European Ch: Second half, still four leaders

by Macauley Peterson
3/26/2019 – Maxim Rodshtein and Kacper Piorun were the leading duo after five rounds but a draw in their head-to-head in the sixth round allowed Nils Grandelius and Andrey Esipenko (pictured arriving with Kirill Alekseenko) to catch up, so this quartet now sits atop the field of the European Championships in Skopje with 6 points. The 22 best players qualify for the World Cup. GM DANIEL FERNANDEZ analyses the highlights. | Photo: Patricia Claros

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Still wide open

We've passed the midpoint at the European Championships in Skopje. Seven rounds out of eleven have already been played. Two players have achieved five wins and a pair of draws — Maxim Rodshtein and Kacper Piorun — and two have managed the astounding feat of six wins (and a loss) each: Nils Grandelius and Andrey Esipensko. Eight players, including top seed Vladislav Artemiev are a half point behind with 5½. The group on 5 points reaches all the way down to 42nd place! This is a tough tournament! There's still plenty of time left for anyone in the top 40 or so to make a late surge.

Let's take a look at how the leaders got there.

The top board in Round 6: Rodshtein vs Alekseenko | Photo: Patricia Claros

In round six, the Israeli won against Kirill Alekseenko. Kacper Piorun defeated Ferenc Berkes. Rodshtein took on Alekseenko's Grünfeld defence, fianchetto variation, and gradually White gained the upper hand. The game between Piorun and Berkes ended up in a bishop vs knight endgame. GM Daniel Fernandez looks at these and other top games of the sixth round:

 

Click or tap a game in the list to switch

Vladislav Artemiev kept up the pace with a win over David Paravyan by sacrificing an exchange in the endgame to create dangerous passed pawns.

 

The Russian 'Chuck Norris' pounced with 37.xd5 xd5 38.xf6 e5 39.xe8 and went on to prove the strength of his kingside passers.

Results of Round 6 (top 10)

Name Pts. Result Pts. Name
Rodshtein Maxim 1 - 0 Alekseenko Kirill
Piorun Kacper 1 - 0 Berkes Ferenc
Artemiev Vladislav 4 1 - 0 4 Paravyan David
Rakhmanov Aleksandr 4 ½ - ½ 4 Dubov Daniil
Kovalev Vladislav 4 ½ - ½ 4 Chigaev Maksim
Hracek Zbynek 4 1 - 0 4 Mamedov Rauf
Grandelius Nils 4 1 - 0 4 Erdos Viktor
Cheparinov Ivan 4 0 - 1 4 Predke Alexandr
Kovalenko Igor 4 0 - 1 4 Esipenko Andrey
Gelfand Boris 4 1 - 0 4 Bartel Mateusz

Commentary webcast

Commentary by GM Ivan Sokolov and GM Adrian Mikhalchishin | European Chess TV on YouTube

No draws Nils

After dropping his third round game to Sergei Azarov, the Swedish number one Nils Grandelius has won four games in a row. The Russian Alexandr Predke was the most recent victim. Grandelius is now sporting a 2864 performance rating.

For Andrey Esipenko, the winning streak stands at five games! In Monday's seventh round, the newly 17-year-old (born March 22, 2002) Esipenko took down Boris Gelfand on the white side of a Sveshnikov Sicilian. Both games, plus Mamedov-Azarov and the Piorun-Rodshtein draw are analysed below.

 

Kacper Piorun

Results of Round 7 (top 10)

Name Pts. Result Pts. Name
Piorun Kacper ½ - ½ Rodshtein Maxim
Gledura Benjamin 5 ½ - ½ 5 Artemiev Vladislav
Predke Alexandr 5 0 - 1 5 Grandelius Nils
Esipenko Andrey 5 1 - 0 5 Gelfand Boris
Hracek Zbynek 5 ½ - ½ 5 Zvjaginsev Vadim
Dubov Daniil 0 - 1 Pantsulaia Levan
Ter-Sahakyan Samvel 1 - 0 Kovalev Vladislav
Can Emre ½ - ½ Korobov Anton
Berkes Ferenc ½ - ½ Bindrich Falko
Alekseenko Kirill 1 - 0 Zhigalko Sergei

Standings after Round 7 (top 25)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Rodshtein Maxim 6,0 2597
2 Piorun Kacper 6,0 2580
3 Grandelius Nils 6,0 2575
4 Esipenko Andrey 6,0 2523
5 Ter-Sahakyan Samvel 5,5 2612
6 Alekseenko Kirill 5,5 2592
7 Hracek Zbynek 5,5 2589
8 Artemiev Vladislav 5,5 2587
9 Gledura Benjamin 5,5 2548
10 Anton Guijarro David 5,5 2541
11 Zvjaginsev Vadim 5,5 2539
12 Pantsulaia Levan 5,5 2531
13 Van Foreest Lucas 5,0 2639
14 Azarov Sergei 5,0 2631
15 Buhmann Rainer 5,0 2610
16 Chigaev Maksim 5,0 2605
17 Christiansen Johan-Sebastian 5,0 2600
18 Berkes Ferenc 5,0 2590
19 Cheparinov Ivan 5,0 2589
20 Aleksandrov Aleksej 5,0 2577
21 Gelfand Boris 5,0 2575
22 Rakhmanov Aleksandr 5,0 2571
23 Paravyan David 5,0 2567
24 Huzman Alexander 5,0 2561
25 Erdos Viktor 5,0 2559

All available games

 

Commentary by GM Ivan Sokolov and GM Adrian Mikhalchishin | European Chess TV on YouTube

Andre Schulz contributed reporting

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Macauley is Editor in Chief of ChessBase News in Hamburg, Germany, and producer of The Full English Breakfast chess podcast. He was an Associate Producer of the 2016 feature documentary, Magnus.
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