The new year has started with another successful round for our club. Europchess 1 and 3 won their matches (3-1 and 4-0 respectively) while Europchess 2 made a 2-2 draw.
Europchess 1 travelled to play Waregem 2. Despite heavy snow the previous day, the journey presented no problems. The first hour’s play produced a worrying moment for Europchess. Jozsef, playing Black, played a temporary knight sacrifice that seemed, after a series of exchanges, to win a pawn. However, the White player could have interrupted the sequence of exchanges with a clever queen move, thereby winning a piece. Fortunately he overlooked this chance and Jozsef emerged with his extra pawn. Frank, playing White, achieved a strong bind on the dark squares, and soon had a lasting and significant edge. Tom and Serge both emerged from the opening with quiet, fairly level positions.
In the second hour, Frank steadily increased his advantage. He removed any possible counterplay by forcing the exchange of queens. His rooks were more active, and he retained a strong central knight against a white-squared bishop hampered by its own pawns on b5, c6, d5, f5, g6 and h5. Jozsef’s opponent had some compensation for his pawn through pressure on the half-open f-file. Jozsef defused this by exchanging queens, and activated his rooks to attack weak White pawns. Serge gained pressure against a weak pawn on d5. He perhaps captured the pawn too early, and in attempting to avoid an obviously drawn position, he had to give up the exchange. Nevertheless, for the rook he had a strong bishop and a passed pawn, and so had good chances to defend. Tom’s position became totally blocked, and did not seem to offer many chances for a decisive result.
In the third hour, Tom agreed a draw and a few minutes later Frank sealed his victory. Frank’s rooks dominated the seventh rank, and his king penetrated via the weakened black squares, marching down the board to h7 to set up a mating net. Europchess therefore led by 1.5 to 0.5 with Jozsef and Serge still to finish. Serge succeeded in fixing his opponents king-side pawns on squares of the same colour as Serge’s bishop. As the time control drew nearer, Serge’s position was a little easier to play than his opponent’s, but he accepted a draw offer that made the score 2 to 1 in favour of Europchess. Jozsef combined attacks on his opponent’s weak pawns with threats against the king. The pressure became overwhelming, and Jozsef forced the win of a bishop. Jozsef’s opponent resigned, making the final score 3 to 1 in favour of Europchess. By winning the match, Europchess 1 extended their lead in Division 4C, because the second-placed team CREB 2 only drew their match.
Playing on the 2nd board in Europchess 3 Thomas with White faced Quentin Padovano (1447) who chose a rather passive set-up in the King’s Indian defence which gave White the initiative on the kingside without any counterplay from Black. However, Thomas missed the right continuation and did not manage to break through. He thus opened lines on the queenside. In a rather drawish-looking position his opponent made a mistake and lost the a-pawn giving Thomas reasonable chances to win. But there would have still been a long way to go when Black relied his defense on a pin, which was actually incorrect. As soon as Black realised the mistake, he resigned.
Kristian’s game was over practically before it had started. In an Advance French, his opponent, Patrick de Ridder (White, rated 1407), after having suffered some damage to his pawn structure due to an early, unconventional Queen sortie to b3 and a Queen swap on that same square simply overlooked a standard Knight fork on c2, which netted Black a whole rook. White promptly resigned the game. 0-1 in just nine moves after barely half an hour of play.
Milan played with the white pieces against Michel Heynsmans (1422). Black has invited white to play the Benko/Volga gambit which was rejected by the solid 3. e3 and a quiet King’s Indian like position arose with some tension in the center. Black was defending passively his weak pawn on d6 and with not much space to develop his pieces his Queen got trapped and he resigned on move 25.