Reports | March 29, 2012 9:12

Akopian, Malakhov, Matlakov lead in Plovdiv, Mamedyarov forfeits

Vladimir Malakhov beats sole leader Sergei Azarov in round 8

Vladimir Akopian, Vladimir Malakhov and Maxim Matlakov are leading the European Championship in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The three grandmasters scored 6.5/8 and are half a point ahead of 16 grandmasters. In the 8th round, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov arrived at his board too late and was forfeited.

Vladimir Malakhov beats sole leader Sergei Azarov in round 8 | Photo © Svoboda Chankova, courtesy of the official website, more here

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 

Round 7

After 6 rounds Sergei Azarov, Laurent Fressinet, Ernesto Inarkiev, Gawain Jones, Denis Khismatullin, Anton Korobov, Yuriy Kuzubov, Maxim Matlakov, Arkadij Naiditsch and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave were sharing the lead with 5 points. On Tuesday these players faced each other on the top boards in Plovdiv, and 4 of the 5 games ended in draws. Sergei Azarov, ranked 32 in the starting list, became the sole leader with 6/7 after beating Arkadij Naiditsch. The leader of the German national team played inaccurately in the middlegame and his position was already lost on move 30. Azarov chose a slower but secure continuation and won the game in 73 moves.

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Azarov beats Naiditsch in round 7

In fact boards 2-10 all ended in draws, and most of these games were not too interesting. The following game deserves to be included:

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Andrei Istratescu beat Sergei Movsesian with a nice attack.

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Nikita Vitiugov defended against Robert Hovhannisiyan's fierce attack:

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Shakhriyar Mamedyarov had started with 6 (!) draws, but apparently he used his rest day to wake up from his “draw-sleep”. He scored a quick win against Bulgarian youngster GM Grigor Grigorov (2489) in 32 moves and 2,5 hours of play.

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David Navara, who had also started disappointingly, won in rounds 6 and 7 but 17-year-old Dutchman Anish Giri suffered a third loss on Tuesday, this time against Hungarian Tamas Fodor (2482).

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15-year-old Illya Nyzhnyk lost against Ferenc Berkes (2682) and remained at 4/7.

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Round 8

The 8th round started with another forfeit as a result of the zero-tolerance rule. None less than second seed Shakhriyar Mamedyarov didn't arrive in time at his board, and got a zero. The Azeri GM said he arrived "only 10 seconds" late, but the tournament bulletin speaks of "more than a minute". It was a coincidence that his opponent Shota Azaladze had been forfeited himself in one of his previous games.

At the moment of writing there are three leaders. Two of them are representatives of the Russian school and one is Armenian: Vladimir Malakhov, Maxim Matlakov and Vladimir Akopian. Malakhov, who played so strongly in the 2009 World Cup, beat the sole leader Azarov.

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Matlakov won a sharp game against Bologan.

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Akopian beat Khismatullin in a Najdorf, English Attack.

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Caruana and Jones had drawn their game at the Reykjavik Open earlier this month, and now, with colors reversed, they split the point again:

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Baadur Jobava had the fastest victory in the main hall of the "Novotel Plovdiv" in which the first 154 competitors play. The Georgian GM beat Daniel Fridman of Germany in less than two and a half hours.

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European Championship 2012 | Round 8 standings (top 40)

Rk. Title Name FED Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 GM Malakhov Vladimir RUS 2705 6.5 2835 32.5 36.0
2 GM Matlakov Maxim RUS 2632 6.5 2821 34.5 37.5
3 GM Akopian Vladimir ARM 2684 6.5 2791 32.5 36.0
4 GM Jones Gawain C B ENG 2635 6.0 2810 36.0 39.5
5 GM Kuzubov Yuriy UKR 2615 6.0 2801 37.0 40.0
6 GM Vitiugov Nikita RUS 2709 6.0 2799 35.5 39.5
7 GM Bacrot Etienne FRA 2706 6.0 2798 33.5 37.5
8 GM Fressinet Laurent FRA 2693 6.0 2792 37.5 41.5
9 GM Inarkiev Ernesto RUS 2695 6.0 2783 35.5 39.5
10 GM Andreikin Dmitry RUS 2689 6.0 2779 36.0 39.5
11 GM Kobalia Mikhail RUS 2666 6.0 2773 31.5 35.0
12 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime FRA 2682 6.0 2763 34.5 38.5
13 GM Jobava Baadur GEO 2706 6.0 2761 33.5 36.5
14 GM Vallejo Pons Francisco ESP 2693 6.0 2761 32.0 35.0
15 GM Azarov Sergei BLR 2667 6.0 2751 34.0 37.5
16 GM Sokolov Ivan NED 2653 6.0 2749 34.5 38.0
17 GM Korobov Anton UKR 2679 6.0 2743 36.0 39.0
18 GM Volokitin Andrei UKR 2695 6.0 2730 30.0 33.0
19 GM Khenkin Igor GER 2632 6.0 2711 32.5 35.5
20 GM Istratescu Andrei FRA 2633 6.0 2707 30.5 33.5
21 IM Azaladze Shota GEO 2419 5.5 2826 36.0 40.0
22 GM Naiditsch Arkadij GER 2702 5.5 2748 38.0 42.5
23 GM Caruana Fabiano ITA 2767 5.5 2743 35.0 39.0
24 GM Jakovenko Dmitry RUS 2729 5.5 2743 33.5 37.5
25 GM Melkumyan Hrant ARM 2628 5.5 2739 37.0 41.0
26 GM Movsesian Sergei ARM 2702 5.5 2739 33.5 37.0
27 GM Dreev Aleksey RUS 2698 5.5 2728 33.5 37.0
28 GM Khismatullin Denis RUS 2656 5.5 2727 36.5 40.5
29 GM Timofeev Artyom RUS 2650 5.5 2712 35.0 38.5
30 GM Ragger Markus AUT 2654 5.5 2712 32.5 35.5
31 GM Bologan Viktor MDA 2687 5.5 2711 35.5 39.0
32 GM Berkes Ferenc HUN 2682 5.5 2706 35.0 38.5
33 GM Nisipeanu Liviu-Dieter ROU 2643 5.5 2704 33.5 36.0
34 GM Zhigalko Sergei BLR 2649 5.5 2703 31.5 34.5
35 GM Kryvoruchko Yuriy UKR 2666 5.5 2699 33.0 37.0
36 GM Georgiev Kiril BUL 2671 5.5 2688 31.5 35.0
37 GM Sargissian Gabriel ARM 2674 5.5 2687 32.5 36.0
38 GM Najer Evgeniy RUS 2640 5.5 2683 34.0 37.0
39 GM Areshchenko Alexander UKR 2688 5.5 2679 32.0 36.0
40 GM Balogh Csaba HUN 2664 5.5 2679 31.0 35.0

Previous reports

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


Rama G's picture

"As the Azeri wrote in his Twitter, he arrived about ten seconds late for a game that was supposed to cement his second half comeback." - Chessbase

This 'one second late = forfeit' is ridiculous. A time or financial penalty
seems much more reasonable - however based upon minutes late instead of
seconds late. Do people who impose such things really love chess?

Bastian's picture

Sure, being forfeited because you're 10 seconds late is ridiculous, however, I don't understand why the players can't show up in time. I mean, it's not that difficult to be there some minutes before the game, and everybody is happy. As a normal employee you're also expected to start your work in time...

Anonymous's picture

Would a valued employee be severely disciplined for a few seconds tardiness?

Andre From Outkast's picture

I have zero tolerance for the zero tolerance rule. Does that make me a hypocrite?

middlewave's picture

I hate zero tolerance, that's for sure.
But in Mamedyarov's case, I wonder, was it really just ten seconds? Because there are conflicting accounts that say otherwise...

noyb's picture

What an idiotic rule. What was wrong with the old method of the player's clock being started and forfeiting if not showing up for one hour? FIDE strikes again (for about the 10 millionth time in the past half century...).

Creemer's picture

Please, don't forget he was an hour and ten seconds late, not ten seconds.

Anonymous's picture

Creemer, you have described USCF rules. FIDE 'zero-tolerance' means that a player is forfeited immediately if not seated at the opening gong.

nathan's picture

seems shak has forfeited again ? his next round score against alonso reads 0-0

Aditya's picture

But that would'nt be a forfeit, right? 0-0 either seems like neither of them turned up, or a controversy such as a pre arranged draw etc. No news on the 9th round yet, anybody knows what happened?

RuralRob's picture

Apparently they agreed to a draw before move 40, which is against the rules.

Aditya's picture

Now all Mamedyarov needs to do is flout the dress code and it will complete the set.

RuralRob's picture

Poor Mamedyarov is NOT having a good tournament.

justin's picture

looks like Shak has left the tournament

Thomas's picture

Another way to protest would have been to show up in some funny outfit that violates the dress code for the remaining games. It wouldn't even cause another forfeit - according to the rules he would get an oral warning today, a written warning tomorrow, and then the tournament is over.

BTW there was another double forfeit between Israeli GM Baron and Mamedyarov's countryman Safarli who then also dropped out of the tournament. They made a stupid mistake: from a Catalan opening, the game finished 10.Bd2 Be4 11.Qc1 Bb7 12.Qc2 Be4 13.Qc1 Bb7 14.Qc2. Now 14.-Be4 (or just writing down that move on the scoresheet and calling an arbiter) would have been a 'legitimate' draw - such an early and unforced threefold repetition happened on the top board between Akopian and Malakhov. It seems that Safarli didn't bother, and Baron accepted a draw rather than saying "you know what you have to do!", both were forfeited.

Rules are rules, viva Danailov who is behind this nonsense ,:(

Shakey Chicken's picture

Fully in favour of zero tolerance and dress code. Standards! Chess players are a scruffy, tardy bunch. Sponsors need to see professional standards.
Late? Fool. Late for work - unacceptable.

Anonymous's picture

Really? Would YOU severely discipline a valued employee (a top earner for your firm) for a few seconds tardiness?

blueofnoon's picture

I am not sure about your company, but in my case the top earners in our firm also arrive at the office earliest.

Bastian's picture

You are generalizing, there are indeed a lot of players who are behaving professional. Nevertheless I appreciate the zero tolerance rule, as I don't really understand why people can't appear at their chessboard in time. Its annoying to me as well if I have an appointment with someone who doesn't show up in time.

Roger's picture

I think you will find that mainstream sports have tolerance to late arrival, certainly when the delay is measured in minutes. You hold a chess tournament to see who plays the best chess, so actually playing is, or should be, an important part.

You are allowed to be absent from the board during the game, why not at the deemed start time? So at the very least, the rule ought to allow you to arrive, declare your presence, and then allow you to leave the board. It should be no different from playing a handful of opening moves quickly and then going off for a refreshments or whatever.

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