Herve 1 – Europchess 1: 2.5 – 5.5 +++ Geel 1 – Europchess 2: 5.5 – 0.5 +++ Dworp 1 – Europchess 3: 3.5 – 0.5 +++ Namur 5 – Europchess 4: 3.5 – 0.5 +++
Europchess 1 prevails against strongly lined up Herve
The home team, Herve 1, evidently tried to score their first match points by lining up the strongest team so far. And indeed, on board 1, the newly activated Michael Kolkin (2297) sacrificed with White two pawns in the opening against Georgi Tomov to get very dangerous play against the castled king, which did not stop even after the exchange of Queens. Georgi tried to defend until the endgame, but when his opponent got back the material with interest, the game was over.
However, this loss was compensated by a quick win from Frank Hoffmeister on board 5 with Black against Jean-Paul Charlier (2078). In a side line, White tried to cash in a pawn in the centre, opening counter-play for Black on the queenside. When Frank had activated all his pieces, while White had still an under-developed kingside, he won a piece with a small combination: 1-1.
Laszlo Hetey on Board 2 followed with another full point from Soel Kartsev (2256). In a complicated opening, Laszlo opened lines on the queenside, making use of a badly placed bishop on a6. His opponent tried to “sell” the unlucky piece as expensive as possible, but Laszlo kept the board under control, forcing resignation shortly before the time control: 2-1.
With straight play on board 8 against Dimitri Giagoulis (2016) Svetlozar Andreev scored another important point thereafter. He repulsed a premature attack from Black against his king who had castled on the queenside. After the exchange of the minor pieces Black was left with two isolated pawns which could be pressured by the heavy pieces. Svet then traded this advantage into an ending with a Queen and passed pawn on e7 against two rooks, which were so paralysed that Black had to resign: 3-1.
His neighbour on board 7, Jozsef Molnar, played for a win with Black against André Rahier (2040), refusing a draw offer. Unfortunately, though, White was able to open the position at a time where Joszef had intended to regroup his pieces, including with a knight on a8. White’s initiative proved too dangerous, winning first the exchange and then a full piece: 3-2.
Martin Müller on board 6 drew against Pierre Fontaine (2043) with White in a strictly positional game. In the middlegame, it seemed as if he could put some pressure against Black’s advanced pawns, but to no avail. In the ending, Black created a passed pawn on c3, forcefully supported by a bishop on f5, which forced Martin’s king to remain passive: 3.5-2.5.
In this situation, Timothy Binham clinched the matchpoints with a clinical win over Alexandr Kartsev (2200). An unusual opening was followed by a brief tactical skirmish which blew open the seemingly blocked pawn structure. This resulted in an endgame with all four rooks and opposite-coloured bishops. Tim’s white-square control, space advantage and pawn majority on the kingside quickly proved decisive when White got into time trouble, as he could not stop the invasion of Black’s rooks: 4.5-2.5.
The last game was then played by Tom Wiley with White against Slavko Duric (2172). In a classical set-up, White maintained a small but unpleasantly persistent advantage. Duric defended well, but after being put in check on move 40, he chose the wrong square for his king. Tom managed to win a pawn and weaken Black’s king position with a pseudo knight-sacrifice. Duric tried to save himself with a desperado manoeuvre which proved, however, incorrect. With this 5.5-2.5 victory, Europchess 1 maintains its lead in Division 2 A.
Europchess 2 suffers rout in Geel
The second team stood no chance against the much higher-rated team of Geel, relegated from Division 2 only some months ago. So far, Geel had not lost any game in the first two rounds of the season and also Europchess could not change anything to that. In fact, Geel already wrapped up the crushing 5.5-0.5 win before the time control.
On board 1, John Riksten with the black pieces against Hanne Goosens (2143) of the Belgian female Olympic team saw some threats that didn’t really exist, prompting him to sacrifice a pawn for some compensation. Later, the compensation disappeared and John could not defend the ending that followed.
Mattias Johansson had the white pieces against Wim Luyckx (2134) on board 2. The position was equal after the opening. However, Mattias could win a pawn when black opened up the position. But black had sufficient counter-play to regain the pawn thanks to better coordination of his pieces. The players agreed to a draw in view of a rook endgame with equal number of pawns.
On board 3, Johannes Bertram miscalculated a tactical sequence in his game with Black against Kadir Nohut (2068). Thanks to a mate-threatening ‘zwischenzug’, White won the exchange. Soon afterwards he opened the position and forced an exchange of heavy pieces, transposing to an endgame position which Johannes had to give up immediately, as a promoting pawn would have cost him his last piece.
Kristian Frederiksen on board 4 with the white pieces against Mathias Philipsen almost never got into the game. It was all about the square c4 and whether or not White could keep up a blockade on that square. He couldn’t, and with a nice pawn sacrifice Black secured himself perfect coordination between his pieces and a raging attack. White’s position was still defendable, but the path became very narrow, and one further inaccuracy was enough to essentially decide the game in Black’s favour.
Serge Le Gal with Black on board 5 against Nicolas Marx (2068) came out of the opening with a reasonably balanced position. Serge then brought installed his Knight on e4, but when it was captured, Serge made an unfortunate intermediate move attacking his opponent’s Queen. However, his opponent could move his Queen away, … and protect the capturing piece thereby gaining material! Being a piece down, it was essentially over, but Serge played on until the very last trick was exhausted and there really was no hope anymore.
On last board, Vladymyr moving up from 3rd team, played against Chris Maes (1963). He faced some difficulties in the opening and could only castle on the 19th move. Just afterwards, he lost a central pawn but managed to recover it on the queenside, getting a more balanced game. Unfortunately, Vladymyr’s opponent with his better piece development forced him to make a decisive mistake in time trouble.
Dworp 1 outlclasses Europchess 3
Division leader Dworp 1 did not show any mercy with our third team. On board 1, Luis Busquets faced Serge Vanderwaeren (2219). The ELO favourite played an unusual gambit. Luis had the courage to accept it, but his king got trapped in the middle of the board. This cost him later on a full piece, and the game was over: 0-1.
On board 2, Frank Denys (1955) snatched a pawn with Black from Paolo Garzotti on move 12. Against all efforts, he kept it until the end, securing another point for his team. Equally, Louis van Duuren (1880) proved too strong for Alex Amelotti. In a classical opening, Alex lost a central pawn, which turned the game uphill from that moment. After having lost a second pawn around the 35th move, he entered into a hopeless endgame with three pawns against five. Alex resigned when the last rooks were exchanged. So the honour of the team was held by Paris Sansoglou, who drew with White against Filip Van de Velde (1458). In another classical opening, Paris could not find a real weakness in Black’s camp nor force an error of his opponent. Multiple exchanges led to a very balanced position and the players agreed on a draw. With this 0.5-3.5 loss, Europchess 3 is back in the lower part of Division 4 F.
Europchess 4 loses to Namur 5
Also the fourth team was outclassed by a stronger opponent. Only on Board 1, Jesper Abrahamsen was able to get a draw from his similarly rated opponent Patrick Chazard, while on all other boards, Namur’s players were more than 300 points rated above their Europchess counterparts. Bruno Gatta, on board 2 lost against Alfred Mathieu (1704). Benjamin Musall on Board 3 had to resign against Igor Khmelevski (1646), and Nikolaj Abrahamsen against Bernard Moens (1601). With this 0.5-3.5 defeat, Europchess 4 dropped to 4th rank in their division.