Cardiff at the European Club Championships
29 Sept – 5 Oct 2003
by Tim Kett
A good team effort and in particular an excellent finish saw another great result by the Cardiff Chess Club in a tournament that has brought them both a lot of fun and considerable success in recent years.
The venue this year was the Cretan resort of Rethymnon, an ancient fishing village which has developed over the years into a significant tourist destination. Transport over the islands mountainous coastal roads was an adventure in itself but the enormous hotel complex with its pools, private beach and vast quantities of generally good food was pleasant enough. There were various complaints from many teams about the both the hotel and tournament organisers though. Administration was often a pretty frustrating and uncoordinated affair and conditions in the main playing hall were far from satisfactory - luckily we were mostly in the smaller separate room for the lower boards (!)
This was a serious chess tournament – by far the strongest I had ever competed in and I must admit I was completely awestruck by the sight of so many stars. 33 of the World’s top 50 players were there ! Top seeds were the French Club NAO featuring a heavily-sponsored side with three of the world’s top 10 (Grischuk, Svidler, Adams) while Kasparov’s team (also starring Smirin, Bologan and Rublevsky) could only finish 5th !
A total of 45 teams had entered including, frustratingly, some sort of extra “Euro invitational” outfit which meant a bye became necessary as it always seems to at these things. I’ve ranted before about this and I’ll probably rant about it again so I’ll spare you the full diatribe this time but what did make it doubly frustrating was that I was only staying for the first five out of seven rounds… to get the bye in round 5 therefore did not meet with my fullest approval to say the least. Charles Cobb also suffered significantly from this as for the second year running his chance for an IM norm was lost owing only to the fact that we couldn’t complete seven rounds.
The tournament was almost in two halves for us in terms of team approach. For the first half we desperately wanted to get a win against one of the Continental sides to avoid the bye. Once we’d got it in round 5, it brought us level with our fellow Celts who had had the bye earlier (and lost all their other games) so then it was a case of playing our immediate rivals in a life-or-death struggle to get away from the bottom.
A total of five British teams entered this year, two Welsh, two Irish and one English. Sadly we couldn’t repeat last years success of being top British team as Barbican (Jonathan Parker, Brian Kelly, Richard Palliser, Mark Ferguson etc) had sent a decent side who performed solidly enough. We were clearly the club who performed the most above expectation however as the following table shows.
The other Welsh side, Nidum (Richard Jones, Chris Walsh, Abigail Cast, Rob Saunders, Glyn Sinnett and Jason Cast) had their moments - Richard drew with GM Chuchelov and Glyn Sinnett and Jason Cast both scored well - but in the end could only finish just above the Irish in 43rd place.
What follows is a round-by-round account of Cardiff’s results in the tournament.
Round 1: Cardiff 1 - 5 Eynatten
Charles Cobb 1-0 GM Naiditsch (2574)
Tim Kett 0-1 GM Golsoschapov (2574)
Alan Spice 0-1 Roeder (2451)
John Trevelyan 0-1 Welling (2391)
Gary Dawson 0-1 Sonntag (2380)
Peter Davieb 0-1 Huizer (2188)
Although well beaten in the match by this semi-professional Belgian outfit the result on top board still made this a sensational start. The young German GM Naiditsch had recently been making headlines as a superstar in the making but was rapidly brought down to earth by Charles. Admittedly Black did stand slightly better when he missed a tactical trick and lost a piece for two pawns but from there on Charles showed exemplary and nerveless technique in a long ending with Q, B & 3 vs Q & 5. At first glance it might have looked as though Black was covering all his pawns and entry-points but Charles skilfully used zugzwang to lure the Black pawns forward.
[White "Cobb, Charles"]
[Black "Naiditsch, Arkadij"]
1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Bb4 3. Qc2 c6 4. Nf3 Qe7 5. a3 Ba5 6. d4 d6 7. b4 Bc7 8. e4 a5 9. Rb1 axb4 10. axb4 Bg4 11. dxe5 dxe5 12. Be2 Nf6 13. O-O O-O 14. Be3 Nbd7 15.h3 Bxf3 16. Bxf3 Rfd8 17. Na4 Nf8 18. b5 Ne6 19. b6 Bb8 20. c5 Nd4 21. Bxd4 exd4 22. Nb2 Ra3 23. Nd3 Nd7 24. Rb3 Rxb3 25. Qxb3 Nxc5?
26.Qa3 Bd6 27. e5 Nxd3 28. exd6 Qxd6 29. Qxd3 Qc5 30. Rb1 g6 31. Be4 Re8 32. Qc2 Qa5 33. g3 Re6 34. Kg2 c5 35. Bxb7 Rxb6 36. Rxb6 Qxb6 37. Bd5 Kg7 38. Qc4 Qc7 39. Qb5 Qe7 40. Qb3Qf6 41. Qb5 Qd6 42. Qb7 Qf8 43. Qc7 Kg8 44. Kg1 Kg7 45. h4 Kg8 46. Be4 Kg7 47.Qe5+ f6 48.Qc7+ Kh6 49. Kh2 f5 50. Bd3 Qf6 51. Qxc5 f4 52. Qc1 Kh5 53. Be2+ 1-0
For a long time I was very happy with my game against the other imported GM. Around move 20 the position was perfectly equal, both on the board and the clock. Unfortunately then - through a combination of impatience and over-optimism - I was tempted into an unjustified attacking gesture and was rapidly demolished.
[White "Goloshchapov, Alexander"]
[Black "Kett, Tim"]
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 f5 4. Nc3 fxe4 5. Nxe4 Nf6 6. Nxf6+ Qxf6 7. O-O (not considered the best by theory. 7Qe2 is the most direct challenge and since the alternative ways of trying to defend the e-pawn are all bad, Black usually sacrifices it with 7…Be7) Be7 8. d3 Nd4 9. Nxd4 exd4 10. Qh5+ Kd8 (Why not 10…g6 straight away - since I’m going to play it later anyway ? One variation I saw wab 11Qh6 c6 12 11Re1 cxb5 ? 12Bg5! even so it’s a little panicy but I get away with it for now) 11. Bd2 c6 12. Ba4 g6 13. Qe2 d5 14. Rae1 Bd7 15. c4 dxc4 16. dxc4 Re8 17. Bc2 Kc7 (17…Bb4 18.Qd3 Bxd2 19.Qxd2 c5) was a fully playable alternative) 18. Be4 Bd6 19. Qd3
(Black is at least level in this position. After the simple and calm 19… Re7 20b4 Rae8 White has no time for 21c5? Because of Bxh2+ and Qh4+ regaining the piece with interest. After White defends this threat, Black will be able to force several exchanges and should have no fears in the endgame at all) 19 … Re5 ? (this is tactically possible in the short-term because of the cheapo 20Qxd4 Rh5! 21Qxf6 Bxh2+ etc but note for future reference: GMs don’t usually fall for one-movers !) 20. b4 Rh5 21.f4 g5? (committing to an unsound sac but I’m already in trouble) 22. c5 Bxf4 23. g3 Qh6 24. Rxf4! Rxh2 25. Rf7 1-0
The other games eventually went to form against as our opponents strength in depth made itself felt. Alan and Gary were slowly worn down. John’s Philidor ran into an ex-Philidor player who knew about 20 moves of the very best anti-Philidor theory (the game lasted to move 21 I think !)
Peter meanwhile ventured fearlessly into an uncharted area of chess theory as follows:
[White "Huizer, Mark"]
[Black "Davies, Peter"]
1. e4 Na6 !? (Apparently Tony Miles christened this the “Holey-Woley”)
2. g3 d5 3. Nc3 d4 4. Nce2 d3 5. cxd3 Nc5 ! (now it all starts to make sense !) 6. Nc3 Nxd3+ 7. Bxd3 Qxd3 8. Qe2 Qxe2+ 9. Ngxe2 but sadly from this equallish position Peter went slowly downhill and lost in 56.