European Club Cup: Valerenga hold Novy Bor to a draw

by Antonio Pereira
10/15/2018 – Three rounds have taken place in Porto Carras and six teams still have a perfect record at the European Club Cup. The big match of Sunday was AVE Novy Bor vs. Valerenga — for quite a while it seemed like the Czech team was about to prevail, but Carlsen's colleagues saved the day with two longwinded wins. Meanwhile, Alkaloid and Odlar Yurdu continued with their commanding performances and got big scores yet again. Only four rounds are left in the short team event. | Photo: Niki Riga /

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Under the gun

Following a team event — especially with six boards per side — shows some resemblance with other sports like soccer or hockey, as each win for either team can be seen as a goal. If we accept this premise, we could say that Norway's Valerenga were trailing 0:2 at some point and managed to tie the score "in the last minute" with two "goals" in 79 and 85 moves — very fitting numbers, as a soccer game lasts 90 minutes.

AVE Novy Bor had won every single game so far, and their sixth board continued the streak: Viktor Laznicka obtained his third straight win in Greece against Evgeny Romanov. It was a very sharp game, as Black castled long and White did not castle at all. Laznicka, with Black, opened some lines for his pair of bishops and finally penetrated White's position:


White's queenside pawns seem threatening but are unable to create enough damage before Black rolls in with 35...Rxf1+ — Romanov cannot take due to mate-in-12 with the queen and bishops. In the game, White was already a piece down, and after 36.Kc2 Rxa1 37.Qxa1 Qf2 it was game over. 1:0 for Novy Bor at half-time.

Both Harikrishna and Navara lost for AVE Novy Bor on Sunday | Photo: Niki Riga

On "minute" 65, Vidit Gujrathi scored again for the Czech team; his victim was Aryan Tari, who came from losing against Pruijssers in round one. In the meantime, Carlsen and Predojevic (from Valerenga) had drawn their games with Black, so the fate of the match lay on boards two and three: David Howell and Nils Grandelius.

Grandelius started the recovery with a great win over David Navara. It has been a great month for the Swedish grandmaster, who gained 22.2 rating points and climbed 31 places in the ratings list, as pointed out by Jon Ludvig Hammer:

Therefore, time-pressure addict David Howell was the only one that could score the saving "last-minute goal", and that is precisely what he did in his game against Harikrishna. He converted an endgame of minor pieces a pawn up to tie the score. 

David Howell tied the score | Photo: Niki Riga

While that struggle unravelled, Alkaloid (1st seeds), Odlar Yurdu (3rd), Beer Sheva Chess Club (8th) and Obiettivo Risarcimento Padova (6th) dispatched their opponents with little difficulty. Mednyi Vsadnik (4th), on the other hand, had to overcome their leader's second consecutive loss to beat KGSRL 4:2 — Peter Svidler erred in the kind of position that he usually excels at:


The eight-time Russian champion had White and blundered with 32.Qf3, allowing Black's queen to capture on h2 (32.Kg1 was necessary). Romain Edouard took the chance and showed why the queen's capture is so lethal: Svidler simply resigned after 32...Qxh2 33.Kf1 f4.


The fact that Black controls the e-file with his rook makes it impossible for the white king to escape a decisive attack.

Will Carlsen play the next round? | Photo: Niki Riga

The tie in Valerenga vs. Novy Bor meant that both teams went down in the pairings for next round. The team from Norway will face DJK Aufwaerts Aachen, a German squad that has 2610-rated Alexander Donchenko on first board — it is yet to be seen if Magnus will play on Monday, as it might be considered unnecessary to include him in the line-up (and playing a weaker player is always dangerous for his standing as world's number one in the ratings list).

UPDATE - Carlsen will play

Meanwhile, the teams on 6/6 will face each other: Beer Sheva Chess Club from Israel (with Efimenko on first board) will play the Azeri national team, here called Odlar Yurdu (Mamedyarov); Alkaloid (Ding Liren) will face Mednyi Vsadnik (Svidler); and Obiettivo Risarcimento (Wang Hao) will have the nominally easier task of playing Dunajska Streda from Slovakia (Petenyi).

Eltaj Safarli from Odlar Yurdu is on 3/3 | Photo: Niki Riga

Round 4 pairings (top 10 boards)

Team MP Res. : Res. MP Team
Beer Sheva Chess Club 6   :   6 Odlar Yurdu
Alkaloid 6   :   6 Mednyi Vsadnik St.Petersburg
Obiettivo Risarcimento Padova 6   :   6 Dunajska Streda
E.S. Thessalonikis 5   :   5 AVE Novy Bor
Valerenga Sjakklubb 5   :   4 DJK Aufwaerts Aachen
KGSRL 4   :   4 Team Viking
Itaka 4   :   4 LSG Leiden
Schachfreunde Berlin 1903 4   :   4 Molodezhka
Nordstrand Sjakklubb 4   :   4 SV Werder Bremen
Schachgesellschaft Zurich 4   :   4 Rehovot Chess School

Games from Round 3


Nona defeats Ugra in women's section

In the biggest match-up of Group A in the women's section, Nona from Georgia beat Ugra from Russia with a lone win by Lela Javakhishvili over Olga Girya. Careful play by both teams in the top boards resulted in rather safe draws. Soon afterwards, Girya stumbled in a sharp position:


It was necessary to take active measures against White's initiative in the centre and kingside — the computer considers 28...Rxe4 as better for Black, actually. The Russian WGM probably saw some ghosts in the ensuing continuations and went for 28...Qa1?. Javakhishvili ploughed ahead with 29.e5, and after 29...Re6 continued the onslaught with 30.Bxh6.


There followed 30...Nh4 31.Bxg7 Qxd4+ 32.Kh1 Kxg7 33.Rxh4 and Black resigned. The king cannot be saved without major material concessions.

Lela Javakhishvili during round one | Photo: Niki Riga

Therefore, Nona lead Group A on 6/6, followed by Ugra and Kyiv two points behind. In Group B, Cercle d'Escacs de Monte-Carlo also lead with a perfect score, but have the chasing pack close behind, as SSHOR and Caissa Italia Pentole Agnelli are on 5/6.

Elisabeth Paehtz and Olga Zimina flanked by a couple of amusing mascots | Photo: Niki Riga

Standings - Group A

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 Nona 6
2 Ugra 4
3 Kyiv Chess federation 4
4 Mulhouse Philidor 3
5 Beer Sheva Chess Club 1
6 AMO Galaxias Thessaloniki 0

Standings - Group B

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo 6
3 Caissa Italia Pentole Agnelli 5
4 Odlar Yurdu 2
5 ZSK Maribor 0
6 Caissa Italia Banca Alpi Marittime 0

Games from Round 3



Antonio is a freelance writer and a philologist. He is mainly interested in the links between chess and culture, primarily literature. In chess games, he skews towards endgames and positional play.


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