European Team Championship R3+4: Russia!

by Sagar Shah
11/17/2015 – The biggest news of round three was Aronian beating Carlsen. Eljanov played a sublime Catalan against Mamedyarov. In the fourth round top two seeds in both the open and women section faced off against each other. It was Russia who came out victorious! In the open they beat Ukraine 3:1, and in the women they thrashed Georgia 3.5:0.5. Lots of interesting games and analysis.

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European Team Chess Championship R03 + 04: Russia!

Round three

After three rounds at the European Team Championships 2015 only two teams are on perfect 6.0/6 match points in the open section – the top two seeds Russia and Ukraine. Round three witnessed many decisive matches. Magnus Carlsen played his first game of the event and was promptly beaten by Levon Aronian. This ensured Armenia’s victory over Norway. Ukraine beat the defending champions Azerbaijan, thanks to Eljanov’s victory over Mamedyarov. Russia beat Spain as Ian Nepomniachtchi ground out a fine victory over Ivan Salgado Lopez.

The upset of the day was definitely Serbia’s 3:1 victory over Netherlands. Anish Giri and Erwin l’Ami drew against Ivan Ivanisevic and Milos Perunovic respectively. But Loek van Wely went down to Markus Robert, and Ivan Sokolov’s bad form continued, as he lost against Nikola Sedlak.

But first let’s go to the game of the day: Magnus versus Levon!

It’s always a joy to see the World Champion in action

The game began as a slow Anti-Berlin with Magnus having the white pieces. Levon seemed well prepared as he deviated from the Karjakin-Caruana game that took place in February 2015. It was all going calm and slow when suddenly Magnus decided to take a stray pawn on a5. It was not such a great decision, as Levon got excellent play for the pawn, and his pieces stormed towards the white king. The knight on a5 was a sitting spectator while all this action took place on the other side of the board. It was a beautiful game by Aronian with some fine calculation on show.

[Event "20th European Teams"] [Site "Reykjavik ISL"] [Date "2015.11.15"] [Round "3.1"] [White "Carlsen, Magnus"] [Black "Aronian, Levon"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C65"] [WhiteElo "2850"] [BlackElo "2781"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "88"] [EventDate "2015.11.13"] [WhiteTeam "Norway"] [BlackTeam "Armenia"] [WhiteTeamCountry "NOR"] [BlackTeamCountry "ARM"] {This was surely the match of the day. Two of the best players of the modern era faced off against each other in the third round of the ETCC 2015.} 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 {Carlsen doesn't want to dip his feet in Berlin endgames.} Bc5 5. O-O Nd4 6. Nxd4 Bxd4 {This is a main line with more than 260 games played in it.} 7. c3 Bb6 8. Na3 c6 9. Ba4 d6 10. Bb3 {A move that Levon had not seen. According to him White first plays Nc4 and only then decides about his bishop. Now that he was given a chance he decided to keep the bishop on g1-a7 diagonal.} a5 11. Nc4 Ba7 {Caruana had retreated his bishop to c7 against Karjakin, but Levon has his own ideas.} 12. a4 O-O 13. Bg5 h6 14. Bxf6 {Carlsen goes for this exchange as he sees the possibility of winning the a5 pawn.} (14. Bh4 $5 g5 15. Bg3 Be6 {is another interesting position.}) 14... Qxf6 15. Nxa5 {This is pretty greedy. And the problem is that after the move d6-d5 Black is able to trap the white knight on a5.} d5 $1 16. Bc2 {The bishop makes way for the knight to come to b3 but now the pace of the game increases and Magnus finds it difficult to keep control with his knight on a5.} (16. exd5 cxd5 17. Bxd5 Qd8 $1 18. Bxb7 Bxb7 19. Nxb7 Qc7 $15) 16... dxe4 17. dxe4 Rd8 18. Qe1 (18. Qf3 Qxf3 19. gxf3 Rd2 20. Rac1 Bh3 (20... Be6 $5 {is also strong.} ) 21. Nc4 Rad8 22. Rcd1 Bxf2+ 23. Kh1 Bxf1 24. Rxd2 Rxd2 25. Nxd2 Be2 26. Bb3 Be3 27. Bc4 Bd1 28. Bb3 $11 {This forced, long and complicated variation was rattled out by Aronian after the game.}) (18. Qe2 {looks pretty natural, but I guess Magnus was afraid of something like Qg5 followed by Bg4.}) 18... Qg5 19. Kh1 Rd2 20. Bd1 Be6 (20... Rxb2 21. Nc4 $16) 21. b4 (21. Nb3 Rxb2 $19) 21... Rad8 22. Nxb7 $2 {This is just too greedy. Better was} (22. Be2 {But even here it is not so easy to wriggle out for White.}) (22. Bb3 {is the most natural move but is beautifully refuted by} Bh3 23. gxh3 Qf4 {The threat is simply Qf3 followed by Rook to d6 and a mate.} 24. Nc4 R8d3 $3 (24... Qf3+ 25. Kg1 R8d6 26. Nxe5 $16 {White is alive and kicking.} (26. Nxd6 Rxd6 $19)) 25. Qxd2 (25. Nxd2 Rxh3 $19) 25... Rxd2 26. Nxd2 Qxd2 $17 {Black is almost winning here. What a wonderful piece of calculation by Aronian.}) 22... Bc4 $1 23. Nxd8 Bxf1 24. Qxf1 Rxf2 {Black is a piece down, but there is mate threatened on h2 and the white pieces are completely scattered.} 25. Qg1 Ra2 $1 26. Rxa2 (26. Qf1 Rxa1 $19) ({According to Levon, Magnus must have wanted to play this move but must have missed the check on g1.} 26. Bb3 Qxg2+ $1 27. Qxg2 Rxa1+ 28. Qf1 Rxf1+ 29. Kg2 {and now the check on g1 is very important. Any other move and White can still survive.} Rg1+ $1 30. Kf3 Rc1 {and now the c3 pawn falls with a check.}) 26... Bxg1 27. Kxg1 Qc1 (27... Qxd8 $19 {was also winning.}) 28. Kf2 Qxd1 29. Nxc6 Qb3 30. Rd2 Qxc3 {This is not so difficult for Aronian to convert into a full point.} 31. Rd6 Qb2+ 32. Ke3 Qa3+ 33. Kf2 Qxa4 34. Nxe5 Qc2+ 35. Kf3 f5 36. Rd3 fxe4+ 37. Kxe4 Qxg2+ 38. Nf3 Qg4+ 39. Ke3 g5 40. Kf2 Qf5 41. Rd8+ Kg7 42. Kg2 g4 43. Nd2 Qe6 44. Nf1 Qc6+ 0-1

With this victory Aronian’s Armenia beat Carlsen’s Norway by a score of 2.5:1.5

Ukraine faced the defending champions Azerbaijan. Vassily Ivanchuk was given rest, and on paper the match seemed very well balanced. All boards except for the top one ended in draws. All eyes were on the battle between Pavel Eljanov and Shakhriyar Mamedyarov. Pavel essayed the Catalan, an opening where he has developed quite a reputation after beating Hikaru Nakamura in the World Cup 2015. In this game too he played extremely well, always keeping Mamedyarov under pressure. Finally the Azeri number one blundered, and Ukraine won the match 2.5:1.5.

[Event "20th European Teams"] [Site "Reykjavik ISL"] [Date "2015.11.15"] [Round "3.1"] [White "Eljanov, Pavel"] [Black "Mamedyarov, Shakhriyar"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E04"] [WhiteElo "2753"] [BlackElo "2743"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "91"] [EventDate "2015.11.13"] [WhiteTeam "Ukraine"] [BlackTeam "Azerbaijan"] [WhiteTeamCountry "UKR"] [BlackTeamCountry "AZE"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. g3 {After Eljanov's victory in the Catalan against Nakamura at the Candidates 2015, one thing is for sure no one can underestimate Pavel's preparation.} dxc4 5. Bg2 a6 6. O-O Nc6 7. e3 Rb8 8. Nfd2 Qd7 9. Nxc4 b5 10. Ncd2 Be7 {The players had been following Tukmakov-Bagirov until this point. But now Pavel decides to go his own way.} 11. Nb3 {The thing that is usally most important in this position is whether White can establish a clamp on c5 or Black can get in that move. In fact this is the struggle in most of the lines of the Catalan where Black plays b7-b5.} O-O 12. Nc3 Rd8 13. Qe2 a5 $5 14. Rd1 (14. Nxb5 a4 $1 {A nice intermezzo.} 15. Nd2 Ba6 $19 { simply loses a piece.}) 14... a4 15. Nc5 Qe8 (15... Bxc5 16. dxc5 {is actually a good trade-off for Black as now there is no weakness on c-file. But here he experiences specific difficulties as the queen is attacked and the knight on c6 is quite loose.} Qe8 17. Rxd8 Nxd8 18. e4 $14) 16. N3e4 Nxe4 17. Nxe4 e5 $1 {That's the right decision to break in the centre. Black cannot allow White to just finish his development with Bd2 and Rc1.} 18. d5 Nb4 19. Nc3 Na6 20. b3 $1 axb3 21. axb3 Nc5 22. Qc2 {The position is complex and unbalanced. Mamedyarov has done well not to let White's advantage get out of hand. Yet if you look closely, thanks to the d5 pawn White has a much more pleasant position.} Bg4 23. Rd2 Bh5 24. Bb2 Bg6 25. e4 Bd6 26. Rdd1 Ra8 27. b4 Na6 $6 (27... Na4 { was surely the need of the hour. After this Black should not be seriously worse.}) 28. Na2 $6 (28. Qe2 {was the cool move. The point being that the exchange of the b4 and b5 pawns is in White's favour as then the c7 pawn would be quite weak.} Rdb8 (28... Nxb4 29. Nxb5 $16) (28... Bxb4 29. Nxb5 $16) 29. Bf1 $1 $16) 28... f6 29. h4 Qd7 (29... Nxb4 30. Nxb4 Bxb4 31. Rxa8 Rxa8 32. Qxc7 Qd8 {would have been around equal.}) 30. Ba3 Ra7 31. Rab1 Rda8 32. Bc1 Nb8 33. Nc3 Na6 34. Na2 Nb8 35. Nc3 Na6 36. Qe2 {Eljanov strikes the right plan of getting the b5 pawn for the b4 one.} Nxb4 37. Nxb5 Ra2 38. Rd2 Ra1 39. Rdb2 R8a2 40. Rxa2 Rxb1 (40... Rxa2 41. Bb2 $16) 41. Ra8+ Bf8 (41... Kf7 42. Nxd6+ cxd6 43. Qc4 $16 {followed by Kh2 and getting the bishop out is a clearly better position for White.}) 42. Qc4 (42. Qf1 $3 $18 {would have been a nice move. It not only defends the c1 bishop but also prepares Bh3 or Nc3-Qc4. trapping the rook on b1.}) 42... Na2 43. Qxa2 Rxc1+ 44. Kh2 Qxb5 45. d6+ Bf7 46. Qa3 (46. Qa3 {Mamedyarov's resignation is not premature. He is unconditionally lost, although it might not be quite apparent on the surface.} Rc5 (46... Qc5 47. Qxc5 Rxc5 48. d7 $18) (46... cxd6 47. Qxc1 $18) 47. d7 Qxd7 48. Qxc5 $18) 1-0

It seems like a risky strategy for Eljanov’s opponents to play the QGD
and face the Ukrainian’s Catalan! [Picture from Baku World Cup 2015]

The Russians were the favourites against the Spanish team. However, the Spaniards gave the top seeds quite a tough fight. Three boards ended in a draw. Nepomniachtchi didn’t really get any advantage with the white pieces against Ivan Salgado Lopez. But then Ivan decided to play recklessly, sacrificing the h5 pawn for unclear compensation. Ian gobbled the pawn and came out on top.

[Event "20th European Teams"] [Site "Reykjavik ISL"] [Date "2015.11.15"] [Round "3.3"] [White "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"] [Black "Salgado Lopez, Ivan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C11"] [WhiteElo "2705"] [BlackElo "2615"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "113"] [EventDate "2015.11.13"] [WhiteTeam "Russia"] [BlackTeam "Spain"] [WhiteTeamCountry "RUS"] [BlackTeamCountry "ESP"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 dxe4 5. Nxe4 Be7 6. Bxf6 Bxf6 7. Nf3 Nd7 8. Qd2 Be7 9. O-O-O O-O 10. h4 b6 11. Bd3 Bb7 12. Qf4 Nf6 13. Nxf6+ Bxf6 14. Ng5 h6 15. Nh7 Re8 16. Nxf6+ Qxf6 17. Qxf6 gxf6 18. Rh3 Kf8 19. g4 Ke7 20. Be2 Rg8 21. Re3 {[#] The position is about equal. At this point Black could have stayed solid with Rad8. But instead he went for a pawn sacrifice which was quite dubious.} h5 $6 {Although this move looks logical and opens the g-file for the rook, it does give up a pawn.} (21... Rad8 $1 $11) 22. gxh5 $1 $14 { The h-pawns are doubled, but it is precisely the h5 pawn that makes Black's life extremely difficult. Later in the game White gave up the h-pawn but won another pawn on the queenside.} Rad8 23. Rg3 f5 24. Rg5 Kf6 25. f4 Rh8 26. c3 Be4 27. Kd2 c5 28. Ke3 Bc2 29. Rd2 cxd4+ 30. Rxd4 Rxd4 31. cxd4 Be4 32. a3 Rc8 33. Rg1 a5 34. Rg3 Rc1 35. Rg5 Rc8 36. Rg1 Rd8 37. Rg3 Rc8 38. Kf2 Bd5 39. Bd1 Rd8 40. Be2 Rc8 41. b4 axb4 42. axb4 Ra8 43. b5 Ra4 44. Rg8 Ra8 45. Rg3 Ra4 46. h6 Ra8 47. h5 Rh8 48. Ra3 Rxh6 49. Ra6 Rh8 50. Rxb6 Rc8 51. Ra6 Rc3 52. Ra1 Be4 53. Rg1 Rb3 54. Rg3 Rb1 55. Bf1 Rb2+ 56. Kg1 Ra2 57. Rg8 {This turned out to be the most crucial game for the entire match.} 1-0

Ian Nepomniachtchi (the GM under the hood) made sure that Russians won their match against Spain

France against Hungary was a very interesting match. The first and last board ended in draws. Richard Rapport played in his typical unorthodox style to beat Laurent Fressinet. What is amazing about this game is that after just ten moves Richard had a nearly decisive advantage with the white pieces. Would that have happened if he had played 1.e4 or 1.d4? I do not think so! The Bird’s Opening is the way to go!

[Event "20th European Teams"] [Site "Reykjavik ISL"] [Date "2015.11.15"] [Round "3.2"] [White "Rapport, Richard"] [Black "Fressinet, Laurent"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A03"] [WhiteElo "2693"] [BlackElo "2712"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "77"] [EventDate "2015.11.13"] [WhiteTeam "Hungrary"] [BlackTeam "France"] [BlackTeamCountry "FRA"] {We will focus only on the first phase of the game because by playing quite an irregular opening White got a clear advantage against a very strong opponent.} 1. f4 d5 2. Nf3 g6 3. c4 $5 {Is this a Rapport special? He had tried this same move against Maxim Rodshtein in Politiken Cup 2014.} c6 4. e3 Bg7 5. Nc3 Nf6 6. d4 $5 {The position resembles some sort of a Stonewall setup, but the pawn is on c4 instead of c3, which gives White much more flexibility.} O-O 7. Be2 e6 { Now we are in some sort of virgin territory.} 8. O-O dxc4 $6 {Giving up the centre is not at all a good idea.} 9. Bxc4 Nbd7 10. e4 {Could White have imagined getting such a nice position after just ten moves by playing 1.e4 or 1.d4? I do not think so!} b5 11. Bd3 b4 12. Na4 c5 {Fressinet gives up a pawn, but now he will be down on material for the rest of the game.} 13. Nxc5 Nxc5 14. dxc5 Bb7 15. e5 (15. Qc2 $14) 15... Nd5 16. Ng5 Qa5 $6 (16... Qc7 17. Ne4 f5 {would have recovered the pawn.} 18. exf6 Nxf6 19. Nxf6+ Bxf6 20. Be3 Bxb2 21. Rb1 Bc3 $11 22. Bc4 Rad8 23. Qg4 (23. Bxe6+ Kh8 24. Qg4 Rd3 $19) 23... Bd5 $11 24. Bxd5 exd5 25. f5 Qe5 $1 {This is the main reason why the queen was better placed on c7 instead of a5.}) 17. Ne4 Rfc8 (17... f5 $6 18. exf6 Nxf6 19. Nxf6+ Bxf6 20. Be3 Bxb2 21. Rb1 Bc3 {This doesn't work because after} 22. Bc4 {followed by Qg4 White has a strong initiative.} Rad8 23. Qg4 Bd5 24. Bxd5 exd5 25. f5 $40) 18. Kh1 $16 {Rapport managed to win quite comfortably after this.} Ba6 19. a3 Bf8 20. Bxa6 Qxa6 21. Nd6 Rc7 22. Bd2 b3 23. Rc1 Rb8 24. Rf3 Qa4 25. Rc4 Qa6 26. Qc1 Qc6 27. h3 Rd7 28. Qf1 Qa6 29. f5 exf5 30. Rxf5 gxf5 31. Rg4+ fxg4 32. Qxa6 Ne7 33. e6 fxe6 34. Qa4 Rc7 35. Qxg4+ Ng6 36. Qxe6+ Kh8 37. Nf7+ Kg8 38. Nh6+ Kh8 39. Qg8# 1-0

Richard Rapport is back in business after a slump in form [Picture by Amruta Mokal from Abu Dhabi 2015]

From a rating of 2649 in September 2015, Richie (as he is fondly called) now has a live rating of 2710! This just shows how talented this Hungarian really is.

The extra point that was earned by Rapport was neutralized when Etienne Bacrot beat Zoltan Almasi. It was a Berlin Endgame where the chances were about equal. Bacrot placed his knight on d5, which was a dubious move. Almasi had two options: to take it with his bishop or with the knight. He chose the wrong one and ended up in a lost position within five moves.

[Event "20th European Teams"] [Site "Reykjavik ISL"] [Date "2015.11.15"] [Round "3.3"] [White "Bacrot, Etienne"] [Black "Almasi, Zoltan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C67"] [WhiteElo "2686"] [BlackElo "2689"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "73"] [EventDate "2015.11.13"] [WhiteTeam "France"] [BlackTeam "Hungrary"] [WhiteTeamCountry "FRA"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. dxe5 Nf5 8. Qxd8+ Kxd8 9. h3 h6 10. Nc3 Bd7 11. b3 c5 12. Rd1 Kc8 13. Nd5 g5 14. c4 Be6 15. g4 Ne7 16. Kg2 Ng6 17. Kg3 Bg7 18. Bb2 b6 19. Nf6 Kb7 20. Rd2 a5 21. h4 gxh4+ 22. Nxh4 h5 23. g5 a4 24. f4 axb3 25. axb3 Rxa1 26. Bxa1 Ne7 27. Bc3 Kc6 {[#] A very interesting position has arisen out of the Berlin Wall. The position is round about equal. Now White decides to give up a pawn by playing Nd5?!} 28. Nd5 $6 Bxd5 $6 (28... Nxd5 $1 {This would have given the advantage to Black.} 29. cxd5+ Bxd5 30. Nf5 {Maybe Almasi ended his calculations at this point, thinking that he would have to move his bishop which would allow e6. But here he had a strong move in the form of} h4+ $1 31. Kf2 (31. Kh3 Be6 $19) (31. Nxh4 Ra8 $15) (31. Kh2 Bf8 32. e6 Bxe6 33. Bxh8 Bxf5 $17) 31... Bf8 32. e6 Bxe6 $1 33. Bxh8 Bxf5 $17) 29. cxd5+ Nxd5 30. Bb2 {The threat of Nf5 is followed by e6 is very strong now.} Re8 31. Re2 b5 32. e6 $5 Bxb2 $2 (32... Bf8 {was absolutely necessary.} 33. f5 $14 {White has a nice position, but it is far from being lost for Black.}) 33. exf7 $1 Rf8 34. g6 $1 {The connected passers are just too strong.} Bf6 (34... Kd7 35. Rxb2 $18) 35. Re8 Bxh4+ 36. Kxh4 Nxf4 37. g7 {With this France was able to equalize the scores.} 1-0

Bacrot helped France to equalize the match against Hungary
[picture by Maria Emelianova from the European Club Cup 2015]

The fourth round promised to be very interesting, with the top two seeds Russia and Ukraine facing off against each other.

Standings after three rounds

No. Sd Team
Pts.
MP
Res.
:
Res.
MP
Pts.
Team Sd
1 2 Ukraine
6
4
:
4
Azerbaijan 3
2 1 Russia
6
4
:
4
6
Spain 14
3 4 France
4
2
:
2
3
6
Hungary 7
4 17 Georgia
6
3
2
:
2
3
5
Poland 8
5 15 Serbia
3
3
:
1
3
Netherlands 9
6 16 Croatia
5
3
2
:
2
3
5
England 5
7 11 Norway
4
2
:
2
Armenia 6
8 21 Slovenia
5
2
2
:
2
2
Greece 18
9 19 Turkey
2
3
:
1
2
Iceland 27
10 24 Iceland
2
2
:
2
2
4
Germany 10
11 23 Italy
2
2
:
2
2
Montenegro 29
12 30 Denmark
3
2
:
2
Switzerland 28
13 31 Finland
2
1
:
3
1
Czech Republic 12
14 26 Austria
1
:
1
3
Sweden 22
15 33 Lithuania
1
1
:
3
1
3
Moldova 25
16 34 Faroe Islands
2
0
0
:
4
0
Romania 20
17 32 Belgium
1
0
:
0
Kosovo* 36
18 13 Latvia
2
0
4
:
0
0
0
Scotland 35

Full board results of round three

Highlights from Daniel King

Round four

The biggest battle of round four was the duel between the top two seeds of the event, Russia and Ukraine. The Russians came out on top with a score of 3:1. Svidler was able to beat Ivanchuk and Nepomnaichtchi got the better of Areshchenko.

Marshall or Closed Ruy Lopez? Svidler makes a finally consideration before going for the former.

[Event "20th European Teams"] [Site "Reykjavik ISL"] [Date "2015.11.16"] [Round "4.1"] [White "Ivanchuk, Vassily"] [Black "Svidler, Peter"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C89"] [WhiteElo "2720"] [BlackElo "2745"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "62"] [EventDate "2015.11.13"] [WhiteTeam "Ukraine"] [BlackTeam "Russia"] [WhiteTeamCountry "UKR"] [BlackTeamCountry "RUS"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. c3 d5 {Peter Svidler is surely one of the experts in the Marshall Gambit, but Ivanchuk too has all the knowledge about the latest theoretical updates. Hence, it promised to be a very fighting game.} 9. exd5 Nxd5 10. Nxe5 Nxe5 11. Rxe5 c6 12. d3 Bd6 13. Re1 Bf5 14. Qf3 Re8 (14... Qh4 {is much more popular, but Whie is doing well in this line recently with} 15. g3 Qh3 16. Be3 Bxd3 17. Nd2 $14) 15. Rxe8+ Qxe8 16. Nd2 (16. Qxf5 Qe1#) 16... Qe1+ 17. Nf1 Bg6 18. g3 (18. Bc2 { was Karjakin's choice in the blitz game of the Baku World Cup 2015, and it turned out to be a huge blunder.} b4 $2 (18... Nxc3 $1 {would have ended the game instantly after} 19. bxc3 Qxc3 $19) 19. c4 {1-0 (43) Karjakin,S (2762) -Svidler,P (2727) Baku 2015 The position remained complicated and in the end Svidler lost due to overlooking his hanging rook on the b8 square.}) 18... b4 19. h4 $146 {This is the first new move of the game.} h5 20. c4 Nf6 21. Bd1 ( 21. d4 {was a natural way to play and would have given White a good position. The idea is to break the pin on the last rank with Qd1 without dropping the d3 pawn.}) 21... Re8 22. Bd2 Qe5 23. Rc1 Bc5 (23... Qxb2 {was also possible.}) 24. a3 (24. Qxc6 $5) 24... a5 (24... Ng4 $1 {was very strong attacking the f2 pawn. } 25. axb4 Bxf2+ 26. Kg2 Bd4 $17) 25. axb4 axb4 26. Rc2 Ng4 27. Ne3 Qd6 $1 { Threats like Qxd3 and Ne5 are looming large in this position.} 28. Nxg4 hxg4 29. Qxg4 Bh5 $1 30. Qxh5 Qxg3+ 31. Kh1 Qxf2 {A very fine victory for Svidler who shows that Marshall is still alive.} (31... Qxf2 32. Qg4 Qf1+ 33. Kh2 Bd6+ $19) 0-1

With this victory, Russians are the sole leaders in the open section with 8.0/8 match points. France drew their match against Serbia. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave scored a victory but Edouard Romain lost to Milos Perunovic. Azerbaijan team led by Mamedyarov crushed Turkey 3.5:0.5. The highly interesting battle was the one between England and Armenia.

Aronian came with full confidence after his victory over Magnus Carlsen in round three

What? I am playing the white pieces?!!

Michael Adams was able to show some high quality chess in the Berlin with the white pieces to overcome Aronian. Gabriel Sargissian, who is famed for being an amazing team player, beat David Howell.

The most consistent team player: Gabriel Sargissian

Nigel Short is not having a great time in Iceland, and lost to Hrant Melkumyan

Gawain Jones pulled one back for the team and the match ended in a 2:2 draw

Ferenc Berkes turned out to be the hero for his team
as he beat Gajewski and ensured a 2.5:1.5 victory for Hungary

Baadur Jobava played a beautiful positional game to get the better of Ivan Saric

Baadur Jobava – Ivan Saric

It’s White to play. How did Baadur stay true to his creative genius tag even in this sedate position?

[Event "20th European Teams"] [Site "Reykjavik ISL"] [Date "2015.11.16"] [Round "4.1"] [White "Jobava, Baadur"] [Black "Saric, Ivan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C44"] [WhiteElo "2668"] [BlackElo "2652"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "115"] [EventDate "2015.11.13"] [WhiteTeam "Georgia"] [BlackTeam "Croatia"] [WhiteTeamCountry "GEO"] [BlackTeamCountry "CRO"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. c3 Nf6 4. d4 Nxe4 5. d5 Ne7 6. Nxe5 Ng6 7. Qe2 Qe7 8. Qxe4 Qxe5 9. Qxe5+ Nxe5 10. Bf4 Bd6 11. Bg3 f5 12. Nd2 O-O 13. f4 Ng6 14. O-O-O Bxf4 {White is a pawn down but has much better development. Of course Baadur plays the most ambitious move in the positon, giving up another pawn.} 15. d6 $1 (15. Bxf4 Nxf4 16. d6 $1 $14 {was also very good and maybe even more accurate.}) 15... cxd6 (15... Be3 $5 16. Bc4+ (16. dxc7 f4 $1 $15) 16... Kh8 17. Rhf1 $13) 16. Bxf4 Nxf4 17. g3 Nh5 18. Nc4 d5 19. Nd6 Nf6 20. Bg2 Ne4 21. Rxd5 Nxd6 22. Rxd6 $16 {White is still a pawn down but has the clear advantage because the bishop on c8 cannot develop easily. Baadur played a great game and converted this position into a full point.} Re8 23. Rf1 g6 24. Bd5+ Kh8 25. Kd2 a5 26. Rf4 Re5 27. Rc4 Rb8 28. Rc7 b6 29. c4 Kg7 30. a4 Kf8 31. Rf6+ Ke8 32. Ra7 Re7 33. h4 Rg7 34. Ke3 Ke7 35. Re6+ Kd8 36. Re5 h6 37. Kd4 Rh7 38. h5 Rg7 39. hxg6 Rxg6 40. Re3 Rg7 41. Rf3 Rg6 42. Rxf5 Rxg3 43. Rf8+ Ke7 44. Rf7+ Kd6 45. Rf6+ Ke7 46. Rxh6 Rg4+ 47. Ke5 Rg5+ 48. Kf4 Rg1 49. Be4 Re1 50. b3 Re2 51. Ke5 Kf7 52. Kd6 Rxe4 53. Kc7 Rb7+ 54. Rxb7 Bxb7 55. Kxb7 Re6 56. Rxe6 dxe6 57. Kxb6 e5 58. Kxa5 1-0

Standings after round four

No. Sd Team
Pts.
MP
Res.
:
Res.
MP
Pts.
Team Sd
1 2 Ukraine
6
1
:
3
6
Russia 1
2 4 France
5
2
:
2
5
Serbia 15
3 3 Azerbaijan
8
4
:
½
4
Turkey 19
4 28 Switzerland
7
4
1
:
3
4
Spain 14
5 5 England
7
4
2
:
2
4
8
Armenia 6
6 8 Poland
7
4
:
4
8
Hungary 7
7 17 Georgia
8
4
:
4
7
Croatia 16
8 18 Greece
3
:
3
Netherlands 9
9 12 Czech Republic
3
2
:
2
3
Montenegro 29
10 10 Germany
6
3
:
3
Sweden 22
11 25 Moldova
6
3
:
3
7
Slovenia 21
12 24 Iceland
3
:
3
Italy 23
13 20 Romania
2
3
:
1
2
5
Kosovo* 36
14 30 Denmark
2
1
:
3
2
Norway 11
15 27 Iceland
2
1
:
3
2
6
Latvia 13
16 26 Austria
5
1
:
2
Finland 31
17 33 Lithuania
1
:
0
Belgium 32
18 34 Faroe Islands
2
0
:
½
0
0
Scotland 35

Full board results of round four

Highlights from Daniel King

Women Section

In the women’s section there are three teams that are clearly a notch above the rest. They are Georgia, Russia and Ukraine. In the third round Ukraine and Georgia were paired against each other. It promised to be a well-matched duel. Nana Dzagnidze has always kept the Georgian boat afloat with her scintillating performances recently. In her game against Mariya Muzychuk, however, she fell short and was beaten convincingly. It was a game where the World Champion dominated from the start right until the very end.

[Event "20th European Teams Women"] [Site "Reykjavik ISL"] [Date "2015.11.15"] [Round "3.1"] [White "Muzychuk, Mariya"] [Black "Dzagnidze, Nana"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B41"] [WhiteElo "2542"] [BlackElo "2566"] [PlyCount "69"] [EventDate "2015.11.13"] [WhiteTeam "Ukraine"] [BlackTeam "Georgia"] [WhiteTeamCountry "UKR"] [BlackTeamCountry "GEO"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 a6 5. c4 Nf6 6. Nc3 Qc7 7. a3 b6 (7... Nxe4 8. Nxe4 Qe5 {is an interesting line where Black usually wins a pawn but White gets a huge lead in development.}) 8. Be3 Bb7 9. f3 Be7 10. Rc1 d6 11. Be2 Nbd7 12. O-O O-O 13. b4 {One of the main problems of this hedgehog setup with Black is that White has had absolutely no problems in setting up his pieces. He has developed them with ease and now threatens to connect his rooks and later go Nb3 with the idea of c4-c5 or a4-a5. Hedgehog afficionados will quickly realize that White has easier play than what he is supposed to have in such structures.} Rac8 14. Qe1 Rfe8 15. Qf2 Qb8 16. Rfd1 Bd8 17. g4 $5 { This looks like preparation by Mariya. The plan is surprising but not new. White usually plays on the queenside, but g4-g5 helps White to increase his centre control.} Ne5 18. g5 Nfd7 19. Na4 {The c4 pawn is defended and f4 is threatened.} d5 $5 {Dzagnidze goes for the most natural break. After all flank play must be answered by central play.} 20. cxd5 (20. c5 $5) 20... Rxc1 21. Bxc1 exd5 22. f4 Nc4 (22... b5 $5 23. Nc5 Nxc5 24. bxc5 Nc4 25. Nf5 Rxe4 26. Bf3 $16) 23. exd5 Bxd5 24. Nf5 (24. Nc3 {was even stronger as after} Qb7 25. Nc2 Be6 26. f5 $18 {loses a piece.}) 24... Be6 25. Nxg7 Kxg7 26. Bxc4 Bxc4 27. Rxd7 $18 {White has a winning position.} Kg8 28. Qd4 Bxg5 29. Qxc4 Re1+ 30. Kg2 Qe8 31. Rd5 Bh4 32. Nxb6 Re2+ 33. Kh3 Bf6 (33... Qe6+ 34. f5 Qxb6 35. Qxe2 $18) 34. Qc8 Qxc8+ 35. Nxc8 1-0

Mariya Muzychuk is sending out strong signals to her future World Championship
opponent that she is in excellent form.

Anna Muzychuk (right) drew her game against Bela Khotenashvili

The Georgians were trailing 1.5:0.5 in the match but Lela Javakhishvili…

…and Nino Batsiashvili (left) steadied the sinking ship with two wins, and helped Georgia win the match

That’s the best part about the Georgian team – every player rises to the occasion when it is required to do so! In the fourth round Georgia would face Russia and it was interesting to see who would come out ahead. If Russians were unable to stop them, then it’s very likely that the team led by captain Davit Jojua would become the European champions.

In the third round Russians beat Italy with a score of 3:1. While the score was expected, Valentina Gunina’s loss to Marina Brunello was not. On the fourth table French ladies played really well to score a 4:0 victory over Netherlands.

The Dutch team tried hard but went back empty handed

Standings after round three

No. Sd Team
Pts.
MP
Res.
:
Res.
MP
Pts.
Team Sd
1 2 Russia
6
4
3
:
1
4
7
Italy 15
2 3 Ukraine
6
4
:
4
6
Georgia 1
3 12 Serbia
6
3
:
3
5
Hungary 9
4 10 Netherlands
6
3
0
:
4
3
5
France 5
5 11 Spain
5
3
1
:
3
3
Germany 7
6 8 Romania
3
:
2
5
England 18
7 14 Turkey
2
2
:
2
2
Armenia 6
8 4 Poland
4
2
4
:
0
2
Czech Republic 16
9 13 Azerbaijan
4
2
:
2
5
Latvia 21
10 19 Austria
4
2
3
:
1
2
5
Denmark 26
11 20 Slovenia
3
1
2
:
2
1
Switzerland 24
12 25 Lithuania
3
1
4
:
0
1
2
Montenegro 22
13 23 Norway
0
:
1
2
Sweden 27
14 17 Greece
0
4
:
0
0
0
Finland 30
15 29 Iceland
0
2
:
2
0
Belgium 28

Full board results of round three

Round four

The most important match was definitely the clash of titans Georgia versus Russia. The Georgian women have shown over and over again that they are capable of beating the strongest possible opponents. In the third round, in spite of their top board Nana Dzagnidze losing to Mariya Muzychuk, they won the match 2.5:1.5. But today they had no such fortune. The Russia women came out in an aggressive frame of mind and trounced the Georgian team 3.5:0.5! Only Dzagnidze was able to draw her game. Apart from her everyone else lost.

Aleksandra Goryachkina won her game against Meri Arabidze

Valentina Gunina won against Nino Batsiashvili

Kateryna Lagno got the better of Bela Khotenashvili

Two teams who have been doing very well are the French and Romanian women. They both are on 7.0/8. France will face Russia in the fifth round while the Romanian team takes on Ukraine. In a way Russia have become the favourites to win the title thanks to beating Georgia. But they still have to face Ukraine. We can look forward to some exciting stuff in the women’s section.

Standings after round four

No. Sd Team
Pts.
MP
Res.
:
Res.
MP
Pts.
Team Sd
1 1 Georgia
6
½
:
6
9
Russia 2
2 5 France
9
5
3
:
1
5
Hungary 9
3 7 Germany
5
:
5
7
Romania 8
4 15 Italy
8
4
½
:
4
Ukraine 3
5 21 Latvia
4
:
4
8
Poland 4
6 19 Austria
7
4
:
3
Serbia 12
7 10 Netherlands
6
3
3
:
1
3
Turkey 14
8 25 Lithuania
7
3
½
:
3
6
Spain 11
9 18 England
2
1
:
3
3
Armenia 6
10 24 Switzerland
2
2
:
2
2
Greece 17
11 13 Azerbaijan
2
:
2
5
Norway 23
12 26 Denmark
6
2
2
:
2
2
5
Slovenia 20
13 16 Czech Republic
2
4
:
0
1
Belgium 28
14 27 Sweden
1
2
:
2
1
Iceland 29
15 30 Finland
0
0
1
:
3
1
2
Montenegro 22

Full board results of round four

Pictures by Hrafn Jökulsson on the official facebook page of ETCC 2015


Links

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Topics European Team

Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant and would like to become the first CA+GM of India. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder of the ChessBase India website.
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Zvonet Zvonet 11/17/2015 05:17
"Mariya Muzychuk is sending out strong signals to her future World Championship
opponent that she is in excellent form."

Indeed! Please have a look at http://en.chessbase.com/post/hou-yifan-wins-monaco-by-two-points.
1