Reports | April 01, 2012 0:48

Jakovenko claims European title in dramatic finish

Jakovenko claims European title in dramatic finish

28-year-old Russian Dmitry Jakovenko has won the European Championship after winning on demand in the final round to take clear first with 8.5/11. His French opponent, Laurent Fressinet, still had the consolation of a silver medal as the other top players drew, leaving no less than 13 tied on 8/11. Vladimir Malakhov took bronze by a whisker ahead of three more Russians, while there was more drama lower down the table in the scrap for World Cup qualifying places. Gawain Jones and Jan Smeets were among those who sneaked in with last-round wins.

Event European Championship | Details at Chess-Results | PGN via TWIC
Dates March 20th-31st, 2012
Location Plovdiv, Bulgaria
System 11-round Swiss

The are fifteen 2700 players: Fabiano Caruana, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Dmitry Jakovenko, Anish Giri, Alexander Riazantsev, Nikita Vitiugov, Etienne Bacrot, Baadur Jobava, Boris Grachev, Vladimir Malakhov, Viktor Laznicka, Sergei Movsesian, Arkadij Naiditsch, David Navara and Emil Sutovsky

Rate of play 90 minutes for 40 moves followed by 30 minutes to finish the game, with 30 seconds increment from move 1
Prize fund € 100,000 in total, with a € 14,000 first prize 

We last reported from Plovdiv after Round 9, when seven players were leading on 7/9 and a disgruntled Shakhriyar Mamedyarov had left the building. Although all but two of the top eight pairings in Round 10 finished drawn, those two games proved crucial. Dmitry Jakovenko had a level position against Mikhail Kobalia when he decided to make things more interesting by sacrificing a piece for two pawns:

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22.Nxd5!? cxd5 23.Qxb5 Black can probably hold back the passed pawns, but after 23…Re4?! 24.Ra1 h6? 25.c6! White was on top and went on to win smoothly.

Meanwhile, Laurent Fressinet won a remarkably straightforward miniature against Vladimir Akopian. 17…dxc4? looks innocuous, but that opening of the position appears to have been almost the losing blunder, and by move 25 it was just a question of how Fressinet would choose to finish off his opponent:

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So going into the final round Fressinet was in the clear lead with 8/10 and knew half a point would see him become European Champion. First, though, he had to draw with the black pieces against Jakovenko. The tension could only be guessed at, as sadly prolonged failures of the live broadcast from Bulgaria spoiled the round as a spectator experience.

As you can see below, the Russian achieved a nagging edge out of the opening, which even exchanging queens failed to diminish. Fressinet was on the ropes, with his pieces tied to the defence of the chronically weak e6-pawn. He cracked as the time control was approaching with the pseudo-active 33…Rd7?, as after 34.hxg6 hxg6 35.Bc2! it turns out Black can no longer defend the g6-pawn.

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Most of the other top games were drawn relatively quickly (ensuring World Cup places all round), but it was only after Jakovenko saw Ernesto Inarkiev spend 61 moves failing to win a better endgame against Francisco Vallejo Pons that he knew for certain (without a calculator!) that he’d won the European title. Although the Russian is perhaps an unfamiliar face to chess fans, his win can’t be considered a huge upset given he started the event as the third highest rated player – and has now jumped up to 2743.1 and 13th place on the live rating list.

It was a painful tournament, however, for some of the other top-rated players. Second-ranked Mamedyarov called it a day after dropping 18 rating points. No. 4 Anish Giri saw things out to the bitter end, but even winning his last two games couldn’t stop him plummeting out of the 2700 club after a disastrous campaign. He’s dropped to 2691.1, though it’s hard to imagine he won’t bounce back soon.

It was a much better event for the other world-beating junior and the tournament’s no. 1 seed, Fabiano Caruana, who continued his good form despite playing an incredible number of games in the last few months. The final round was a bridge too far, however. After four wins and six draws he fell victim to Yuriy Kryvoruchko from the Ukraine, who seemed to be better prepared. The nice 24.Bxf7+! isn’t fatal, but in the play that followed White’s patient manoeuvring is very impressive:

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There was some spectacular chess lower down the table as players fought to make it into the 23 qualifiers for the next World Cup. Vladimir Akopian and Alexander Khalifman have some history, as they played a 6-game match for the FIDE World Championship back in Las Vegas in 1999. Khalifman of course won that encounter, but this time round Akopian took revenge in a mind-boggling Najdorf. Khalifman’s 18…Ng4!!? deserved better than the loss it led to after he blundered with 25…Ka7??

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It was a bad day all round for the Najdorf (and the French!) as Maxime Vachier-Lagrave lost a similarly wild game to Evgeniy Najer. The g-pawn doesn’t help Black, as he’s getting mated in the final position:

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Gawain Jones, who was the sole leader after 4 rounds, played some of the most entertaining chess at the event, pulling off a great escape or two until he came a cropper against Viorel Bologan in the penultimate round – sacrificing two pawns for an attack that ran out of steam. That left him needing to win with the black pieces in the final round to make the World Cup. Describing his opening play as “dubious” is perhaps putting it mildly, but he eventually won a weird and wonderful game against his Dutch opponent (who might have nightmares about those black pawns):

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It wouldn’t be this year’s European Championship if there wasn’t at least a hint of controversy. With many of the players “peacefully inclined”, there were likely to be some issues with the draw rules in place. French GM and journalist Robert Fontaine tweeted:

Looks like arbiters didn't give the draw to Bologan-Malakhov. But Maze&Smirin repeated moves from 15 to 40...Something must be changed!

It seems nothing untoward actually happened in the game between Viorel Bologan and Vladimir Malakhov. Although it was suggested the presence of an arbiter “encouraged” Bologan to play on after a single repetition in the early stages of a Berlin Defence, he said himself after the game at Chess-News that he simply decided to continue. The uninspiring play that followed (drawn in 41) gave Malakhov, probably the world’s only top chess player who happens to be a nuclear physicist, the bronze medal.

But Sebastien Maze – Ilia Smirin was a real oddity. The players didn’t try to claim a draw by repetition but… simply repeated things. Again, and again, and again, from move 16 to 40.

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A joke, a protest, inspired by Loek van Wely? Somehow it seems we’re likely to hear a lot more about the rules that were in place at this year’s European Individual Championship!

The final standings at the top were (performance rating was the first tie-breaker):

European Championship 2012 | Round 11 standings (top 40)

Rk. Title Name FED Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 w we w-we K rtg+/-
1 GM Jakovenko Dmitry RUS 2729 8.5 2832 67.0 72.0 8.5 7.09 1.41 10 14.1
2 GM Fressinet Laurent FRA 2693 8.0 2800 71.5 76.0 8 6.49 1.51 10 15.1
3 GM Malakhov Vladimir RUS 2705 8.0 2787 68.5 73.5 8 6.84 1.16 10 11.6
4 GM Andreikin Dmitry RUS 2689 8.0 2786 69.0 74.0 8 6.65 1.35 10 13.5
5 GM Inarkiev Ernesto RUS 2695 8.0 2784 66.5 71.5 8 6.76 1.24 10 12.4
6 GM Matlakov Maxim RUS 2632 8.0 2778 72.0 76.5 8 5.87 2.13 10 21.3
7 GM Bologan Viktor MDA 2687 8.0 2768 66.5 71.5 8 6.85 1.15 10 11.5
8 GM Vallejo Pons Francisco ESP 2693 8.0 2765 66.0 71.0 8 7.00 1.00 10 10.0
9 GM Kryvoruchko Yuriy UKR 2666 8.0 2761 63.5 69.0 8 6.67 1.33 10 13.3
10 GM Azarov Sergei BLR 2667 8.0 2759 66.0 71.0 8 6.68 1.32 10 13.2
11 GM Najer Evgeniy RUS 2640 8.0 2756 66.0 71.0 8 6.32 1.68 10 16.8
12 GM Akopian Vladimir ARM 2684 8.0 2754 64.5 69.0 8 7.02 0.98 10 9.8
13 GM Volokitin Andrei UKR 2695 8.0 2745 63.5 68.5 8 7.25 0.75 10 7.5
14 GM Smeets Jan NED 2610 8.0 2685 59.0 63.5 8 6.83 1.17 10 11.7
15 GM Jones Gawain C B ENG 2635 7.5 2760 70.0 74.0 7.5 5.61 1.89 10 18.9
16 GM Vitiugov Nikita RUS 2709 7.5 2751 69.0 74.0 7.5 6.85 0.65 10 6.5
17 GM Bacrot Etienne FRA 2706 7.5 2748 72.0 77.0 7.5 6.83 0.67 10 6.7
18 GM Dreev Aleksey RUS 2698 7.5 2736 65.5 70.0 7.5 6.90 0.60 10 6.0
19 GM Khismatullin Denis RUS 2656 7.5 2734 67.5 72.5 7.5 6.30 1.20 10 12.0
20 GM Kobalia Mikhail RUS 2666 7.5 2734 67.0 72.0 7.5 6.43 1.07 10 10.7
21 GM Durarbeyli Vasif AZE 2543 7.5 2729 66.5 70.5 7.5 4.54 2.96 10 29.6
22 GM Riazantsev Alexander RUS 2710 7.5 2728 65.5 71.0 7.5 7.19 0.31 10 3.1
23 GM Jobava Baadur GEO 2706 7.5 2725 69.5 73.5 7.5 7.14 0.36 10 3.6
24 GM Berkes Ferenc HUN 2682 7.5 2716 67.5 72.5 7.5 6.94 0.56 10 5.6
25 GM Ragger Markus AUT 2654 7.5 2714 67.0 71.0 7.5 6.45 1.05 10 10.5
26 GM Balogh Csaba HUN 2664 7.5 2714 61.0 66.0 7.5 6.72 0.78 10 7.8
27 GM Fridman Daniel GER 2653 7.5 2709 63.0 67.5 7.5 6.60 0.90 10 9.0
28 GM Nisipeanu Liviu-Dieter ROU 2643 7.5 2706 67.5 71.0 7.5 6.50 1.00 10 10.0
29 GM Sokolov Ivan NED 2653 7.5 2705 65.0 70.0 7.5 6.66 0.84 10 8.4
30 GM Georgiev Kiril BUL 2671 7.5 2703 64.5 69.5 7.5 6.97 0.53 10 5.3
31 GM Sargissian Gabriel ARM 2674 7.5 2702 64.0 68.5 7.5 7.03 0.47 10 4.7
32 GM Ivanisevic Ivan SRB 2645 7.5 2698 62.5 67.5 7.5 6.65 0.85 10 8.5
33 GM Sjugirov Sanan RUS 2610 7.5 2697 66.0 71.0 7.5 6.12 1.38 10 13.8
34 GM Khenkin Igor GER 2632 7.5 2695 60.0 64.5 7.5 6.51 0.99 10 9.9
35 GM Efimenko Zahar UKR 2695 7.5 2664 61.5 66.5 7.5 7.80 -0.30 10 -3.0
36 GM Grigoriants Sergey RUS 2561 7.5 2647 57.5 61.0 7.5 5.73 1.77 10 17.7
37 GM Kuzubov Yuriy UKR 2615 7.0 2727 70.5 75.5 7 5.33 1.67 10 16.7
38 GM Caruana Fabiano ITA 2767 7.0 2720 66.0 71.0 7 7.65 -0.65 10 -6.5
39 GM Naiditsch Arkadij GER 2702 7.0 2710 69.5 74.5 7 6.89 0.11 10 1.1
40 GM Melkumyan Hrant ARM 2628 7.0 2700 68.5 74.5 7 5.92 1.08 10 10.8


Colin McGourty's picture
Author: Colin McGourty


Tarjei's picture

Jakovenko, an unfamiliar face to chess fans, umm what? :)

sulutas's picture

That's exactly what I immediately said to myself :-))) He was one of the tough guys to beat and an elite GM until three years ago, when he lost badly to Carlsen in Nanjing. Glad to see him back - he definitely belongs to the group of Super-GMs.

redivivo's picture

Yes, he was top 5 on the rating list less than three years ago after some great results, a dozen points or less behind Carlsen and Aronian, and just ahead of Kramnik, so he isn't some kind of total unknown.

Bert de Bruut's picture

Resorting to a manyfold repetition is quite understandable: no chessplayer in his right mind would voluntarily be willing to ask an outsider, like an arbiter, whether he would be so kind as to rule his equal position indeed a draw. No need to humiliate oneself when there is the possibility to demonstrate the "repetition ad infinitum" to the entire arbiter corps present. Well done gentlemen!

stevefraser's picture

Or the first player to repeat a previous position from the game loses. Simple, plus we just might get some more interesting and decisive chess.

Thomas's picture

IMO this would make chess poorer rather than richer: in some cases, the only way to save an otherwise lost position is to force a move repetition. And IMO such games can be rather interesting, unless one considers a/any draw a boring result. In football, noone complains about a game that ends 4-4 ... .

Rodzjer's picture

+1 to your comment Bert!

Andre From Outkast's picture

'Although the Russian is perhaps an unfamiliar face to chess fans'

LOL Happy April Fools!

Frits Fritschy's picture

I really thought Maze-Smirin was an april fools joke, thinking I'm not going to react on this... So in a way, I've fallen for it!

Matt's picture

Interesting game by G. Jones! Tks for the report

Thomas's picture

Whether an arbiter was nearby or not, Bologan-Malakhov was interesting to watch live: Bologan spent about 20 minutes on 15.Ned4 avoiding the repetition, then Malakhov sank into deep thought. Apparently he had expected that Bologan would copy the earlier game Akopian-Malakhov (given in the previous report).

But we can forgive Bologan for one boring or uninspired game: with an overall score of +7=2-2 he may have been the most entertaining player of the event. Ukrainian GM Kryvoruchko had the same score, while even Gawain Jones had thrown in a few safe draws after his early lead.

Septimus's picture

Akopian-Khalifman was crazy entertaining. Loads of tactics! Whats up with repeating moves a million times? Well, at least it shows how some rules can be a bit overbearing.

PS# Dude the word verification plague is killing me!

Laurus Ronda Chess Club's picture

Bravo Paco¡¡¡ Vallejo played very well at the end of the tournament. Welcome to world cup¡¡¡

silvakov's picture

If Bologan-Malakhov finished on that first repetition it would give room for a disqualification. I mean, repeating the exact same game from 2 rounds ago, it's hard not to assume some kind of pre-agreement. Of course, I'm not saying the other uninspired draws were less evil, but you have to at least pretend you're playing...
Now, considering the anti-draw rule good or not, that's another story...

Thomas's picture

It wouldn't be proof either: Malakhov has the right to repeat his earlier game, could one force Bologan to deviate? It was a pretty straightforward Berlin, and Akopian-Malakhov already had predecessors (two games by Karjakin with black). Actually it would have been more suspicious to play something leading to a forced draw which isn't part of their normal repertoire - for example the exchange Ruy Lopez, Kosintseva variation.
BTW there may be a reason for Bologan's uninspired play: he has a rather bad score with white against the Berlin, +3=3-5 according to (and the last win is from 2005). Possibly he didn't feel like tempting fate in a pretty important game, even though he is usually an ambitious and entertaining player.

stevefraser's picture

"...“Looks like arbiters didn't give the draw to Bologan-Malakhov. But Maze&Smirin repeated moves from 15 to 40...Something must be changed!" Yes: The New Draw Rule: "The first player on the move to repeat any previous position in the games loses."

Rodzjer's picture

Next, you will surely start suggesting an additional rule, that people are not allowed to lose games!? Anyone who does that, will forfeit that game! Draw is a legitimate result in chess. All these stupid rules to attract sponsor and money to the game will only kill the game itself.

Frits Fritschy's picture

There seems to be some confusion about the anti-drawing rule. According to the tournament regulations (available on the website): "Communication between players (the offer of draw) is forbidden until the 40th move has
been played." So it was possible to claim a draw because of threefold repetition, at least following the official way, i.e. stopping the clock, calling the arbiter, saying which move you intend to play to cause (or showing that your opponent's last move has caused) the repetition. The arbiter can't do anything else then acknowledge the claim if it is correct, and can't order you to play on.
What may have caused the confusion is that in Baron-Safarli the arbiter wasn't called, which means that the players 'communicated'.
So, claiming a draw is, according to general FIDE rules, to be considered as a draw offer, but because there is no need for communication between the players, it is allowed under EC rules. Accepting such a draw offer is, as I understand it, not permitted.
Though this be madness, yet there is method in it...

Eiae's picture

Nice to see the top favorite win the Euro Champs for a change. Well done Jakovenko!

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