From September 14 to 20, the entire Crème de la Crème of international chess gathered in the Spanish city of Bilbao to compete for the European Club Cups as well as for the “Chess Masters Final”. Except for Magnus Carlsen, the entire Top 10 of the world rankings attended.
While Vishy Anand, title defender Levon Aronian, Francisco Vallejo Pons, and Ruslan Ponomariov fought for the he title of Bilbao’s Master in six rounds, another 450 players competed in 60 teams (52 male and 8 female) in the European Chess Club Open and the Women’s European Club Cup.
EUROPEAN CHESS CLUB OPEN
In the competition for the official title ‘Best European Chess Club’ the teams had to throw in all their energy at instance, as only seven rounds were played in Swiss Tournament System. No surprise then that the world’s top players gathered who all exploited one particular rule in chess: One player may compete for several different European chess clubs during the season. If two or more ‘home teams’ are then represented in the tournament, the player can choose for which one to compete.
The favorite team of the open had been SOCAR Azerbaijan from the very beginning. Staffed with Shakriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria), Michael Adams (England), Anish Giri (Netherlands), Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaijan), Wang Hao (China), Anton Korobov (Ukraine), and Eltaj Safarli (Azerbaijan) the team is strong as well as international and therefore exceeded all expectations at the event. Even though SOCAR owner Mair Mamedov had complained earlier that the seven-round-system was equal to gambling, his team decided all seven competitions in their favor.
Still, the tournament remained suspenseful until the very end: The audience got increasingly tense, when in the final round SOCAR played five ties against SPB Saint Petersburg. The only full point was scored by former World Champion Veselin Topalov which led SOCAR to the overall tournament victory. A small but severe mistake of Peter Svidler in the tie end game with differently colored Bishops was SOCAR’s final triumph. They won the game and the Club Cup with an incredible 100 percent final result.
Topalov obtained the highest result in Bilbao (2922), as he forced not only Svidler but also Morozevich, Navara, and Nakamura to their knees. The 39 year-old is certainly already waiting for the October edition of the FIDE World Rankings.
Another top performance was delivered by Anish Giri who will advance to rank 7 in the world rankings. His coach Vladimir Tukmakov can be proud of himself, as he has also been SOCAR’s coach this season. The success of his mentee and the entire team is a shared success (which is characterized by some smart but extraordinary decisions, such as his choice to prefer Mamedyarov over Topalov and Giri on first board).
The Italian team Obiettivo Risarcimento was also well staffed and prepared when it entered the race: Hikaru Nakamura and Fabiano Caruana were supported by team mates and top players Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Etienne Bacrot, and Laurent Fressinet.
Caruana fought until the very end for the best performance on first board (2896), but all team endeavors came down to 10th rank only. This is obviously owed to the fact that seven out of eight players performed under their ratings. Nakamura, for instance, played a rather shameful duel against Topalov and failed utterly.
Title defender Novy Bor secured 2nd rank through a clear victory at 4.5:1.5 points against SHSM in seventh round.The Czech Navara was able to prevail over Morozevich, although second would have had the better positioning. A stroke of good fortune that repeated itself in the duel of Harikrishna aginst Dreev.
The bronze medal was obtained by Malakhite that won against Caruana’s team Obiettivo Risarcimento in the final round. On the top-board, the duels of Caruana–Karjakin and Grischuk–Nakamura both ended in draws.
Alexander Grischuk ‘only’ played a draw against Nakamura, though many refer to it as THE duel of the tournament, that he ended with a performance of no less than 2887 points (Nakamura 2772). Maxime Vachier-Lagrave lost against Malakhite team member Peter Leko (who thus made up fot his tragic defeat by Manuel Bosboom from ‘En Passant’ in round one), and Alexey Shirov put Etienne Bacrot (Obiettivo Risarcimento) in his place. The third victory for the final score of 4.5:1.5 was contributed by Igor Lysyj who prevailed over Kiril Georgiev.
|2||5||G-Team Novy Bor||CZE||7||6||0||1||12||12||233||32|
|6||6||SHSM Nashe Nasledie||RUS||7||5||0||2||10||10||178||27.5|
In total, 52 teams competed. Best German team was SG Solingen on 5th rank. Further German participants: Mülheim Nord on rank 26, SF Berlin on rank 40, and SV Weder Bremen on rank 47.
WOMEN’S EUROPEAN CLUB CUPS
Gold in the women’s tournament was obtained by team Nona from Batumi, Georgia, that also won all seven competitions. The victory was safe and sound after 6th round when Nona took the lead at 3 points. Nevertheless, they did not slow down in the final round. On the contrary, they prevailed over team SHSM from Russia that was fighting for the silver medal in this very duel. After their defeat, they came off 3rd in overall rankings.
The Georgian girls were even 4 team points ahead off Cercle d’Echecs de Monte-Carlo, the team that was rated top-favorite in the event. The names of world champion Yifan Hou,Anna Muzychuk, Kateryna Lagno, and Almira Skripchenko raised the bar high, but the team was not able to meet the expectations with their verall performance. In the first two rounds, they were utterly defeated by Nona and SHSM. Despite the victories in the last five rounds, they could only obtain the silver medal in the end.
|1||4||Batumi Chess Club “Nona”||GEO||7||7||0||0||14||14||108||20.5|
|2||5||Cercle d’Echecs de Monte-Carlo||MNC||7||5||0||2||10||10||104||19|
|3||8||SHSM Nashe Nasledie||RUS||7||4||1||2||9||9||97||18|
|5||6||SC Bad Konigshofen||GER||7||3||1||3||7||7||84||16|
|8||7||Herzliya Chess Club||ISR||7||0||0||7||0||0||0||1.5|
In the women’s competition another German team ranked 5th: The SC Bad Königshofen.
Chess Masters Final
Multiple World Champion Vishy Anand showed his superiority from the very first moment, when he scored three victories in four rounds. Other than the team victors, he was defeated by Levon Aronian in the final round and therefore couldn’t convince all spectators with his overall performance. There is nothing to do but to wait and see whether this, more than likely, last game before his great world championship duel against Magnus Carlsen has lasting impact when facing the ‘chess prodigy’ in Sochi.
Levon Aronian ranked 2nd in the end and remained only undefeated player of the entire event.
Far off with only 5 points was Ruslan Ponomariov who shared 3rd rank with Paco Vallejo who were equal in live-rating score at 2711.0!
More details and further results can be viewed on the official website: http://www.europeanchessclubcup2014.com/
written by Sarah, translated by Birthe