Euro Club Cup: Deac wins with 1.a3, Offerspill and Superchess co-leaders

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
10/7/2023 – The round-6 clash of co-leaders between Superchess and Offerspill ended in a draw, with wins for Bogdan-Daniel Deac (Superchess) and Pranav V (Offerspill). This allowed six teams to close the gap with the co-leaders to 1 match point going into Saturday’s final round. Meanwhile, in the women’s tournament, Superchess and Garuda Ajka obtained crucial victories to climb to shared first place, and are set to face each other in round 7. The final round stars one hour earlier than usual. | Photo: Niki Riga

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A first draw for Carlsen

The absolute star of the show in Durrës has been — not surprisingly — Magnus Carlsen. Representing Offerspill, the world number one scored four wins in as many games to help his team enter the final two rounds of the event sharing first place with the all-powerful Superchess. The two teams were paired up against each other on Friday, and drew their match to remain tied going into the final round.

In the marquee matchup of round 6, Richard Rapport held Carlsen to his first draw of the event. Three other games finished drawn, while wins for Bogdan-Daniel Deac (Superchess) and Pranav V (Offerspill) meant the two teams would enter Saturday’s round 7 still sharing the lead with 11/12 match points each.

At the very beginning of Friday’s round, all eyes turned to the board-3 confrontation between Deac and Aryan Tari, as the Romanian grandmaster played 1.a3 in a deciding encounter.

A manoeuvring battle ensued, with Tari agreeing to enter a position with an isolated pawn on the d-file. Deac gained the upper hand with proficient piece play, and reached the following advantageous position by move 26.

There is no saving the d5-pawn, which prompted Tari to start looking for tactical tricks on the kingside. Five moves later, he was already material down, but with a dangerous-looking (only at first sight) queen and knight duo.

The white knight had just captured a rook on e8, so Tari went all-in with 31...Nf3+, using the fact that the light-squared long diagonal is weakened around White’s king. Engines show that simply 32.Kh1 is winning for White, but Deac found the stronger 32.Qxf3 Qxf3 33.Rxd7, and the well-coordinated white pieces are much stronger than the black queen.

Resignation came five moves later.

Aryan Tari

Aryan Tari | Photo: Niki Riga

The draw on the top board allowed six teams to close the gap with the co-leaders to a single match point. Heading the chasing pack are Asnieres and Novy Bor, who will get to face Offerspill and Superchess respectively on Saturday.

For Asnieres, the strongest performers so far have been Haik Martirosyan and Grigory Oparin, while Vincent Keymer and Thai Dai Van Nguyen have excelled for Novy Bor in the first six rounds of the week-long event.

Jules Moussard

Jules Moussard (Asnieres) has a 4/6 score playing on board 3 | Photo: Niki Riga

Standings - Round 6

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 Offerspill Sjakklubb 11
2 Superchess 11
3 Asnieres - Le Grand Echiquier 10
4 Novy Bor 10
5 TAJFUN SK Ljubljana 10
6 Sentimento Ajka BSK 10
7 Gokturk Chess Sport Club 10
8 Turkish Airlines Sports Club 10
9 C' Chartres Echecs 9
10 Schachclub Viernheim 1934 e.V. 8
11 Vugar Gashimov 8
12 Rishon Lezion A 8
13 Beer Sheva Chess Club 8
14 SK Zmaj 8
15 Obiettivo Risarcimento Padova 8

...84 teams

All available games - Round 6

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Women’s: Superchess and Garuda Ajka score crucial wins

The women’s cup also has two teams tied for first going into the last round, except that, unlike in the open, the co-leaders come from climbing to the top of the standings by scoring victories on Friday. Superchess beat former leaders SP Gaz Ukraine, while Garuda Ajka defeated rating favourites Monte Carlo to reach their privileged spots atop the tournament table. The co-leaders will face each other in the final round.

Sharing third place one match point behind are SP Gaz Ukraine and TAJFUN SK Ljubljana, who will fight to reach the podium in what is likely to be an exciting seventh round.

Teodora Injac

Teodora Injac (Garuda Ajka) collected 3½ out of 5 points so far in Durrës | Photo: Niki Riga

The match between Garuda Ajka and Monte Carlo featured draws on boards 2-4, with Bella Khotenashvili grabbing the full point that gave the Hungarian team the all-important victory. Facing Mariya Muzychuk with black, Khotenashvili got a clear advantage but struggled to find the quickest path to victory more than once in the game — for example, on move 67:

With a bit less than 2 minutes on the clock, Khotenashvili here played 67...Qd5, and eventually managed to force her opponent’s resignation.

The Georgian grandmaster, however, missed 67...g6+ 68.fxg6 Qxg6#, a mate-in-two she would have surely found instantly in other circumstances.

European Chess Club Cup 2023

Monte Carlo facing Garuda Ajka | Photo: Niki Riga

Standings - Round 6

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 Superchess 10
2 Garuda Ajka BSK 10
3 SP Gaz Ukraine 9
4 TAJFUN SK Ljubljana 9
5 SK Crvena zvezda Data Driven Lab 8
6 Gokturk Chess Sport Club 8
7 Schachgesellschaft Solingen 8
8 Monte Carlo 7
9 MSK Centar Asseco See 7
10 Asnieres - Le Grand Echiquier 7
11 Galaxias Sports Club 7
12 Wood Green 6
13 Teuta 6
14 Panevezys 6
15 Offerspill Chess Club 6

...26 teams

All available games - Round 6

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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.