European team championship

Font Size
Bobby Ang

Chess Piece

22nd European Team Championship
Batumi, Georgia
Oct 24 — Nov 2, 2019

Final Top Standings (match points)

1. Russia, 15/18. bd01 GM Dmitry Andreikin 2741, 5.5/8, bd02 GM Nikita Vitiugov 2732, 4.5/7, bd03 GM Kirill Aleksenko 2674, 4.5/8, bd04 GM Maxim Matlakov 2716, 2.5/6, bd05 GM Daniil Dubov 2699, 5.5/7.

2. Ukraine, 14/18. bd01 Vassily Ivanchuk 2686, 5.5/9, bd092 GM Yuriy Kuzubov 2636, 4/6, bd03 GM Andrei Volokitin 2627, 4.5/7, bd04 GM Alexander Moiseenko 2635, 2.5/6, bd05 GM Vladimir Onischuk 2616, 6/8.

3. England, 14/18. bd01 GM Michael Adams 2694, 5.5/9, bd092 GM Luke McShane 2682, 5/8, bd03 GM David Howell 2694, 5/9, bd04 GM Gawain Jones 2688, 5.5/8, bd05 GM Nicholas Pert 2557, 1.5/2.

4. Armenia, 13/18

5. Croatia, 12/18

6–10. Azerbaijan, Spain, Germany, France, Czech Republic, 11/18

Total of 40 participants: 140 Grandmaster, 41 International Master, 14 FM

Time Control: 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 30 minutes play-to-finish with 30 seconds added to your clock after every move starting move 1.

Here in Batumi it was interesting to see the changes taking place within the various team rosters. We start with almost no change in the English squad (the 47-year-old Michael Adams has been representing England since 1989, 38-years old Luke McShane played for England in the 2002 Bled Olympiad, interned at Goldman Sachs in 2006 and retired from chess in 2007 to become a trader. He is just recently coming back to chess) to France’s 12-year-old Marc Maurizzi.

One veteran who is experiencing a resurgence of form is the 47-year “Fire on Board” Alexei Shirov. Shirov was ranked no. 2 in the world behind Karpov in 1994 and was among the world’s top 10 from 1992 up to 2001. He is already past his prime and has seen his rating slip down to the mid 2600s in the past 5 years. However, Shirov’s play in the FIDE Grand Swiss last month and now in the Batumi Team Championship once again shows his tactical mastery and aggressive pushing for the full point.

Shirov, Alexei (2664) — Westerberg, Jonathan (2546) [D06]
22nd EU-chT Open 2019 Batumi (9.27), 02.11.2019

1.d4 d5 2.c4 c5

The former Russian Champion GM Aleksei Bezgodov has written a well-received book on this line, calling it The Double Queen’s Gambit. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov is the elite player who regularly adopts this line, especially in fast time controls. I agree with the assessment of Dennis Monokroussos in The Chess Mind: If you want complications and structural imbalances, this probably isn’t the opening for you. If on the other hand you like relatively simpler structures, this could be just what you’re looking for, as both players’ c- and d-pawns tend to speedily disappear from the board.

3.cxd5 Qxd5 4.Nf3 cxd4 5.Nc3 Qa5

Here is one finesse you have to be familiar with. 5…Qd8? in such positions is not considered good because after 6.Qxd4 Qxd4 (6…Nc6 7.Qxd8+ Kxd8 (7…Nxd8? 8.Nb5 Ne6 9.Ng5 Nxg5 10.Bxg5 Kd8 11.Rd1+ Bd7 12.Nd6 f6 13.Nf7+ Ke8 14.Nxh8 fxg5 15.Nf7 and he escapes with the extra material) 8.Bf4 f6 9.0–0–0+ Bd7 White has easier play. Karsa, L. (2340)-Groszpeter, A. (2480) Budapest 1980 1/2 40) 7.Nxd4 Nf6 8.Ndb5 Na6 9.g3 Black’s knight on a6 gets locked out of action. Let’s bring the analysis forth a few more moves: 9…Bd7 10.Bg2 Bc6 11.0–0 e6 12.a3 Bxg2 13.Kxg2 Be7 14.Be3 b6 15.b4 0–0 16.Rac1 it is clear Black is in trouble.


An interesting line from Bezgodov’s book: 6.Qxd4 Nc6 7.Qd5 Qc7 8.Nb5 Qb8! (8…Qb6?! 9.Be3 White has the initiative. Videki,S (2430)-Penz,H (2307) Austria 2003 1/2 54.) 9.Qc4 (intending Bf4) 9…a6! (9…Nf6? 10.Ng5; 9…Be6 10.Qf4 in both cases White is clearly better) 10.Nbd4 Bd7 11.Nxc6 Bxc6, and according to Bezgodov (in his book he analyses this position even further) Black is okay here.

6…Nf6 7.Bd2 e5 8.Ndb5 Bb4?

Black has not been doing too well with either 8…Na6 or 8…Qb6, but this move is even worse.

9.a3 Bxc3 10.Nd6+!

This is why Black’s 8th move was bad.

10…Ke7 11.Bxc3 Qd5 12.Bb4 Nc6

[12…Qxd1+? 13.Rxd1 Ke6 14.e3 White’s coming Bc4 will be crushing]

13.Nxc8+ Ke6 <D>


And now for the star move.


Threatening Bh3+. Taking the queen won’t work because after 14.Qxd5+ Nxd5 White’s knight has nowhere to go.

14…Qxh1 15.Qd6+! Kf5 16.Qd3+ e4


16…Ke6 17.0–0–0 Qxh2 18.Qb3+ Kf5 19.Nd6+ Kg5 (19…Kg6 20.Qxf7+ Kg5 21.Bd2+ Kg4 22.Qxg7+ Kh5 23.Qg5#) 20.Bd2+ Kh5 21.Qf3+ Ng4 22.Qf5+ g5 23.Qxg5#;

16…Ne4 17.Nd6+ Kg6 18.Nxe4;

16…Qe4 17.Nd6+

17.Nd6+ Kg6 18.Qb5

With the idea of Qf5+, Bd2+, and mate.

18…Ne7 19.Nc4 Nc6 20.Qxb7 Nxb4 21.Ne5+! Kf5 22.axb4

Intending to follow-up with Ra5!

22…a5 23.Nxf7 Rhf8 24.Rc1

Now intending Rc5+

24…h6 25.Nd6+ Kg6 26.Rc7!

Yes, the fire on board of old, with threats coming from everywhere.

26…Nh5 27.f3! Kh7

[27…exf3 28.Qe4+ Kg5 29.h4+]

28.Qxe4+ Kg8 29.Qd5+ Kh7 30.Qxh5 Rf6 31.Ne4 Rg6 32.Qf5! Raa6

[32…Qxh2 33.Nf6+ Kh8 34.Rc8+ Rxc8 35.Qxc8#]

33.h4 1–0

The team from the host country Georgia did not do too well, finishing in 11th place. They lost to Slovenia and the Czech Republic and were held to draws by Finland (!), Germany, Norway and Israel. This despite having ex-Bulgarian GM Ivan Cheparinov playing on their second board and finishing with a powerful 6.5/9 on second board.

Their problem is that team leader Baadur Jobava was not in good form. In the following game for example he used his patented 1.b3 attack and already had a very bad position after 11 moves!

Jobava, Baadur (2617) — Lenic, Luka (2644) [A03]
22nd EU-chT Open Batumi GEO (4.1), 27.10.2019

1.b3 d5 2.Bb2 Bf5 3.e3 e6 4.f4 Nf6 5.Nf3 h6 6.Nc3 a6 7.h3 c5 8.g4 Bh7 9.Ne2 Nc6 10.Bg2 Nb4 11.d3 c4! 12.bxc4 dxc4 13.Ne5

Castling kingside loses a pawn, either to …cxd3 or …Nxc2!

13…Nfd5 14.Nxc4 b5 15.Bxd5

Going back is not possible: 15.Ne5 Nxe3 there is a double attack on white’s queen and g2–bishop.

15…Nxd5 16.e4 bxc4 17.exd5 Qxd5 18.Rh2 cxd3 19.cxd3 Bxd3 20.Rc1 0–1

Jobava resigns without waiting for 20.Rc1 Rd8 followed by …Bd7–h4+

There are eight slots in the Candidates’ Tournament to be held in Yekaterinburg come March 2020. One of the slots is for the player with the highest average FIDE rating not otherwise qualified. For this purpose they will use the standard rating lists of February 2019 up to January 2020. As of now the GM who qualifies under this criteria is Anish Giri.

It is therefore imperative that Giri’s rating not take a tumble between now and January 2020 because otherwise maybe Maxime Vachier-Lagrave or Mamedyarov might overtake him. It was expected that Anish Giri would play conservatively in this tournament to preserve his rating. The opposite happened as Giri pout in a powerful display of attacking chess.

Giri, Anish (2780) — Anton Guijarro, David (2674) [C54]
22nd EU-chT Open Batumi GEO (3.1), 26.10.2019

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.0–0 Nf6 5.d3 d6 6.c3 a5 7.Re1 0–0 8.h3 h6 9.Nbd2 Be6 10.Bb5 Qb8

Black seeks to relocate his queen to the g1–a7 diagonal.


[11.Nf1 Qa7 12.Be3 Bxe3 13.Nxe3 Ne7 Black has no trouble equalizing. Carlsen,M (2837)-Ding,L (2774) Saint Louis 2017 1/2 44.]

11…bxc6 12.d4 exd4 13.cxd4 Bb6?!

This is what is usually played, but I think it would be better to swap out the bishop with 13…Bb4 rather than have it hemmed in by the white pawns.

14.a4 Re8 15.Ra3

And in addition to blocking off Black’s bishop the a2–a4 move allows the white rook to centralize quickly.

15…Qb7 16.Rae3 Rab8 17.b3 Ba7 18.Bb2 d5 19.e5 Nd7 20.Nh4

With Black’s pieces all clumped up in the queenside the coast is clear for Giri to launch a kingside assault.

20…c5 21.Rg3 Qa6

[21…cxd4?! 22.Qh5 Kh7 23.Nf5 Bxf5 24.Qxf7 Rg8 25.Qxf5+ Kh8 26.Qxd7 is easily winning for White]

22.Qh5 Kh8 23.Bc1 Rg8 24.Ndf3 Nf8 25.Bxh6 g6

[25…gxh6 26.Qxh6+ Nh7 27.Ng5 wins]

26.Nxg6+ fxg6 27.Qh4 Nh7 28.Ng5 Qb5 29.Nxh7 Qd7 30.f4 1–0

[30.f4 Qxh7 31.Qf6+ Rg7 32.Bxg7+ Qxg7 33.Qxe6]


Bobby Ang is a founding member of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and its first Executive Director. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), he taught accounting in the University of Santo Tomas (UST) for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.