Reports | September 29, 2011 12:17

European Club Cup: more champions stumble

European Club Cup: more champions stumble

On the day when both Anand and Carlsen went down in Sao Paulo, more big names lost on a different continent: Boris Gelfand, Hou Yifan and Ruslan Ponomariov. Four teams won all of their four matches: Saint-Petersburg Chess Federation, OSG Baden Baden, SHSM-64 and Tomsk-400.

For more info see also our announcement here.

General info

Event 27th European Club Cup for Men and 16th European Club Cup for Women | PGN: Men, Women
Dates September 24th - October 2nd, 2011
Location Rogaska Slatina, Slovenia
System 7-round Swiss
Players E.g. Ponomariov, Grischuk, Radjabov, Gelfand, Mamedyarov, Svidler, Adams, Wang Hao, Vitiugov, Moiseenko, Giri, Nepomniachtchi
Time control 90 minutes for 40 moves plus 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move, starting from move one
Prizes The first team prize in the men's section is €12,400 and in the women's €4,000.
Notes Teams consist of six players

Rounds 3-4

As we mentioned in our previous report, the men's section of this year's European Club Cup has no less than 62 teams. Although the favourites are now getting paired against each other, there's still a good chance that the winner of the event hasn't played all of its rivals. The reason is that only 7 rounds Swiss are being played - a system that's been criticised by several people, including top grandmaster Shakhriyar Mamedyarov who plays for SOCAR from Azerbaijan - with an average rating of 2718 the favourite in Rogaska Slatina. Shortly before the tournament started, Mamedyarov said in an interview for the Azeri website

I consider 7 rounds to be too short a distance for such a tournament. One loss and you’re a long way from the medals. My teams scored 10 points out of 10 twice in the five opening rounds, but one or two failures and we were left without medals. There are lots of clubs but few rounds. (...)

(Translation by Colin McGourty for WhyChess)


Ironically, this is more or less what happened to SOCAR in Slovenia. After beating the teams Solingen and Libertas Nereto both with 5.5-0.5, they suddenly dropped two expensive match points after losing 2.5-3.5 to Bosna Sarajevo. In that match Predojevic and Stojanovic were the heros of the day, beating Mamedyarov (!) and Kasimdzhanov.

In that 3rd round, Candidates winner Boris Gelfand of Israel won an attractive game against Baadur Jobava of Georgia.

PGN string

In the next round, however, Gelfand suffered a loss with the black pieces against Dmitry Jakovenko. This game, a Lasker QGD, followed a recent Radjabov-Kramnik game for no less than 36 moves! The rook ending might well have been drawn, but in the end Jakovenko managed to pull it off.

PGN string

Boris Gelfand, top board for SHSM-64. Next to him Wang Hao (China) and Fabiano Caruana (Italy). Photo Vladimir Barsky, many more here.

Despite his loss on the top board, Gelfand's team SHSM-64 (Moscow) defeated Ugra 3.5-2.5. They're leading the tournament with 8/4, together with two other Russian teams, Saint-Petersburg Chess Federation and Tomsk-400, and OSG Baden Baden of Germany. An interesting video interview with Gelfand can be watched at the official website (but we haven't been able to find the direct link). In today's round SHSM-64 plays OSG Baden Baden while Saint-Petersburg faces Tomsk-400.

World Cup winner Peter Svidler played for his home town team Saint-Petersburg in rounds 3 and 4. A nice win in his favourite Grünfeld against IM Arnd Lauber was followed by a draw against Hungarian GM Ferenc Berkes, who was an exchange up for two pawns in the final position, which does look like a draw:

PGN string

In the women's section AEM Luxten Timisoara (GM Nana Dzagnidze, IM Anna Zatonskih, IM Lela Javakhishvili, IM Cristina-Adela Foisor and IM Anastasia Bodnaruk) is the surprising leader as the only team that won all four matches. They will face their first clearly stronger team today: AVS (GM Antoaneta Stefanova, GM Kateryna Lahno, GM Viktorija Cmilyte, IM Mariya Muzychuk and WGM Natalia Pogonina). As reported before, reigning champions Cercle d'Echecs de Monte-Carlo (GM Hou Yifan, IM Anna Muzychuk, GM Pia Cramling, GM Monika Socko and IM Almira Skripchenko) lost in the first round, and a second loss in the 4th round to the aforementioned AVS team made their tournament a big disappointment so far.

With three games ending in draws, crucial was World Champion Hou Yifan's loss to former World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova, who played a model game with White.

PGN string

Here are some more games from the rounds 3 and 4:


All photos © Vladimir Jagr for

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.


Al F's picture

I probably understand too little, but in the Svidler - Berkes game I would play on, both as white and black (I'd prefer white, though). So maybe the comment that it looks like a draw is ironic?

Anonymous's picture

Big blunder by Hou Yifan

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