Europchess 1 – Leuven 1 : 6.5 – 1.5 +++ Europchess 2 – Leuven 2 : 4 – 2 +++ Europchess 3 – Leuven 3 : 2.5 – 1.5 +++ Europchess 4 – Tournai 2 : 3.5 – 0.5
Golden October for Europchess – In round 2 of 19 October 2014, all four teams won at home, constituting probably the best performance of our club history so far!
Europchess 1 wins with large margin over Leuven 1 in a tough fight
Leuven 1 arrived with a strong team consisting of almost only +2000 Elo players, promising a tough fight. And indeed, after the first two hours it looked as if Jozsef Barta and Martin Müller had gotten into worse positions, whereas on our side only Frank Hoffmeister and Timothy Binham held positional advantages with the other players having equal or unclear positions. But the longer the afternoon lasted, the more the match tilted towards our side. Before the time control, Frank Hoffmeister converted his better ending with a strong knight against a weak bishop against Eddy van Espen (2087) into a full point after having won two pawns on Black’s weakened queenside: 1-0.
Soon afterwards, Georgi Tomov’s opponent Benjamin Tonoli (2227) resigned with White after a wild tactical game, in which Georgi had sacrificed a lot of material to get White’s king out in the open field: 2-0.
On board 1, Carl Buhr followed with a draw against Leuven’s star, Maurice Peek (2375). Carl had chosen a calm opening with White, but seemed to get under pressure in a symmetrical middlegame without Queens. With precise play, he went into a pawn ending which was drawn: 2.5-0.5.
This comfortable lead allowed Tim Wiley to draw with Black against Jonas Verheyden (2148). White played super-solid, but did not strive for an advantage either. When the minor pieces were exchanged, the draw was agreed: 3.0-1.0.
In the meantime, the “sorrow-child” of this afternoon, Jozsef Barta, somehow got counter-chances against Christiaan van Hul (2062) with Black. After roughly 20 moves, Jozsef had been overplayed and was a full exchange down without any compensation. However, with the remaining rook, bishop and knight, Jozsef created threats against White’s king, when White displaced his own bishop to the queenside. This earned him the exchange back and – due to opposite coloured bishops – also half a point: 3.5-1.5.
Timothy Binham with White on board 3 then clinched the match points with a convincing win over Karl Ceulemans (2158). Tim had been building a slight advantage on the white squares since the opening and Black remained rather passive. Once Tim’s heavy pieces invaded Black’s position, he could not avoid either mate or losing material: 4.5-1.5.
On board 7, Martin Müller had also come back from a somewhat unclear position where he had given a piece for two pawns and attacking chances with White. But Black defended well and seemed off the hook, when Martin pushed his central pawns, creating new threats. Patrick Delanoeije (2003) did not see any other possibility than to give a full rook against the two pawns. In the ensuing ending, Martin converted his extra-exchange safely: 5.5-1.5.
The last game was played by Jozsef Molnar with Black against Koen Delaere (1844). Jozsef played a sharp opening, but White got the better middlegame with his bishop pair. A weak move, however, allowed Jozsef to take on h2 with his queen pushing White’s king in the middle of the board. Constant threats with this queen, rooks and bishop were crowned by a nice rook sacrifice: if White had taken, he would be mated and so he lost a full piece.
So in the end, Europchess 1 remained unbeaten and scored a 6.5-1.5 win, possibly a bit too high when compared with the situation on the boards around the 3rd hour. Still the two match points were in any case fully deserved, helping Europchess 1 to take the lead in Division 2 A.
Europchess 2 shows better chess against Leuven 2
Europchess 2 also snatched two important match points against Leuven 2. Kristian Frederiksen on board 5 could pocket a forfeit from Stijn van Noten, but his neighbour on board 4, Luis Parreira got into trouble with his knights, allowing Stefaan Burger (1911) to destroy his pawn formation and to win the game rather easily: 1-1.
Also Johannes Bertram on board 3 struggled with White against Thomas Massoels (1998). Early on Black had been able to weaken Johannes’ king’s position considerably and his underdevelopment on the queenside severely hampered his ability to get into the game. Some skirmish in zeitnot could only prolong the uneven fight: 1-2 after time control.
But the pendulum swung back: Pere Moles Palleja showed very convincing chess with White against Arnaud Aglave (2049) gaining space on the queenside and shutting off a Black bishop with his pawn chain. Our top board player then transformed the position into a bishop’s endgame where his passed pawn on the kingside proved decisive: 2-2.
His countryman José María Ramos Florido added another beautiful point on board 6 with Black against Maarten Wouters (1785). After a roughly equal middlegame José María pushed a pawn until h3, creating mating threats on g2. This overloaded White’s defence which soon crumbled in view of José María’s heavy artillery invading over the central files: 3-2!
Finally, John Riksten crowned the performance of the second team with a strategic game with Black against Romain Slootmaekers (2016) that would have made Aron Nimzowich proud of him: in a closed game, John’s knight pair outplayed White’s two bishops quite dramatically. With careful exchanges John’s advantage grew into a won ending, where first a White pawn fell and then the entire game: 4-2!
Europchess 2 is now well placed in the middle of Division 3 C.
Europchess 3 takes two important match points from Leuven 3
Probably inspired by the higher teams, the third team also went for the two match points against the higher-rated opponents of Leuven 3. On board 1, Luis Carlos Busquets Perez won against Dirk Voet (1859) in the middlegame with White. Also on board 4, Ventsislav Petrov scored the full point against Geert Smet (1660). Ventsislav lost a pawn in the opening but recovered soon – his active piece play led to a better ending which he duly won: 2-0.
In this situation Piotr Rapacz made the decisive draw against Dries Cuypers (1837). Piotr mishandled the opening, losing no less than an exchange and a pawn. However, he regained the pawn and was then able to establish a strong knight on d5 protected by a pawn on e6. This monster could not be driven away, so White decided to give back the exchange. However, the pawn ending was only a draw – so Piotr’s fighting spirit brought us the full match points. In this position, it mattered less that Vladymyr Dedobbeleer had to finally resign against Bart Vervaet (1832). Vladymyr had a good position, but then blundered a full piece which was simply too much. With this 2.5-1.5 win, Europchess 3 has left the cellar of Division 4 F.
Europchess 4 beats Tournai 2 without difficulty
Tournai 2 came a bit late for their match with our fourth team. On board one, team captain Jesper Abrahamsen agreed a draw with White against Jean-Pierre Ghislain (1445), after the same position had arisen for three times, not with too many regrets, because by then the other boards looked already pretty promising. On board 4, Nikolaj Abrahamsen pocketed the full point from Laurent Thulier (1006). Nikolaj won material early in the game and was even able to mate his opponent on h1! Paris Sansoglou was equally successful with White against Guillaume Hentiens (1009). With a strong bishop move to a3, piercing Black’s pieces, Paris won the exchange in the middlegame and converted this advantage in a rather easy ending: 2.5-0.5. This left Jeremy Rand to finish his game against Vincent Thulier (1431). Jeremy strengthened his position calmly with Black and then won material with a nice catch on e4. White had no counter-play whatsoever: 3.5-0.5.
Europchess 4 is now leader of division 5 D, but stronger opponents are likely to come!