2015 Euro Ch Rd8: Nepomniachtchi takes sole lead

by Yochanan Afek
3/5/2015 – In the Ramada hotel in Jerusalem tension is rising up as the battle for one of the 23 qualifying spots for the World Cup reaches its apex. In the eighth round Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi took a sole lead with 6.5/9 after beating Englishman David Howell whilst all other seven leaders had settled for a draw. A group of thirteen grandmasters are just half a point behind the leader.

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Ian Nepomniachtchi has fought his way to the top of the ladder, and is now sole leader with 6.5/8

It was a pleasure to see the investment and effort to organize such a prominent event in Israel pay off dividends for the local chess players as several Israeli juniors were the local heroes of the round. Following a sensational round seven victory over the Armenian GM Hrant Melkumyan, young Ohad Kraus (2190 FIDE) obtained a winning position once again against a strong grandmaster. It was Robin van Kampen this time who being a pawn down for practically nothing he rushed to offer a draw which was accepted. One would think it was due to the huge rating gap between the two, however Kraus, an orthodox believer explained that it was a fasting day yesterday and he actually hadn’t eaten anything since the day before. His overloaded dinner plate after the round showed indeed that he was pretty hungry. Robin later said, “The draw offer was definitely my best move in this game.”

Vladimir Akopian is well-positioned to earn a World Cup qualifying seat with 5.5/8

Grzegorz Gajewski on the other hand will need a strong finish to qualify

Still, the great local hero of round eight was fourteen-year-old David Gorodetzky (2210 FIDE) who beat a grandmaster. Earlier in the tournament he had downed Dan Zoler and here he defeated Arthur Kogan in just 23 moves.

[Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "2015.03.05"] [Round "8"] [White "Gorodetzky, David "] [Black "Kogan, Arthur"] [Result "1-0"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "rn3k2/p1q1bPpp/2p5/3r1bN1/8/2B5/PPP1QPPP/R3R1K1 w - - 0 18"] [PlyCount "11"] 18. Qxe7+ $1 Qxe7 19. Rxe7 Na6 (19... Kxe7 20. Re1+ {and the pawn will queen.}) 20. Rae1 Rdd8 21. Re8+ Rxe8 22. Bxg7+ $1 Kxg7 23. Rxe8 1-0

18-year-old Daniil Dubov is in contention at no.24, and all will depend on how he handles the end

David Navara also struck gold, moving into the group just behind the leader, when he beat Robert Kempinski in the Polish player's pet line.

David Navara vs. Robert Kempinski:

[Event "16th ch-EUR Indiv 2015"] [Site "Jerusalem ISR"] [Date "2015.03.04"] [Round "8.6"] [White "Navara, David"] [Black "Kempinski, Robert"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B84"] [WhiteElo "2735"] [BlackElo "2625"] [PlyCount "63"] [EventDate "2015.02.24"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 e6 7. O-O Be7 8. f4 O-O 9. Kh1 Qc7 10. Qe1 Nc6 11. Be3 Na5 12. Qg3 Nc4 13. Bxc4 ({The most common line is} 13. Bc1 {that is also the move that Kempinski, a veteran expert of this opening, has faced the most often.} b5 14. e5 Ne8 15. b3 Nb6 16. Bd3 dxe5 17. fxe5 f5 18. Bb2 g6 19. a4 bxa4 20. Nxa4 Ng7 21. Qe3 Nd5 22. Qh6 Rd8 23. Nf3 Nh5 24. Ba3 Bxa3 25. Rxa3 Ndf4 26. Bc4 Bb7 27. Raa1 Rd2 28. Rad1 Rxg2 29. Bxe6+ Nxe6 30. Kxg2 Nef4+ 31. Kf2 Bxf3 32. Kxf3 Qxc2 33. Rde1 Rd8 {0-1 (33) Haba,P (2536)-Kempinski,R (2590) Neustadt an der Weinstrasse 2008}) 13... Qxc4 14. Rad1 {The only game with this move is a correspondence game from 1978. Normally, one might claim it was a coincidence, but since this is also just one move after a major divergence, it is probably safe to assume Navara studied the game.} Qc7 15. f5 Kh8 16. Bg5 Nh5 17. Qh4 Bxg5 18. Qxg5 Nf6 19. Rd3 (19. Rf3 b5 20. Rg3 Rg8 21. Rh3 b4 22. e5 dxe5 23. Ne4 Qd8 24. Qh4 h6 25. Rdd3 Nxe4 26. Qxe4 Bb7 27. Qxb7 exd4 28. Qxf7 Qg5 29. Rd1 Qxf5 30. Qxf5 exf5 31. Rxd4 Rac8 32. c3 Rgd8 33. Rdd3 bxc3 34. bxc3 Re8 35. Rhe3 {1/2-1/2 (35) Hawley, M-Norlin,J ICCF corr 1978}) 19... h6 $2 {Over the next moves, Black's deliberate weakening of his kingside will only serve to help White's dastardly plans.} (19... e5 {to lock up all fxe6 threatss as well as gain a vital tempo against the knight, would have given Black time to generate counterplay.} 20. Nde2 b5) 20. Rh3 Nh7 (20... b5 {loses to} 21. Rxh6+ gxh6 22. Qxf6+ Kh7 23. fxe6 Bxe6 24. Nf5 Bxf5 25. Qxf5+ Kg7 26. Nd5) 21. Qd2 Qe7 22. Rhf3 Nf6 {[#]} 23. g4 $1 exf5 24. exf5 b5 25. g5 Nh7 $2 {Black panics} (25... hxg5 26. Rh3+ Nh7) 26. f6 gxf6 27. gxf6 Qe5 28. Nc6 Qc5 $2 {In time trouble, Kempinski goes astray, but truth be told, the engines only suggested one saving move (Qh5), with lines only they see.} 29. Qxh6 Rg8 {[#]} 30. Nd8 $1 {Obviously the rook cannot take due to Qg7 mate, plus it threatens Nxf7 mate.} Qc7 31. Rg1 (31. Rg3 Bb7+ 32. Kg1 Raxd8 {was still good for White, but was not immediately decisive as in the game.}) 31... Bg4 ({If} 31... Rxg1+ 32. Kxg1 Qc5+ 33. Kh1 Qg5 {The only way to stop the immediate Qg7 mate,} 34. Nxf7+ Kg8 35. Nxg5) 32. Rh3 $1 (32. Rh3 Bxh3 33. Rxg8+ Kxg8 34. Qg7#) 1-0

For local players such as FM Kantarji Pinchas (2420) from Israel the event is a golden
opportunity, and as he has had a very respectable tournament so far with 4.5/8 and
a 2532 performance, an IM title seems in the cards.

The wizards behind 60 live boards broadcast and followed around the world

Standings after eight rounds

1 4 GM Nepomniachtchi Ian RUS 2714 6.5 2626
2 11 GM Korobov Anton UKR 2687 6.0 2648
3 37 GM Najer Evgeniy RUS 2634 6.0 2624
4 1 GM Navara David CZE 2735 6.0 2623
5 22 GM Motylev Alexander RUS 2665 6.0 2620
6 33 GM Volokitin Andrei UKR 2646 6.0 2602
7 20 GM Sargissian Gabriel ARM 2668 6.0 2601
8 30 GM Smirin Ilia ISR 2650 6.0 2581
9 128   Iljiushenok Ilia RUS 2450 6.0 2571
10 39 GM Bartel Mateusz POL 2631 6.0 2566
11 26 GM Rodshtein Maxim ISR 2660 6.0 2547
12 35 GM Popov Ivan RUS 2639 6.0 2539
13 27 GM Nisipeanu Liviu-Dieter GER 2654 6.0 2537
14 28 GM Khismatullin Denis RUS 2653 6.0 2522
15 65 GM Shimanov Aleksandr RUS 2594 5.5 2620
16 3 GM Eljanov Pavel UKR 2727 5.5 2612
17 7 GM Matlakov Maxim RUS 2695 5.5 2605
18 8 GM Moiseenko Alexander UKR 2695 5.5 2603
19 13 GM Sjugirov Sanan RUS 2678 5.5 2584
20 5 GM Bacrot Etienne FRA 2711 5.5 2581

Click for complete standings

Report by Yachanan Afek and Albert Silver
Photos by Yoav Nis


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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 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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