Gawain Jones leads with 4.0/4 in Plovdiv

3/24/2012 – On the top twelve boards there were eleven draws in round four of the European Championship in Bulgaria. The one decisive game was the black piece win by Gawain Jones against Russian GM Boris Savchenko,. The English GM is now the only player left with a perfect score. GM Alejandro Ramirez has selected a game that wasn't one of the top top boards, but which he found to be highly entertaining.

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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 four – Gawain Jones in the sole lead

The start of round four in Plovdiv

English GM Gawain Jones, 2635, beat Russian GM Boris Savchenko, 2580 with the black pieces to emerge alone at the top of the scoreboard, with 4.0/4 points and a fantastic rating performans of 3317. All other games on the first twelve boards were drawn, with most of them lasting around five hours. The first decisive games finished on board 117, where French GM Roman Edouard, 2607, defeated Swedish GM Nicolas Grandadam, 2361, in ninety minutes.

Top seed Fabiano Caruana of Italy (above left), playing white, had a clear advantage throughout his game against Bulgarian GM Julian Radulski, over 200 points below him on the Elo scale, but did not manage to convert it into a full point in spite of 72 moves of trying. Remarkably Ukrainian GM Vladimir Onischuk, 2516, lost his game to 14-year-old German FM Alexander Donchenko, rated 2309. Unfortunately this game is not yet available. Turkish GM Dragan Solak, 2602, lost ot lost to FM Kirill Alekseenko, 2367, from Russia.

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

[Event "European Individual Championship"] [Site "?"] [Date "2012.03.23"] [Round "4"] [White "Vallejo Pons, Francisco"] [Black "Nabaty, Tamir"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D20"] [WhiteElo "2693"] [BlackElo "2559"] [Annotator "Ramirez,Alejandro"] [PlyCount "49"] [SourceDate "2012.03.23"] {This wasn't one of the top top boards, but I found this game to be highly entertaining.} 1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e3 e5 4. Bxc4 exd4 5. exd4 Bd6 6. Nf3 Nf6 7. Qe2+ {A relatively rare move but far from harmless.} (7. O-O O-O 8. Nc3 Nc6 {has been seen in countless games.}) 7... Qe7 8. Qxe7+ Kxe7 {Boldly taking with the King! I mean, why would you delay your development unnecessarily? Why would you put your bishop, which is well placed on d6, on an inferior square? What's the worse that can happen, there are no queens on the board!} ( 8... Bxe7 9. O-O O-O 10. Nc3 Nbd7 {And Black hasn't fully equalized just yet. Tkachiev beat Morozevich in the World Blitz Championship, 2008 with this position}) 9. O-O Be6 (9... Re8 10. Ng5 $14 {is surprisingly annoying.}) 10. Re1 Kd7 11. Ne5+ {Already quite ambitious. White is exchanging the pieces that defend the black king. But defend from what? There are no queens!} (11. Bxe6+ fxe6 12. Nc3 Nc6 {really just lets Black off the hook. White might have a minimal plus but eventually it should be neutralized.}) 11... Bxe5 (11... Kc8 {is ok according to the computers, but I can't imagine anyone not taking the knight.}) 12. dxe5 Bxc4 13. exf6 gxf6 14. Nc3 {Black's king is slightly exposed and White has better development and a few targets. Immediately he might be looking to play Ne4 and hit f6.} c5 $6 {A highly optimistic move. This move is designed against Ne4, as Black will now have the strong reply Kc6! but it is not developing a piece...} 15. Bf4 $1 {Black has a rather unusual problem - not only does he have to try to develop his pieces, he has to do it in a way that protects his king.} (15. Ne4 Kc6 16. Nxf6 Nd7 17. Nxd7 Kxd7 18. Bf4 Kc6 $11 {Leaves black with very little to worry about.}) 15... Nc6 (15... Na6 16. Rad1+ Kc8 17. Ne4 {is already immediately losing.}) 16. Red1+ $1 {A fabulous move. It seems illogical at first to use this rook, but it is well justified.} (16. Rad1+ Nd4 17. b3 Ba6 {is also better for White, but not nearly as much as the move in the game.} 18. b4 {is now met with} Rhe8 $1 { forcing some trades and relieving some pressure.}) 16... Ke6 $6 {Ignoring how fragile the king can be.} (16... Nd4 17. b3 Ba6 18. b4 $16) 17. b3 $1 Ba6 ( 17... Kf5 {was the last saving attempt, but it looks illogical.} 18. bxc4 Kxf4 19. Rd5 $16 {is a serious problem for Black.}) 18. Rd6+ Kf5 19. Nd5 {An attack from the blue! White has a ton of threats and there is very little counterplay.} Nd4 20. Rxf6+ Ke4 21. f3+ $1 {It's quite possible that Black missed this lethal move. Without it, White only has a strong advantage.} (21. Nc7 Ne2+ 22. Kh1 Nxf4 23. Re1+ Ne2 24. Nxa6 bxa6 25. Rxe2+ $16 {And even this should be lost, but Black has hope.}) 21... Kd3 (21... Kxd5 22. Rd6# {is a surprising mate. Who needs a queen when you have a rook and a bishop? They move the same, after all!}) 22. Rd1+ Kc2 23. Rd2+ Kb1 24. Nc3+ Ka1 25. a4 { Black must now sacrifice a knight to merely postpone checkmate. A glorious game where simple development prevailed. Never, ever, underestimate how weak your king can be. Even grandmasters do it from time to time, and they are severely punished for it!} 1-0

Top rankings after round five

Behind the leader Gawain Jones we have 20 players with 3.5/4 points, and then 43 players sharing 3.0/4 points. We are especially impressed with Romanian WIM Irina Bulmaga, rated 2307, who is currently playing at a 2765 performance level.

Rk. Ti. Name FED Rtng Pts.
1 GM Jones Gawain C B ENG 2635 4.0
2 IM Azaladze Shota GEO 2419 3.5
3 GM Vitiugov Nikita RUS 2709 3.5
4 GM Naiditsch Arkadij GER 2702 3.5
5 GM Fressinet Laurent FRA 2693 3.5
6 GM Radulski Julian BUL 2552 3.5
7 GM Andreikin Dmitry RUS 2689 3.5
8 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime   FRA 2682 3.5
9 GM Esen Baris TUR 2555 3.5
10 GM Korobov Anton UKR 2679 3.5
11 GM Melkumyan Hrant ARM 2628 3.5
12 GM Cheparinov Ivan BUL 2664 3.5
13 GM Lenic Luka SLO 2637 3.5
14 GM Kuzubov Yuriy UKR 2615 3.5
15 GM Bologan Viktor MDA 2687 3.5
16 GM Timofeev Artyom RUS 2650 3.5
17 GM Berkes Ferenc HUN 2682 3.5
18 GM Sokolov Ivan NED 2653 3.5
19 GM Sjugirov Sanan RUS 2610 3.5
20 GM Matlakov Maxim RUS 2632 3.5
21 GM Kulaots Kaido EST 2585 3.5
22 FM Alekseenko Kirill RUS 2367 3.0
23 GM Nyzhnyk Illya UKR 2585 3.0
24 GM Jakovenko Dmitry RUS 2729 3.0
25 GM Savchenko Boris RUS 2580 3.0
26 GM Bacrot Etienne FRA 2706 3.0
27 WIM Bulmaga Irina ROU 2307 3.0
28 GM Movsesian Sergei ARM 2702 3.0
29 GM Dreev Aleksey RUS 2698 3.0
30 GM Caruana Fabiano ITA 2767 3.0
31 GM Riazantsev Alexander RUS 2710 3.0
32 GM Sutovsky Emil ISR 2700 3.0
Rk. Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts.
33 GM Khairullin Ildar RUS 2626 3.0
34 GM Kobalia Mikhail RUS 2666 3.0
35 GM Inarkiev Ernesto RUS 2695 3.0
36 GM Mamedov Rauf AZE 2624 3.0
37 GM Hracek Zbynek CZE 2627 3.0
38 GM Ragger Markus AUT 2654 3.0
39 GM Guseinov Gadir AZE 2616 3.0
40 GM Khismatullin Denis RUS 2656 3.0
41 GM Malakhov Vladimir RUS 2705 3.0
42 GM Vallejo Pons Francisco ESP 2693 3.0
43 GM Hovhannisyan Robert ARM 2600 3.0
44 GM Zhigalko Sergei BLR 2649 3.0
45 GM Jobava Baadur GEO 2706 3.0
46 GM Delchev Aleksander BUL 2622 3.0
47 GM Sargissian Gabriel ARM 2674 3.0
48 GM Georgiev Kiril BUL 2671 3.0
49 GM Stefansson Hannes ISL 2531 3.0
50 GM Nisipeanu Liviu-Dieter ROU 2643 3.0
51 GM Lupulescu Constantin ROU 2616 3.0
52 GM Areshchenko Alexander   UKR 2688 3.0
53 GM Rodshtein Maxim ISR 2652 3.0
54 GM Fridman Daniel GER 2653 3.0
55 GM Akopian Vladimir ARM 2684 3.0
56 GM Azarov Sergei BLR 2667 3.0
57 GM Volokitin Andrei UKR 2695 3.0
58 GM Najer Evgeniy RUS 2640 3.0
59 GM Pantsulaia Levan GEO 2595 3.0
60 GM Banusz Tamas HUN 2583 3.0
61 GM Salgado Lopez Ivan ESP 2621 3.0
62 GM L'ami Erwin NED 2611 3.0
63 GM Brunello Sabino ITA 2587 3.0
64 GM Kozul Zdenko CRO 2602 3.0

In the fifth round Gawain Jones has white against Russian Nikita Vityugov, who is 74 points ahead of him on the rating scale. The experienced Bulgarian GM Kiril Georgiev, 2671, takes on 15-year-old Ukrainian star Illya Nyzhnyk, 2585. Top seed Fabiano Caruana has the black pieces against GM Sergei Zhigalko, rated 117 points below him.

Remaining schedule + Playchess commentary

After every round there will be special wrap-up commentary on Playchess. This starts at 20:00h Server time (= CET, = , 23:00h 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
Saturday March 24 15:00 Round 5 Lawrence Trent
Sunday March 25 15:00 Round 6 Lawrence Trent
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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