2011 European Championship: No 2700 in lead

3/25/2011 – Although it is obviously too early to begin speaking of tournament leaders, especially considering that there are no fewer than twelve with 100% still after three rounds, it is nonetheless remarkable that not one of the nine 2700+ players participating belongs to that group. In fact, half the leaders aren't even rated 2600! Report for rounds two and three.

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The 2011 European Individual Championship (Mixed) is currently underway, and will run from March 21st to April 3rd in Aix-Les-Bains, France. The first round is on March 22nd, and the last on April 2nd, with no tie-break matches to decide the final places. Besides determining the title of European Champion, the top 23 finishers also qualify for the 2011 World Cup.

Prizes: place 1-25 (113,700 €): 20,000 €, 15,000 €, 11,000 €, 8,000 €, 7,000 €, 6,000 €, 5,500 €, 5,000 €, 4,500 €, 4,000 €, 3,500 €, 3,000 €, 2,500 €, 2,200 €, 2,000 €, 1,900 €, 1,800 €, 1,700 €, 1,600 €, 1,500 €, 1,400 €, 1,300 €, 1,200 €, 1,100 €, 1,000 €
Special Prizes (perf - rating): 6,300 €: 1,000 €, 800 €, 700 €, 600 €, 500 €, 450 €, 400 €, 350 €, 300 €, 2 x 250 €, 2 x 200 €, 2 x 150 €
Tourney system: Swiss system, 11 rounds
Time control: 90 minutes/40 moves + 30 minutes + 30 seconds/move starting with the first move
Game start: all rounds, everyday 15:00
Rest day: 29th March


Playing hall at the Grand Cercle casino

Rounds two and three

Needless to say, it is far too early to start touting leaders, with only three out of eleven rounds played so far. Nevertheless, it is still worth noting that of the twelve players still with 100% at 3.0/3 not one of them is one of the initial 2700+ players. In fact even more remarkable is that half of them aren't even rated 2600! It has been tough going for the Elo leaders with a huge field of players seeking to add a notable feather to their cap, and successfully too. In round two Caruana tripped and lost, and in round three it was Nepomniachtchi's turn. All the same, right behind those twelve players is a stampeding herd of 47 players on 2.5/3.

Also, the slightly imperfect chess also means leaving room for moments of brilliancy and inspiration, as well as the absolutely horrid. The absolute bottom of the barrel really has to be the draw between Macieja and Maze, in which the Frenchman alternated between +4 amd +20 for some 15 moves but was unable to end the game. Still, there have also been numerous moments of strong play and tactical shots to tickle the fans.

Here is a short game from round two.

Halkias,Stelios (2579) - Aloma Vidal,Robert (2434) [A26]
12th ch-EUR Aix-les-Bains FRA (2.81), 23.03.2011

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6 3.g3 Bg7 4.Bg2 e5 5.d3 0-0 6.Nf3 Nc6 7.0-0 d6 8.Rb1 a5








In spite of appearing to be a perfectly logical move to counter b4, this move is probably suspect. Part of the problem is that Black won't be able to stop b4, and after a3-b4, White almost invariably is the one who takes advantage of the a-file combined with the pressure on h1-a8. As such, sticking the pawn on a5 only helps accelerate the process for White. 9.a3 h6. The idea is to be able to play Nh5 followed by f5-Be6 and not have to worry about undesirable intrusions on g5. 10.b4 axb4 11.axb4 Nh5 12.b5 Ne7 13.Bb2 f5 14.Qb3 Be6 15.Nd2 Rb8 16.Ra1 g5 17.Ra7








17...b6? Quite dreadful looking, and one can only presume Black thought this was the best way to stall White while he pursued his kingside ambitions. 17...c6 was a much more sensible continuation. 18.Rfa1 Nf6 18.Nd5. I'll have a serving of white squares if you please. 18...Rc8 19.Rfa1 f4 20.Ne4. Can I have a second portion? 20...g4?








21.Nxd6!! Superbly seen. 21...f3. 21...Qxd6? 22.Ba3 Qd7 23.Nxe7+; 21...cxd6? 22.Nxe7+; 21...Bxd5 22.Nxc8] 22.Nxc8 Nxd5 23.cxd5 Bxc8 1-0. [Click to replay]


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