The chess world is virtually ignoring the European Club Cup. The competition, one of the elite team events of the year, is being held in Novi Sad, Serbia, and ends Sunday.
Under normal circumstances, it would be odd that a tournament with two of the world’s top four players and at least two dozen more “mere” super grandmasters (players rated at least 2700) could be overlooked. But the Champions Showdown underway in St. Louis and the World Championship match that is about to start in New York City are grabbing the lion’s share of the chess world’s attention. The latter events deserve the attention they’re getting, but there are some great, high-level games being played at the Club Cup, too.
Some teams are exceptionally strong, like the top-ranked one called “Syberia,” whose top player, Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, is 2810, and which also has four other players rated over 2700. Still, there have already been some upsets in the competition. In Round 3, two favorites were defeated.
In the top match, OR Padova, which is led by Maxime Vachier-Lagrave of France (2811) and Levon Aronian (2795), outrated VSK Sveto Nikolaj Srpski, on every board but the last one. Ironically, that was the game OP Padova won. The games on Boards 3, 4 and 5 were drawn. And OR Padova’s superstars? Have a look.
Of course, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan and Richard Rapport of Hungary are great players, but the overall result was still a surprise.
An even bigger – and more lopsided – upset occurred in the match between the AVE Novy Bor, the No. 5 seed, and Zhiguli, No. 10. The former outrated their opponents between 92 points (on Board 3) and 163 points (on Board 5). AVE Novy Bor managed to win one game, on Board 2, but lost on Boards 1, 3, and 5. It was notable that every member of AVE Novy Bor who had Black lost. Poor opening play wasn’t really the problem on Boards 3 and 5, but it was the culprit on Board 1 as Sanan Sjugirov of Russia, No. 85 in the world, impressively dispatched Pentala Harikrishna of India, who is No. 10.
Dennis Monokroussos is a FIDE master who has written about chess on his blog “The Chess Mind,” since 2005. He has been teaching chess for almost 20 years and for the last 10 years has been making instructional chess videos, which can be found at ChessLecture.com. Between 1995 and 2006, he taught philosophy, including a four-year stint at the University of Notre Dame.
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