European Club Cup: Just two teams with 100%

by André Schulz
10/12/2017 – Top team Globus continues to lead, but had to jump a high hurdle in Novy Bor during Round 3. In a very competitive match, the Russians finished with a tight 3½ : 2½, lead by a win from Sergey Karjakin. In the fourth round, they crushed Gambit Asseco from Macedonia 5½ : ½, but will have a tough test once again in Round 5 facing the strong Azerbaijani team of Odlar Yurdu. | Pictured: Arkadij Naiditsch and Rauf Mamedov | Photo: David Llada

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Globus and Odlar Yurdu in the lead

Globus is the top favorite of the 33rd European Cup, which is currently being played in Antalya. The team led by the 14th World Champion Vladimir Kramnik on board one is impressive with a 2772 Elo average. It is actually the same team formerly known as "Siberia", but with a new title sponsor. Two years ago, Sibiria won the trophy. Last year, with almost identical line up, they disappointed.

In the third round, there was the first real test for the ensemble under Russian flag: the Czech team from Novy Bor. The Czechs had won the trophy in 2013, leaving a number of better-rated teams paper in the dust. The team actually sports just two Czech players — David Navara and Viktor Laznicka. By comparison: Globus is playing with five Russian players.

Petar Arnaudov 2013

After this test Globus faced the Macedonian team Gambit Asseco, which is led by Petar Arnaudov [right], a Bulgarian grandmaster, but with an Elo under 2500.

Arnaudov is currently not allowed to play under the flag of his home country; the Bulgarian Chess Federation is still in a bitter dispute with the European Chess Union and is under sanction. Bulgarian chess players are nevertheless allowed to participate in ECU.

The majority of the team are Macedonian players, some of them well below 2400 Elo. The result was naturally a one-side affair, with Globus trouncing Gambit Asseco 5½ : ½. Who gave the draw to Globus? This "misfortune" befell Anton Korobov against Marjan Mitkov.

Photo: Przemysław Jahr CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Black threatens checkmate on g2. White gave up the exchange on b7 and then took on g7. But that was not enough. With 39.Qd8 and Qxg5, Korobov would have retained a clear advantage.

The second team still on a perfect 100% record after four rounds is the team of Odlar Yurdu. Odlar Yurdu is the name of a university in Baku. The top board is Arkadij Naiditsch, who has played for Azerbaijan since 2015. He is joined by nearly all the top Azerbaijani grandmasters, with the notable exception of Shakhriyar Memedyarov and Teymour Radjabov.

Jon Ludwig HammerPhoto: David Llada

The Dutch team LSG Leiden had a magnificent start with three victories, defeating a very respectable opponent in Oslo Schakselskap. The Norwegians play with Jon Ludvig Hammer [right] and Leif Erlend Johannsen on the first two boards. But the difference in rating with Odlar Yurdu was just oo much. Leiden put German guest player Jan-Michael Springer on board one and Arthur Pijpers on board two, both of whom managed to take a half point from Naiditsch and Rauf Mamedov, respectively, but in the end that was all they go, losing 1: 5 to their stronger rivals.

At the third table the "bronze riders" (Mednyi Vsadnik) from St. Petersburg, with Peter Svidler on the first board, met the representatives from Israel, the Beer Sheva Chess Club. With three players over 2700 — Svidler, Matlakov and Fedoseev,  and Rodshtein at 2699 — the St. Petersburg team was at least nominally the favourites, but all the games ended in draws, for a 3 : 3 tie.

There was a greater imbalance in the game strength at the next table. SHSM with Ernesto Inarkiev at the top and five strong and well-known grandmasters backing him up met the Slovakian team Sk Dunajska Streda, who have six GMs under 2500 among their ranks.  One upset from Zoltan Varga who managed to win against Vadim Zvjaginsev, and a draw in Nemeth-Najer made the defeat merciful.

Novy Bor, rebounded from their loss to Globus, with a 6-0 sweep against Lithuania's LSK 'MAKABI'. The Italian team Obiettivo Risarcimento Padova beat the Turkish team Beşiktaş Jimnastik Kulübü by 3½ : 2½. The Turks were mounted a strong counterattack and noteably a women, Kubra Öztürk, in their ranks, who held Grandmaster Sabino Brunelli to a draw with black.

Behind Globus the team of Alkaloid is number two of the starting raking list, but suffered a second round loss to SHSM. The team is led by World Championship candidate Ding Liren and is now gradually fighting again. Yesterday they overcame the French team Alekhine from Nice by a score of  5 : 1.

Highlights from Round 3

Radoslaw WojtaszekPhoto: David Llada

Novy Bor brought Radoslaw Wojtaszek [right] and Harikrishna on top boards with Czech number one Navara, Austrian ace Markus Ragger, Krishnan Sasikiran and Mateusz Bartel behind them. Globus entered the best possible line-up: 1. Kramnik, 2. Mamedyarov, 3. Grischuk, 4. Karjakin, 5. Giri and 6. Nepomniachtchi.

On the first board, Kramnik playing with black against Wojtaszek deployed a Semi-Tarrasch variantion, he has already played often. Neither of the two players achieved anything special. Finally, Wojtaszek forced his way to a perpetual check.

Vladimir Kramnik describes his team approach | European ChessTV on YouTube

My Path to the Top

On this DVD Vladimir Kramnik retraces his career from talented schoolboy to World Champion in 2006. With humour and charm he describes his first successes, what it meant to be part of the Russian Gold Medal team at the Olympiad, and how he undertook the Herculean task of beating his former mentor and teacher Garry Kasparov.

Indian grandmaster Harikrishna

Harikrishna | Photo: David Llada

The hot game was Mamedyarov vs Harikrishna on board two. In the Nimzo-Indian defense the second-best Indian player met 4.f3 in the style of the Volga gambit with: 4...c5 5.d5 b5 and initially followed Mamedyarov's lead at the Sharjah Grand Prix tournament against Hou Yifan. Then he followed a variantion his countryman Sahaj Grover recently played at a tournament in India. 15...a5 was Harikrishna's first, likely prepared, new move:


Black is already more active. In order to reach a draw, Mamedyarov now gave an exchange: 16.bxa6 Bxa6 17.Rxb4 Qxb4 18.0-0. With the aid of his central pawns, the Azeri grandmaster received sufficient compensation and the game took a lively course. In the end there was an end game with knight and two pawns against a rook and pawn. Draw!

In his game against David Navara, Alexander Grischuk adapted the idea of his teammates in the anti-Berlin Spanish and played 5...d5. Giri was the first top player to try this idea at the Grand Prix in Tashkent against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave in 2014. There are a few current examples from Kramnik this year as well.


After a a few exchanges, a position was reached on ninth move which was known for a quite a long time having first been played in the game Gustav Neumann against Adolf Anderssen, 1864, in Berlin:


Tactic Toolbox Ruy Lopez / Spanish Opening

Starting with Black's alternatives on move 3 and working through until the main lines of the Closed Lopez and the Marshall and Anti-Marshall, the viewer will find his knowledge of the opening developing in tandem with an improvement in his tactical ability.

David Navara played more cleverly than his predecessor, and did not fall into the trap with 10.Nxc6 but did not find anything substantial. After 20.Rxd3 this final position appeared.


The game went on ten more moves, but there was not much going on. Draw.

The decisive game for the outcome of the match was played on board four. Sergey Karjakin met Markus Ragger with the white pieces. It a Classical Spanish developed, actually even with 3..a6, but without d4. The Karjakin instead went for d3. For a long time, the game was quite unspectacular, remaining fairly balanced. In the endgame with two rooks and knights for each side world championship challenger then slowly developed a noticeable advantage.


White now played 39.Nd3, and with patience and good technique Karjakin increased his edge and 20 moves later we find:


Ragger defended this lost position further, but on move 73 the score was 1 : 0.

On the 6th board Ian Nepomniachtchi and Mateusz Bartel, took a very varied course with winning chances for both sides in a wild fight. In the end there was also a draw here as on board five between Sasikiran and Anish Giri. There, the Indian with White in the Najdorf variation had sacrificed a piece in exchange for a strong attack on the white kingside. Giri, however, defended with a cool head, and the game ended in a perpetual.

At the next tables, the Odlar Yurdu defeated the Italians Obiettivo Risarcimento Padova, while the two Russian top teams SHSM Legacy Square Capital and Mednyi Vsadnik from St. Petersburg came 3 : 3.

Alkaloid had suffered that surprising defeat in the previous round came back 6: 0 over the Norwegian squad Valerenga Sjakklubb.

SHSm 64 against St. Petersburg | Photo: David Llada

Video highlights of Round 3

Standings after Round 4

Rk. Team Team
1 Globus GLO
2 Odlar Yurdu ODL
3 SHSM Legacy Square Capital SHS
4 Alkaloid ALK
5 AVE Nový Bor AVE
6 Mednyi Vsadnik MED
7 Obiettivo Risarcimento Padova OBI
8 Csm Baia Mare CSM
9 LSG Leiden LSG
10 Gambit Asseco See GAM
11 Beer Sheva Chess Club BEE
12 Augusta Perusia AUG
13 Karaman Belediyesi Spor Kulübü KAR
14 Beşiktaş Jimnastik Kulübü BES
15 Šk Dunajská Streda SKD
16 Nice Alekhine NIC
17 Riga Technical University RIG
18 Genç Akademisyenler Eğitim Kültür ve Ara GEN
20 3CS 3CS
21 Etelä-Vantaan Shakki ETE
22 Fjölnir Chess Club FJO
23 Vålerenga Sjakklubb VAL
24 Oslo Schakselskap OSL
25 SK Elektroprivreda SKE
26 Skakklubben Nordkalotten SKA
27 Gonzaga GON
28 Adare Chess Club ADA
29 White Rose WHI
30 Viking Chess Club VIK
31 Club Gambit Bonnevoie CLU
32 Hasan Pristina HAS
33 Dardania Chess Club DAR
34 Chania Chess Academy CHA
35 Benildus Chess Club BEN
36 Hatay Büyükşehir Belediyesi Spor Kulübü HAT

All games (Open)


The Queen's Gambit Declined Exchange Variation

The Queen’s Gambit Declined Exchange Variation is one of the most important opening systems, having been played by most of the great players in history and from both sides of the board. The most outstanding specialists in this method of play include Garry Kasparov, Mikhail Botvinnik and Samuel Reshevsky. The Black side proponents include Anatoly Karpov, Boris Spassky and Paul Keres. It is truly an opening of champions!

European Women's Club Cup

In the European Cup for women teams the third round saw the top match Bossa Nova from Belarus against Odlar Yurdu from Azerbaijan. This went to 2½ : 1½ in favor of the former, who compete with GM Natalia Zhukova on first board.

Zhukova against Mamedyarova | Photo: David Llada

In the fourth round they were, however, caught by SHSM Legacy Square Capital, losing 3 : 1 on the strength of wins from FM Daria Voit and IM Anastasia Savina on the lower two boards.

There are now four teams tied with six match points. 

Harika Dronavalli after Round 3 | European ChessTV on YouTube

Standings after Round 4

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 SHSM Legacy Square Capital 6
2 Batumi Chess Club NONA 6
3 Odlar Yurdu 6
4 Bossa Nova 6
5 UGRA Chess Club 5
6 Anatolia 4
7 Mulhouse Philidor 4
8 Marmara 4
9 Cs Studentesc Medicina Timisoara 3
10 Beer Sheva Chess Club 2
11 Aegean 2
12 Mediterranean 0

All games (Women)


Power Play 23: A Repertoire for black with the Queen's Gambit Declined

On this DVD Grandmaster Daniel King offers you a repertoire for Black with the QGD. The repertoire is demonstrated in 10 stem games, covering all White's major systems: 5 Bg5, 5 Bf4, and the Exchange Variation.

Translation from German: Macauley Peterson


André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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