The 2012 European Championship finished about a week and a half ago (for those who missed it or have short memories, it was won by Dmitry Jakovenko), but there were so many great games there that it's worth presenting a selection even at this relatively late date. So without any further ado, here are 13 games from rounds 4-11 that caught my eye. The first twelve are annotated in full or at least at the critical moments, while the last one will be covered in my ChessVideos show this week, hopefully available sometime tomorrow.
Entries in European Individual Championship 2012 (7)
This week's show really belongs to last week, but it took a little longer than usual to get posted. Hopefully it will prove worth the wait, as I take a very deep look into the theory of the variation that starts 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Bxc4 a6 6.0-0 c5 7.Bb3 Nc6 8.Nc3 cxd4 9.cxd4 Be7 10.Bg5 0-0 11.Qd2. That might seem pretty specialized, but even if the shadows from 1.d4 d5 never darken your board it's still the rare chess player who never plays either side of an IQP (isolated queen's/d- pawn) middlegame. The presentation shows many of White's attacking ideas in this variation, and they are generally themes that work in any typical IQP middlegame. And that's still another reason to watch - you'll see some very attractive games and variations illustrating the beauty of a powerful attack. A fourth motive to watch is for tactics training.
So if you're persuaded (or didn't need persuasion in the first place), have a look here. As always, the show is free (one-time free registration required) and will be available on-demand for at least the next month or so.
Clear first, too, and he did it by defeating Laurent Fressinet, who was himself the sole leader coming into the final round. Jakovenko finished with 8.5 out of 11, half a point more than (deep breath) Fressinet, Vladimir Malakhov, Dmitry Andreikin, Ernesto Inarkiev, Maxim Matlakov, Viktor Bologan, Francisco Vallejo Pons, Yurij Kryvoruchko, Sergei Azarov, Evgeny Najer, Vladimir Akopian, Andrei Volokitin and Jan Smeets. Salute!
More later, as they say. Meanwhile, you can find full results here.
After six rounds of the 2012 European Individual Championship there was a ten-way tie for first, but after round seven Sergei Azarov lead all by his lonesome, though with 12 players just half a point behind. All the top boards were drawn except his - he defeated Arkadij Naiditsch on the white side of a Berlin endgame. For his insouciance he was punished in round 8, getting ground down on the black side of a Reti by Vladimir Malakhov. That put Malakhov in first with 6.5 points, where he was joined by Maxim Matlakov, who defeated Viktor Bologan in a spectacular game, and Vladimir Akopian, who outplayed Denis Khismatullin in a positional English Attack (Sicilian). No fewer than 17 players are just half a point behind, so with three rounds to go nothing is settled.
With four points Gawain Jones was the clear leader after round 4 of the European Championship in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and was one of just three co-leaders after drawing in round 5. After a second straight draw, however, he finds himself in a ten-way tie going into the 11-round event's first and only rest day on Monday. In tiebreak order, the leaders are Arkadij Naiditsch, Laurent Fressinet, Yuriy Kuzubov, Jones, Ernesto Inarkiev, Denis Khismatullin, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Maxim Matlakov, Anton Korobov and Sergei Azarov. 24 players, including top seed Fabiano Caruana and seven other 2700s, are half a point back with 4.5/6.
The European Championship is a long event (11 rounds) with lots of players (348!), so early round upsets aren't the end of the world for the top seeds. It's a good thing for them, too, as the the first two rounds have seen even 2700s get upset. The biggest upset so far is Anish Giri's loss at the even younger hands of lllya Nyzhnyk, which you can replay here.
It may be an open tournament, but the European Individual Chess Championship is an extremely strong event with 15 players rated over 2700, including world #6 Fabiano Caruana. (But shouldn't he be in the U.S. Championship instead??) This 11-round Swiss starts today in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, has a rest day on the 26th, and concludes March 31.