Yorkshire Post Article 3 – European Club Cup 2015

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This is an extended version of the column published in The Yorkshire Post on 31st October 2015

The European Chess Club Cup took place in Skopje, Macedonia between 18-25 October. Unlike the European Team Championship, which is for national sides, the ECCC is more like chess’s equivalent of the Champions League in football which means that the world’s elite players can represent anyone they like. Unsurprisingly, the teams with the biggest financial backers can afford to assemble a squad of chess Galacticos and that can make for some tremendously strong match ups as the tournament progresses.

In this edition of the championship fifty teams of eight players entered the Open tournament and another twelve teams of five players entered the Women’s competition. Top seeds in the Open were the SOCAR outfit from Azerbaijan who boasted an absolutely formidable line up including four top Azeri’s and four very special guests. In rating order their line up was: Veselin Topalov, Anish Giri, Fabiano Caruana, Michael Adams, Teimour Radjabov, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Rauf Mamedov and Eltaj Safarli. Their average rating of 2771 begs the question as to whether there has ever been a stronger line up in any team competition before. I wonder if any readers have an idea if this is the case or not.

All in all twenty five of the world’s top thirty players made appearances for one side or another and with such heavy ordinance on display it wasn’t surprising to see some very one-sided results in the early rounds. As the tournament went on however the matches at the top end of the table were extremely hard fought. In the end it was the second seeds, Siberia, who won the tournament with a score of 13/14 (six wins and a draw in their final match when they had already secured the title).

The winning Siberia team with former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik holding the trophy aloft. (From the ECC

The winning Siberia team with former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik holding the trophy aloft. (From the ECC 2015 Website)

Siberia’s line up was almost as formidable as SOCAR’s as they put out Vladimir Kramnik, Levon Aronian, Alexander Grischuk, Li Chao, Wang Yue, Anton Korobov, Dmitry Kokarev and Dmitry Bocharov (average rating 2752). In the early rounds they rested their top two players but still won comfortably. When Kramnik and Aronian did make an appearance in round 3 they immediately took the team onto another level. Aronian was rock solid on board 2 as he drew 5 games against very strong opposition. Kramnik though was the real superstar as he beat Ian Nepomniatchi, Peter Svidler, Veselin Topalov and Vassily Ivanchuk before drawing with Peter Leko in the final round for a absolutely stellar tournament rating performance of 3102!! needless to say he played some pretty brilliant chess along the way to score so well against opposition like this.

Yorkshire was represented in the competition by the White Rose who were seeded 34th. Their line up of Peter Wells, James Adair, Jan van de Griendt, Paul Townsend, Stephen Barrett and Kieran O’Driscoll. With a squad of the minimum six players, the team might have found the going arduous but in the event only two of them scored less than fifty percent for the tournament and together they performed sterling work to finish with three wins, a draw and three defeats. This was enough to see them out-perform their seeding and finish in 25th position. Congratulations to the team for an excellent performance.

White Rose’s top performer was the in-form James Adair who scored a fantastic 5/7 playing on board 2. In first round Adair beat Grandmaster Vugar Rasulov of Azerbaijan. The critical stages of that first round game was the subject of this week’s puzzle in the newspaper and there is a bit more detail to be found in the game viewer below. To my untrained eye it looks like the final stages of this very tense and hard fought struggle were played in time trouble as a few uncharacteristic tactical inaccuracies crept in. The position certainly merits much more than cursory scrutiny for there are some very beautiful and interesting ideas to be seen. Of course we needed engine assistance to help us find all the wrinkles, it would be interesting to know how much of this the players saw at the time.

Anyone interested in downloading and/or studying the games from this competition can do so here.

The next column will appear in The Yorkshire Post on Saturday 7th November


The editorial team at Yorkshire Chess compile a weekly column for The Yorkshire Post every Saturday, with the online version published on Sunday. If you have any feedback or suggestions for the column, please click on "Contact Us" at the top of the page.

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7 Responses to “Yorkshire Post Article 3 – European Club Cup 2015”

  1. dave hirst

    Nov 01. 2015

    Keep up the great work, Andy. It just shows how much chess material this county has got for Yorkshire Post readers, stretching into the international arena. Are you getting some good puzzles from our local leagues from all our players? Must be plenty of great potential material.

    Reply to this comment
    • Andy Bak

      Nov 01. 2015

      Credit must go to Dave Shapland for putting together this column!

      We’re always looking for interesting games played in Yorkshire, sadly we don’t receive that many :(

      Reply to this comment
  2. Kevin winter

    Nov 03. 2015

    Maybe you can report on the british rapids…some notable scalps in the open and some yorkshire winners elsewhere

    Reply to this comment
  3. Rupert Jones

    Nov 05. 2015

    Maybe for Kev a headline like ‘Winter storms reign down on the Inter!’ There must be much better puns out there! Congrats to Kevin! Top effort.

    Reply to this comment
    • Matthew Webb

      Nov 06. 2015

      haha. I like it.

      Great result Kevin, hopefully plenty more success coming throughout the season too.

      Reply to this comment

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