2014 Euro-Ch: New leader, missed masterpiece

by Albert Silver
3/7/2014 – Entering the fourth round, five players still held impeccable scores, followed by a platoon right behind. Two of the leaders faced each other with a decisive outcome, the only among them, and Russian Evgeny Najer took the sole lead with 4.0/4 after his win over Ilya Smirin. It is almost a cliche to discuss the brilliancies hidden in the notes, but do not miss this masterpiece of domination.

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The championship is an eleven-round Swiss system in accordance with the ECU Tournament Rules and FIDE Laws of Chess. and is held in Yerevan, Armenia from March 2 (day of arrival) until March 15 (day of departure) 2014. The tournament is held at the Elite Plaza Business Centre.  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 tournament does not allow players to draw before the 40th move, and the controversial zero-tolerance rule will be in effect. In case of pre-arranged results the Chief Arbiter can decide that the result of the respective game is 0 - 0. If a prize-winner is absent during the closing ceremony, then the money prize will be reduced by 20%.

The total prizefund is 160 thousand Euros, with 20 thousand for first place, 16 thousand for second, down to 1000 for 25th place. There are also prizes for the best overperformer, meaning the player who performs highest over his rating.

The European Individual Championship 2014 is a qualification event for the next World Cup. According to FIDE regulations and the decision of the ECU Board, 23 players will qualify.

Round four

Going into round four, five players held impeccable records, but once the smoke had cleared, only one remained with 4.0/4 and that was Russian Evgeny Najer, who overcame Ilya Smirin in an epic game. 16-year-old Vladislav Artemiev fought hard with Alexander Riazantsev but neither was able to best the other, and they drew after 48 moves. The fifth player on 3.0/3 was Igor Kovalenko, who faced the Ukrainian heavyhitter Pavel Eljanov (2723), the tournament’s second-seed, and whom he held to a draw.  Three more players moved into the group with 3.5/4, Bulgarian GM Cheparinov, former aide-de-camp of Vesselin Topalov, Russian Alexander Motylev, and Alexander Shimanov, who won a crazy game against Jobava (2716).

Evgeny Najer is now the sole leader with 4.0/4

Ilya Smirin fought hard and valiantly, but was unable to find
the extraordinary resource hidden in his position

Two women stand at 3.0/4: WGM Daria Charochkina (2374) with a 2673 performance and the irrepressible GM Judit Polgar (2693) with a 2736 performance.

The hidden masterpiece

Although Evgeny Najer’s win over Ilya Smirin was a fantastic struggle from both sides, with both players refusing the easy way out, it was one of those nearly clichéd instances when the brilliancies were hidden in the notes. That said, the sequence missed by Smirin, who might have still saved the game as of move 41, requires the player to first imagine there is such a resource. It is not so much the calculation of the moves that is so hard, but the beautiful and elusive lines, two of which deserve their own individual highlight.

[Event "15th ch-EUR Indiv 2014"] [Site "Yerevan ARM"] [Date "2014.03.06"] [Round "4.2"] [White "Najer, Evgeniy"] [Black "Smirin, Ilia"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B67"] [WhiteElo "2633"] [BlackElo "2644"] [Annotator "Albert Silver"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/6k1/b6p/2np1p1P/1p1R4/8/PPP5/1K6 w - - 0 41"] [PlyCount "10"] [EventDate "2014.03.03"] 41. Rxd5 {[#] The drawing move:} f4 $3 {is truly worthy of a study.} ({The move order with} 41... Kf6 {also works, but 41...f4 is more precise if only because it allows White a chance to go astray as will be seen.}) 42. Rxc5 Kf6 $1 {cutting off the rook from f5, and freeing the pawn to advance.} 43. Rc6+ { and once again, the drawing move is worthy of a study.} Ke7 {Again, the only move. To understand why, one needs to see what happens on 'natural' moves.} ( 43... Ke5 44. Rxa6 f3 45. Ra8 Kd4 46. Rf8 Ke3 47. c4 {and White is won.}) 44. Rxa6 f3 45. Ra5 Ke6 {Domination! The rook simply has no way to reach the f-file in time and as a result must give a perpetual check to the black king.} 1-0

The line is beautiful to behold, and the theme of domination after sacrificing not one, but two pieces to dominate the rook and draw is impressive, but it does not end there. Now that you have seen what happens if the pieces are taken, suppose White decides to stop the pawn with 42.Rf5 instead. What then? This is where the importance of allowing it with 41...f4 is revealed.

[Event "15th ch-EUR Indiv 2014"] [Site "Yerevan ARM"] [Date "2014.03.06"] [Round "4.2"] [White "Najer, Evgeniy"] [Black "Smirin, Ilia"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B67"] [WhiteElo "2633"] [BlackElo "2644"] [Annotator "Albert Silver"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/6k1/b6p/2nR1p1P/1p6/8/PPP5/1K6 b - - 0 41"] [PlyCount "29"] [EventDate "2014.03.03"] 41... f4 $3 42. Rf5 {[#] White decides to stop the pawn and eliminate the trouble, but Black has the no less spectacular resource} Nd3 $3 {As incredible as it may seem, this does not just save the game for Black, it wins it!} 43. b3 {The knight cannot be touched, and the rook cannot move as it alone prevents the f-pawn from advancing.} ({Now obviously the knight cannot be taken with} 43. cxd3 {due to the double attack} Bxd3+ {[%cal Rd3f5,Rd3b1] winning the rook. }) 43... Bc8 $3 {Domination again! The rook is forced to leave its outpost.} 44. Rd5 Nf2 45. Rd4 (45. Rd2 {does not work either.} Ne4 46. Rd3 Bg4 47. Rd4 Bf5) 45... f3 46. Rf4 Bg4 47. a4 bxa3 48. b4 Bxh5 49. b5 Nh3 50. b6 Nxf4 51. b7 f2 52. b8=Q f1=Q+ {and it is over.} 53. Ka2 Bf7+ 54. Kxa3 Qa1+ 55. Kb4 Qb2+ 1-0

Another breathtaking demonstration of domination.

Armenian GM Artur Chibukhchian

GM Athanasios Mastrovasilis from Greece

Hrant Melkumyan

Turkish GM Mustafa Yilmaz (2557)

Standings after four rounds:

Rk Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts  TB Perf
1 GM Najer Evgeniy RUS 2633 4.0 2551 3297
2 IM Artemiev Vladislav RUS 2621 3.5 2631 2891
3 GM Shimanov Aleksandr RUS 2649 3.5 2614 2889
4 GM Riazantsev Alexander RUS 2689 3.5 2592 2886
5 GM Cheparinov Ivan BUL 2681 3.5 2583 2876
6 GM Kovalenko Igor LAT 2626 3.5 2569 2847
7 GM Motylev Alexander RUS 2656 3.5 2510 2813
8 GM Onischuk Vladimir UKR 2583 3.0 2707 2778
9 GM Goganov Aleksey RUS 2569 3.0 2667 2735
10 GM Antipov Mikhail Al. RUS 2507 3.0 2643 2702
11 GM Dubov Daniil RUS 2618 3.0 2638 2752
12 GM Ipatov Alexander TUR 2614 3.0 2629 2744
13 GM Pashikian Arman ARM 2612 3.0 2622 2730
14 GM Fressinet Laurent FRA 2709 3.0 2610 2760
15 GM Eljanov Pavel UKR 2723 3.0 2609 2767
16 GM Lupulescu Constantin ROU 2643 3.0 2605 2737
17 GM Kryvoruchko Yuriy UKR 2706 3.0 2600 2751
18 GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw POL 2713 3.0 2600 2756
19 WGM Charochkina Daria RUS 2374 3.0 2599 2673
20 GM Navara David CZE 2700 3.0 2597 2747

Click for complete standings


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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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