Europchess started well in the first round of the new Interclubs season. E 1 beat Gent 3 with a convincing 6:2 and E 2 prevailed over Opwijk 2 with 3:1. Only E 3 suffered a narrow defeat against Opwijk 3 (1,5 – 2, 5).
Playing in the nice “Chesshouse” in Gent, the first team had the honour to see its games broadcast online. And our players lived up to public expectations with exciting and strong chess. On board 2, Tom Wiley faced a no-show from Pieter-Jan Bonte (2160), pocketing the first victory after an hour. This followed by a series of three more wins at boards 6, 7 and 8 around the third hour. Jenö Czuczai with Black on board 7 played a solid opening against Vincent Vercruysse (1916), allowing some pressure over the e-file against a backward pawn. When White wanted to free himself by pushing the pawn to e4, the ensuing exchanges favoured Black. Jenö first pocketed the exchange and after a few moves the full point. On board 8, Jozsef Barta surprised his opponent Thomas Desmyter (1909) already on move 2 with a novelty against the French defence (!). In the middlegame, it seems as if Black had equalised, but he then made a somewhat dubious sacrifice. Jozsef repulsed the Black attack and despite a less than optimal continuation he won the following sharp position thanks to superior play. Frank Hoffmeister, on board 6, got an early opening advantage with White against Yves Regniers (1941). Black suffered from black-square weaknesses on both wings, and when he wanted to free himself, he first lost a pawn and then an exchange. With this confortable 4-0 lead, Georgi on board 4 agreed to draw with White against David Du Pont (2096) a double bishop ending with too slight of advantage to go for the full point. On board 1, Timothy Binham had completely equalised against Henrik Ponnet (2260), one talented youngster from Landeghem. In timetrouble of both, he even won the exchange vs. bishop and a protected passed pawn. However, before playing the winning 40th moving his flag fell. This bad luck was partially compensated on board 5, where Matija Suskovic had rejected the draw offer of Leoni Gorshkov (2060) after only 6 moves! Matija went for complications in the exchange French with Black, but got a cramped position with an uncastled king. He came back into the game around move 30, but then lost a piece in zeitnot. While the ending seemed lost, White played a careless exchange of the remaining heavy pieces. This allowed Matija to eliminate White’s remaing pawn and secure the draw. And finally, on board 3, Carl-Christian Buhr went over the entire distance in a closed Sicilian. The game looked very equal, with slight positional advantage for Carl. In the 6th hour, however, his opponent Gilles Regniers (2101) allowed him to penetrate his position and even to checkmate. This completed a resounding 6:2 start and secured a promising 2nd rank in Division 2 B.
The second team was equally convincing in Opwijk 2. Pierre Fogel, Jozsef Molnar and Mattias Johannson all won – only Luis Parreira had to give in. On board 4 (Mattias) after the opening black had a very advanced pawn that disrupted the coordination of white’s pieces. However, Mattias with the white pieces could win this pawn when black did not find the find the best continuation in the most critical part of the middle game. This material advantage combined with a very strong bishop pair was converted into a full point in the endgame.
For the third team, Serge LeGal played a fine game with Black on board 1. Despite losing a pawn after the opening he could exert some pressure with his bishops, effectively undermining White’s pawn chain. Once he collected them one by one, he also won the entire game. On board 2, Luis Carlos Perez Busquets faced with white a French defense and responded, as Nimzowitsch liked, with the advance variation. When he reached a position were operations on the queenside were blocked, he launched a powerful attack on the kingside which was to quickly resolve the game. His opponent tried to stop the attack with f5 blocking the white-square bishop. Luis took the pawn en passant thus loosing an opportunity to win the exchange. Finally, the match resulted in a draw. On board 3 Paris Sansoglou opted for a French Defense and played an aggressive variation. However, his Queen got under pressure and he lost a pawn. The pressure continued and things just got progressively worse and he lost the game. On Board 4, Benjamin Musall, who played his first game in Europchess, managed to keep a balanced position in the opening but he suffered a double attack on a Rook and the Queen that cost him a quality (Rook for a Bishop). Later he couldn’t prevent the exchange of Queens that made his material disadvantage decisive.