2011 European Championship: Potkin alone at 5.0/5

by ChessBase
3/26/2011 – If after round four, Potkin and Savchenko were the only ones left at 100%, after round five, Potkin followed up his spectacular win in the previous round with an impressive demolition of his rival in 24 moves. Right behind at 4.5/5 are Nisipeaunu, Parligras, and IM Wirig having the tournament of his life. Read about the other surprises in the report, and don't miss Potkin's spectacular wins.

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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

At first glance this might seem to be a closeup shot of a chess clock, but it is in
fact the reception desk.

Round four

The round four results immediately solved the question of pointing out front-runners, with only two players emerging with 100% from the previous twelve: Russians Potkin and Savchenko. On 3.5/4 were no fewer than... 19, so nothing decisive yet. Potkin's win in the fourth round was quite spectacular and fun to watch.

Ter Sahakyan,S (2575) - Potkin,V (2653) [B48]
12th ch-EUR Aix-les-Bains FRA (4), 25.03.2011

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 Qc7 6.Be3 a6 7.Qd2 Nf6 8.0-0-0 Bb4 9.f3 Ne5 10.Nb3 b5 11.Qe1 Be7 12.f4 Ng6 13.e5 Ng4 14.Ne4 Nxe3. 14...0-0 is the most popular continuation here. 15.Qxe3 0-0 16.h4 Bb7 17.h5. White got a good game after 17.Nd6 Nxh4 18.Nxb7 Qxb7 19.Bd3 f5 20.exf6 Bxf6 21.g4 Be7 22.Be4 Qa7 23.Qd3 Rac8 24.Qxd7 Qxd7 25.Rxd7 Bd8 26.Bb7 Rc4 27.Nd4 1-0 (27) Mamedov,N (2580)-Geller,J (2544)/Moscow 2011/Mega2011 Update 08 17...Rac8 18.Bd3

18...Nxe5. More or less forced, but Black will have good compensation with his strong pawn center and bishop pair. After 18...Nh4? White gains a lot of tempi to build up a quick attack. 19.Qf2 Nf5 20.h6! and if 20...g6 21.g4! is tough to meet. 21...Nh4 22.Rxh4 Bxh4 23.Qxh4+- 19.fxe5 Qxe5 20.Nbd2 f5 21.Nf3 Qc7 22.Neg5 Bd5 23.Nh4 Qc5 24.Qd2 24.Qxc5 loses to the zwischenzug 24...Bxg5+ 24...Bf6 25.a3

White's days are numbered, and Potkin makes sure it's the fewest possible. 25...b4! 26.axb4 Qd4 27.c3 Bxg5 28.Qxg5

28...Rxc3+!! 29.Bc2. 29.bxc3 Qxc3+ 30.Bc2 Be4 31.Rd2 Qa1+ 29...Rxc2+! 30.Kxc2 Rc8+ 31.Kb1 Be4+ 32.Ka1 Qxb4 33.Qe3 Rc5 34.Rd3 Rb5 0-1. [Click to replay]

Among the surprises were the noted 3.5/4 scores by French IMs Bellaiche and Wirig, both having scored two wins against GMs at this juncture.

IM Bellaiche enjoying a remarkable event so far with 4.0/5

Round five

The near midway point helped identify the players clearly in form, and the more obvious candidates for the podium. The foremost game of the round was the one between the only two players with 4.0/4, Potkin and Savchenko, and if anyone thought a peaceful result was forthcoming, think again. Potkin continued his remarkable and attractive play with a no-nonsense demolition of Savchenko in great style. He took advantage of his opponent's hesitant play which he punished with vigor and precision in 24 moves.

Potkin,V (2653) - Savchenko,B (2616) [A52]
12th ch-EUR Aix-les-Bains FRA (5), 26.03.2011

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ng4 4.Bf4 Nc6 5.Nf3 Bb4+ 6.Nbd2 Qe7 7.e3 Ngxe5 8.Nxe5 Nxe5 9.Be2 b6 10.0-0 Bb7 11.Nf3 Bxf3 12.Bxf3 Rd8 13.Be2 Bd6 14.Qc2 h5!?

The biggest problem isn't that this is too ambitious or weakening, but that Black plays this and then refuses to commit to his plan of action. 15.Rad1 c6? Now is not the time to start playing quiet and positional. 15...g5! was the logical continuation. In for a penny, in for a pound. 16.Rd4 Bc7 17.h4 g6? Savchenko's wishy-washiness is now going to cost heavily. 18.Bg5 f6

19.f4!! Potkin continues his sizzling form with this razor precise play. This not only counter attacks the knight, but also threatens g6 with the queen once the knight is removed from its defense. 19...fxg5 20.fxe5 Qg7

21.Rf6! Bxe5. There is little else. 21...Rg8 22.Bd3 22.Rxg6 Qe7? A game-ending mistake, but the alternative wasn't much more enticing. 22...Bxd4 23.Rxg7 Bxg7 24.Qg6+ Kf8 25.Bxh5

23.Bxh5! Bh2+. 23...Rxh5 24.Rg8+ Kf7 25.Qg6# 24.Kh1 1-0. [Click to replay]

Right behind the Russian and his imperial 5.0/5, are the equally incredible French IM Wirig (2480), who is at 4.5/5 after beating Korobov, including 3.5/4 against a 2654 average rating. Joining him at 4.5 are the Romanian GMs Parlisgras and Nisipeaunu, after which there are 28 players at 4.0/5 including Vallejo-Pons, Wojtaszek, Judit Polgar, and... French GM Feller! One might have expected him to play unremarkably, after the traumatic events regarding the cheating scandal, and also considering this is his last event (short of a successful appeal) in France for the next five years. Yet he has been playing solid and very strong, including an impressive cold-blooded defensive effort against Kozul in round five.

Standings after five rounds

Potkin Vladimir
Wirig Anthony
Parligras Mircea-Emilian
Nisipeanu Liviu-Dieter
Vallejo Pons Francisco
Savchenko Boris
Lupulescu Constantin
Bellaiche Anthony
Guseinov Gadir
Sutovsky Emil

Click here for complete standings

Pictures from the official site


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