Interclubs 2017-2018 – Round 7

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CREB 1 – Europchess 1  :  1.5 – 6.5  +++  CREB 2 – Europchess 2  :  4 – 2  +++  Leuven 2 – Europchess 3  :  1.5 – 2.5  +++  CREB 3 – Europchess 4  :  2.5 – 1.5  +++

Round 6: Of triumphs and tragedies

+++ In the seventh round, a huge victory over CREB 1 allowed the 1st team to take the lead of Division 2! Also E 3 made two important match points, beating Leuven 2. On the other hand, E 2 and E 4 lost against CREB 2 and 3, respectively.

Europchess 1 has the upper hand over CREB 1

When FM Luc Henris sat down on the 1st board of CREB 2, it became clear that CREB had taken a strategic decision to reinforce their second team at the expense of their 1st team. So, indeed, the composition of CREB 1 was less impressive than on other encounters. We thus took the golden opportunity and imposed ourselves over the royal club’s first team with a clear margin. On board 2, Frank Hoffmeister made an early draw with White against Denis Luminet (2195). The latter had chosen a very solid set-up in the opening and equalised easily. When the first two minor pieces were swapped off in a completely balance position, the peace treaty was signed.

At the time, some good results from neighbouring boards were already in the making, and indeed Matija Šušković on board 3 took the full point from Michel Laurent (2061) shortly after. In a position of opposite castled kings, Matija’s queen on a5 could attack an unprotected rook on d2 with the nice pawn move b4-b3, while White’s king was at b1. This cost White either the king or a full rook, so he resigned.

On board 4, Eduardo Semanat Planas and ex-Europchess player Jenő Czuczai (2013) delivered a hard fight, again with kings on opposite wings. Jenő spent much more time than Eduardo on the clock and an inaccurate king move allowed White to destroy Black’s central pawn chain in an otherwise balanced position. Eduardo then got a direct attack against Black’s king and won Jenő’s queen before the time control.

Olafur Hannesson on board 5 faced with Cristian Vasile-Bonciog (1907) another experienced player with Black. Olafur got a better position in the early middlegame, with his two bishops on c5 and c6 pointing against White’s castled king. White was able to exchange queens on g3, but then the opened h-file proved decisive for Black.

This nice series was continued by John Riksten on board 7 against David Moreno (1811) with Black.  White had sacrificed a pawn in the opening to get attacking chances against John’s king. However, a bishop sacrifice on h6 proved to be incorrect. John defended accurately and once the attack was over, his superior material guaranteed an easy win.

With only 5 games ended, Europchess had thus already led the match with 4.5-0.5. In this situation, Radoslav Krastev and Jean-Marie Ooghe (1818) agreed on a draw in a rather blocked position, where White had to defend a weak pawn on e3, but with no possibility for Black to further increase the pressure.

On the first board, Georgi Tomov added another draw with Black against FM Ruben Akhayan (2277). White tried to play against an isolated d5-pawn, but Georgi’s pieces were always very actively placed. Before the time control the players exchanged a lot of material and the ensuing endgame with rook+knight vs. rook+bishop plus a couple of pawns on both sides was drawn.

So the final game of the match was fought between Martin Müller with White and François Fontigny (1803). For most parts of the game, there was complete equality – Black had to suffer from a doubled a-pawn, but could use the half-open b-file to arranged counter-pressure on Martin’s b3-pawn. However, after time-control, Martin was able to first open the f-file and then to exchange all heavy pieces. This led to an ending where his knight was clearly superior to Black’s bishop that had to defend a couple of weak spots. Due to a tactical oversight, Black then shortened his suffering and allowed Martin to get a new queen for free. With this surprising 6.5-1.5 triumph Europchess 1 took over the lead in division 2 B, as Boitsfort lost a match point in Westerlo at the same time.

CREB 2 has the upper hand over Europchess 2

With a pumped second team of almost 2000 ELO average, CREB 2 distanced our second team with a clear 4-2 win. On the second board, Luis Parreira got into trouble with White against Yousif Eid (2022). Despite an exchange of queens, a destroyed castling position with a double f-pawn was prone to an attack from Black’s pieces. This first cost Luis a piece and then the full point. Also on the 3rd board, CREB showed superiority with Laurent Huynh (2022) outplaying Thanos Gkionis after a wrong treatment of the opening. White controlled the board and when he opened up the queenside material losses became inevitable. Despite Thanos’ attempts to create counter-play against White’s king the position was utterly lost. On the 1st board, FM Luc Henris (2149) attacked with White Mattias Johansson. Mattias defended very well and even got good counter-play on the half-open f-file. However, he then wanted to attack himself, overestimating his chances. White took two important pawns in the centre, after which the game was decided: 3-0 for CREB 2.

Luckily, though, the lower boards brought better results. On the fifth board, Marcello Ranucci got a strategically inferior position with Black against Olivier Caufriez (1894). However, the latter overplayed his hand, and sacrificed an exchange in the hope to bring a pawn to promotion. As Marcello could stop this from happening, White took too much time to get out of the trouble and lost on time. The most fascinating game of the day was probably played on the 4th board between Kristian Frederiksen and Etienne Cornil (1988). Kristian got a better position from the opening and dominated the board until he lost a full piece due to an oversight. As Black’s king was stranded in the middle, he could, though, continue to press and when time was short, the board was full of tactical possibilities. Both players having to find the best moves, Black gave back the material to arrive at a queen’s ending with an equal number of pawns. Exhausted by the fight, the players agreed on a draw on move 42. On board 6 triumph and tragedy were very close. Hermann Ebner had outplayed with White Ahmad Chokouhian (1831), winning a pawn and an exchange. Hermann then could have consolidated his material advantage, but gave his queen for a rook and another piece. Still with two rooks against the queen he should have won, but Black disentangled and even brought White’s king into existential danger. White could have then forced a perpetual check but chose to play for a win with a rook switch. Fortunately, Black overlooked a forced mate in 4 moves and so the game continued until they reached a perpetual check, this time given by Black although he could have still won a rook. In the end, the sharing of the points seems to have been the just result. The 2-4 loss, though, brings Europchess 2 further into the cellar of Division 3 B.

Europchess 3 lands landmark victory in Leuven 2

Europchess 3 were in dire need of points in their division, and pocketed two important ones against Leuven 2. The strategy was clear. Boards 1 and 2 were reinforced with the idea of obtaining the full points. Then just with a draw on the third or the fourth that would make the win. The first to finish was Luis Carlos Busquets Pérez with black who was facing on board 3 Bart Van Praag (1828). On move 15 an equal position without queens was reached and White offered a draw. Luis at first hesitated but given that boards 1 and 2 looked promising, i.e. already slightly better for E3, he stuck to the plan and accepted the draw. No longer than ten minutes later, Benjamin Alberola Mulet with Black on board 1 scored the first victory against Dirk Voet (1895). Indeed Benjamin was slightly better from the opening. In the middlegame his opponent lost the exchange and a pawn, which made him resign. With 1.5 to  0.5 and two boards still playing, the victory could be smelled in the room but was not yet in the pocket. José María Ramos Florido with White on board 2 against Hasan Kutlu (1893) was slightly better and Mark Ouaki on board 4 also with White was equal against Stijn Van Noten (1796). At that crucial moment, José María’s opponent offered a draw which would mean getting at least one match point. José María replied that if a draw on board 4 was also offered he would accept. Leuven 2 accepted and boards 2 and 4 were drawn resulting in a final score of 1.5-2.5 for Europchess 3. It thus took ninety minutes for E3 to score its first victory in this year’s interclub. The rest of the rounds will have to follow to keep the division but after yesterday’s victory life has become easier.

Europchess 4 lost undeservedly against CREB 3

The fourth team started with a draw on the second board between Robert Prylinski and Thierry Lhoir (1636). Robert commanded more space with White and could keep Black’s pieces in passive defensive mode. However, when he tried to break up the kingside there was no breakthrough for a decisive action, so the players shared the point. On the 1st board, Jesper Abrahamsen gained an equal position with Black against Bernard Raquet (1721), but then lost a pawn due to a tactical trick from White. In the coming ending White could transpose this advantage into a passed pawn and finally won with a concerted action from the knight and the rook to mate Jesper’s king in the corner. En revanche Sergio Serrano Semper won with Black against Ruben Micciche. He suffered from a worse middlegame position for a long time, but somehow was able to turn it into an ending, where his bishop was stronger than White’s knight. Sergio gained a pawn and came to a won pawn ending. However, White still escaped for some time as both players could receive new Queens. Only after a couple of nerve-wrecking checks Black’s king found shelter on a1 (!) and Sergio’s d-pawn decided the game. In this situation, eyes turned to the fourth board, where Dag Holter had outplayed Marc Van de Water (1524) with White. After a complicated opening, he won first a piece and was later on a full rook up. However, Black continued to produce threats against White’s king and just when White was about to finish his opponent off, he blundered the full queen due to a skewer from Black’s remaining bishop. This tragedy cost the game and the match for E 4. The team is still on the 1st rank, but as competitor Dworp was bye, it effectively fell down to the 2nd rank.

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