European Senior Team Championship 2014

Our sincere thanks to Rudy and John for the reports and games now available.

 

ESTC 2014 Official Website                                              Chess-Results

All the games played by Welsh Players are now available as a download in the Games section of the website.

 

 dscn1620aw

 

Round 9

 

Starting the round on 50%, with high hopes against a team a little higher ranked, but it didn't work out .

 

 

Peter, defending with his usual French, got a good position, with players castled on opposite sides. but then he had a decision, go for a draw or try for an attack. It was the latter, but Black lost a crucial pawn, which then allowed the White pieces that extra activity rather than the Black pieces. One down.

 

 

Rudy tried a Bird Leningrad and faced an unusual early Qb6 (akin to a previous game by his opponent but not exactly), leading to a strange QP game. White also faced a choice after a bit when the position had got complex: grovel for a draw, or try something. White advanced a pawn mass in the centre, Black set about undermining it. In the end Black got to White king, avoiding all sorts of nasties he might have fallen into.

 

 

Pat's regular King's Indian came up against a Reti-English with 3.b4. At first things looked promising for Black, but then bit by bit his queen side came under pressure, and a vital pawn went, leaving Black then facing a King side invasion after a White rook had already penetrated to b7. 3 down.

 

 

That left Iolo looking for a point. He got good space advantage early on from a Catalan vs Slav, but then a great deal of pieces swapped off, leaving a double rook endgame where White had a protected passed c pawn, while Black held a distant, not so advanced protected h pawn. It looked drawish but Iolo’s persistent rook pressure paid off when an incautious pawn move enabled White's pawn to move decisively to c6 and threaten to queen.

 

 

1-3. The team performed extremely well, coming close to 50% when of the 9 teams, 7 had been higher ranked (and, of course, that win against England1), which meant very high average grading for every player.

 

 

Mention must be made here of our fellow team Wales Gwent. Gaining a free board and match point due to illness from Austria Wien 1, they were drawn against the number 10 team Turkey. Rising magnificently to the challenge, Charles took an IM apart, Lloyd had another IM grateful for a half point, so a final 2-2 draw to put them up the table.

 

 

The games from this event have been posted by John in the GAMES tab of the WCU website, but there are errors with these (eg Peter's game mentioned above is missing about half its moves)

 

dscn1605aw

 

Round 8

 

A match against another higher ranked team, Austria Steiermark, who Wales lost against the previous time we played in Dresden in 2010.

 

 

This time Iolo played a safe line of the Petroff after an early dxe5 and Nbd2 by his opponent.  White  castled queen-side, hoping  for an attack on opposite sides, but Black kept the his options to castle queen-side open and took countermeasures to prevent any build up on his left. A drawn position was reached quite soon.

 

 

Seeing this, and the favourable positions of both John and Peter, Rudy also offered a draw while being his usual hour or so ahead. The position, arising out of a g3 fianchetto against a Philidor, was locked on the queen-side, with only the d file open. White had some chances of a king-side attack, but Black retained enough pieces there to hold, and maybe even win if White overpressed. The draw offer was accepted.

 

 

John had seen his opponent play a delayed Staunton against the Dutch, so captured and kept the extra pawn on e4. The black pieces took up more favourable positions, and were all poised for advancing, but the question was where. Both central and queen side advances were possible, but John had lost too many games in this tournament, and played safe with a draw offer, since Peter was now winning.

 

 

Peter had excellent chances of a breakthrough king-side pawn storm against his opponent's regular Pirc, but missed a clear early breakthrough (indeed the computer afterwards even found a win for Black after White had made an imprecise couple of queen moves.) A late endgame arose in which Black had scattered pawns, one of which was lost, giving White a pair of passed pawns on the b and c files. White though played 'safe' instead of an immediate c5, ending up losing a pawn back on the king-side and allowing Black a dangerous central initiative, which should  have been at least a draw (Black missed a winning move 59 according to the Engines). However Peter finally was able to get his Rook behind the c pawn and have the Knight force it through.

 

 

An excellent 50% , having played two lower ranked teams, and 6 above us. [Wales Gwent drew with their higher ranked Austria Wien 1 ceding bottom board due to illness]

 

 dscn1597bw

 

Round 7

 

Not a very good day at all as the team went down heavily against a team ranked a few places above us, and who had been gifted a match point the previous round by the illness of their opponent's 4th board. [There have been quite a few stomach upsets affecting both Welsh teams, Scottish, English, Danish, even the Chief Arbiter]

 

 

Iolo's opponent with Black met Nf3 with ...e6 & ...b6, but soon transposed to a French in which ...Ba6 swapped off the potentially bad bishop. Despite the position looking promising for White, the attempt at a king-side attack got nowhere, and a draw ensued with the balanced pawn structure in place.

 

 

Rudy tried to play solidly but got a little sidetracked by his opponent's  Old Indian with ...Bg4 on move 3. There was no easy way to exploit the extra space, and with the opened h file there were always potential problems with Black coming down it. Both sides had central knights: White on d5, Black on d4. White avoided early disaster by finding a king tour circling the king-side, but Black always managed to keep threatening. Rudy missed a queen check on h4 that picked up a rook, but the game was more than likely lost by then.

 

 

Pat seemed to have matters under control when, against his opponents early Bf4 against the King's Indian, he turned it into a Benoni setup. However Black seemed to miss various chances of more active play in the centre, and was eventually caught by an e5 dxe5, d6 sequence that won a piece for White, and, shortly afterwards, the game.

 

 

John tried a Budapest , but unfortunately transposed moves on the 9th, which lost a c7 pawn. However a little later White allowed ...d5, letting Black eliminate a weak pawn. White then incautiously tried some tactics with his  ,back rank vulnerable but John missed the best line which would have netted queen for rook, bishop and pawn: probably drawn. Still fighting hard, Black attacked gaining a pawn on the king-side, but leaving White with a passed a pawn. Eventually it got down to rook and two pawns  vs rook & one, and John may have missed a repetition. With the d pawn about to join the a pawn on the 7th, the struggle was over.

 

 

Wales Dragons 0.5-3.5 Germany Mattadore Rheinland

 

 

Round 6

This time we were paired against a team ranked below us (Germany Saxony Anhalt) but who had been performing well against  others so far.

 

Peter played a Fide unrated player, with only a few games from this tournament for preparation purposes. His English opening gave him a good game, and some incautious piece exchanges by Black led to a rapid f5-f6 and Black nearly got mated. Instead he dropped a pawn, and White could probably have won by opening up the h file as soon as possible for his rooks to come down. Instead some slow preparations allowed Black back into the game with ...h5 to activate his own rooks. An agreed draw was a sensible result.

 

Pat, facing a Slav played an early e3, and got his pieces into more active positions than Black. White then pounced after Black was forced to play b6, with Nxd5, threatening a Rook on a8. Black did the best he could, but was not getting any real counterplay, so resigned when a further pawn & exchange were lost. (Incidentally the score as given on the website is incorrect- on move 13 Black played exd5, not c xd5)

 

Iolo played his usual cat & mouse game. Not trying for anything very much in a Queen Pawn opening, he kept his Bishops on useful squares, leaving it to White to make the running, and letting him force the game open in the centre. Black was ready - playing ...Qb2 and forcing off queens. later, ...Bf5 forced a rook swap on the Bishop file and now the c pawn charged forward to queen.

 

John played a Birds Defence to his opponents Ruy Lopez. However, instead of the usual Nxd4, White went into a line allowing a queen swap. Black allowed a a bishop exchange on f6, doubling his f pawns, but in turn eliminated the last white knight. this led to a poisition in which both players had two rooks and opposite colour bishops in a blocked position with initially eight then seven pawns each. It was a question of whether either side could exploit  any minute advantage, (even Iolo thought not). A draw ensured victory in the match.

 

Normally I wouldn't include a fullgame score, but the following played in rd6 is irresistable.

Cebalo (2418)- Vasiukov (2471)

1.d4, f5 2.Bg5,g6 3.e3,Nh6 4.h4,Nf7 5.Bf4, d6 6.Nf3,Nd7 7.Bc4, Bg7 8.Bxf7+, Kxf7 9. Ng5+, Kf6

10.Nc3, c6 11.Qf3, e5 12.Qd5!, Qe7 13. Nxh7+   1-0

 

Round 5

We played Belgium in Rd5; the highest ranked team so far.

 

On board 4 Peter essayed the French defence, expecting 3.Nc3: however his opponent played the Exchange Variation instead. Black seemingly got some advantage against a king that wandered to f1, and a bit later acquired 2 bishops against 2 knights. However with a rather blocked position, the knghts were able to regroup to good squares. Queens came off, and the game was called a draw.

 

Rudy's opponent, an FM, had failed to observe that Rudy had played a slightly uncommon sub-line of the Petroff in a 4NCL match, hence got caught unprepared (Geenen-Handoko, Manila ol 1992,1/2-1/2 was the other line). Hence Black was able to play moves like ...Qh4 and ...g5 quite rapidly in an opposite side castled position, and gain an hour ahead of the clock. When the black bishops became menacing White offered an exchange sac for obscure complications (Houdini4 takes it). Instead Black tried to destroy the pawn centre, with White responding by giving up queen for two bishops. The position was difficult, and White, down to 40 seconds repeatedly, was living on increments.  There was one winning chance for Black to return an exchange favourably. The game ended in a repetion of moves with queen and Rook vs two rooks and bishop.

 

Iolo had prepared a solid line against the highly aggressive Jan Rooze, which involved a great deal of complex manouevring  on the queen-side. Eventually Black pushed a pawn to b3, but Iolo, with queen, rook on a3, and bishop on d1 was able to tie Black down sufficiently to hold the draw. (If either side had tried to advance on the king-side, this would have left severe weaknesses for the side advancing.)

 

With three draws so far, the match depended on John. Playing against a Schlechter Gruenfeld, cross between a Slav & Kings Indian, White allowed ...dxc4 obtaining the centre in return. However Black came up with the unusual ...Ne8-d6, supporting both c4 and an eventual b5. Johnplayed a d5 break too early, and  the higher rated player broke through the centre to pick up decisive material.

 

Another 1.5-2.5 loss against a much higher rated team, in which Wales Dragons had definite chances.

 

 

Round 4

Having beaten England1 we expected a tougher team, followed by a weaker one if we lost. Iolo decided to have a rest day so he would be available for that next match. So we began against Sweden 2, all players with 2100+, so outgraded on all boards.

The first game to finish was Peter's who managed a solid draw, despite not feeling very well (back to fine the next day). He played a Nimzoindian, and managed to get quite some pressure in the centre against White's slightly passive setup. However the game petered out when a final pair of pawns on the queen-side were exchanged, leaving just three each on the king-side plus minor piece.

Rudy defended against one of the day's three English openings. His opponent let a knight into d4 which led to early minor piece swaps, with a half open f file for White, and both queens fianchettoed with their Kings. White had pressure and played an exchange sacrifice to prevent Black from breaking out. However he misjudged his chances and after some tactics, had just a knight and two doubled pawns for a rook. Black took the queen-side, but, missing several simpler chances, got into a complex positionin which Black had queen and rook against a knight and two pawns on g7 & h7. Despite thinking about it, Rudy played the wrong queen check allowing the knight back to cover the king. The game ended in repetition as White just avoided getting mated.

Afterwards several winning moves were suggested to prevent White from getting a second queen, but the Engines insist the final position is drawn is drawn by a White perpetual.

John had good early chances with his English, but failed to find the most active lines against his opponents distractions; ...Ne6 being good on many occasions. Getting rid of a knight on g4 by playing h3 left g3 weakened and the Black pieces began to invade the White position. A black bishop coming to b5 forced a Rook to e2, and when ...Qxg3 came White had to face heavy material loss to avoid the mate, hence resigned.

In the meantime on board 1 the Swedish player had been waiting to see the finish of John's game and then offered the draw. Since it was White e4 & h4 vs d6 & h6, with a White Bishop vs a Knight, nothing much happening. Pat's English had led to too many piece and subsequent pawn exchanges, though White felt that Black could well have had the better chances at several points.

So not a good day for the English.

Wales Dragons 1.5- 2.5 Sweden2.

Had Rudy won, then the match result would have been a draw. However subsequent Engine analysis shows that in the England match their board 4 resigned in a drawn position! Hence that match could have been a draw rather than a win.

As a result of this loss, Dragons get to play a Belgium even ranked higher than both Sweden 2 & England1.

 

Round 3

Wales Dragons 2.5- 1.5 England1

Well, normally I would put the result in at the end, but I suppose it merits top billing.

Clearly we were outranked, except on bottom board where Wales had all of 3 extra grading points.

Pat got an English vs Kings Indian setup, where White's more flexible pieces had lots of potential activity, causing Black to use up more and more time. Seeing this White played a semi-waiting move , and offered a draw, to at least force Black to use up time thinking about it. Black decided to accept: probably wise as the position was likely to become even more complex as he faced a Kingside attack.

John also drew shortly after. From a Tarrasch Defence, White created some holes in Black's queen-side, though John did get a useful knight blockading at d5. White offered the draw:  worried about Black breaking through on his queen-side. Black accepted because he felt his king might be a little insecure {Engines suggest that White should be attacking on the Queen side!}

The 2300+ Stebbings allowed Iolo to play the Petroff, and entered an old 19th century line where there is a threat to play Qxb7 on several possible occasions. However Iolo played safe by swapping off the e4 knight, rather than go in for the lines where this piece gets sacrificed, or indeed either of Black's 2 bishops in the way certain GMs play these positions. [Rudy, on a rest day, was having fun charting the course of the game on the computer in his room - without, of course, using complicated code to communicate with the player, as happened in a recent Olympiad involving a French team.] Black got a slightly better position as Iolo improved on a World Championship game, the U12 in 1994, where Grischuk bt Markus. White got his bishop back into play, but a draw was forecast by Houdini4 and duly occurred.

That left Peter playing on in an English, with a far better pawn structure, 3-2 on the King side, and a superior g2 bishop vs the one on c8. Struggling to get counterplay, Black unbalanced the queen-side pawns hoping to win the b3 pawn with his bishop. However it gave White the far better opportunity to give up an a pawn to roll on the b pawn to b7 and victory.

Wales Dragons 2.5-1.5 England 1

Wales Gwent 3.5-0.5 Finland3 (it seems results may be found somewhere on facebook)

 

Round 2

A nerve racking afternoon. Placed in the smaller hall (created to avoid having seating near the entrance in the main hall) there was a smaller range to look at-unless of course you found time to wander across between playing halls. Aware in the smaller space of the quick draw taken in another match, and then a default on the board next to it as a mobile phone rang out.

Nerve racking, because Wales Dragons went down one game early on. Peter, defending against an Exchange French, got an excellent position with opposite side castling and his pawn storm on the King side looked set to bear fruit [as it did in Haigh-Bevan, Dyfed Open 2014, 0-1, available under GAMES on WCU website]. However it seems that pushing a pawn to g3 over extended his position, and pawn loss was inevitable. Back rank problems forced him to allow the exchange of queens and the rook and pawn ended in a comfortable win for White.

On board 3 Rudy sacrificed an the pawn against the Sicilian, and his opponent replied with an early f5, leaving a hole on e6, scarcely mentioned in the books. Nonetheless, out of 27 games with the variation, Robert Hubner managed 1.5 from 2 for Black. There were only 3 games in databases played with this particular sub line. White got a seemingly excellent position for the pawn, but struggled to find a way in, even when Black made the only slip of the game by dropping an a pawn. White kept trying to get at the king with queen and two rooks but in the end had to accept that the queen ending was dead drawn. Houdini4 found several wins, but all seemed to involve lines 11 or 12 deep with many side variations to calculate as well.

That left Iolo and Pat having to win, and yet for a long time it wasn't clear to onlookers that there was more than a draw in each case.

Pat defended with a King's Indian against an early h3 & Bg5 line, with possible queen-side chances. Biding his time Pat pushed with ...b4 when his pieces were best placed & created a weak pawn on b3. [His Engine later showed how he could have won it just before the time control] Instead Black concentrated his play in the centre, forcing White to create weaknesses around his king with the white pawns not giving much shelter. The Black pieces continued to come into dominating central positions, and when White tried to exchange queens, a ...Bg1 check won an exchange on d1 instead, so White resigned. [The Engine later showed one way through for Black would have been to play Ng5 as fxg5 allowed Queen & Rook into the White position.]

Match level.

That left Iolo’s game. A Slav defence turned into a position in which Iolo had good king-side attacking chances. To cope with these Black had to be defensive on the king-side, allowing to control the d file. With a rook on the 6th, Iolo was able to create a passed a pawn in a rook and pawn ending though pawns were still level. After a lot of manouevring Iolo won a pawn on the king-side. Now White had pawns on a6 and f2, Black a pawn on e5 with a Rook each. White managed to encourage the Black rook and king into positions where f4 was advantageous for him. The rook swap was forced after ...exf4, and the Black king was unable to catch the a pawn, which queened. But then instead of a white queen, Iolo placed a black queen on the board instead! Fortunately this was an illegal move which required a proper substitution. [We checked the rules afterwards with Stewart Reuben from England2, who helps write the chess rules for FIDE]

So eventually a 2.5 -1.5 for Dragons against Germany's Stiftung BSW/BDAG2. [Rudy was keen when names for the teams were being floated to include gwyddbwyll in both team names]

Unfortunately Wales Gwent players got lured into mistaken sacrifices, going down 1-3

 

 

An early rise (the plane left Gatwick at 6-40 am!) and a half hour to Zagreb, then the same length of time waiting for a Scottish team to arrive. Bus to Sibenik (actually a resort beside the sea just round the corner). a four-and-a-half hour bus journey with beautiful views of Croatia, past snow-topped mountains and under them via superbly engineered  long tunnels.

The Dragons team are off to an exciting first round, we are due to play Russia 2 headed by Evgeni Vasiukov.

In the event our opponents all chose openings they didn't normally play, to avoid opening preparation.

Rudy with Black faced Nikolai Mishuckhov (IM 2312) who played Nf3 and Bg5 against the King's Indian. However Rudy was quite used to this line from Internet chess, while his opponent seemed less familiar with it. Hence Black soon got an hour ahead on the clock with promising king-side chances. However White began a process of swapping off, and Black missed chances to keep pieces on. Although there were still some missed opportunities to draw, eventually the IM squeezed a win out of a king and knight ending.

John was White vs Anatoly Kremenietsky (IM 2332), and chose to play a Dutch Stonewall reversed, against which Anatoly set up a King's Indian defence. Emboldened, John tried to force matters with c4 but, behind in development, his centre was broken and an exchange lost. Shortly afterwards Black broke through on the black squares and won more material by back rank threats.

Pat found himself against a GM, Nikolai Pushkov (23450, who essayed a Ba6 line of the Queens Indian. Pat sacked a pawn for pressure, got it back, but had to concede 1 pawn to 2 on the queen-side. In the end an a pawn proved very powerful, and the attempt of a temporary piece sac to get perpetual failed when a zwischenzug check made it a permanent offer.

This left Iolo battling with GM Evgeni Vasiukov (2451), who surprised with c4 instead of his more usual e4. Iolo moved to occupy d4, but was dislodged by  Ne1 and e3, with White coming in from the sides and then slowly moving forward in the centre. Black surrendered a weak c7 pawn to exchange queens and chances of blockading the centre with pieces on e4 (which Houdini4 rates as =, as did Iolo). However bit by bit, White began to move forward, forcing the Black king to the back rank and Black pieces into defensive stances, and the d pawn was able to advance decisively (the e pawn still on e3).

 

Russia2 - Wales Dragons  4-0.