Europchess 2 beats the closest competitor!
In Round 9, the first team secured a draw against Namur. The second team scored a probably decisive win in Division 4 D against Woluwé 1, keeping a three-point lead for the two remaining rounds. The third team lost against Woluwé 3.
In Division 2 B, the first team met one of the strongest francophone teams, Namur, with a player average of 2206 ELO, currently ranked second in Division 2B. Tom Wiley on board defended with the Black pieces against Marc Geenen (2290) in a long theoretical variation. Although Tom lost the right to castle, the position got drawish in view of several exchanges of minor pieces, leaving only opposite-coloured bishops. The players hence concluded a peace treaty. On board 4, Frank Hoffmeister faced Luc Henris (2226) known for his aggressive gambit style. Indeed, Frank’s opponent gave a pawn in the opening for an active position with several threats against the Black’s castled King. After some haircutting complications an ending was reached, where Black still was a pawn up but had no time to capitalise on it and settled for a draw through repetition of moves. Georgi Tomov on board 3 overcame Eric Denayer (2255) in a nice game with White. When his opponent tried to seize the initiative on the king side, Georgi created serious threats, and then simplified the position with a huge positional advantage and an extra pawn. This proved sufficient to pocket the full point before the time control. 2-1 for Europchess! Jenö Czuczai on board 5 then added to this advantage with a victory over Maxime Marie (2220). In a complicated middlegame, Jenö had achieved some static space advantage on the queenside with White, while the kingside remained dynamic. He then won the exchange, but Black possessed two dangerous extra pawns in compensation. When Jenö got short of time, Black tried to “outblitz” him, not noting his moves although he had more than 30 minutes left while Jeno had only 1 minute for 5 moves. Jeno finally made the 40 moves within the time control. Then he activated one of his rooks to Black’s 7th rank, and two moves later Black ran into a nice mating combination and gave up. Congratulations to Jeno for his nice victory, who has thus 5,5 from 9 games! 3-1 for Europchess! Our winning streak with White could have continued on board 1 with Timothy Binham. He had outplayed Julien Laurent (2331) in the opening and landed a confortable middlegame advantage with a pawn majority on the queenside which would win every ending. However, during Tim’s time trouble, Black’s queen arrived at e2, triggering Tim to engage into a repetition of moves to get to the time control. After the control, his opponent rightly claimed that the same position had arisen and the game was drawn. On board 8, Mattias Johannson got a passive position after the opening with Black against Thierry Verspecht (2075). Mattias tried to ease the pressure and seemed to have survived after the exchange of queens, but White continued to control the board with his two bishops. When he also invaded Black’s position over the open d-file, Black collapsed and had to give up, bringing the standing to 3,5 – 2,5. Pere Moles Palleja on board 7 then secured the match point with White against Ivan Werner (2085). In a very balanced position Pere first tried to win by pushing his protected passed pawn so that his rook could enter Black’s position. However, upon closer examination it showed that Black would re-win the pawn with probably even better play. Pere thus decided to go for the safest way to draw by exchanging the rooks to an equal pawn ending. In the last game, Jozsef Barta faced Victor-Angel Bolzoni (2216) with Black. After an equal opening White deflected Black’s queen with a pawn sacrifice in order to arrange a rook lift to the kingside which won the exchange. In the ensuing endgame, Jozsef tried to hold with a bishop and pawn against the rook. However, White was able to create a passed pawn which cost the bishop, bringing in the final standing to 4:4. Europchess 1 is now ranked 6th in Division 2B.
The second team beat their closest competitors from Woluwé 1 with 2,5-1,5. On board 1, Pierre Fogel gained positional advantage after the opening against Nicolas Rauta (1989). However, rather than going for a long positional struggle, Pierre fancied with the idea of a king’s attack. Black defended accurately and settled a draw through perpetual check against Pierre’s king. Luis Parreira on board 3 contributed the second half point against Jens Frederiksen (1876). After a tense opening, the players exchanged a lot of material, and in the rook/minor piece ending none of them had the chance to push for a win, leading to a just draw. This led attention to the second board, where our top scorer Jozsef Molnar played Black against Raymond van Melsen (1926). Jozsef’s position did not look very promising after the opening, but he managed to win two pawns at the queenside later on. He simplified the position and in the ending pushing the two extra-pawns was enough to win the game, this match and probably also the season! On board 4, Kristian Pade Frederiksen completed the team’s performance with a tactical draw with Black against Colin Gilbert (1802). While Kristian had outplayed White with two connected free pawns at e3 and d3 (!), his opponent somehow held the position and managed to create threats with this queen against Kristian’s king. Falling short of time, Kristian had to give back material, and while still having better winning chances accepted a draw offer to seal the two match points. With this important win Europchess 2 is leading Division 4 D with 3 points ahead. In other words: the team only needs one match point out of the remaining two rounds to move up to Division 3.
The third team lost 1-3 against the youngsters from Woluwé 3. On board 4, Paris Sansoglou faced a tough game against Pavlos Mouratidis (1023), the only adult player in the team. White caught Paris’ bishop on the board, and with a piece down it was difficult to create counter play. Later on White increased its material advantage and mated Paris in the ending. Unfortunately, also José Maria Ramos on board 1 lost his game with White against Manolis Grigoriou (1683). José Maria’s opening was too tame to create significant problems for Black. In the beginning of his time trouble José Maria then lost a pawn and when Black invaded his second rank with a rook the position got hard to defend. With a 0-2 in the back Sergio Serrano Samper and Jeremy Rand tried their best to bring Europchess 3 back into the match. Sergio seemed to have achieved this when a repulsed an attack to his king from Christos Mouratidis (1340) at the second board, and arrived at a double rook ending with two pawns up. However, due to a lack of concentration, he ran into some sort of “self-mate” which cost him a full rook. Luckily though, White did not find the best continuation either and thanks to a passed pawn and very bad position of White’s king, a draw through perpetual check was the final result. As the match was thus lost, Jeremy Rand agreed to draw his ending against Daniel Gomez (1310). Jeremy had played a calm opening with White with full equality on the board. Both players then exchanged almost all pieces except a pair of knights and pawns on both wings. While either player could have gone after the opponent’s pawns with unclear play to follow, they both preferred to keep the situation stable. Europchess 3 is now in the middle of Division 5 L.