Interclubs 2017-2018 – Round 3

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Boitsfort 1 – Europchess 1  :  4.5 – 3.5  +++  Wetteren 2 – Europchess 2 :  3 – 3  +++  Boitsfort 2 – Europchess 3  :  2 – 2  +++  Braine-l’Alleud 2 – Europchess 4  :  3 – 1  +++

Round 3: Dommage

In the third round, Europchess 1 came very close to a draw against Division 2 B favourite Boitsfort 1, while the 2nd team could have won in Wetteren in Division 3 B. The third team scored its first match point against Boitsfort 2, but E 4 suffered an unexpected set-back against Braine l’Alleud 2.

Boitsfort beats Europchess 1 thanks to GM Winants (only)

After its brilliant start, the 1st team went highly motivated to Boitsfort. As the host put on board eight players with an average of 2270 ELO, it was clear that the match would be difficult. Nevertheless, our players came very close to hold off the supremacy, had it not been for GM Luc Winants (2517) who was the only player of the day to win his game, on the first board against Rossen Rusev.

In that game, White directed three minor pieces against Black’s castled king and scored the full point with a nice combination in the early middlegame. Afterwards, a couple of draws followed. First, Frank Hoffmeister faced with White a long theoretical line by FM Marc Geenen (2260) on board 4. After an interesting novelty Black found the best reply and the players reached a position which they both rightly judged as equal: in a symmetric pawn structure there was only a bit more space for White, but no more.

Second, Pere Moles Palleja on board 7 with Black held a comfortable score against Mourad de Villers (2180) in a positional struggle where both sides accepted a weak pawn, balancing each other out. Equally, Mattija Šušković on board 5, survived with Black an attack of Albin Dal Borgo (2205) in an unusual opening. Matija first took two sacrificed pawns, but returned them in good time to reach the draw harbour in safety.

On the 8th board, Benjamin Alberola Mulet faced some offensive attempts from Thierry Van Houtte (2136) on the queenside. However, Benjamin defended in his usual calm way, taking another half point from Boitsfort, once the players reached an ending with rook and bishops of opposite colours.

Georgi Tomov got a slightly easier endgame with White against Bruno Carlier (2379), but attempts to force matters brought nothing tangible, and a draw was agreed.

Our hopes to equalise hung thus on the two remaining boards. On board 6, Tom Wiley had built up a very promising position with White against Bruno Lacroix (2185). Black’s attack on the kingside had come to a halt as Tom had evacuated his king to the other side. There, he also commanded a huge space advantage and could hope to win a stranded knight on a6 once the a-file could be opened. However, in time pressure, Tom allowed that Black activated his pieces, which was enough to take over the initiative and to force the draw by repetition.

With this 3-4, Tim Binham was the last to play on board 3 with Black against Julien Laurent (2295). Tim had given a pawn in the opening for active play, but White apparently knew theory very well and neutralised the pressure. In the middlegame, Black regained the pawn and kept his more active piece play. However, after the exchange of almost all pieces, the queen and knight ending seemed to favour White. He even undertook a dubious winning manoeuvre which led to a pawn ending, in which spectators were tempted to think that all of a sudden Black would have winning chances. Hélas, this was not the case, so also this game was drawn in the final hour. With this narrow 3.5-4.5 defeat, Europchess saw its closest competitor take over the leadership in the division and fell back to the 3rd rank.

Europchess 2 drops a point in Wetteren 2

The second team started very well in Wetteren 2, when Luis Parreira won a full piece with White on move 10 with a queen fork, taking the full point thereafter from Thomas Moerman (1950) on board 4. Also Olafur Hannesson won on the 1st board with Black against Luc Michiels (2042). White attacked with all means, compromising his own king safety and material. Olafur kept iron nerves and once he was able to castle around move 28 (!) he brought home the position. John Riksten on board 2 had gained some advantage with White against Robijn Verlinden (2019). However, in the rook and knight vs. rook and bishop ending, conversion to a full point proved impossible: draw. In a similar vein, Martin Müller could hope for a win after having won the exchange for a pawn on board 3. But Dirk Castelein (2004) was able to simplify the ending by exchange the pawns – another draw. On board 6, Kristian Frederiksen was doing well in the opening with White against Walter Defre (1896), but lost material and the game later on. Hence, Thanos Gkionis was trying to win the decisive half point on board 5 with Black. He weakened White’s king early on, but this became less relevant once the queens got exchanged. In the ending Thanos created winning chances with his passed pawns and White’s king was forced to stay on the back rank. However, when he lost one of his crucial pawns in time trouble, the game turned around and he had to resign. So, in the end, this 3-3 brought E 2 to the 4th rank in Division 3 B.

Europchess 3 scores an important point against Boitsfort 2

For the third team, it was time to get started with match points in Division 4 F. And, indeed, it held the strong Boitsfort 2 to a good draw with two white wins. First, Marcello Ranucci kept Julian Petrosino (1627) busy on board 4. Black had difficulties to defend first a king attack, but then lost a full piece on the queenside: 1-0. Equally José Maria Ramos Florido showed a convincing attack against the king of Viviane Caels (1961). Once he intruded over the h-file, he collected no less than three pawns and once the queens were exchanged the ending was easily won. Unfortunately, Boitsfort’s White players were in equal mood. On the first board, Eric van Uytven (2087) pressured Johannes Bertram, who had weakened his kingside with the risky g7-g5. This brought him material advantage, but White used his counter-chances with numerous threats, which – in mutual time trouble – Johannes did not defend against ideally. On board 3, Luis Busquets fought a heroic fight against Bernard Paul (1824). However, his position became a bit passive with Black. White won material and posted a strong knight on e6. Luis then still got some play with a piece sacrifice, but the hopes that there would be not enough White pawns to win the ending, did not materialise. At the end the 2-2 nevertheless was a success. With its first match point, Europchess 3 is now on rank 10 of Division 4 F.

Europchess 4 suffers unexpected set-back against Braine l’Alleud 2

The fourth team was the clear favourite against the young team of Braine l’Alleud 2. However, only Dag Holter won on the 4th board against Nathan Foissey (1152), while all the other three players lost. Accordingly, the 1st rank in the Division 5 B is gone and Europchess 4 is now on rank 3.

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