Europchess 1 – Fontaine 2 : 3.5 – 4.5 +++ Europchess 2 – Opwijk 1 : 2.5 – 3.5 +++ Europchess 3 – Woluwe 1 : 0.5 – 3.5 +++ Europchess 4 – Opwijk 4 : 2.5 – 1.5 +++
Round 10: Deviations and other setbacks
In round 10, the VM 2 road was completely blocked, forcing some invited players to go through the tunnel with huge deviation and delay. Luckily, everyone managed to come by 2.30 pm nevertheless. More seriously, though, was that we did not find the right path on the board either. While the first three teams lost, only the fourth team took home the two match points.
Europchess 1 loses equal match to Fontaine 2
As all the other 2nd teams so far, Fontaine played against us with an unusually strong composition, putting 3 first division players on boards 1-3 (while their first team in Division 1 allowed itself to have board 7 and 8 covered by players below 2000 ELO). But even despite this reinforcement we stood a good chance this afternoon. On the fourth board, Frank equalised with Black easily after a symmetrical opening from Dimitri Allaert (2193). After the exchange of three minor pieces both sides stood very safe and a draw was agreed after a repetition of moves. Frank’s neighbour on board 3, Tom Wiley, put some pressure on the queenside of Alexandre Platel (2305). Black tried organising counter-play on the kingside, but Tom defused all dangers with careful play. After time control, he gained an advanced pawn in a rook ending, but when Black managed to eliminate it, the game ended as a draw. On the 1st board, Tim Binham played a very good game against IM Ekrem Cekro (2422) in which he maintained the initiative since the opening phase. After time control, the players reached a position where Tim’s rook and bishop were more active than Cekro’s rook and knight, but Black’s position stood firm: another draw. On the second board, Georgi Tomov was also an edge ahead against Andy Marechal (2369). Having defended prudently the opening with Black, Georgi steered the middlegame into a direction, where he had chances with queen and rook invading on the 2nd rank. However, White simplified into a queen ending with a pawn down, but with sufficient possibilities for either giving perpetual check or regaining the pawn. After some futile attempts from Georgi to get more, a draw was agreed. With this 2-2 at the upper boards against stronger opposition, the eyes looked at the lower boards, were intensive fights were ongoing. On board 7, Pere Moles Palleja came out of a difficult opening against Christian Kieffer (2006). However, he then came back in the middlegame and achieved a complicated pawn ending. With masterly play, Pere provoked Black to advance his central pawn, which proved fatal as White could then get a distant passed pawn: 3-2! However, on board 8, Martin Müller had gotten into disarray with Black after a heated middlegame with many tactical tricks. In the end, his opponent Martin Jimenez (2004) secured a much better ending, where a passed a-pawn decided in his favor: 3-3. Eyes were thus put on Matija Suskovic and Benjamin Alberola on boards 5 and 6. Benjamin was clearly worse with Black, when Alain Houriez (2136) found a good combinational sequence, gaining a rook and three pawns for two pieces. However, with an unbelievable stubbornness Benjamin kept on going and regained a pawn. White then tried to win with the f- and h-pawn plus rook vs. bishop and knight, but misplayed it. In the end, on move 84, the last pawn fell, and Benjamin defended a further heroic 50 moves with King and bishop vs. King and rook. This turn of events, though, only materialised much later in the evening. When Matija was still playing, it looked very much as if Benjamin could not hold the position. In the interest of the team he thus pressed for a win with White against Florian Pierard (2138). He always controlled more space, but Black defended his passive position well. After the first time control, an ending with queens and two minor pieces occurred, still pretty blocked. But Matija went short on time and in a slightly better position forgot to make the required move on time: flag! In the end, we thus lost an equal match with 3.5-4.5. Accordingly, E 1 has to fight from the current rank No. 9 against relegation still in the last match against Namur, trying to pocket at least one more match point if we do not want to rely on the help of Boitsfort against Leuven 1.
E 2 narrowly inclines to stronger Opwijk 1
The second team was facing a giant of Division 3 B with an average composition of 2072, namely Opwijk 1. Nevertheless, the fight was very tight. On board 5, Helge Ruotanen outplayed with White through unconventional play Carlo Janssens (1970). Helge undermined Black’s pawn centre and won a full piece: 1-0. Also on board 4, Svet Andreev delivered a fine game with Black against Julia Morozova (2062). With good middlegame technique he won material which he duly converted in an ending which proved hopeless for White. In return, Oeyvind Boe got caught in a tactical trick from Dominique Versyck (1889) on board 6. This cost a pawn with no compensation and later on also the full game. On the third board, though, John Riksten had very good chances with White against Tom Van De Perre (2093) on the queenside. When Black tried to get some counterplay on the kingside John prudently offered a draw, which was accepted. Unfortunately, though, this was the last half point of the day. On the second board, Mattias Johansson got into trouble with Black against Jan Rogiers (2150) when the latter controlled the centre with White and could advance his d-pawn up to d6 and invade the 7th rank with his rook. The most spectacular game of the day was played by Olafur Hannesson on the 1st board against Arno Bomans (2259). After a theoretical sequence White gained a queen for three pieces. Olafur seemed quite comfortable in the sequence and put Black into some problems. However, after the time control, when the remaining resources became scarcer, Black’s position got stronger and stronger, leading finally to a mate of Olafur’s king which had run up to h5. With this 3.5-2.5, the second team again showed that it is fully competing in Division 3 B, resting on rank 6.
E 3 with no chance against Woluwé 1
With Woluwé 1, the second-ranked team of Division 4 G, E 3 was also facing a tough opponent. However, we also had put together a strong composition, hoping at least for a draw. However, reality turned to be hard. On the 4th board, Luis Busquets got into an early attack from Raymond van Melsen (1832) against his Black king. When White could conquer the f7-pawn with a rook before move 20, the beginning of the end was clear: 0-1. On the 3rd board, Carlo Russian got a promising position with White against Nicola Rauta (1941). Black took two pawns, but his king had remained in the centre. So he sacrificed an exchange to castle. However, Carlo then declined to take the material, but went for another sacrifice on g7. This, though, proved to be unsound: 0-2. Also on the 2nd board, José Maria Ramos Florido had to resign against Stephane Nolf (2009). After an equal opening, White pressed in the centre and got an advantage. In the ending, a protected passed pawn on f7 made the day for White: 0-3. In this situation, Johannes Bertram and Julien Verbist (2013) agreed a draw in a position with opposite coloured bishops and equal chances. With this 0.5-3.5 loss E 3 gained some ground in the Division and still needs to be careful in the last round despite being on rank 8, as the next three teams are all only one match point behind.
E 4 beats Opwijk 4
Taking revenge for the 2nd team, E 4 beat Opwijk 4 in the final encounter of the round. Luis Parreira won swiftly on the 1st board against Rudi Valcke (1549), while Jesper Abrahamsen drew his game with Black against Geert Bijloos (1543). On board 4, Bruno Gatta scored the full point against Lothar Cotman (1100). However, on board 3, Thanos Gkionis, suffered a set-back. Being up two points with a good position, his opponent uncorked a nice combination which cost Thanos a full piece or the queen vs. rook and piece. He decided to give the piece, but could not come back afterwards. Nevertheless, the 2.5-1.5 win was a good outcome for the 4th team which now covers rank 5 in Division 5 G.