In the final round 11, Europchess 1 played at home against Wachtebeke 3. As we were leading Division 5 E with a single point in front of Geraardsbergen 2, everything depended on a good performance on this day.
On Board 1, Frank had White against Cor Provoost (1743). After 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 d6 3. c4 the latter played the highly unusual 3… e5, followed by 4. dxe5 Ne4!? Rather than taking on d6, which would have allowed Black decent counterplay for the pawn, Frank complicated matters with 5. Qd5?! Bf5 6. exd6 Nxd6 7. Bg5. After the careless response 7… f6 8. Bf4 Nc6?, the opponent effectively lost a piece with 9. Bxd6 Bxd6 10. Qxf5, and the game was practically over. White simply developed and Black did not have the slightest attacking chance. Faced with the loss of another pawn, he resigned on move 18. 1-0 for Europchess!
Playing White on Board 3 against Koen Dhuyvetter (1672), József started with 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. c3 Nf6 5. d3 0-0 6. b4 Bb6 7. b5 Na5 8. Nxe5 and gave two pieces for a rook and two pawns after 8… d6 9. Nxf7 Rxf7 10. Bxf7+ Kxf7. In the ensuing middlegame, Joszef pushed his e-pawn to e6,k protected another f5-pawn. On the other hand, the opponent’s pieces were well in control of the open files and the position looked rather equal. But József put his two rooks effectively behind the e- and f-pawn, thereby creating new threats.
After two weak moves of the opponent, József effectively penetrated the 7th rank with a rook and got a winning position. One move before the unavoidable mate, Black gave up. 2-0 for Europchess!
Thomas had Black against Ulrik Wulgaert (1160) on board 4. White played the d-pawn and fianchettoed his bishop to g2. However, rather than playing the normal Catalan c4 at some stage, White played Nc3. Thomas exploited that masterly with an attack against the c2 pawn, and won it without compensation already in the opening. In the middlegame, Thomas continued to pressure his opponent over the open b-file against the backward b2-pawn. Taking no risk for any counterplay, Black entirely dominated the board. After another set of precise moves, White abandoned the hopeless endgame. 3-0 for Europchess!
The most difficult game of the day was played by Jenő with Black on Board 2 against Thomas Verschraegen (1673). White played Aljechin’s 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. e5 Nd7 6. h4?! Jenö’s response 6… a6 was countered by 7. Qg4 exercising some pressure on the Kingside. Jenő defended with 7… Rg8 and later on exchanged the bishop and the Queen. He tried to organise counterplay over the c-file, but White played very carefully. After the exchange of the rooks, the endgame with a white knight against Black’s white squared bishop looked very equal. With less time on the clock, Jenő offered a draw, which his opponent accepted. Final result: 3.5-0.5!
Since Geraardsbergen only played 2-2 against Dworp 2 (which we had defeated with 4-0), this victory secured us the first place in Division 5 E, qualifying Europchess for the 4th division next year!
Ps.: Europchess 2 had BYE this weekend. They have already secured the first place in the previous round.