Round 4 – All four teams on good track
In round 4 abroad, the four teams scored together seven match points. Only Europchess 1 conceded a draw.
Playing against Boitsfort, Europchess 1 was nominally stronger on all boards except board 1. However, the home team played very well that day, leading to a very tight match. On board 8, Ismo Ulvila had White against G. Fox (1712). Black took a gambit pawn in the opening but White got positional compensation. In order to develop his queenside Fox gave back the pawn, which gave Ismo winning chances. However, Ismo grabbed a second pawn too early, allowing his opponent to force a draw by repetition of moves. On board 6, Jozsef Barta went into a complicated opening struggle with White against A. Silovy (1782). Black sacrificed a piece to get three strong centre pawns. In a complicated position he offered a draw, which Jozsef accepted as his pieces were not coordinated well enough to put the opposing pawns in danger. Another draw on board 5 followed from Matija Suskovic against D.-E. Philippe (2102). Matija tried to get play on the kingside and accepted a backward pawn on e6 for this. When his initiative did not bear fruit, however, he settled for a just draw. Martin Müller on board 7 had for a long time a very equal position against Yves Herpigny (1735). In the rook ending, though, Martin got the upper hand and scored the full point. Unfortunately, this lead did not last very long as Georgi Tomov had to give in on the first board against IM Bruno Carlier (2434). Georgi sacrificed a pawn in the opening with black, but the line proved to be less promising than expected. White consolidated his position with a number of carefully prepared exchanges and finally converted his material advantage to the full point. In this situation, Mourad de Villers (2217) offered a draw to Tim Binham on board 3. Tim had played with the isolated d-pawn and tried to attack White’s king with the pawn storm g5 and h5. Given the risks involved in further attack, Tim settled for the draw. On board 4, Frank Hoffmeister played a queenless middlegame with White against Eric van Uytven (2151). The game never left the draw margin, with each player conceding a backward pawn on a half-open file. Frank was better on time, but his opponent continued very accurately to move 41, after which a draw was agreed. This left the match with Tom Wiley on board 2 against Bruno Lacroix (2219). Tom played on the c-file against Black’s c6-pawn, but with reduced material Black held the position easily. After time control Tom accepted a draw in the rook ending, as any attempt to win would have entailed dangerous counter-chances for his opponent. So, in the end a 4:4 match result was settled. Europchess 1 now has four match points out of a possible eight, settling in the middle of the table in seventh place.
The 2nd team was weakened as Eduardo Semanat Planas could not show up due to a family urgency. Despite the forfeit on board 1 the rest of the team managed to win the match! It was indeed a really close match because the first results of the day were Luis’ loss and Mattias’ draw. Luis shortly after having defended a difficult position for a while, just at the moment when he could definitely equalize he made a mistake and finally he lost. Mattias’ game was never really out of balance. That left three games that needed to be won. First it was Pere who managed to win after having had the upper hand for a long time. Shortly after that John also won his game. His opponent kept on the pressure for a long time but finally opted for opening the centre and that gave John a possibility of a counterstrike. The knight on b5 that had troubled John for a long time was suddenly very far away from the action while the defending bishop became the most dangerous piece on the board that secured the win in five or six moves. Kristian had a complicated position in mutual time trouble. After the dust had settled at move 40 the team expected to stay in Liege still for quite some time but 5 moves later it was over. A victory for Kristian and a great day for the team! This brings Europchess to the unexpected 2nd rank in Division 3 C with 5 points.
Also the 3rd team showed remarkable fighting spirit. Lacking two stem players, the team nevertheless delivered a clear 3.5-0.5 win. Piotr Rapacz with white on board 4 was the first to finish. He faced Kwinten De True (ELO 1240) and just in the beginning he pinned the dark-square bishop in e7 obliging the black king to stay in the middle, which resulted in setting Europchess 3 in the good direction with the first victory for the team. Luis C. Busquets Pérez also with white on board 2 faced Hakob Vardanyan (ELO 1662). His opponent started with a dubious opening giving a pawn but certainly not in a gambit as white continued to have the initiative the whole match until just a bishop and a knight where in the board. Although Luis’s bishop was the bad one, it kept the knight restraint. A bad move of his opponent condemned its piece and black surrendered. This brought Europchess to ensuring a draw with two matches still to finish. Iñaki Arévalo with black on board 3 was the one to bring the victory to Europchess. He faced Luc Matthijs (ELO 1658). Soon in the opening he gave a pawn in exchange for more active pieces. In a middlegame with all rooks and queens and a knight vs a bishop on the board he found a very nice combination against an over-advanced position of white. This victory is special for him as he is just leaving for a delegation and he will have to time to remember how he brought glory to Europchess 3 during the next five years. Finally Ventsislav Petrov faced with white Dirk Flamée (ELO 1749). The middlegame resulted in his couple of knights fighting against a knight and a bishop and the theoretical discussion of what is better in that case. After simplification of minor pieces his opponent exchanged rooks resulting in a drawn pawn position and the opponents signed peace with Europchess victory already achieved. These important two match points have lifted the team up to 8th rank in Division 4 D.
Finally, the 4th team came home with two match points from Burcht 3. Kalojan was the first to accept the surrender of his opponent. He played with white against Van Esbroeck. After a standard opening he first won a pawn and then an exchange by a knight fork. Black resigned after an exchange of queens had taken away all possibility of counter play. Benjamin kept the position on the board balanced. During the middlegame he even had some promising attacking chances on the queenside but his opponent managed to simplify the position considerably which resulted in a draw. Paris had a balanced game and managed to win one knight for a pawn. He kept on pressing his opponent, gained another bishop and won the game. Jesper was under heavy attack in a closed Caro –Kann. He managed to stop the attack and create a weakness as the opponent’s king did not castle. The game went into an endgame where Jesper had three pawns for a Knight and then draw was agreed. The five match points already secure an interesting 4th rank in Division 5 K.