Europchess 1 strikes back while Europchess 2 suffers in a dramatic round
The third round clarified options for the Europchess teams: while the first team got a superb 4-0, the second was defeated (1-3).
Eduardo on the first board on Europchess 1 faced with white Marc Hanset (ELO 1854). After a non-clear game he pocketed the first point for Europchess 1.
Frank on board 2 played with Black against Errol Delcourt (1742). His opponent tried to simplify in the opening and allowed Frank to take the initiative with an early knight sacrifice on f2. He got back the material with interest, as White’s king was exposed over the open g-file. With another tactical strike Frank then pocketed two pawns and later on the second point for the first team.
Pere Moles, played with White against Debusschere (1775) and faced a sort of hippopotamus strategy that eventually led to a French structure with the black king well defended. Pere gained space in the king flank and tried to open lines in the queenside. After a natural move that was a big inaccuracy, Pere lost almost all the advantage. After thinking more than half an hour, Pere found a way to keep the pressure. His opponent sacrificed an exchange for a pawn to get rid of a Pere’s knight in d6 but that proved to be a mistake because Pere managed to tie the black pieces, keep a pawn in h6 creating mating chances, occupy the only open column and activate his dark bishop. Black’s position quickly collapsed and he abandoned in view of the unstoppable mate. (1-0)
Svet Andreev started confidently with black against Olivier Demat (ELO 1719). However, by playing somewhat hastily, he missed a tactical move of his opponent conceding an exchange. Fortunately, he succeeded in making the position dynamic with two bishops and an active knight. His opponent could not find the best moves and returned the exchange. The position was much better for black and Svet managed to eventually win material and the game.
The second team faced a stronger team than the first. Johannes Bertram, playing with White, had an interesting opponent in Saint-Ghislain’s Vairis Kurpnieks (FIDE 2048) from Latvia, who apparently had a 2400+ rating in the past, before a longer period of inactivity. Kurpnieks played a rare and sharp opening line, which he knew extremely well, having played thematic correspondence tournaments on it up to World Championship level – with success. Not surprisingly, Johannes quickly came under pressure, when his opponent temporarily sacrificed a rook on a8 for a powerful initiative. Johannes managed to keep the position as balanced as possible for a while, but consumed a lot of time. In severe time trouble, he lost control of the still complicated position and came under a decisive mating attack, which his knight, still stranded on a8, could only contemplate from far away. (0-1)
Luis Parreira played with white against Philippe Lombart (ELO 1995), a player that a few years ago had close to 2200 Elo. For Luis, this was the opportunity to take revenge for the defeat he suffered against the same opponent in the last round of the Damnés tournament; a defeat that prevented Luis from finishing first ex-aequo in that tournament. The game did not start well for a white as he never got compensation for a sacrificed pawn. Early on, Luis exchanged bishop and knight for a rook keeping black in clear command of the game. Then, a series of passive moves by black gave white the opportunity to gain one pawn getting two dangerous connected passed pawns. Now with the advantage, Luis made some inaccurate moves allowing black to reach promotion with a checkmate threat that could not be stopped by white’s newly promoted queen.
Luis Carlos with black faced a d4-opening from Jean-Christophe Thierry (ELO 1986). The middle game resulted in a non-dynamic position in which his opponent made a mistake that Luis Carlos failed to materialise. Both players reached less than 15 minutes with 22 moves to go but the game was lost and Luis Carlos scored the third defeat for the team.
Vladymyr played as it is usually the case at 4th board with Blacks against Adelin Godry (1651, Saint-Ghislain 1). After having conceded some weakness on his d6 pawn, he emerged with a nice counter-attack with his two bishops on Whites king’s file, which had not castled yet. His opponent had either to suffer a strong attack directly on the king or, as he did, to give up a bishop. The pair of black bishops continued then their threat on white rooks, which lead to an exchange of pieces. With one final net rook advantage, Vladymyr still just had to carefully manage his position up to the gain of the game and saved the honour of the second team.
Europchess 1 is 0,5 points behind the leader of its division while Europchess 2 is 1 point behind its leader. Although everything is possible, both teams depend on their rivals’ performance on the last round for their final classification.