2015 Euro Ch: A stunning opening in Jerusalem

by Yochanan Afek
2/25/2015 – The 2015 European Championship was opened on Monday to a very enthusiastic crowd of players, who accustomed to a fairly sedate affair with speeches and welcomes, enjoyed the highly entertaining opening ceremony with mind reading magic acts, and percussion performances. Unfortunately for some, they soon found out there were further surprises in round one.

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The European chess championship was opened Monday evening in a highly entertaining ceremony held in Ramada hotel in Jerusalem. Some prominent friends and supporters of Israeli chess were present notably chairman of the finances committee of the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) MP Nisan Slomiansky who was instrumental in raising the funds for the event, chairman of the national lottery general (ret.) Uzi Dayan, who is behind chess tuition projects for youngsters in the periphery and Moshe Slav, chairman of the Israeli chess federation and member of the ECU board Martin Huba.

The officials all warmly welcomed the participants, wishing them a stay in the Israeli capital
that would inspire and elevate their performance and the quality of their games.

The main attraction of the evening was a stunning performance of mind reading presented
by the world famous Lior Sushard who amazed the speechless grandmasters and other guests
with a series of his magical numbers.

The drummer band Jaman provided the special ethnic flavour of the successful evening

“It was the best opening I have attended in this event since first comijng here fourteen years ago”, GM Andrei Volokitin commented afterwards, pretty much expressing the general opinion.

Alexander Motylev (left), the reigning champion, who won the event with the most dominating
performance
in the event's history, participates in a magic trick with Lior Sushard

248 players from 33 countries take part in the championship, of which 167 are titled players, including 112 are grandmasters. Six grandmasters are rated 2700+ and seven are past European champions including the current champion, the Russian Alexander Motylev. The largest national group is, as expected, the Israeli one with 101 players led by Israel’s No.2 Maxim Rodshtein. The largest and the strongest guest group is the Russian delegation with 42 players ahead of Ukraine with twelve, followed by Armenia and Turkey with nine each.

The top 30 players

Rk Ti. Name FED Rtg
1 GM Navara David CZE 2735
2 GM Vitiugov Nikita RUS 2735
3 GM Eljanov Pavel UKR 2727
4 GM Nepomniachtchi Ian RUS 2714
5 GM Bacrot Etienne FRA 2711
6 GM Vallejo Pons Francisco ESP 2706
7 GM Matlakov Maxim RUS 2695
8 GM Moiseenko Alexander UKR 2695
9 GM Kryvoruchko Yuriy UKR 2692
10 GM Riazantsev Alexander RUS 2688
11 GM Korobov Anton UKR 2687
12 GM Cheparinov Ivan BUL 2681
13 GM Sjugirov Sanan RUS 2678
14 GM Alekseev Evgeny RUS 2677
15 GM Inarkiev Ernesto RUS 2675
16 GM Zhigalko Sergei BLR 2675
17 GM Melkumyan Hrant ARM 2673
18 GM Grachev Boris RUS 2670
19 GM Laznicka Viktor CZE 2670
20 GM Sargissian Gabriel ARM 2668
21 GM Kuzubov Yuriy UKR 2667
22 GM Motylev Alexander RUS 2665
23 GM Howell David W L ENG 2663
24 GM Saric Ivan CRO 2661
25 GM Akopian Vladimir ARM 2660
26 GM Rodshtein Maxim ISR 2660
27 GM Nisipeanu Liviu-Dieter GER 2654
28 GM Khismatullin Denis RUS 2653
29 GM Mamedov Rauf AZE 2650
30 GM Smirin Ilia ISR 2650

Click for complete list

Round one

The playing hall as the event starts (photo by Moshe Slav)

As expected, the highest rated players in such a field already met fairly strong opposition as early as in the first round. While the first four favourites in the initial rating list (Navara, Vitiugov, Eljanov and Nepomniatchi) managed to score a first full point, the remaining two 2700+ players, Spain’s No.1 Francisco Vallejo-Pons and France's No.2 player Etiennet Bacrot had to settle for a draw against former Israeli champion GM Yehuda Grunfeld and Swiss IM Richard Forster respectively.

The great upset of the first round was nonetheless the dramatic defeat of the current Israeli champion Victor Mikhalevski (2559) against 17-year-old Itay Westreich who is rated 630 Elo points lower! 

Mikhalevski vs Westreich

White has missed chance after chance to win the game, and it finally
catches up with him, giving his young opponent an opening to strike
back. Black to play and win.

Having the white pieces Mikhalevski sacrificed a central pawn in the opening for well compensated initiative against the black king. His young opponent however did not lose his temper and defended accurately before launching a decisive counter attack against the white king.

[Event "European Individual Chess Championship "] [Site "Jerusalem, Israel"] [Date "2015.02.24"] [Round "1.90"] [White "Mikhalevski, Victor"] [Black "Westreich, Itay"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E04"] [WhiteElo "2559"] [BlackElo "1929"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/pp4k1/5np1/2q1n1Qp/2p1B3/2B1P2R/PP1r3P/5K2 b - - 0 35"] [PlyCount "37"] [EventDate "2015.02.24"] [EventRounds "11"] [EventCountry "ISR"] 35... Rf2+ $1 36. Kg1 (36. Kxf2 Nxe4+ {wins the queen.}) 36... Nf3+ $1 {Now the queen falls since it is undefended.} 37. Rxf3 Qxg5+ 38. Kxf2 Qh4+ {Black mops up here.} 39. Ke2 Qxe4 40. Bxf6+ Kf7 41. Bd4+ Ke6 42. Kf2 g5 43. Rf6+ Ke7 44. Rf3 g4 45. Rg3 Qc2+ 46. Kg1 Qd1+ 47. Kf2 Qd2+ 48. Kf1 Qxh2 49. Rg2 Qh1+ 50. Kf2 Qd1 51. Bxa7 h4 52. Bb8 Qf3+ 53. Kg1 g3 0-1

Another surprised member of the Israeli Olympic team was Evgeny Postny who lost against the three-time former Israeli champion IM Nathan Birnboim (63).

Photos by Yoav Nis


Links

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Yochanan was born (1952) and grew up in Tel-Aviv, and now lives in Amsterdam. He has been involved in nearly every aspect of chess, both as a professional and a volunteer, for the last 48 years, and remains an active player, composer, writer, organizer, trainer and commentator. He is an International Master and International Arbiter for chess as well as International Grandmaster for chess composition.
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