2015 Euro Ch Rd3: Navara leads with five

by Yochanan Afek
2/27/2015 – Due to the extremely high level of the players, the second and third rounds saw top-level clashes already with top boards averaging over 2600 Elo. The number of players with perfect scores dropped from 26 in round two to just five in round three. Although they certainly all deserve praise, David Navara's play stands out for his extremely entertaining attacking play.

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The second round of the European chess championship in Jerusalem already brought collisions between many of the 112 participating grandmasters and therefore no sensational upsets were witnessed, at least not of the kind we saw in round one. By the end of round two 25 GMs and a single IM were still clinging to a perfect 2.0/2 score. Russian GM Alexander Motylev, the current European champion, won both his games but six other former champions already dropped half a point each.

Reigning champion Alexander Motylev has had a good start

Among the top scoring players top-seed David Navara (2735) was playing uncharacteristically aggressive, no-holds-barred chess that seemed a lot more reminiscent of Tal. Consider the opening of his game in round one.

David Navara is black and this is what the position looked like after just
seven moves with 6...h5 (a novelty) and 7...h4. Hardly typical.

The opening was quite cutthroat as you can see, but it did not quite end in a bang (nor a whimper). Black emerged with a classic Fischer Ending and duly converted.

Rui Damaso - David Navara:

[Event "16th ch-EUR Indiv 2015"] [Site "Jerusalem ISR"] [Date "2015.02.24"] [Round "1.1"] [White "Damaso, Rui"] [Black "Navara, David"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E15"] [WhiteElo "2451"] [BlackElo "2735"] [PlyCount "148"] [EventDate "2015.02.24"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 b6 3. d4 e6 4. g3 Ba6 5. Qb3 Nc6 6. Nbd2 h5 {This is more than a novelty, it is an open declaration of war.} 7. e4 {A sensible reply, in keeping with Nimzowitsch's teachings.} h4 {[#] Even knowing there is no reason he should not be fine, White has to be feeling a bit uncomfortable at this outright aggression from the tournament's top-seed less than ten moves into the game.} 8. Qa4 $2 {Already a mistake. White needed to take more energetic action to dampen Black's ambitions, and not only is the queen not better placed on a4, but the bishop will hardly be worse on b7.} (8. e5 $1 Ng4 9. Bh3 f5 10. exf6 Nxf6 11. Qd3 {eyeing Qg6+ was the way to go. If} hxg3 12. hxg3) 8... Bb7 9. d5 hxg3 $1 10. dxc6 $2 {The material proferred is too tempting and White decides to take it and hope for the best. Not an ideal plan against a player rated 300 Elo above...} Bxc6 11. Qc2 gxf2+ 12. Ke2 ({The engine says taking with} 12. Kxf2 {was best, but the start of the line had to look like instant suicide.} Ng4+ 13. Ke1 Qf6 {with Bc5 and 0-0-0 soon to follow.}) 12... Nh5 13. Nb3 Ng3+ 14. hxg3 Rxh1 15. Kxf2 Rxf1+ {Objectively not the best, but Navara does not want to let White consolidate with Bg2, and decides to throw in some more gasoline on the fire, even at the risk of getting burned himself.} 16. Kxf1 Qf6 17. Nbd4 Bb7 18. e5 Qe7 19. Bg5 f6 20. exf6 gxf6 21. Qg6+ Qf7 22. Qxf6 Qxf6 23. Bxf6 c5 $1 {the key to the line that preceded to ensure material balance.} 24. Nxe6 dxe6 25. Ne5 Be7 26. Bxe7 Kxe7 {[#] This is the classic Fischer Ending as the good doctor Mueller is so fond of putting. The great American championed the R+B vs R+N endgame, and showed time and time again how bad it can be for the side with the rook and knight combination. The Czech grandmaster outplays his opponent from it and starts with a win.} 27. Rd1 Kf6 28. Ng4+ Kf5 29. Ne3+ Ke4 30. Ke2 Rg8 31. Rd6 Bc8 32. Nf1 e5 33. Nd2+ Kf5 34. Nf1 e4 35. Rh6 Ke5 36. Ke3 Bg4 37. Rh4 Bf3 38. Rh2 Rd8 39. Rd2 Rd4 40. b3 a5 41. Nh2 Bd1 42. g4 a4 43. bxa4 Bxa4 44. g5 Rxc4 45. Ng4+ Kf5 46. Nh6+ Kxg5 47. Nf7+ Kf6 48. Nd6 Rb4 49. Nxe4+ Ke5 50. Nc3 Bc6 51. Rh2 Bd7 52. Rh8 Bf5 53. Re8+ Kd6 54. Rf8 Ke6 55. Rb8 Kd7 56. Rf8 Be6 57. Rf4 Kc6 58. Rxb4 cxb4 59. Nd1 Kb5 60. Nb2 Bxa2 61. Kd2 Kc5 62. Kc2 Kd4 63. Nd1 Be6 64. Nf2 Ke3 65. Nd1+ Ke2 66. Nb2 b5 67. Nd1 Bf5+ 68. Kc1 Kd3 69. Nf2+ Kc3 70. Nd1+ Kb3 71. Ne3 Be4 72. Nd1 Ka2 73. Nb2 b3 74. Nd1 Ka1 0-1

A special guest was GM Alik Gershon who replaced GM Ronen Har-Zvi at the live commentary studio. He plays very little these days though the local chess community still remembers his double world junior championship title (for under-14 in 1994 and under-16 in 1996) as well as his magnificent world record for simultaneous display in 2010 when he played in the centre of Tel-Aviv against 523 opponents at the very same time.

Though David Navara (2735) is listed as the top seed, it should be noted that it might be due
to alphabetical order since 'second' seed Nikita Vitiugov (left) shares the exact same rating.

Vitiugov was unable to keep a 100% score and was replaced by Pavel Eljanov (right) on board two

A great portrait of GM Semen Dvoirys

Round two showed an even wilder game by David Navara, this time against a far stronger opponent, Mircea-Emilian Parligras (2583), and if you thought the bullying the Czech showed in round one would be restrained, think again.

David Navara has been living up to his top-billing so far with steamroller chess

Navara's spectacular win against Parligras:

[Event "16th ch-EUR Indiv 2015"] [Site "Jerusalem ISR"] [Date "2015.02.25"] [Round "2.1"] [White "Navara, David"] [Black "Parligras, Mircea-Emilian"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A18"] [WhiteElo "2735"] [BlackElo "2583"] [PlyCount "53"] [EventDate "2015.02.24"] 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 e6 3. e4 d5 4. cxd5 exd5 5. e5 Ne4 6. Nf3 Nxc3 7. dxc3 { Though not a novelty per se, all grandmasters had preferred taking with 7. bxc3 in previous forays.} Be7 8. Bd3 Nd7 9. Qc2 g6 {It's really hard to understand this move. Not only does it weaken the dark squares for no apparent reason, but it also provides a giant bullseye for White to aim at.} 10. e6 $1 { With such an invitation, Navara does not need to be asked twice.} fxe6 11. Bh6 Bf6 12. O-O-O Qe7 13. Rhe1 Nc5 14. g4 $1 {At first view, this move might look strange, since the g-pawn is obviously not about to do any direct damage to the kingside, but White has some dastardly ideas up his sleeve. The idea is g5, forcing the bishop to g7 for some tactical shenanigans, possible even an invasion on e5 after.} Bd7 $6 {This move seems quite logical on the surface. Develop the bishop and prepare queenside castling. The problem is that Black will not have the time and is one crucial tempo short.} ({In view of the game continuation, Black needed to play} 14... Rg8 {and then Nxd3 to avoid disaster. }) 15. g5 Bg7 16. Bxg6+ $1 hxg6 17. Qxg6+ Kf8 18. Rxd5 $1 Bxh6 $2 {Missing the key zwischenzug} ({The threat is obviously} 18... -- 19. Rxc5 $1 Qxc5 20. Qxg7+ ) 19. Rf5+ $1 exf5 20. Rxe7 Kxe7 21. Qf6+ {It is game over.} Ke8 22. Qxh8+ Bf8 23. g6 Ne6 24. Ng5 Ke7 25. Nxe6 Bxe6 26. g7 Bxa2 {Even here, White shows just how far his class goes. Instead of just taking on f8, knowing the bishop has nowhere to go, he plays} 27. c4 $3 (27. c4 {The point is that after} Bxc4 ( 27... Bxg7 28. Qxg7+ Kd6 29. Qc3 {and the bishop is trapped.}) ({Anything else, such as} 27... Bb3 {and White will enjoy two queens.} 28. g8=Q) 28. Qh4+ Kd6 29. gxf8=Q+ Rxf8 30. Qxc4 {wins the bishop.}) 1-0

The guest of honour of the day was Israel’s No.1 Boris Gelfand who joined the team of commentators for a short session. He evaluated the top boards and answered a couple of questions by the interviewer GM Alon Greenfeld.

GM Alon Greenfeld interviews Boris Gelfand

Gelfand expressed his positive view about the spacious venue and the decent playing conditions and even referred to the question that many have raised: Why doesn’t he take part in the European championship? He said that he had indeed considered his participation, however the series of top tournaments he had played at the end of last year and the super tournaments he is invited to starting as of April demand a serious time out for recuperation and revision of his theoretical repertoire.

Emil Sutovsky

Veteran Alexander Beliavsky

In the third round a couple of sharp and fascinating battles were witnessed which left at the end of the day just five grandmasters with a perfect score: Navara (Czech Republic), Y. Vovk and Korobov (Ukraine), Najer (Russia) and Lupulescu (Romania). No fewer than 37 players had dropped just half a point each.

The plush playing hall

Standings after three rounds

1 1 GM Navara David CZE 2735 3.0
  11 GM Korobov Anton UKR 2687 3.0
3 37 GM Najer Evgeniy RUS 2634 3.0
4 71 GM Vovk Yuri UKR 2588 3.0
5 44 GM Lupulescu Constantin ROU 2626 3.0
6 84 GM Stefansson Hannes ISL 2573 2.5
7 81 GM Vocaturo Daniele ITA 2579 2.5
8 109 GM Godena Michele ITA 2502 2.5
9 113 GM Rombaldoni Axel ITA 2488 2.5
10 67 GM Ipatov Alexander TUR 2592 2.5
11 125 IM Kanmazalp Ogulcan TUR 2457 2.5
12 2 GM Vitiugov Nikita RUS 2735 2.5
13 3 GM Eljanov Pavel UKR 2727 2.5
14 19 GM Laznicka Viktor CZE 2670 2.5
15 22 GM Motylev Alexander RUS 2665 2.5
16 8 GM Moiseenko Alexander UKR 2695 2.5
17 33 GM Volokitin Andrei UKR 2646 2.5
18 15 GM Inarkiev Ernesto RUS 2675 2.5
19 60 GM Goganov Aleksey RUS 2605 2.5
20 69 GM Duda Jan-Krzysztof POL 2591 2.5

Click for complete standings

Report by Yachanan Afek and Albert Silver
Photos by Yoav Nis


The games are being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server Playchess.com. If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 13 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

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 50 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, and the author of Extreme Chess Tactics (Gambit 2017) and Practical Chess Beauty (Quality Chess 2018).


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