 12. d4 $1 ({A logical move, gaining more space on the centre. White devates first from a previous game of his:} 12. Nd5 Nf6 13. Nxe7+ Nxe7 14. d4 e4 15. Nh2 d5 16. c5 Bd7 17. Bb3 Be6 18. f3 Nf5 19. Bg5 Ng3 20. Re1 h6 21. Bh4 Nf5 22. Rxe4 Qd7 23. Rf4 g5 24. Rxf5 Bxf5 25. Bg3 Nh5 26. Be5 Nf4 27. Ng4 Bxg4 28. hxg4 Ng6 29. Bh2 Rae8 30. Qd3 Re6 31. g3 c6 32. Rf1 Ref6 33. Kg2 Qe6 34. Bg1 Re8 35. Bd1 Kg7 36. Bf2 Qf7 37. Be3 Rfe6 38. Bd2 Rf6 39. b4 Rf8 40. Bc2 Re8 41. Rf2 Qe6 42. Qf1 Qf7 43. Bd3 Qe6 44. Bc2 Qf7 45. f4 Rf8 46. f5 Ne7 47. Re2 Ng8 48. Qe1 Qc7 49. Re5 R6f7 50. Re6 Nf6 51. Qe5 Qb8 52. a4 Re8 53. Bd3 Rff8 54. Qxb8 Rxb8 55. Kf3 Rbe8 56. Re5 Nd7 57. Bc3 Kf6 58. Re3 Rxe3+ 59. Kxe3 Re8+ 60. Kf3 Kf7 61. a5 Nf6 62. Bd2 Ne4 63. Be3 Nxg3 64. Bg1 Ne4 65. Bh2 Nf6 66. Be5 Nd7 67. Bg3 Kf6 68. Kg2 Rh8 69. Be2 h5 70. gxh5 Kxf5 71. Bd3+ Ke6 72. Be2 Nf6 73. Be5 Rh7 74. Bxf6 Kxf6 75. Bg4 Re7 76. Bc8 Kg7 77. Kg3 Kh6 78. Kg4 Rf7 {0-1 Naiditsch,A (2712)-Markowski,T (2606) Warsaw 2011. }) 12... Bf6 (12... exd4 13. Bxd4 $1 {seems to favoure White.}) 13. d5 Na5 14. Nd2 Bd3 15. Qg4 $1 Nb6 ({A more or less forced move. After} 15... Bxf1 16. Rxf1 $1 Nb6 17. Bxb6 cxb6 18. b4 Nxc4 19. Nxc4 b5 20. Qe6+ Kh8 21. Nxd6 bxa4 22. Nf7+ Rxf7 23. Qxf7 {White stands clearly better due to his more healthy pawn-structure and the better minor piece (take a look on the e4 outpost).}) 16. Bxb6 cxb6 17. Rfd1 Kh8 18. Nde4 $1 (18. b4 $6 e4 19. Rac1 Bxc3 20. Rxc3 Nxc4 21. Nxc4 b5 {is good for Black.}) 18... Bxe4 (18... Nxc4 $2 19. Rxd3 {and} ) (18... Bxc4 $2 19. b4 {were out of the question.}) 19. Qxe4 {White has maintained a nice advantage, which is based on his healthier pawn structure, but mostly on his better placed and more active light pieces. The fact of the opposite-coloured bishops theme will help him to organise an attack on the black king.} g6 20. Bc2 Bg7 21. Bd3 Rf4 22. Qe2 Rd4 23. Ne4 $1 {The knight is heading for the black king (g5-e6/h7) while its countepart on the rim a5 can hardly be useful.} b5 24. cxb5 Qb6 25. Rab1 ({Not bad, but the natural} 25. bxa6 bxa6 26. Ng5 {was killing as well.}) 25... axb5 26. Ng5 Rxd5 $2 ({Good or bad, Black had to opt for} 26... Nc4 27. Ne6 Rxd5 28. b3 Na3 29. Rbc1 $16 {.}) 27. Bxg6 $1 {A nice combination which carries the day - the black king will find no shelter...} Rxd1+ 28. Rxd1 hxg6 (28... d5 29. Bb1 $18 {.}) 29. Rxd6 $1 Qc7 (29... Qxd6 30. Nf7+ $18 {.}) 30. Rxg6 {And there is no defence to the Qh5 threat - the black king doesn't have enough defensive resources, as the black pieces are gathered on the queenside...} Ra6 31. Rxa6 bxa6 (31... Qc1+ 32. Kh2 Qxg5 33. Rxa5 $18 {.}) 32. Qh5+ Kg8 33. Qh7+ Kf8 (33... Kf8 {And Black resigned due to} 34. Ne6+ {.}) 1-0

Top rankings after round six

Rk. Ti. Name FED Rtng
1 GM Naiditsch Arkadij GER 2702
2 GM Fressinet Laurent FRA 2693
3 GM Kuzubov Yuriy UKR 2615
4 GM Jones Gawain C B ENG 2635
5 GM Inarkiev Ernesto RUS 2695
6 GM Khismatullin Denis RUS 2656
7 GM Vachier-Lagrave M. FRA 2682
8 GM Matlakov Maxim RUS 2632
9 GM Korobov Anton UKR 2679
10 GM Azarov Sergei BLR 2667
11 GM Movsesian Sergei ARM 2702
12 GM Melkumyan Hrant ARM 2628
13 GM Bacrot Etienne FRA 2706
14 GM Caruana Fabiano ITA 2767
15 GM Lenic Luka SLO 2637
16 GM Jakovenko Dmitry RUS 2729
17 GM Andreikin Dmitry RUS 2689
Rk. Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts. Perf
18 GM Sutovsky Emil ISR 2700 4.5 2763
19 GM Riazantsev Alex. RUS 2710 4.5 2760
20 GM Cheparinov Ivan BUL 2664 4.5 2758
21 GM Malakhov Vladimir RUS 2705 4.5 2753
22 GM Timofeev Artyom RUS 2650 4.5 2746
23 GM Kobalia Mikhail RUS 2666 4.5 2746
24 GM Vallejo Francisco ESP 2693 4.5 2746
25 GM Bologan Viktor MDA 2687 4.5 2743
26 GM Jobava Baadur GEO 2706 4.5 2734
27 GM Pantsulaia Levan GEO 2595 4.5 2724
28 GM Kulaots Kaido EST 2585 4.5 2715
29 GM Ragger Markus AUT 2654 4.5 2714
30 GM Akopian Vladimir ARM 2684 4.5 2706
31 GM Fridman Daniel GER 2653 4.5 2704
32 GM Ivanisevic Ivan SRB 2645 4.5 2696
33 GM Istratescu Andrei FRA 2633 4.5 2646
34 GM Stocek Jiri CZE 2606 4.5 2634

In the lead (with nine others at 5.0/6): French GM Laurent Fressinet, 2693, perf. 2860

Back in the leading pack: British GM Jones Gawain, 2635, with a 2852 performance

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
Monday March 26      Free Day  
Tuesday March 27 15:00 Round 7 Sam Collins
Wednesday March 28 15:00 Round 8 Sam Collins
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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