European Club Cup: Anand and Carlsen start with draws

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
10/4/2022 – The European Club Cups kicked off in Mayrhofen, Austria, with 70 teams in the open and 17 teams in the women’s tournament. There were no major upsets in the open, as the top teams mostly got easy wins. On the other hand, among the women, the favourites from Monaco won by the smallest of margins. Vishy Anand and Magnus Carlsen both drew with the black pieces. | Photos: European Chess Union

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Big scores in the open

The European Club Cup did not take place in 2020, while two versions were played in 2021: one, in March, was played online, while in September an OTB event took place in Struga, North Macedonia. Now, with over-the-board chess fully back, the tournament attracted no fewer than 70 teams in the open section and 17 teams in the women’s category. The Europahaus in Mayrhofen received the plethora of players, with some big names in the mix — among others, Magnus Carlsen, Viswanathan Anand, Richard Rapport, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave and Gukesh Dommaraju.

Heading the starting rank is the CSU ASE Superbet from Romania, which not only has Anand, Rapport and Gukesh in its roster, but also has Olympic champion Ivan Sokolov as its captain. Novy Bor (Harikrishna, Vidit), Asnieres Le Grand Echiquier (MVL, Esipenko) and TAJFUN - SK Ljubljana (Arjun, Saric) have rating averages over 2650, and are likely to fight for first place with the favourites.

Magnus Carlsen

Offerspill’s Magnus Carlsen and Aryan Tari

Round 1 saw the nine top teams scoring at least 5½ (out of 6) points. Three out of these nine squads saw their top boards signing draws on opening day, with Anton Korobov (Silla - València Origin of Chess) joining Anand (Superbet) and Carlsen (Offerspill) in this group. 

While Anand kept it simple and quickly simplified into a drawn position against Johann Hjartarson (Viking Chess Club), Carlsen found himself in some trouble against Nikita Meshkovs (Vammalan Shakkikerho). At the right time, the world champion figured out that he needed to prioritize safety, though, and went on to secure a half point for his team.

Arjun (Ljubljana) did get in real trouble, but his opponent, German IM Dennes Abel, missed a couple of tactical blows in a complex middlegame.

 

The German IM spent over 11 minutes in this position. After reflection, he went for the natural-looking 21...Nde5, blocking the attack against his queen, when the forcing 21...Rxe2+ was winning — the idea was to continue with 22.Nxe2 Ne3+ 23.Bxe3 Rxe3 and Black’s active pieces more than compensate for the exchange.

In the game, Abel got more chances later on, but a stubborn Arjun continued to find tricky moves while in trouble. The young Indian star not only survived but managed to get the win in the end, as he did make the most of his chances in the ensuing heavy-piece endgame. 

Dennes Abel, Arjun Erigaisi

Dennes Abel facing rising star Arjun Erigaisi

Standings after round 1

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 Asnieres Le Grand Echiquier 2
  TAJFUN - SK Ljubljana 2
  Schachclub Viernheim 1934e.V. 2
  Kfar Saba Chess Club 2
  De Pluspion Wachtebeke 2
6 CSU ASE Superbet 2
  Novy Bor Chess club 2
  Clichy-Echecs-92 2
  Offerspill Chess Club 2
  Silla - València Origin of Chess 2

...70 teams

All available games

 

 

Paehtz scores Monte-Carlo’s one win

We can expect to see a hard-fought battle in the women’s event. The Cercle d’Echecs de Monte-Carlo, the usual favourite, only has a slight edge rating-wise over three strong teams from Romania (CSU ASE Superbet), Austria (ASVOe Pamhagen) and Azerbaijan (Odlar Yurdu).

Thus, unlike in the open, this section did not see all the favourites getting clear wins. Both Monte-Carlo and Odlar Yurdu, in fact, won by the smallest of margins (2½-1½). In the case of Monte-Carlo, draws were seen on the first three boards, and it was only Elisabeth Paehtz’s win which granted the Monégasque squad team victory.

Paehtz’s opponent, Teja Vidic, could not fend off White’s devastating kingside attack.

 

20.Qd1 c5 21.Qg4 Nh7 22.Bh6 g6 and White is doomed.

 

After 23.Qxh4, Black’s one chance to keep the game going was with 23...Rxe4, while Vidic’s 23...Bg3 was nicely refuted by 24.Nxf6 Kh8 25.Bg7+ (giving up the bishop to further weaken the king) Kxg7 26.Qxh7+ Kxf6 27.fxg6+ (discovered check!) Kg5 28.Rxe7 Rxe7 29.gxf7

 

Vidic allowed Paehtz to show mate on the board — 29...Re1 30.Qg6+ Kh4 31.Qh6#

Elisabeth Paehtz

Elisabeth Paehtz

Standings after round 1

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 CSU ASE Superbet 2
  ASVOe Pamhagen 2
  Wood Green 2
4 BGK KS Gwiazda Bydgoszcz 2
5 Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo 2
  Odlar Yurdu 2
  SK Erste Bank Baden 2
  Blue & Yellow 2
9 Schachzentrum Seeblick e.V. 1
10 TAJFUN - SK Ljubljana 0

...17 teams

All available games

 

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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.
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