Europchess 1 – Eupen 2 : 7 – 1 +++ Europchess 2 – Mechelen 1 : 2 – 4 +++ Europchess 3 – Mechelen 3 : 2.5 – 1.5 +++ Europchess 4 – Fontaine 5 : 0.5 – 3.5 +++
Europchess 1 keeps the lead with convincing win over Rochade Eupen 2
The winner of last year’s division probably had a certain memory of Europchess, as we had given everything last year in the last round in Eupen. Albeit winning 6.5-1.5, we still could not qualify for the first division lacking one board point. This year, the situation in the division was less dramatic, but the overall result even topped! We had an easy start as Martin Müller’s opponent on board 6 did not show up. 1-0 by forfeit after one hour! On the board, Jozsef Molnár added another point on board 7 with a nice king attack with White. Djambulat Saparbiev (1813) did not survive the middle-game and resigned when Jozsef’s pieces had invaded over h7.
His neighbour, Svetlozar Andreev showed similar attacking play with Black against Nicolas Rössler (1369). An early Queen sortie brought his opponent out of book and Svet took over the initiative. White’s king “wandered” across the board and after mobilisation of both his rooks, Svet ended the game with a couple of nice combinations crowned by a check making use of a cross pin!
With this early 3-0 in the pocket Jozsef Barta and Frank Hoffmeister both added a half point by drawing against Lothar Oepen (2073) and Norbert Müller (2101), respectively. Jozsef on board 5 got a rather blocked position with White on the board, trying to create some play by opening the kingside. But as Black had no real weakness through which to penetrate, Joszef accepted the draw. Similarly, on board 4, Frank had equalised easily with Black after a calm but very solid opening. He tried to put pressure on White’s queenside pawn structure, but his opponent traded away all heavy pieces. In the ensuing knight ending neither player could make progress without taking risks and so a draw was agreed: 4-1.
Given the extra-point from the forfeit this meant that we had already secured the match points at this stage. But it did not mean that our first three boards would lessen their efforts! Georgi Tomov on the second board played a strategic master piece with Black against Norbert Bergmans (2107). Blocking the pawns on the dark squares, his better placed pieces were able to force White into total passivity. Georgi then invaded White’s loosened king position and took the full point. In return, Timothy Binham’s struggle against Francois van Lishout (2105) was nerve-racking. Tim had sacrificed a piece in the opening with White to open lines against the black King, but the latter escaped castling queenside returning the piece. Instead of taking it back immediately, Tim pressed on and lost a lot of time and a pawn in the ensuing complications. Black then played for a win in Tim’s heavy time pressure, trying to organise an attack on the White king. With a number of small tactical counter-threats Tim, though, not only survived the 40th move, but even got a won ending! 6-1 shortly after the time control. This left only Carl Buhr playing on 1st board against Holger Telke (2155). Carl took the initiative early on and exercised pressure on Black’s cramped position. In the middlegame, he got two strong bishops for a rook and two pawns. While the material seemed balanced, White’s pieces were much more threating on the kingside and with precise play Carl could win Black’s queen against his two bishops after which the game was over. With this convincing 7-1 win, Europchess 1 keeps the lead in Division 2A.
Europchess 2 loses tight fight against Mechelen 1
In Division 3 C, Europchess 2 faced with Mechelen 1 a roughly equal opponent. However, the guests took the lead already early in the match when Deon Lee (2059) mated John Riksten on board 2 with White. John had directed his pieces to the queenside when White started a strong king attack with three pieces and a queen against one defending rook which proved too much. 0-1.
Also Mattias Johansson got in trouble on board 3 with White against Koen van Vlaenderen (2058). Black, somewhat unconventionally, pushed forward his pawns against Mattias castled king. This led to an awful pin of Mattias’ f3-knight reducing his room for manoeuvre dramatically. Black was then able to open further lines and to invade White’s position with his heavy pieces: 0-2.
Luis Parreira on board 5 faced Jan Pelgrims (1944). In a promising early middlegame Luis ran into double attack, costing him the exchange. He fought on to complicate matters which seemed to bring some fruit before the time control. However, after move 40 it turned out that Black’s material advantage was too much: 0-3.
The pendulum swang fortunately back on boards 4 and 6. Johannes Bertram survived the pressure from Olaf Cliteur (2008) with Black – and when in severe time trouble White pressed too hard with tactics on the kingside, Johannes all of a sudden won a piece and the game: 1-3.
Kristian Frederiksen with Black on board 6 won a nice game against Stijn Van Vlaenderen (1674). After a standard opening a sharp middlegame occurred with opposite castled kings. White tried to attack over the g-file, but Kristian stayed calm parrying all threats. In time trouble, White crumbled allowing Kristian to mate him: 2-3.
Hence the match points hinged on Pere Moles Palleja’s game against Marcel Roofthoofd (2247). Pere got a promising position with White, including a protected passed pawn on d5 but black had counterplay in the kingside. Pere sacrificed a pawn to get a dangerous attack through the c-file and two passed pawns. However, under time pressure, in a complicated position, he missed a promising continuation and allowed a queen exchange missing that his passed pawn could be quickly blocked by the black king. Black also got dangerous passed pawns which finally decided the game in Black’s favour. Final score: 2-4.
Europchess 3 collects two important points from Mechelen 3
Luckily, the third team gave an immediate revanche to Mechelen 3 in Division 4 F. On board 1, Jose Maria Ramos Florido showed his positional powers against Wim Dom (1850). In a queenless middlegame he pressured against Black’s weakened pawn structure on the queenside, winning material and the full point: 1-0.
In return Piotr Rapacz ran into problems with White against Constant Van Vaek (1761). Piotr had gained space but somehow allowed Black’s knight to carry an attack against his uncastled king, and when Black mobilised his queen the game could not be held anymore: 1-1.
Luis Busquets made a good draw with White against Tom De Bue (1797). The players never left their comfort zone, and agreed to share the point in an equal position: 1.5-1.5.
So Ventsislav Petrov had the result of the match in his hands when playing Black on board 4 against Herrmann Brugghemans (1757). Luckily he had promised to the club President in advance to win the game and kept his promise! Ventsi won a full exchange in the otherwise equal middlegame and transformed it into an ending with rook and knight plus 5 pawns vs. bishop and knight plus 5 pawns. To win this constellation was not without technical difficulties, but Ventsislav kept nerves until the very end. With this 2.5-1.5 victory, Europchess 3 is again in the middle of the division.
Europchess 4 unlucky against Fontaine 5
The fourth team did not have a good day in its match against Fontaine 5. After a quick draw on the first board from Jesper Abrahamsen with White against Daniel Dejasse (1623), all the other team mates lost. Jeremy Rand had reached an equal position with Black against Jean-Claude Montagne (1551), but overlooked a move by which his knight got trapped. Nikolai Abrahamsen resisted Italo Russo (1450) for a while, but then got outplayed. Adrian Filoteanu had good chances with Black against Christian de Beir (1279), as his rook had invaded the 2nd rank and he had won a pawn. Unfortunately Adrian overlooked a threat and lost a piece, leading to a hopeless ending with a full piece down. With this 0.5-3.5 loss Europchess 4 ambitions for leadership in the Division have been curtailed.