Reports Mar 2, 2015 | 1:20 PMby IM David Martínez

European Championships: Korobov leader at halfway point

The 29-year-old Ukrainian grandmaster, Anton Korobov (2687), leads the European Individual Championships taking place in Jersualem after five rounds. Korobov, with 4.5/5, has a half point advantage over a group of 15 players including tournament favourite David Navara (2735) and 2014 champion Alexander Motylev (2665).

Tournament leader, Anton Korobov. Photo: Yoav Nis, Official Facebook 

Korobov started with a perfect 4/4, with victories over Dragan Solak (2607) and Constantin Lupulescu (2626) standing out. With his stellar performance so far, the Ukranian returns to the 2700 club on the live list after dropping out in 2014 due to a run of poor results. In Round 6 he has the tough task of playing Black against one of the pre-tournament favourites, Russian GM Ian Nepomniachtchi (2714). 

Korobov's luck could have changed in Round 4 had Lupulescu, on move 40, found the following mini-combination:

The Romanian played 40.Rcd3? threatening mate in two with Rd8 and R1d7, but this was easily stopped with Be7 and the Black knight lands on f3 with devastating consequences. However, had White played 40.Ne4! or 40.Nh5! it is in fact White's knight, in combination with the rook, which is able to deliver a decisive blow and allow White to take the full point.

Korobov's next opponent can also feel very lucky to be in the mix. In Round 5 he won the most crazy game of the day with White against Evgeny Romanov (2613). 

Romanov gave up an exchange and in return kept the white king in a perilous position on e1, which was more than sufficient compensation for the material imbalance. Had he played the precise move 24...Qd4! with the idea of playing Qe4 check, White's king would have found itself in a perpetual state of danger. However, Romanov preferred to take on f4 first ― not a bad move at all ― maintaining the initiative and shortly after allowing him to secure a decisive advantage:

Black played the tame 27...c5? 28.Qxf4 Bxb3, allowing White to exchange queens and completely free his position, so much so that he ended up winning the game. There were various moves that would have won, such as 27..Qd5! or 27...Bd5! ― the two that really stand out. 

The score in our the notation panel shows just how close Romanov was to winning 

Nepomniachtchi vs. Romanov also caught the eye of GM Jan Gustafsson, who annotated the game in full for our YouTube Channel:

After five rounds the standings look like this:

Rk. NombreFEDFIDEPts. Des 1  Des 2 
1GMKorobov AntonUKR26874.5263514.0
2GMNavara DavidCZE27354.0262515.5
3GMNajer EvgeniyRUS26344.0262513.0
4GMVovk YuriUKR25884.0262313.5
5GMMotylev AlexanderRUS26654.0260113.5
6GMEljanov PavelUKR27274.0259814.0
7GMNepomniachtchi IanRUS27144.0259212.5
8GMShimanov AleksandrRUS25944.0258113.0
9GMVolokitin AndreiUKR26464.0257912.0
10GMSmirin IliaISR26504.0257713.0
11GMSargissian GabrielARM26684.0257612.5
12GMSutovsky EmilISR26264.0255612.5
13GMDubov DaniilRUS26324.0253712.5
14GMKempinski RobertPOL26254.0253312.5
15GMBartel MateuszPOL26314.0245911.0
16GMNisipeanu Liviu-DieterGER26544.0245510.0

Still everything to play for, and don't forget: Apart from the title of European Champion, the top 23 players will gain entry to the World Cup which takes place in Baku in September this year.

You can follow all the games, live, from 14:00 CET.

See also:

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