2015 Euro Ch Rd4: Korobov is first sole leader

by Albert Silver
2/28/2015 – Whether due to cautious play, or simply the extremely balanced boards with players having similar ratings for the most part, round four saw an inordinate number of draws at the top boards for an open, with only five of the top twenty games ending in decisive results. This left the way open for one player to take sole lead, and one did just that.

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Granted it is not a surprise that the number of leaders has been whittled down drastically, as is the case for a large open, but it is not typical to see one player take sole lead at the European Individual Championship after just four of the eleven rounds.

David Navara, who had started with 100% and very aggressive play well-suited to the tournament format, was finally held to a draw by Evgeny Najer. It wasn’t for lack of trying and the game was certainly exciting enough, but he could not get the Russian to err, and when the tactics cooled down it was clearly equal.

Navara tried to keep the streak going, but Najer refused to wilt

Of the top five players still on 3.0.3 entering the fourth round, the one player able to keep the pace was Ukrainian Anton Korobov, a player weaned on taking strong opens, and who has shown excellent form so far. In round three for example, he beat Dragan Solak (2607) when the latter missed a sneaky tactic that cost him the game.

This position is actually one after the Turkish grandmaster resigned to
Korobov. The Ukrainian played 22.e5! and Black resigned in view of
22…Rc8 and the killing blow. Can you see it? White to play and win.

Anton Korobov had many an adventure on the board in round four, but ultimately preveailed against...

... Constantin Lupulescu.

In round four, he was the only leader to score a win in an excting game against Romainian grandmaster Constantin Lupulescu.

[Event "16th ch-EUR Indiv 2015"] [Site "Jerusalem ISR"] [Date "2015.02.27"] [Round "4.2"] [White "Lupulescu, Constantin"] [Black "Korobov, Anton"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D12"] [WhiteElo "2626"] [BlackElo "2687"] [PlyCount "124"] [EventDate "2015.02.24"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 Bf5 5. Nc3 e6 6. Nh4 Be4 7. f3 Bg6 8. Qb3 Qc7 9. Bd2 Be7 10. g3 Bh5 11. Be2 a6 12. O-O dxc4 13. Bxc4 b5 14. Be2 c5 15. dxc5 Nbd7 16. Rac1 Nxc5 17. Qc2 Qb7 18. b4 Ncd7 19. Qb3 {[#]} g5 $1 { Unexpected and very strong.} ({The knee-jerk reaction might be} 19... O-O {, but Korobov did not reach his standard by playing without thinking.}) 20. Ng2 Ne5 {Suddenly White is in serious trouble. Not only is f3 under fire, but the entire kingside.} 21. e4 (21. g4 Bg6 {and White has some serious coordination issues with his pieces while Black gets ready to throw h5.}) 21... g4 22. Nf4 Qb6+ 23. Kh1 Bg6 24. Nxg6 $2 {It is tempting to put two question marks on this since opening the h-file, with a rook just dying to join the party, seems tantamount to suicide.} hxg6 25. f4 Nc6 $2 {Korobov is a very talanted tactician, so it is surprising he misses the best continuation here.} ({Best was} 25... Nf3 $1 26. Bxf3 gxf3 27. h4 (27. Rxf3 $2 Ng4 28. h4 Bxh4 $1) 27... Ng4 {and White cannot protect the king without serious material concessions.}) 26. Qb1 Rd8 27. Be1 Qb7 28. Kg1 Nd4 29. Bd1 g5 30. e5 Nd7 {[#] Though White is fighting back, it is somewhat telling that five of his long-range strikers are on the first rank.} 31. Qe4 Qxe4 32. Nxe4 gxf4 33. gxf4 Nb6 34. Bf2 Nc4 35. Kg2 Nf5 36. Rc3 Rh3 37. Ng3 (37. Rxh3 $2 gxh3+ 38. Kf3 (38. Kxh3 $2 Nce3) 38... Nh4+ 39. Kg4 Ng2 40. Kxh3 Nge3) 37... Nh4+ 38. Kg1 Rxd1 $2 {In extreme time trouble, Black nearly botches it, but the issue was mutual.} 39. Rxd1 Bxb4 40. Rcd3 Nf3+ 41. Kf1 Be7 42. Rd7 Rxh2 43. Ne4 Kf8 44. Nf6 (44. R1d3 {was White's last chance.} Rh1+ 45. Kg2 Rh2+ 46. Kf1 {etc.}) 44... Bxf6 45. exf6 Kg8 46. Rd8+ Kh7 47. R1d7 Kg6 48. Rg8+ Kf5 49. Ke2 Ncd2 50. Ke3 Nf1+ 51. Ke2 g3 52. Rxg3 Nxg3+ 53. Kxf3 Ne4 54. Bd4 Rh3+ 55. Ke2 Kg6 56. f5+ exf5 57. Rd8 f4 58. Rg8+ Kf5 59. Rf8 f3+ 60. Ke3 f2+ 61. Ke2 Rf3 62. Be5 Kxe5 {Hardly a perfect game, but definitely exciting.} 0-1

Bulgarian GM Ivan Cheparinov, former second of Topalov, is at 2.5/4

Standings after four rounds

1 11 GM Korobov Anton UKR 2687 4.0
2 37 GM Najer Evgeniy RUS 2634 3.5
3 71 GM Vovk Yuri UKR 2588 3.5
4 1 GM Navara David CZE 2735 3.5
5 64 GM Grigoryan Karen H. ARM 2596 3.5
6 22 GM Motylev Alexander RUS 2665 3.5
7 30 GM Smirin Ilia ISR 2650 3.5
8 45 GM Sutovsky Emil ISR 2626 3.5
9 47 GM Kempinski Robert POL 2625 3.5
10 84 GM Stefansson Hannes ISL 2573 3.0
11 81 GM Vocaturo Daniele ITA 2579 3.0
12 109 GM Godena Michele ITA 2502 3.0
13 113 GM Rombaldoni Axel ITA 2488 3.0
14 67 GM Ipatov Alexander TUR 2592 3.0
15 49 GM Beliavsky Alexander G SLO 2623 3.0
16 60 GM Goganov Aleksey RUS 2605 3.0
17 3 GM Eljanov Pavel UKR 2727 3.0
18 44 GM Lupulescu Constantin ROU 2626 3.0
19 51 GM Bukavshin Ivan RUS 2622 3.0
20 8 GM Moiseenko Alexander UKR 2695 3.0

Click for complete standings

Solution to Korobov-Solak:

[Event "16th ch-EUR Indiv 2015"] [Site "Jerusalem ISR"] [Date "2015.02.26"] [Round "3.3"] [White "Korobov, Anton"] [Black "Solak, Dragan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D17"] [WhiteElo "2687"] [BlackElo "2607"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r1kb1r/4pppp/2p5/p3P2P/Pqb5/2N1Q1P1/1P3PB1/R3K2R w KQk - 0 23"] [PlyCount "5"] [EventDate "2015.02.24"] 23. Rh4 $1 {is the winner. The point is that Black has no way to prevent the loss of the bishop now. The queen cannot leave its side, and the bishop cannot escape.} e6 (23... Qb3 {is no help.} 24. Qc5 Bd5 (24... e6 25. Bxc6+ {leads to mate.}) (24... Bd3 25. Bxc6+ Kd8 26. Rd4+ Kc7 27. Rd7+ Kb8 28. Qa7#) 25. Bxd5 {The pawn is pinned.}) 24. b3 Qxb3 25. Rb1 {and the queen must leave the bishop's protection.} 1-0

Photos by Yoav Nis


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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.
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Oded Ross Oded Ross 2/28/2015 11:25
Dear sir,

I am an arbiter at the EICC in Jerusalem, and I inform you the the conclusions of both of Korobov games was not as shown in this article.

In round 4 Lupulescu resigned after 61...Rf3 and "62.Be5 Kxe5" was perhaps a temporary mistake in the live transmission, due to the placement of the kings on e5 and d4 signalling a black win.

The more piquant story is about Korobov-Solak. Having played Rb8 and Ra8 earlier in the game, the Turkish grandmaster actually castled in this position! After being noted by the arbiter and the befuddled Korobov that castling is illegal and he has to make a move with his king, Solak promptly resigned, albeit in a lost position anyhow, as you show.

FA Oded Ross