European Championship Rd7: Let the race begin!

by Elshan Moradiabadi
6/7/2017 – Rounds six and seven saw an important development: the number of co-leaders has been drastically reduced to two, as two young Spanish and British GMs scored back-to-back victories to take sole lead with six out of a possible seven points. Both GM David Anton Guijarro and David Howell are now the sole leaders, but being an 11-round event, anything goes still. Also note 13-year-old WFM Bibisara (2244 FIDE) who has a 2558 performance so far, all against GMs and IMs!

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While both GM Anton Guijarro and Howell have demonstrated enterprising chess, the way they achieved their 6.0/7 scores was very different. After a third-round hiccup and losing to the host’s GM Sergei Azerov, young Spaniard Anton Guijarro scored win after win to show why he almost won the Gibraltar Open. Here we see how he destroyed black’s fortress in a mere 20 moves in a Sicilian Taimanov. This is a good lesson to remember: if you are playing a sharp opening, you better be well-prepared otherwise things could go wrong for you very soon.

David Anton-Guijarro is Spain's most promising talent, and though he is not quite at Paco's level, he is getting there

Anton Guijaro vs Bosiocic

[Event "EICC 2017"] [Site "Minsk"] [Date "2017.06.05"] [Round "6"] [White "Anton Guijarro, David"] [Black "Bosiocic, Marin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B48"] [WhiteElo "2660"] [BlackElo "2603"] [Annotator "GM Elshan Moradiabadi"] [PlyCount "49"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventCountry "BLR"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceQuality "1"] [TimeControl "40/5400+30:1800+30"] 1. e4 {(0)} c5 {(7)} 2. Nf3 {(0)} e6 {( 06)} 3. d4 {(1)} cxd4 {(6)} 4. Nxd4 { (5)} Nc6 {(9)} 5. Nc3 {(17)} Qc7 {(5)} 6. Be3 {(19)} a6 {(10)} 7. a3 {(16) Not the mainline but this move has been gaining in popularity in the past two years thanks to the World Champion's victory over Indian super-GM Harikrishna. The idea of this line is that White wants to play f4 while keeping the option of castling on both sides. For the time being, White just avoids the Bb4 pin.} Nf6 {(22)} (7... Be7 8. f4 b5 9. Nxc6 Qxc6 10. Bd3 Bb7 11. O-O Nf6 12. Kh1 d5 13. exd5 Nxd5 14. Be4 Qd7 15. Bxd5 Bxd5 16. Nxd5 Qxd5 17. Qxd5 exd5 {[#] Harikrishna somehow forced this position upon Carlsen. The Indian is technically-savvy and one might expect him to be able to hold this position. However, when you are playing against the World Champion no one should set the bar too high!} 18. Bd4 f6 19. g3 Kf7 20. Kg2 Rhe8 21. Kf3 Rac8 22. Rf2 Bc5 23. Rd1 Re4 24. Bxc5 Rxc5 25. Rd3 b4 26. Rxd5 Rxd5 27. Kxe4 Rb5 28. a4 Ra5 29. b3 Rc5 30. c4 bxc3 31. Rc2 Ke6 32. Kd4 Rd5+ 33. Kxc3 Kf5 34. Kc4 Rd8 35. b4 Kg4 36. b5 axb5+ 37. axb5 h5 38. b6 Rc8+ 39. Kd3 Rb8 40. Rb2 h4 41. gxh4 Kxf4 42. b7 Ke5 43. h5 f5 {1-0 (43) Carlsen,M (2851)-Harikrishna,P (2763) Stavanger 2016}) 8. f4 {(28)} Nxd4 {(7:50)} 9. Bxd4 $5 {(43) The Spanish GM should have something up his sleeves here as Bosiocic had a victory in the exact same position nine years ago!} (9. Qxd4 Ng4 10. Qb6 Bd6 11. Qxc7 Bxc7 12. Bd2 {is a somewhat forced and annoying endgame to deal with in my humble opinion which could be another equally good option.} d6 13. Be2 Nf6 14. Bf3 Bd7 15. O-O-O Bc6 16. Rhe1 O-O-O 17. Be3 Rhg8 18. Bd4 d5 19. e5 Nd7 20. h4 Rde8 21. Bg4 b5 22. Nb1 f5 23. Be2 g6 24. g4 h6 25. gxf5 gxf5 26. Rg1 Bd8 27. Bf2 Be7 28. b4 d4 29. Nd2 Nb6 30. Bh5 Rxg1 31. Rxg1 Rh8 32. Nb3 Nd5 33. Nxd4 Bd7 34. Ne2 a5 35. c3 Kc7 36. Bf3 Bc6 37. Rg7 Kd8 38. Nd4 Bd7 39. Bxd5 exd5 40. e6 Be8 41. Nxf5 Bf6 42. Rb7 { 1-0 (42) Motylev,A (2658)-Fier,A (2562) Fufeng 2017}) 9... d6 {(1:30) Bosiocic did not go for the pawn nine years ago either!} (9... Qxf4 10. g3 Qc7 11. e5 Ng8 (11... Nd5 12. Nxd5 exd5 13. Bg2 Bc5 14. Qg4 {looks awful.}) 12. Ne4 { is extremely annoying and practically speaking it isn't worth giving White so much initiative at the cost of a pawn.}) 10. Qf3 {(18) Guijarro has some other aggressive ideas in mind.} (10. Be2 Be7 11. Qd2 e5 12. Be3 b5 13. O-O Bb7 14. Bf3 O-O 15. Qf2 exf4 16. Bxf4 Nd7 17. Rad1 Ne5 18. Nd5 Bxd5 19. Rxd5 Rad8 20. Rfd1 Bf6 21. b3 Rfe8 22. Be3 Rd7 23. Qd2 Re6 24. Bf4 Rd8 25. Kh1 h6 26. Qf2 Rc8 27. R1d2 Bg5 28. g3 Qe7 29. Be2 Re8 30. a4 bxa4 31. bxa4 Qb7 32. h4 Bf6 33. Qg2 Qb4 34. a5 Nc4 35. Bxc4 Qxc4 36. Qe2 Qc8 37. Qg4 Qb7 38. Bxd6 Rxd6 39. Rxd6 Rxe4 40. Qxe4 Qxe4+ 41. Kh2 Be5 42. Rd8+ Kh7 43. Kh3 Qh1+ 44. Rh2 Qf1+ 45. Rg2 Qf5+ 46. Kh2 Qf6 47. Rd3 Qxh4+ 48. Kg1 Bd4+ {0-1 (48) Srebrnic,M (2313) -Bosiocic,M (2540) Trieste 2008}) 10... Bd7 {(3:37)} (10... e5 11. fxe5 dxe5 12. Qg3 {loses a pawn.}) (10... b5 {This either works or Bosiocic should have several considerations in his repertoire. The one beautiful game in this line is played by the one and only one master of sacrifices 8th world champion Mikhail Tal!} 11. O-O-O Bb7 12. Bd3 Rc8 13. Rhe1 Qa5 14. Qe3 Nd7 15. Nd5 {Of course!} Qd8 16. Qg3 h5 17. c3 h4 18. Qg4 Nf6 19. Nxf6+ gxf6 20. Kb1 Be7 21. e5 Kf8 22. Be2 dxe5 23. Bxe5 Bd5 24. Bd4 f5 25. Qg7+ {1-0 (25) Tal,M-Gufeld,E Tbilisi 1969 }) 11. O-O-O {(5:25) After some thought, White decides that his attack is more dangerous and faster than worrying about the weakness of the a3 pawn.} Bc6 $2 {(17:31) I don't like this move, and it just looks like a total waste of time.} (11... Rc8 {and} 12. e5 {is not possible due to} Nd5) 12. Bxf6 {(16:22)} gxf6 {( 03:10)} 13. f5 {(3) White's attack just looks too fast and furious!} h5 {(3:57)} 14. Bc4 { (5:47)} Bd7 {(3:21) A confession to a mistake!} 15. fxe6 {(6:39)} fxe6 {(35)} 16. Qxf6 {(43)} Rh6 {(54)} 17. Qg5 {(6:49)} Qc5 $2 {[#] (4:07) A blunder in an almost losing position.} (17... Qxc4 18. Rhf1 Rh8 19. Qg6+ Kd8 20. Qf6+ {would have lost anyway.}) 18. Bd5 $1 {(4:13) This move seals the deal!} Rh8 {(17:51) } 19. Qg6+ {(3:32)} Ke7 {(4)} 20. Kb1 $1 {(12:22) A strong prophylactic move. There is no rush! Black is completely lost!} Qe3 {(1:20)} 21. Bxe6 {(1:49)} Bxe6 {(10)} 22. Nd5+ {(8)} Bxd5 {( 23)} 23. exd5 {(4)} Rh6 {(8:07)} 24. Qg8 { (1:48)} Kd7 {(1:46)} 25. Rde1 {(53) And mate will follow soon!} 1-0

In round seven however, David opted for an unconventional position in a symmetric English where his opponent, Yuri Kuzubov, got tired of solid maneuvers and weakened his pawn structure, which gave Black a long-term advantage. Anton Guijarro finally converted his advantage into a full point.

The British David Howell, however took a different path to the top. After two slow draws in the early rounds where a round 1 GM draw offer helped the British to in fact get away with an easy half a point, David Howell was back in his element and scored five consecutive wins including his victories in rounds six and seven where he demonstrated fantastic technical skills and tactical accuracy against some tough nuts!

David Howell is also producing what may be his greatest result yet. Still, the European Championship is 11 rounds long, so much can happen still.

His victory against Ukrainian GM Vladimir Onischuk stands out in particular, in a show of technique reminiscent of one many endgame victories by Capablanca. The third world champion whose skills somehow made chess look simple!

V. Onischuk vs Howell

[Event "EICC 2017"] [Site "Minsk"] [Date "2017.06.05"] [Round "6"] [White "Onischuk, Vladimir"] [Black "Howell, David W L"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "2608"] [BlackElo "2684"] [Annotator "GM Elshan Moradiabadi"] [PlyCount "88"] [EventDate "2017.??.??"] [EventCountry "BLR"] [SourceTitle "playchess.com"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceQuality "1"] [TimeControl "40/5400+30:1800+30"] 1. e4 {(0) It is funny how both leaders played their best game of the two rounds in the sixth round.} e6 {(6:01)} 2. d4 {(0)} d5 {( 15)} 3. Nc3 {(0)} Nf6 {(31)} 4. Bg5 {(10)} dxe4 $5 {(55) An interesting choice by Howell.} 5. Nxe4 { (55)} Be7 {(26)} 6. Nxf6+ {(3:19) It seems that the Ukrainain GM, who is known for his aggressive style, was caught offguard. Thus, Onischuk goes for a less common line.} (6. Bxf6 gxf6 {is considered the mainline. However, Onischuk may have not been prepared against Bxf6.}) 6... Bxf6 {(22)} 7. Bxf6 {(7)} Qxf6 { ( 07)} 8. Nf3 {(6)} O-O {(21)} 9. Qd2 {(4:27)} c5 $1 {(21:31) This is a mainline and equalizer. Could it be that Howell wanted more complications?} 10. O-O-O {(39)} Rd8 { (1:10)} 11. Qc3 {(9:50)} cxd4 {(20:47) another long pause for a well-known forced line.} 12. Rxd4 {(3:17)} Rxd4 {( 21)} 13. Qxd4 {(1:23)} Qxd4 {(2:34)} 14. Nxd4 {[#] (1:00) This is a completely equal endgame. The way the British GM outplays his strong opponent reminds one of Capablanca's victories. Either it was bad day at the office for the Ukrainian or a Magnus-like performance from Howell. Either way this game is a great example and worthy of a texbook lesson!} b6 {(7:21)} 15. Be2 {(23:05)} Bb7 {(6:42)} 16. Nb5 {(6:21)} Nd7 { (12:02)} 17. Rd1 {(56)} Nf6 {( 44)} 18. f3 {(1:23) This is an ugly move and a bad sign. I would rather play g3 and keep my pawns on the squares that do not restrict my bishop.} Kf8 {(39)} 19. c4 {(1:49)} Ke7 {(19)} 20. Kd2 {(9:55)} g5 $1 {(3:00) A great move by Howell. This is a typical move that every coach shows to their students. Black is trying to undermine White's pawn structure with g4. Another reason why f3 was not necessary.} 21. Ke3 {( 01:06)} Bc6 {(30) } 22. Nc3 {(1:37)} a5 $1 {(1:26) A great prohylactic move which costs White more moves to create a mobile majority. It is noteworthy to see that a3 will be faced with a4.} 23. b3 {(6:51)} h6 {(27)} 24. a3 {(1:46)} Ne8 $1 {( 01:45) Another excellet idea by Howell. The knight is going to d6 from where it can support Black's kingside majority.} 25. g4 {(10:36) Tactically sound but still very ugly! Do not put your pawns on the same color as your bishop in the endgame!} Nd6 {(50)} 26. f4 {(20)} Rc8 {(20)} 27. Rc1 {(1:44)} f5 $1 {(1:49) Now the situation is critical and only accurate play can give White a draw.} 28. h3 {(7:36)} Kf6 {(2:05)} 29. Rd1 $2 {(2:48) A surprising losing blunder.} (29. fxg5+ hxg5 30. gxf5 exf5 31. Bf3 {was needed and White should sit tight and prepare to defend a probable rook and pawn endgame with a pawn down but where a draw is still very much a conceivable outcome.}) 29... gxf4+ { ( 24)} 30. Kxf4 {(2)} e5+ {(12)} 31. Ke3 {(7)} f4+ {(30) Now Black's central pawns are unstoppable. The game is decided both practically and scientifically! } 32. Kf2 {(10)} Ke6 {(1:49)} 33. Nd5 {(2:23)} Ne4+ {(8:06)} 34. Ke1 {(13)} Bxd5 {( 21)} 35. Rxd5 {(25)} Nc3 {(4)} 36. Bd3 {(1:00)} e4 {(1:07)} 37. Rd4 { (31)} Ke5 {(31)} 38. Rd7 {(20)} Ke6 {(29)} 39. Rd4 {(24)} Ke5 {( 32)} 40. Rd7 { (0)} exd3 {(7)} 41. Rxd3 {(11)} Nb1 {(7:43)} 42. a4 {(5:04)} Ke4 {(1:47)} 43. Rd1 {(3:35)} Nc3 {(3:07)} 44. Rd6 {(18)} Ke3 {( 08) A lesson for all of us: Never play outside your element. Vladimir Onischuk is an ultra-sharp player with an aggressive style with both colors. That is what he is good at. By choosing a calm position against David Howell, he just got himself into a wrong psychological battle where he had to play against his own preference. More experienced and more universal, Howell on the other hand exploited every small mistake by Onischuk to score a crucial victory with black.} 0-1

Here is an interesting position that stood out:

Artemiev vs Can

 

If there is one thing in common about open tournaments is the fairy tale of lower-rated players. Sometimes these fairy-tales last long and turn the professional life of players. For instance, We saw Artashes Minasian's early rise to the top of the table which did not last round as in round seven the Armenian is standing on humble 50%. On the other hand, another Armenian, IM Arman Mikaelyan, has been having the tournament of his life so far. The unknown player from a country with a rich history in chess, scored back-to-back wins against 2600 GMs to stand at a mighty 5.5/7 result, which keeps him tied for third only half a point shy from the leaders. Being the only IM at top of the table, Mikaelyan is ia hot pursuit for either a norm or qualification to the World Cup!

The hard-working arbiters who help make or break an event

In fact, it should be pointed out that the European Championship is a perfect place to score norms and great results, IMs look for GM norms, FMs try for IMs or even higher , WIMs, WGMs, …. . One reason for this is simply the sheer number of titled players, ensuring chances to the end. The other reason is that being one of the Continental championships (Asia took place recently and the Americas is starting in a couple of days in Colombia), all norms are worth double. In other words, a norm won here is worth two in a player’s quest for the title.

Aged 76, Igor Konyshko is the oldest player in the competition

Considering this trend, a WFM should be happy with a WIM or a WGM norm but this is not the case for the Russian WFM Bibisara Assaubayeva. This Russian talent, who just turned 13, is sitting on a 2558 performance eye-balling a succulent GM norm, the very first one I would presume, in her career. With only one loss against a strong GM, and four GMs in all, this young lady is on her way to becoming a power to be reckoned in the men’s world!

Prodigy WFM Bibisara Assaubayeva is pretty much guaranteed an IM norm, with chances for more. After seven rounds, her Elo perfomrance is also the highest of any female participant, and there are a few! (photo by Eteri Kublashvili)

Standings after seven rounds

Rk SNo   Name Fed Rtg Pts rtg+/-
1 30 GM Anton Guijarro David ESP 2660 6,0 10,2
2 18 GM Howell David W L ENG 2684 6,0 15,3
3 34 GM Kovalenko Igor LAT 2657 5,5 6,1
4 31 GM Dubov Daniil RUS 2660 5,5 7,7
5 79 GM Fridman Daniel GER 2605 5,5 17,8
6 16 GM Cheparinov Ivan ECX 2688 5,5 13,1
7 105 GM Mastrovasilis Dimitrios GRE 2580 5,5 14,1
8 5 GM Matlakov Maxim RUS 2714 5,5 7,4
9 36 GM Jones Gawain C B ENG 2654 5,5 7,7
10 46 GM Shimanov Aleksandr RUS 2642 5,5 8,3
11 59 GM Demchenko Anton RUS 2629 5,5 13,9
12 50 GM Ivanisevic Ivan SRB 2638 5,5 2,4
13 216 IM Mikaelyan Arman ARM 2444 5,5 27,3
14 10 GM Rodshtein Maxim ISR 2698 5,0 8,2
15 19 GM Artemiev Vladislav RUS 2682 5,0 7,2
16 32 GM Riazantsev Alexander RUS 2659 5,0 4,2
17 12 GM Tomashevsky Evgeny RUS 2696 5,0 6,7
18 72 GM Melkumyan Hrant ARM 2613 5,0 5,0
19 75 GM Onischuk Vladimir UKR 2608 5,0 2,9
20 15 GM Mamedov Rauf AZE 2689 5,0 0,4

Click for complete standings

Links

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Elshan Moradiabadi is a GM born and raised in Tehran, Iran. He moved to the US in 2012. Ever since, he has been active in US college chess scenes and in US chess. is a veteran instructor and teaches chess to every level, with students ranging from beginners to IM. He can be contacted for projects or teaching.
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Bertman Bertman 6/8/2017 05:25
@Kyklop - He overslept and missed the round.

@Derek - European Chess Federation
Derek McGill Derek McGill 6/8/2017 12:32
What country is "ECX" ?
kyklop kyklop 6/8/2017 08:44
What happened to Bacrot in round 7 ?
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