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Sunday, October 11, 2009

European Chess Club Cup 2009, rounds 1 - 3

The Monaco team (from left to right: Alexandra Kosteniuk, Monica Socko, Humpy Koneru, Almira Skripchenko and Pia Cramling)

Hello everybody!

I reached Halkidiki where the 80th FIDE Congress will be taking place next week. I also remind you that on the 14th of October in Athens on the Petroupoli Square I will give a big chess simul against the 30 winners of a special chess festival. I will keep you posted about these two interesting events.

Meanwhile, as I promised, I will let you know about the Women's European Chess Club Cup 2009, round by round starting with the first 3 rounds.

As I already said in one of my previous post I haven't played in the first round where my team was facing the team of CS Cotnari-Politehnica from Romania. The match started very well for us, but closer to the first time control Pia Cramling that was playing against Yelena Dembo in a completely winning position made a blunder and eventually lost:

Here is the position before the 35th White's move. Pia Cramling (white) completely outplayed her opponent bust suddenly instead of winning 35. bxa6, Pia made 35. Nb4?! not losing yet but gives Black some chance and after 35. ... Re1 the losing move came 36. Qd3? (instead of Qd3 - 36. Qd2 was still possible with a big advantage) and after 36. ... Qxb5 37. Qxb5?? ( more stubborn would have been 37. Bxc7 and White still have good chance to save this game after 37. ... Bxd4 38. Kh2) after the 37th move of White the game ended: 38.Kh1 axb5 39.Bxc7 Rxf1+ 40.Kh2 Bg1+ 41.Kh3 Bc5 0-1

How often happens in the team competitions after this loss Monica Socko also spoiled a very good position and at the end lost the game. Humpy Koneru and Almira Skripchenko were able to fight back and won their games but we finished the match only in a draw. My team of Cercle d'Echecs Monte Carlo was the rating favorite of the tournament, so the result of 2-2 in the first round came as a big surprise for us.

While our main opponents the team of Spartak (Vidnoe) and Samaia (Tbilisi) won their matches, and what's more the team of Spartak won the match against a strong team from Mika (Yerevan) with a prefect score 4-0. That's how nicely Kosintseva Nadezhda (Spartak) won in the first round against Nino Khurtsidze (Mika):

Black just played 19. ... Bc8 and Nadezhda continued her game with a nice 20.Ngf5! Bh8 21.Qg5 Nc5 22.Nxc6! Bxf5 23.exf5 Qxc6 24.Bxf6 Rxe1+ 25.Rxe1 Re8 26.Rd1 Bg7 27.Bxg7 Kxg7 28.f6+ Kh8 29.Qh6 Ne6 30.Re1 Rg8 31.Rxe6 fxe6 32.f7 Qc8 33.fxg8=R+ Kxg8 34.Qf4 d5 35.Bd3
Qd8 36.Qd4 Qg5 37.cxd5 exd5 38.Qxb6 Qd2 39.Bf1 1-0

In the second round we met the team of Vandoeuvre from France who got a bye in the first round. We had only 11 teams in the women's competition and that means that one team every round got a bye, if we take into account that we had to play 7 rounds and there were only 11 teams in total that means that at least one of the top 5 teams would need to get a bye and of course this kind of situations should be avoided in the next tournaments. But it's a question to the organizers of the event and we should get back to chess. I was playing with Black against Fiona Steil-Antoni (2152), it was not my perfect game but at the very end after mutual mistakes
we reached the following position:

And it turned out that White is not able to stop Black's pawns since after 42. Nb5 Black will just take on b5 42. ... Rxb5! 43. cxb5 a3 White will just need to resign that what my opponent did after 42. c5 a3 43. c6 d2 since the pawns are still unstoppable. My team won 4 - 0. While Spartak made a draw against Economist (Saratov), but Samaia team continued the winning strike and after 2 rounds was the only team with the perfect score.

In the third round we made a draw with Economist and Samaia also made a draw so after three rounds Samaia was still in the sole lead with 5 match points (every team got 2 points for a win, 1 points for a draw and 0 points for a loss). And 5 teams were sharing the 2nd place with 4 match points. I will let you know about the 4 last rounds in the next post since now I will need to get some rest before once I again I was traveling the whole night to get from Ohrid to Halkidki. Below are some photo-moments from Ohrid to finish this post:

Nowadays WI-FI can be found everywhere, even on the beach of the Ohrid lake.

Nice sunset after a very hard-fought round

Posted by: Alexandra Kosteniuk
Women's world chess champion



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