Belgian League – Round 8

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Bad day for Europchess 1 but nice victories for the Europchess 2 and 3!

NLS 1 – Europchess 1: 6-2

For Interclubs Round 8 on 12 February, Europchess 1 travelled to Lommel in North Limburg to play against NLS.  NLS started the day at the bottom of Division 2B, and were highly motivated to score some match points and move out of relegation danger.  NLS had an edge for most of the afternoon, and after some closely fought games the final score was a 6-2 defeat for Europchess. The first game to finish was on Board 5.  Jozsef Barta, with Black against Jan Lagrain, needed to get back to Brussels as early as possible, and was thus obliged to play his moves faster than he might have liked.  The players castled on opposite sides, and Lagrain found it easier to manoeuvre his pieces because of Jozsef’s blockaded centre pawns.  Jozsef defended stubbornly until the time control, but by that stage the White pressure was too strong.  1-0 for NLS. On Board 2, Tom Wiley had White against Jelle Sarrau.  Tom gained a space advantage from the opening, but Sarrau organised his pieces effectively and arranged a freeing pawn break.  Tom was obliged to liquidate most of the pieces and pawns.  The resulting position was a rook and minor piece ending with four pawns against four on the same side of the board, so a draw was agreed.  The score became 1.5-0.5. On Board 1, Timothy Binham, with Black against Nils Nijs, sacrificed a pawn for long-term pressure on the queen-side.  Tim followed up with a pawn break in the centre, but made an incorrect recapture after underestimating his opponent’s best response.  Compensation for the pawn evaporated, and Black’s position gradually became untenable.  2.5-0.5 to NLS. Jeno Czuczai and his Board 4 opponent, Yordi Schaeken (2156), played in an English opening almost symmetrically for the first twenty moves.  Then Jeno mobilised his centre pawns, gained space advantage and put huge pressure on his opponent’s Queen side, which Schaeken was simply unable to follow suit.  White had a significant advantage after three hours of play, gained a pawn in the middle game, but in the long time scramble made a mistake because Jeno exchanged two moves: at move 29 instead of taking the d5 pawn simple by  his c pawn (which would have given almost an automatic endgame with victory for Jeno (see: analysis on the miniature), Jeno took the pawn (since he had just less than 1 minute for 9 moves) with the knight, and thus   Schaeken was able to sacrifice the exchange on d5 in order to drive Jeno’s king in front of its own pawns.  This was the very last trick of Schaeken in fact in a lost game, since Jeno’- king after that could not be saved, and the score became 3.5-0.5 for the home team.

White moved 30. Nxd5 (??), which led to 30. -, Rxd5 31. cxd5 Qxd5+ 32. Kh3 g5 33. Qd1 g4+ 34. Kh4 Bf6, 34. Kh5 Qg2 (0:1). The best continuation was: 30. cxd5 Rxd5 and 31. Rbc1!.  Or 30. -, Bd4. 31. Rbc1! too (31 -, Qd6 doesn’t work because of 32. Qxd4+  and in case of 31 -, Qb6  32. Nc4 is strong) 31. -, Qa7, 32. Qxa7 Bxa7 33. Rxc8 Rxc8 34. d6! exd6, 35. Nd5 Kg7 35.e7 Kf7 36. Nc7! with a winning andgame.

Very unfortunate defeat, a game in which Jeno simply outplayed his opponent that was also admitted by him after the game. Eduardo Semanat Planas played with Black on Board 7 against Albert Schenning.  With original play, Eduardo managed to unbalance the position; White had a protected passed pawn on d5 whereas Black had his own protected passed pawn on e4.  Both players tried to dominate open lines on the king-side, and Eduardo had to jettison pawns in order to stay active.  After tranposition to a queen endgame, White seemed to have a winning advantage, but Eduardo kept his queen sufficiently active to force a draw by perpetual check.  4-1 for NLS. Mattias Johansson played very solidly with White against Wessel Van Kessel on Board 8  White’s neater pawn formation was balanced by the activity of Black’s minor pieces in the centre.  Neither player could find a way to create winning chances, so the game was agreed drawn, making the score 4.5-1.5. Georgi Tomov, with Black on Board 3 against Roy Schoemans, once again had the chance to show off his rook endgame skills.  In a single-rook endgame with a slightly better pawn structure, Georgi pressed for a long time.  Schoemans, however, defended actively and both sides created connected passed pawns.  The position of the kings meant that neither set of pawns could force its way through to promotion, and the inevitable exchange of pawns meant that a draw was agreed.  5-2. For the first three hours of play Pierre Fogel, playing White on Board 6 against Bobby Fijlstra, seemed to be on the way to victory.  His queen-side play was much faster than Fijlstra’s counter on the king-side, and he gained the structural advantage of a protected passed pawn on d5 against a weak isolated pawn on b7.  In the run-up to the time control, however, Fijlstra found a nice queen sacrifice that allowed him to create protected passed pawns on the seventh rank.  Play then moved into an endgame where Fijlstra had an extra piece and then, after this piece was sacrificed for two pawns, to a pawn ending where both players needed to calculate long variations.  Finally Pierre’s passed pawn was caught by the Black king, whereas the White king could not capture either of the remaining Black pawns without allowing the other to queen.  Hence the final score was 6-2 in favour of NLS.

Caissa Europe 3 – Europchess 2: 0-4

The second team, leader of division 4 D, played in Mons/Jemappes against Caissa Europe 3, ranked 9 before the round, and made a clean sweep of it: 4-0! Since the main contender for overall first place in the division, CREB 2, surprisingly lost ground by losing 1½-2½ to number 10, Opwijk 2, Europchess 2 took a big step towards third division this Sunday. The second team is now three match points clear of Woluwe 1 in second place. But nothing is decided yet, and focus is more than ever needed for the remaining three rounds in which at least three match points, and possibly even four, are needed to secure first place. Of course, the next match at home against Woluwe 1 is crucial! Serge Le Gal (1792) playing White against Kyriakos Pitropakis (1601) succeeded in untangling from a somewhat uncomfortable position in the opening by exchanging queens and giving a pawn for clear positional compensation (superior minor pieces). When Serge’s opponent let him regain the sacrificed pawn and was unable to prevent Serge’s king from invading Black’s position, there wasn’t much doubt anymore about the final result, and it was all over fairly quickly after that: 1-0. Kristian Pade Frederiksen (1937) played Black against Johan Cloes (1631). White played a gambit, which is considered dubious by theory, but dangerous in practical play. Black fended off White’s initiative fairly easily and had reached the safe haven of an endgame a pawn up for nothing substantial when two indecisive moves squandered most of Black’s advantage. However, White made the error of bashing out moves quickly in his opponent’s time trouble and was outplayed, losing two pawns: 2-0. Jozsef Molnar (2131) played Black against Benoit Wery (1859). White played very passively, and Jozsef equalised without too many problems, except for using up a lot of time on the clock. Luckily, his opponent used up even more time! In a big scramble in the run up to the first time control, Jozsef finally got the upper hand when he was able to decisively weaken the pawn shelter of White’s king. The final touch to the game was an innocuous looking queen retreat by Jozsef, containing the threat of a simple knight fork, winning White’s queen. With seconds remaining on the clock, White completely missed this and duly resigned: 3-0. John Riksten (2075) had the white pieces against Thorsten Muxfeldt (1854). After the opening, the game was level, when Black tactically misjudged and played an otherwise positionally desirable d6- d5 pawn break. The pawn was lost, and John conducted the ensuing heavy piece, double rook and rook endgames confidently, wrapping up the game with a nice zugzwang situation in which Black chose to resign rather than losing further material with depressing positional prospects: 4-0.

Deux Fous Diogene 2 – Europchess 3

On the 3rd board, Sergio first defeated Audrey  Hecq (not rated) with Black. In a king pawn opening, the 20th move revealed to be fatal for Whites, after a strong attack on their King’s fianchetto, addressed by his two bishops and the knight. White was obliged to put his Queen in front of the King to avoid mate and thus lost her, just before losing also the bishop, and then giving up (1-0). On board 1 Luis with black replied with the Dragon variation of the Sicilian against Bertrand Collignon (1635). Instead of playing f3, as in the typical yugoslavian attack, to protect the black sqares bishop, his opponent played g3 followed by Queen to d2 which got the bishop trapped for an exchange for the knight blocking the Dragon bishop. With no possibility to neutralize the Dragon bishop and white castled in the Queen side, the Yugoslavian attack from white was doom for failure while everything was open for an attack to the white fortress. At the right moment, black exchanged his Dragon bishop for getting a position in which black was to win two pawns without Queens and knights on the board, the white king hanging in front of the two black rooks and the rest of white pawns isolated. White was forced under this position to abandon (2-0). Vladymyr on board 2 played an English opening against Mikaël Brouwers (1553). After an equilibrated start and some exchange of pieces, Black quite early, at 19th move offered draw, but White refused since the opponent was weaker (on paper) and so far the position was still good and worthwhile to play on. But White had later some weakness in the centre with a backward a2 pawn providing problems in the defense. The pressure became too hard and Black managed to gain material which he converted into a win (2-1). On the last board Benjamin faced the young and unpredictable Zakariya Kassabeh (not rated), who played Sicilian defense. Black first lost a knight, and managed to castle only at move 19. But just afterwards White created an important passed pawn. The rest was just a question of patience and of exchange of pieces to simplify the game, although Benjamin always had to pay attention to some hidden threats from his opponent. But finally, he finished with a nice mate combination (3-1).

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