Europchess at the Capelle-la-Grande open

From 5 to 8 March, the famous open of Cappelle-la-Grande took place. The organisers had optimistically announced a physical tournament a while ago, but given the sanitary situation this was of course still not possible. But the organisers had a nice online format in reserve for the 37th edition of the tournament: on four consecutive days, four tournaments – bullet, rapid, blitz and women – were organised. They were excellently organised on the playing platform of French chess magazine “Europe Echecs” and overseen by arbiters via Zoom. These conditions attracted many titled players, including top grandmasters and even two real legends with Vassily Ivanchuk and Gata Kamsky.

Three Europchess members were also among the participants. Mark Ouaki, already excelling regularly with his very fast play in the internal Europchess tournaments, took on the challenge in the bullet tournament (15 rounds, 1+0): with 7/15 he finished 73rd out of 129 players. The winner, with 13 points was GM Rauf Mamedov from Azerbaijan, ahead of GM Parham Maghsoodloo (Iran) and GM Maxime Lagarde (France).

Next up was the Rapid tournament (9 rounds, 10+3) on Saturday. Johannes Bertram struggled against lower-rated, partly very young players, and scored only 5/9, finishing in 74th place out of 175. The very big names did in the end not show up, so the top three ranks were occupied by GM Arnaud Hauchard (France), GM Artur Gabrielian (Russia) and IM Zhandos Agmanov (Kazakhstan).

Finally, on Sunday, the Blitz tournament (11 rounds, 3+2) was on the programme. Our new member FM Víctor García Cuenca played a strong tournament beating all lower-rated players and earning himself games against no less than five Grandmasters, (Andrey Baryshpolets, Baadur Jobava, Momchil Nikolov, Ivajlo Enchev and the women world champion Ju Wenjun) . Even in these games, Víctor had good chances, but had to be content with one draw against GM Andrey Baryshpolets. 6.5 points meant rank 70 of 275 for him in the end. The course of Johannes Bertram’s blitz tournament was similar although on a lower level: also he scored 100% against the lower-rated opponents, but failed to score anything against the higher-rated ones, who included multiple French Champion GM Christian Bauer and two FMs. With 6 points, he finished in 122nd place. Here the winners were GMs Vladimir Fedoseev (Russia), Rauf Mamedov (Azerbaijan) and José Eduardo Martínez Alcántara (Peru).


While most of Johannes’ games were not of impressive quality, one game was decided with a rather beautiful finish:

Bertram, J – Bain-Thouverez, A (Rapid, R 8), after 15…Nc8.

Black had misplayed the opening, finding himself with an exposed king facing a powerful knight on an outpost on d6. With 15…Nc8, Black hopes to get rid of the beast, and finally consolidate the position. Time for White to decide the game with a tactical combination, which is of course not so easy to calculate in a 10-minute game:

16.Nxb7! Kxb7 (in case of other moves, White just retreats the knight and continues to attack) 17.Ba6++!! (double check!) Kc7 (the Bishop cannot be taken, due to 17…Kxa6 18.Qb5#) 18. Qb7+ Kd8 19.Qxa8, picking up the exchange, and now it is not easy for Black to find a piece that can make a good move. After 19…f6 20.Lxc8, Black lost another piece and resigned.

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