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Two Lead Euro Ch after 6

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Two players jumped out to 4/4 starts in this year's European Individual Championship in Croatia, Ukraine's Efimenko and Georgia's Jobava. They drew with each other in the 5th round, which allowed two others to match them at 4.5. Then in today's 6th round Jobava and Efimenko beat the newcomers, Timofeev and Nisipeanu, to stay on top with very impressive 5.5/6 scores. In big swisses with only the very top prizes worth the trip, you have to play to win every round. But here, where the qualification to the next World Cup is the main goal and 22 players make it, we often see those who reach solid plus scores playing cautiously and taking draws with each other. After the first two rounds of mismatches it's rare to see more than half the games on the top boards finish decisively.

It was an even split today, with a bunch of quick draws on the top ten, but the action on the top three made it feel like a win. Efimenko's brutal demolition of Nisipeanu's Alekhine's Defense in particular is worth a look. It won't take long. Black must have missed something big because the position is unplayable with g7 bishop flushed out by the h6 pawn. I've only had time to take occasional glances at the games there are so many. Pelletier's king's run to daylight against Navara is fun to watch. The Swiss's (ss's?!) defense was perfect. Adams played a nice smash of Jankovic with 26.Rxg7+! The follow-up isn't as obvious as it might seem. In fact, Adams missed the mating line 30.Qxf6!, but taking a full rook isn't bad either.

The streaky Cheparinov might have been considered a dark horse for a strong run here, but so far he's been more of a dog. He got blown out of the water by Spain's Lopez Martinez in just 23 moves with white against a French. The winning combination, a double piece sac, is pretty. The game Lysyj-Erdogdu probably wasn't on your radar either, but despite being sloppier than eating soup with a knife and from an already winning position, the series of tactics starting on move 40 with c4! are quite fun. Iordachescu-Schmidt is another mismatch that was winning in 20 ways, but the way White chose is good stuff. 19.Nxf7! Kxf7 20.Qg3 picks up the black queen. I'm a sucker for a quiet diagonal retreating winner. Jobava hasn't just been winning, he's been winning pretty. 33..Bd4!! against Krasenkow must have made the Pole vault, if you don't mind. You can tell it was a shock (and/or time trouble) because White then allowed the nasty 35..Ne3, ending things instantly. Lupulescu was already doing very well with black out of a Benoni against Moiseenko, but he really rubbed it in with the lovely 29..Rxf4!, stealing a piece out of thin air. 30.exf3 Nf3+ 31.gxf3 gxf3+ is mate. Cool and unusual punishment.

Big Al Beliavsky missed a very interesting shot that might have saved his game against Gdanski. 32..Rxb2! is the sort of tactic that combines various themes that are so easy for a computer to spot. 33.Rxb2 Rxc3+ 34.Kd2 Rd3+ 35.Kc2 Nxf4 and the pin on the g3 pawn wins back the piece with excellent comp for the exchange. 23-year-old IM Jure Skoberne of Slovenia deserves a shout-out for his run so far. He beat Volkov and Howell to move to 3/3. He lost to Timofeev but bounced back to beat another 2600 today. This latest, against Gelashvili, is also a wonderfully dynamic game.


Sure would be nice if there were an "Americas" Championship (North/Central/South). Any takers?

Do not forget about women! Go Monika!

Monika Socko (and her husband, Bartosz) are a professional chessplayer couple of GMs from Poland. ChessBase had a nice interview with Monika, after she won the Arctic Challenge in 2009:
(Caution: Their name is not pronounced 'socko', like the slang word for popular, impressive or successful. Something like a soft 'ch' should be pronounced before the 'k'. I hope it does not affect the neat meaning of their name :)

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on March 11, 2010 6:41 PM.

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