Reports Mar 4, 2015 | 12:25 PMby IM David Martínez

European Championship 7: Huge logjam at the top

Things couldn’t be more evenly balanced after Round 7 of the European Championship in Jerusalem. A group of nine players is tied at the top of the table with 5.5/7, while no less than 21 players are lurking only half a point behind. The cliché that it’s all to play for has never been more apt! Our report includes Jan Gustafsson’s video analysis of two key games.

The top players like defending European Champion Alexander Motylev may get plenty of space in the playing hall, but otherwise it couldn't be tighter! | photo: Yoav Nis, official Facebook page 

Let’s take a look at that table:

1GMKorobov Anton26875.5264728.031.0
2GMNepomniachtchi Ian27145.5262030.033.0
3GMMotylev Alexander26655.5261729.032.5
4GMSargissian Gabriel26685.5259327.030.0
5GMVolokitin Andrei26465.5259125.028.5
6GMHowell David W L26635.5254924.528.0
7GMBartel Mateusz26315.5254024.528.0
8GMPopov Ivan26395.5251824.527.5
9GMNisipeanu Liviu-Dieter26545.5251225.028.0
10GMStefansson Hannes25735.0266725.528.0
11GMNajer Evgeniy26345.0263327.530.5
12GMNavara David27355.0262229.533.5
13GMDuda Jan-Krzysztof25915.0261829.031.5
14GMEljanov Pavel27275.0260927.030.5
15GMShimanov Aleksandr25945.0260526.528.5
16GMMatlakov Maxim26955.0260125.529.5
17GMSmirin Ilia26505.0258227.030.5
18GMBacrot Etienne27115.0257925.028.0
19GMSjugirov Sanan26785.0257625.528.5
20GMGajewski Grzegorz26465.0257123.526.5
21GMKempinski Robert26255.0256327.030.0
22Iljiushenok Ilia24505.0255826.028.5
23GMAkopian Vladimir26605.0255125.028.5
24GMDubov Daniil26325.0254227.030.0
25GMRodshtein Maxim26605.0254025.528.0
26GMKhairullin Ildar26295.0253623.026.0
27GMRomanov Evgeny26255.0252325.027.0
28GMKhismatullin Denis26535.0251423.026.0
29GMZhigalko Andrey25725.0251226.027.5
30GMEsen Baris25715.0249924.527.0

Ian Nepomniachtchi is the main man to blame for the huge tie after defeating sole leader Anton Korobov in Round 6. The game was a power struggle in which Nepomniachtchi sacrificed a pawn in exchange for a certain initiative – there was nothing concrete, but it was uncomfortable pressure for his opponent to deal with. The critical moment came on move 22:

Korobov played 22...Qe5? with the idea that after exchanging queens with 23.Qxe5 Nxe5 he could sacrifice the exchange with 24.Nb6 c3. Black’s passed pawn looks imposing, but he never managed to obtain full compensation for the exchange and the white rooks brought home the victory with relative ease. 22…c3 would have been a less creative but stronger move. The position remains very complex, White can attack with h6 and all three results would still be possible, but you’d certainly fancy Black’s chances more than in the ending an exchange down.

Jan Gustafsson took an in-depth look at the game:

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Ian drew with Black against Motylev in the seventh round and can now be considered the favourite.

Nepomniachtchi has bounced back after slip-ups in rounds two and three and is the only 2700-player among the leading pack | photo: Yoav Nis, official Facebook page 

Another player worth mentioning is 24-year-old English Grandmaster David Howell. After an impressive second place in Gibraltar he got off to a bad start in Jerusalem, but has managed to recover and pulled off a crucial win in Round 7. You couldn’t say he had the most appealing of positions after the opening in his game against Lupulescu

David has just been forced to return his knight to d2, and although you might call his position “compact” it wouldn’t be the envy of any white player. Lupulescu perhaps got carried away with how well it was going and decided to hit out with 20…f4?!, a very committal move that ceded the e4-square to the white knights! Howell was able to use that point as a fulcrum to gradually squeeze out a victory – a great display of character from the young Englishman, who’s having a 2015 to remember.

David Howell is aiming high | photo: Yoav Nis, official Facebook page

In such a strong tournament there’s an almost unlimited supply of interesting ideas and games. One that stood out, however, was the madness of Nisipeanu – Bukavshin. At some point it became almost impossible to count the threats of both players.

The position after the beautiful 19...Qxc2+!

Jan Gustafsson tried to make sense of it all:

With four rounds remaining the fight for the 23 World Cup places is really heating up, with perhaps 100 players still in with a shout. Nepomniachtchi-Howell (another battle between the incredible class of 1990), will be the top game to watch in Round 8. An English IM tweeted his support for his compatriot:

Don’t miss our live broadcast starting from 14:00 CET.

You can also watch the top games using our free mobile apps:


See also:

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