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Sasi, Hari and Sethu at the European Club Cup 2016

by Sagar Shah - 14/11/2016

The European Club Cup is one of the most prestigious and fiercely contested team event in the world of chess. The best part about it is that players all over the world are welcome to play in it. Three Indian players went to Novi Sad, Serbia: Harikrishna and Sasikiran for team Ave Navy Bor and Sethuraman for Team Itaka. Sasi played exceedingly well and won the silver medal on board six for his 5.5/6 performance. We have pictures, games, analysis and more.

Photos by Lennart Ootes

The 13th European Club Cup 2016 took place in Novi Sad from the 6th to the 12th of November 2016. The tournament took place in 5* Hotel Park, Novi, Serbia.

 

The European Club Cup is one of the most prestigious team events in the world of chess. It is even more interesting than the European Team Championships, because in the Club Cup players from other continents can also participate. Many great players including Vladimir Kramnik, Levon Aronian, Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Anish Giri etc. took part in the seven-round Swiss event. Indian fans were clearly cheering for Ave Novy Bor, the team from Czech Republic. Two of our stars Harikrishna Pentala and Sasikiran Krishnan were playing in this team.

The fun team from Club Ave Navy Bor started as the fifth seeds. From left: Radoslaw Wojtaszek, Mateusz Bartel, unidentified, Alexei Shirov, Sasikiran, Harikrishna, coach Petr Boleslav, David telephone Navara, Viktor Laznicka. (photo by David Llada)

Team-Starting rank

No. Team RtgAvg Captain
1 Syberia 2745 Vladimir Vorozheikin
2 Alkaloid 2732 Dragoljub Jacomovic
3 OR Padova 2718 Cristiano Quaranta
4 Mednyi Vsadnik 2716 Vladimir Bykov
5 AVE Novy Bor 2710 Petr Boleslav
6 VSK Sveti Nikolaj Srpski 2681 Milan Bozic
7 Ashdod 2677 Moshe Slav
8 SHSM Legacy Square Moscow 2675 Aleksander Zlochevskij
9 Odlar Yurdu 2669 Emil Sutovsky
10 Zhiguli 2569 Gulnara Salakhova

All the players in the team Ave Navy Bor are fun and lively personalities. The core of the team are two Czechs (Navara and Laznicka), two Indians (Hari and Sasi) and two Poles (Wojtaszek and Bartel). A Latvian (Shirov) and a Chinese (Wang Hao) were added to make the team even stronger. 2013 was the dream year for the team when, inspite of clearly being inferior in terms of rating to other teams, they won the event with some daring chess and unparalleled team spirit. However, in 2016 nothing of that sort was on show as Navy Bor finished on the eighth spot. This is how the players did individually.

Team-Composition without round-results

  5. AVE Novy Bor (RtgAvg:2710 / TB1: 10 / TB2: 216,5) Captain: Petr Boleslav
Bo.   Name Rtg FED FideID Pts. Games
1 GM Harikrishna P. 2768 IND 5007003 3,5 5,0
2 GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw 2744 POL 1118358 3,5 5,0
3 GM Navara David 2725 CZE 309095 4,0 6,0
4 GM Shirov Alexei 2677 LAT 2209390 5,0 7,0
5 GM Wang Hao 2680 CHN 8602883 5,5 7,0
6 GM Laznicka Viktor 2664 CZE 316385 2,0 3,0
7 GM Sasikiran Krishnan 2654 IND 5004985 5,5 6,0
8 GM Bartel Mateusz 2646 POL 1112635 2,5 3,0

Sasikiran was clearly the star of the team as he won the silver medal on board six
Rd. SNo   Name Rtg FED Pts. Res. K rtg+/-
1 235 IM Landenbergue Claude 2334 SUI 3,5 s 1 10 1,30
3 110 GM Brodsky Michail 2523 UKR 6,0 w ½ 10 -1,80
4 230 FM Buchal Stephan 2339 GER 0,0 s 1 10 1,40
5 252 FM Szabo Attila 2312 ROU 3,5 w 1 10 1,20
6 71 GM Perunovic Milos 2616 SRB 3,0 s 1 10 4,50
7 303   Ivic Matija 2231 SRB 4,0 s 1 10 0,80
Sasikiran's performance that helped him to perform at an Elo of 2797 and gained 7.4 Elo points
Although Sasi didn't face any world class opponents, the consistency with which he played was noteworthy. Except for Brodsky, he beat each and every opponent that he played against and this included a fine victory over Milos Perunovic (2616).
[Event "32nd ECC Open 2016"]
[Site "Novi Sad SRB"]
[Date "2016.11.11"]
[Round "6.6"]
[White "Perunovic, Milos"]
[Black "Sasikiran, Krishnan"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "C90"]
[WhiteElo "2616"]
[BlackElo "2654"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "96"]
[EventDate "2016.11.06"]
[WhiteTeam "VSK Sveti Nikolaj Srpski"]
[BlackTeam "AVE Novy Bor"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 O-O 8. d3
{The delayed d3 variation. Ever since people have realized that Black has well
established plans in the classical systems of the Ruy Lopez, they are turning
to d3 systems on moves five, six and eight.} d6 9. c3 Na5 10. Bc2 c5 11. Nbd2
Nc6 12. Nf1 Re8 13. h3 h6 {This move not only prevents Bg5 but also Ng5 and
this helps the bishop to develop on e6.} 14. Ne3 Be6 15. a4 (15. d4 cxd4 16.
cxd4 exd4 17. Nxd4 Nxd4 18. Qxd4 Rc8 {Followed by d5 at an appropriate moment
and Black should be completely fine.}) 15... Rc8 16. axb5 axb5 17. Bb3 Qd7 18.
Bxe6 Qxe6 19. Ra6 Qd7 20. Nf5 Qb7 21. Ra1 Bf8 22. Nh2 Re6 $5 {This is quite an
unusual move by Sasi. The main idea is clear. He wants to defend d6 and
prepare Ne7.} 23. Ng4 Ne7 24. Nxf6+ Rxf6 25. Ne3 $14 {White has a pleasant
edge at this point.} Rd8 26. Bd2 Re6 27. Ra5 $2 {Not a great move by Perunovic.
Black was clearly threatening d5 and something had to be done about it.} (27.
c4 $5 bxc4 28. Nxc4 $14) 27... d5 $1 {Black wrests over the initiative.} 28.
exd5 Nxd5 29. Qf3 Qb6 30. c4 {This was Milos' idea. But it is tactically
flawed.} Nxe3 $1 31. Rxb5 (31. Bxe3 Qxa5 $19) (31. Rxe3 bxc4 $19) 31... Nxg2 $1
{Sasikiran is alert and picks up the important g2 pawn.} 32. Rxb6 (32. Kxg2 Qa6
{Pawns are equal, but the white king is weak and Black is better.}) 32... Nxe1
33. Qb7 (33. Bxe1 Rxb6 $17 {is also a great position for Black.}) 33... Nf3+
34. Kf1 (34. Kg2 Nxd2 35. Rxe6 fxe6 $17) 34... Nxd2+ 35. Ke2 Re7 36. Qc6 Nb1 {
The knight finds a safe home on b1. Black has a rook and two pieces for queen
and is clearly better.} 37. f3 Red7 38. Rb3 Be7 39. Rb7 Rxb7 40. Qxb7 Bg5 41.
Qb6 (41. Qc7 $5) 41... Rc8 42. Qb7 Rf8 43. h4 Bf4 44. Qb5 Nd2 45. h5 (45. Qxc5
Nb3 $19) 45... Rc8 46. Qb7 Re8 47. b4 e4 $1 48. fxe4 Rb8 {Maybe the
resignation is a bit premature, but Black is going to take on b4 with his pawn
and then just start pushing. Perunovic resigned and a fine game by Sasi.} 0-1
Keeping his eyes wide open for every tactical opportunity!
One of the things noticeable in Sasi's games is his inclination towards playing aggressive chess. He chose 1.e4 in his two games with white and employed the Sicilian in two games as well. The possible reason could also be that he was playing against players rated well below him, but it is also true that calculation is Chennai grandmaster's forte.
Hari might have hoped for more from this event, but 3.5/5 helped him to gain one Elo point
Rd. SNo   Name Rtg FED Pts. Res. K rtg+/-
2 134 GM Dambacher Martijn 2479 NED 2,5 w 1 10 1,60
3 49 GM Sjugirov Sanan 2664 RUS 4,5 s 0 10 -6,40
4 60 GM Bluebaum Matthias 2641 GER 4,0 w 1 10 3,30
5 83 GM Papp Gabor 2587 HUN 3,5 s 1 10 2,60
6 7 GM Mamedyarov Shakhriyar 2762 AZE 5,0 w ½ 10 -0,10
Recently it has been very difficult to beat Harikrishna. It is his consistency that has helped him to reach a rating of 2770. Hence, every game that he loses to a player rated below him is a surprise. In the ECC he lost a game to Russian GM Sanan Sjugirov.
[Event "32nd ECC Open 2016"]
[Site "Novi Sad SRB"]
[Date "2016.11.08"]
[Round "3.1"]
[White "Sjugirov, Sanan"]
[Black "Harikrishna, Pentala"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D47"]
[WhiteElo "2664"]
[BlackElo "2768"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "113"]
[EventDate "2016.11.06"]
[WhiteTeam "Zhiguli"]
[BlackTeam "AVE Novy Bor"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Bd3 dxc4 7. Bxc4 b5 8. Bd3
Bd6 9. O-O O-O 10. Bd2 Bb7 11. Rc1 Rc8 12. a3 a5 13. e4 e5 14. dxe5 Nxe5 15.
Nxe5 Bxe5 16. Qe2 Re8 17. Rfd1 Qe7 18. f3 (18. f4 Bd4+ 19. Be3 Bxe3+ 20. Qxe3
Ng4 {This is the reason why f4 is not so great.}) 18... Nd7 {This was Hari's
improvement over the game Sjugirov-Jakovenko which continued with 18...h5. But
not a successful one.} 19. f4 Bd4+ 20. Be3 Bxe3+ 21. Qxe3 {White is clearly
better.} f6 22. e5 Qc5 23. Nd5 $1 Qxe3+ 24. Nxe3 Nf8 (24... fxe5 25. Bxh7+ Kxh7
26. Rxd7 $16) 25. Nf5 Rb8 26. Nd6 Re7 27. Bb1 h5 28. Ba2+ Kh7 29. exf6 gxf6 30.
Rc5 Bc8 31. Rxh5+ Kg6 32. Rh8 Bg4 33. Rg8+ (33. f5+ $1 Kg5 (33... Kg7 34. Rg8+
Kh7 35. Rxg4 $18) (33... Bxf5 34. Rg8+ $18) 34. Rg8+ Kh5 (34... Kf4 35. Rd4+
$18) 35. Rd4 Be2 36. g3 $18 {And Rh4 is an unstoppable mate.}) 33... Rg7 34.
Bb1+ f5 35. Rxg7+ Kxg7 36. Nxf5+ Bxf5 37. Bxf5 {White is two pawns up and went
onto to smoothly convert his advantage.} c5 38. Rd5 c4 39. Rc5 Kf6 40. g4 Ke7
41. Kf2 Kd6 42. Rc8 Rxc8 43. Bxc8 Ng6 44. Ke3 b4 45. axb4 axb4 46. Bf5 Ne7 47.
Be4 Kc5 48. f5 Nc8 49. f6 Kd6 50. g5 Nb6 51. g6 Nd7 52. f7 Ke7 53. Bd5 Nb6 54.
Be6 Kf8 55. h4 c3 56. bxc3 bxc3 57. h5 1-0
One of Harikrishna's excellent qualities is that he doesn't get bogged down after a loss. He fought back to score two wins over talented youngsters Gabor Papp and Mathias Bluebaum.
The knight dance in this game is very pretty!
[Event "32nd ECC Open 2016"]
[Site "Novi Sad SRB"]
[Date "2016.11.09"]
[Round "4.1"]
[White "Harikrishna, Pentala"]
[Black "Bluebaum, Matthias"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C11"]
[WhiteElo "2768"]
[BlackElo "2641"]
[Annotator "Sagar Shah"]
[PlyCount "59"]
[EventDate "2016.11.06"]
[WhiteTeam "AVE Novy Bor"]
[BlackTeam "SV Werder Bremen"]

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. e5 Nfd7 5. f4 c5 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Be3 a6 8. Qd2 b5
9. dxc5 Bxc5 10. Bd3 Qb6 11. Bf2 h6 12. a3 O-O 13. O-O Ra7 14. Rae1 b4 15. axb4
Qxb4 16. f5 exf5 17. Bxf5 Nb6 18. Bd3 Bg4 19. Kh1 Bxf2 20. Qxf2 Rb8 21. Nh4 $1
{The knight is looking at the juicy f5 square.} Be6 22. Nf5 Nd7 {And now
extremely alert Hari saw some nice tactics.} 23. Nxd5 $1 {The main idea is to
distract the bishop on e6 so that it cannot take the knight on f5.} (23. Qg3
Bxf5 {is possible. Although even this is clearly better for White.}) 23... Qc5
(23... Bxd5 24. Qg3 $1 g6 25. Nxh6+ Kg7 26. e6 $1 {The attack is devastating.})
24. Nfe7+ $1 Nxe7 25. Nxe7+ Kh8 (25... Qxe7 26. Qxa7 $18) 26. Nc6 $1 {A nice
fork!} Qxc6 27. Qxa7 $18 {White has won an exchange and went on to win the
game.} Rxb2 28. Qd4 Rb6 29. Rb1 Rxb1 30. Rxb1 1-0
Sethuraman played for the team Itaka and was on the top board. He performed at par scoring 4.5/7.

Sethuraman's performance

Rd. SNo   Name Rtg FED Pts. Res. K rtg+/-
1 150 GM Kharchenko Boris 2450 UKR 4,5 w 1 10 2,40
2 61 GM Predojevic Borki 2636 BIH 2,5 s ½ 10 -0,20
3 39 GM Mamedov Rauf 2684 AZE 3,5 w ½ 10 0,50
4 102 GM Nijboer Friso 2550 NED 4,0 s 0 10 -6,40
5 217 FM Rusev Rosen Yordanov 2364 BUL 3,5 s 1 10 1,60
6 134 GM Dambacher Martijn 2479 NED 2,5 w 1 10 2,80
7 147 GM Antic Dejan 2455 SRB 2,5 w ½ 10 -2,50

 

[Event "32nd ECC Open 2016"]
[Site "Novi Sad SRB"]
[Date "2016.11.10"]
[Round "5.1"]
[White "Rusev, Rosen Yordanov"]
[Black "Sethuraman, S.P."]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E04"]
[WhiteElo "2364"]
[BlackElo "2649"]
[PlyCount "40"]
[EventDate "2016.11.06"]
[WhiteTeam "Gambit Bonnevoie"]
[BlackTeam "Itaka"]
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 dxc4 5. Nf3 c6 6. O-O b5 7. a4 Bb7 8. Ne5 a6
9. axb5 axb5 10. Rxa8 Bxa8 11. b3 {White plays in typical Catalan style.} cxb3
12. Qxb3 Qxd4 13. Bb2 Qb6 {Black is two pawns up but is behind in development
and his pieces are not so great. Hence, White has good compensation. But the
first player needs to be quick. If Black gets in Be7 and 0-0, then Black would
be clearly better.} 14. Na3 $6 (14. Nc3 {or Nd2 were surely better.}) 14... Bb7
15. Nec4 Qa6 16. Ra1 bxc4 $1 {Sethu is alert and picks up the piece.} 17. Nxc4
Qb5 18. Qxb5 $2 (18. Qd3 $1 {Believe it or not White has excellent
compensation here. So what is the threat?} Be7 (18... Na6 19. Ra5 Qb4 20. Bc3
Nc5 (20... Qb3 21. Rxa6 Bxa6 22. Bxc6+ $18) 21. Bxb4 Nxd3 22. Bxf8 Rxf8 23.
exd3 $14) 19. Bxf6 gxf6 20. Rb1 Qa6 21. Qb3 Bc8 22. Qxb8 O-O $11 {White has
regained his piece.}) 18... cxb5 19. Bxb7 bxc4 20. Ra8 Nfd7 {White is a piece
down with no compensation.} 0-1

It's a good development for Indian chess that more and more of our players are being invited to not only play in different leagues all over the world, but also in a prestigious event like the European Club Cup. I hope that next year we will see more Indian players fighting it out at the European Club Cup.

Team Alkaloid won the gold in the open section

Team Monte Carlo won the gold in women's section

Hou Yifan is ecstatic with her double gold

A huge thanks to Lennart Ootes for providing such high quality images from the tournament. If you are interested in his pictures from the ECC 2016 for your magazine or publication, you can contact him on lennart.ootes@gmail.com (picture by David Llada)

Facebook page of the organizers

Official website

Chess-results

PGN of open event (courtesy TWIC)

PGN of women's event (courtesy TWIC)


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