21st European Club Cup in Saint-Vincent

9/22/2005 – This top event is taking place in the a mountain town in Italy, with 48 men's and 11 women's teams. Ther is a sterling array of grandmasters, amongst them Vladimir Kramnik, who leads the NAO Chess Club. But last year's winners are now languishing in 11th place. We bring you games, results and pictures, as well as an interesting interview with Vladimir Kramnik.

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The 21st European Club Cup (10th edition for women) is taking place in the Italian mountain town of Saint-Vincent. It has a record participation: last year in Turkey there were 36 men's and 10 women's teams. In Saint-Vincent this year there are 48 men's and 11 women's teams.

The reigning champions are the NAO Chess Club (men) and NTN Tbilisi (women): both teams are in Italy to defend their titles. Top female players are women's world champion Antoaneta Sfefanova, European champion Katerina Lahno, the Koseintseva sisters from Russia and Pia Cramling from Sweden.


World women's champion Antoaneta Stefanova

Among the men it is Kramnik, Bacrot, Grischuk, Aronian, Ivanchuk, Akopian, Dreev. There are also some “historical" players like the Hungarian trio Portisch, Ribli and Sax. Among the youngsters we find Karjakin and Radjabov.

The event is seven rounds and ends on Saturday, September 24 (closing ceremony: 9.30 pm). The rounds bigin at 3:00 p.m. every day. Rate of play is 90 minutes for the first 40 moves plus 15 minutes to finish plus 30 seconds increment starting from move 1. You can watch them on the official site or on Playchess.com.

Situation after four rounds

Full standings are given at the bottom of this page. In the lead is currently the team Tomsk-400, with Aronian, Bologan, Jakovenko and Tkachiev. Second is Ladya Kazan with Rublevsky, Timofeev and Filippov. Last year's winners NAO Chess Club with Kramnik, Bacrot, Grischuk, Lautier, Karjakin and Fressinet is in 11th place.


The NAO team with Lautier, Grischuk, Bacrot and Kramnik (from left to right)

Here are some individual results:

  • Top seed Vassily Ivanchuk (2752) won three games and drew one in 17 moves against Bacrot.

  • Etienne Bacrot (2729) drew three games, against Huzman, Ivanchuk and Bologan.

  • Levon Aronian (2724) won one and drew three. Boris Gelfand (2724) won one and drew two.

  • Alexander Grischuk (2720) won one, drew two and lost one (against Jakovenko).

  • Francisco Vallejo Pons (2681) had three black games and scored a win and a loss.

  • Joel Lautier (2672) got four whites and won three games, with a 2896 performance.


    French champion Joel Lautier against the Italian champion Fabio Bruno

  • 15-year-old Sergey Karjakin (2645) won three games and drew one with a 2863 performance.


    Sergey Karjakin, Ukraine boy wonder

  • Arkadij Naiditsch (2612) scored 3½/4 with a 2791 performance.

  • Vladimir Kramnik (2744) drew both his games for the NAO Chess club so far, but facing very strong opposition. The first was against Boris Gelfand and the second... well see for yourself. After fighting for 82 moves for a win with black Kramnik here fell for the "wrong bishop" trap.


    Kramnik vs Aronian (right), Etienne Bacrot (left)

    Aronian,L (2724) - Kramnik,V (2744) [A30]
    21st ECC Saint Vincent ITA (4), 21.09.2005

82...g4 83.Rxe4+! Rxe4 84.Bxe4 Kxe4 85.hxg4 ½-½. Even without the two pawns White can effortlessly hold the draw, since the black bishop does not cover the promotion square of the h-pawn.

Interview with Vladimir Kramnik

Is it your first visit to Italy ?

Yes, it is. I arrived directly to Saint-Vincent, a nice little town which reminds me a lot of Brissago in Switzerland, where I played that match with Leko.

What are your impressions about this edition of ECC and what are the expectations of your team?

There are a lot of strong teams here which can count on final victory. I like the fact that there are also a lot of strong players on the first board since I prefer to meet strong opponents. This is my third appearance in NAO team which is composed of young people. We have very good relations and a nice atmosphere, which is very important in team competitions. The fact that we won all the titles in the last two years – ECC, French championship and French Cup – confirms that we feel well together.


Vladimir Kramnik in St Vincente

Do you intend to participate in Russian team next year for the Olympiade in Torino?

Yes, I will play for sure since I already made an agreement with the Russian Chess Federation which would like this time to come with the strongest possible team.

Probably because in Olympiade in Calvia 2004 Russia took "only" silver, while the last European championship in Goeteborg was a real catastrophy (14th place)?

Such things do happen. In Goeteborg a couple of players were out of form, and as far as for Olympiade, well we won all the previous editions and always winning is not an easy task.

In a couple of days in Argentina begins that tournament for FIDE title. What do You think about?

This will be a good tournament for sure. Just to mention that two of NAO players, Adams and Svidler, are not here just because it starts only two days after ECC.

What about rumors that you are willing to play a match against the winner from San Luis, which would mean a definite unification of the title?

Sure, why not, but it depends on lot of things and conditions, of course. I remain open to eventual proposals.

What do you think about FIDE?

I don't have anything against FIDE, I'm saying just that there are a lot of things which could be improved. One of the positive signs is the recent improvement of relations with ACP. However, there is one thing I don't understand. With so many problems to solve and so many things to change, they choose to considerably accelerate the rate of play. I must say that I clearly prefer the classical one, six or seven hours, doesn't matter. The explanation was to attract the attention of TV media but 4 hours of play are still far too long .

Let us talk a little bit about your play. It seems that lately you changed your style considerably. You introduced a lot of new openings in your repertoire, and you started to play much more agressively?

It's a kind of evolution I considered to be necessary if I want to stay on the top. At the beginning I had some problems, maybe because I made too many experiments, especially when I started to play e4, but I think that I managed to solve them all.

How many hours per day do you dedicate to the chess training?

It depends, I don't have a fixed schedule. Sometimes it's 5-6 hours, but sometimes I can spend a day without chess at all.

Do you practice some sports? Do you like music? What kind of books do you read?

I like to swim, to play tennis and football. As far as for the music I don't have special preferences, I can listen everything from rock to classics. The same goes for books, with one exception only. I don't like science fiction.

When did you start and where did you learn to play chess?

My father taught me when I was five years old, and at the age of six I already participated in my first tournament.

Your best results in junior competition?

In 1991 I won the Junior World Championship and Russian championship for young masters. I was 15 at the time and in the latter the age limit was 27!

Which one of former world champions have you met in your carreer?

Botvinnik, Tal (with him I even played two rapid games), Spassky and obviously Karpov and Kasparov. With the last two of them I played a lot of games, my score with Karpov is even, I think,
while with Kasparov I am plus one.

From a lot of emerging young talents, which one is the most promising?

It's difficult to say because it depends on many factors. Sometimes they seem not very promissing and then suddenly explode, sometimes on the contrary they start with great result very early and then disappear. However, if I have to give some name I would say Karjakin.

Interview conducted by A. Capece, M. Cebalo, A. Malfagìa for the official bulletin.

Standings after four rounds

  Team + = M Pts.
1 Tomsk-400 4 0 0 8 19
2 Ladya Kazan 4 0 0 8 17½
3 Ural 3 1 0 7 18
4 I & A Tbilisi 3 1 0 7 16
5 Polonia Plus GSM 3 0 1 6 17
6 Werder Bremen 3 0 1 6 16½
7 KSK 47 Eynatten 3 0 1 6 16
8 Ashdod City Club 3 0 1 6 15½
9 TPS 3 0 1 6 15½
10 Beer Sheva Chess Club 3 0 1 6 15½
11 NAO Chess Club 3 0 1 6 15
12 Union Ansfelden 2 1 1 5 15½
13 TV Tegernsee 2 1 1 5 15
14 SK Rockaden Stockholm 2 1 1 5 14½
15 Asker Sjakklubb 2 1 1 5 14
16 SK Alkaloid Skopje 2 1 1 5 13½
17 Csuti-Hydroc.Zalaegerszeg  2 1 1 5 12½
18 Oslo Schakselskap 2 1 1 5 11½
19 Eczacibasi Istanbul 2 1 1 5 11½
20 HMC Calder 2 0 2 4 15½
21 Buducnost Podgorica 2 0 2 4 13½
22 Marmaris Munic. SC 2 0 2 4 13½
23 Vesnianka Minsk 2 0 2 4 12½
24 Rochade Eupen-Kelmis 2 0 2 4 12½
25 Zeljeznicar Chess Club 2 0 2 4 12
26 Klubi shahut Prishtina 2 0 2 4 12
27 Matinkylan Shakkikerho 2 0 2 4 11
28 SG Biel-Bienne 2 0 2 4 11
29 Jyvas-Shakki 2 0 2 4 10½
30 Barbican London 2 0 2 4 10½
31 Reykjavik ChessClub 1 1 2 3 12
32 Cardiff Chess Club 1 1 2 3 11½
 
33 LSG 1 1 2 3 10½
34 SF Neukoelln 1 1 2 3 10½
35 SK1968 Aarhus 1 1 2 3 10½
36 Hellir 1 1 2 3 10
37 ASA Penne 1 1 2 3 9
38 Chess Cl."NSEL30"Vilnius 1 0 3 2 10½
39 C.E. Dudelange 1 0 3 2 10½
40 Sparkasse Schwarzach 1 0 3 2
41 "de Sprenger" Echternach 1 0 3 2
42 Cercle Royal de Liege 1 0 3 2
43 KSH Mitrovica 1 0 3 2
44 Limhamns SK 1 0 3 2
45 Niederrohrdorf 0 1 3 1 6
46 Phibsboro Chess Club 0 0 4 0
47 Cwmbran Chess Club 0 0 4 0 5
48 Ennis 0 0 4 0 2

 

Women's section

  Team + = M Pts.
1 AVS 3 1 0 7 11½
2 NTN Tbilisi 3 1 0 7 11½
3 Platina 3 0 1 6
4 Southern Ural 2 1 1 5
5 CG Podgorica 1 2 1 4 9
6 MTK Budapest 2 0 2 4 9
7 MIKA Yerevan 2 0 2 4
8 BAS Beograd 1 2 1 4 7
9 FINEK St. Petersb. 1 1 2 3 7
10 Stukkenjagers 1 0 3 2
11 Obudovac 1 0 3 2 3

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