Reports | March 30, 2012 10:05

Mamedyarov defaults again, leaves European Championship

Mamedyarov defaults again, leaves European Championship

In round 9 of the European Championship in Plovdiv Shakhriyar Mamedyarov again lost by default, and then decided to leave the tournament. He agreed to a draw with his opponent Alvar Alonso Rosell before move 40 without asking the arbiter, whereupon the game was declared lost for both players. Mamedyarov then informed the organizers in written form that he would not continue the tournament. Seven grandmasters are sharing the lead with 7/9 and two rounds to go.

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov calls it quits in Plovdiv

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 9

The 13th edition of the Individual European Championship will go down in history as one with many incidents. Apparently the chess players in Plovdiv have a hard time adjusting to some of the new rules that were implemented by the European Chess Union (ECU) on January 1st, 2012. In the 9th round this led to a climax, with second seed Shakhriyar Mamedyarov of Azerbaijan leaving the tournament after having lost by default for the second time.

In round 8 the Azeri grandmaster arrived a little too late at his board, and lost because the Championship is using a zero-tolerance policy: everyone has to be at his board at the start of the round, not a second later. A day later he arrived in time, and started playing his game, with black against IM Alvar Alonso Rosell of Spain.

After the moves 1. d4 g6 2. c4 Bg7 3. e4 d6 4. Nc3 Nf6 5. Nf3 O-O 6. h3 c5 7. d5 b5 8. cxb5 a6 9. a4 Nbd7 10. Rb1 axb5 11. axb5 Nb6 12. Be2 e6 13. dxe6 Bxe6 14. O-O d5 15. exd5 Nbxd5 16. Nxd5 Nxd5 17. Bg5 Qb6 18. Qd2 Nc7 19. Bh6 Nxb5 the players agreed to a draw. Then, an arbiter declared the game as lost for both players because of the anti-draw rule that is in effect in Plovdiv: draws before move 40 are not allowed without consulting the arbiter, who has to decide whether the position is really drawn.

To Chess-News, Mamedyarov said:

I didn't like the position. I thought it'd be a draw but it ended up as zero. In general, I knew I'd probably get zero anyway, but it didn't matter any more, as everything was going terribly for me. So I didn't pay any particular intention.

(Translation by Colin McGourty.)

There was not a problem with for example the following game, played on board one:

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This game, which ended in a perfectly legal repetition of moves, was the absolute top encounter in round 9. Of course it was a big disappointment for chess fans, sponsors and anyone who loves fighting chess. (For the professionals it's understandable that they like to play one or two of such games in a grueling 11-round Swiss where qualification for the World Cup is at stake, but that's another story.) It also points out once more that no anti-draw rule will prevent a short draw when both players want to draw quickly.

After his loss by default, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov decided to call it quits. As we were told, he acted professionally and didn't make any remarks towards the organizers. Very disappointed about his poor results in Plovdiv, he decided not to play the last two rounds, and informed the organizers in a written letter.

In fact in the same round another game was also declared lost for both players, Tal Baron and Eltaj Safarli, who agreed to a draw after the moves 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Nf3 Be7 5.Bg2 0-0 6.0-0 dxc4 7.Qc2 a6 8.Qxc4 b5 9.Qc2 Bb7 10.Bd2 Be4 11.Qc1 Bb7 12.Qc2 Be4 13.Qc1 Bb7 14.Qc2. This was a well-known move repetition, but apparently the players didn't bother to consult an arbiter and were punished for this...

As mentioned above, co-leaders Akopian and Malakhov drew quickly, and the third leader, Maxim Matlakov, also split the point, with Nikita Vitiugov. Four players just behind them won their games and joined the three in the lead: Laurent Fressinet, Ernesto Inarkiev, Mikhail Kobalia and Dmitry Andreikin. Kobalia beat Jobava with white in a Panov Caro-Kann:

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Against Ivan Sokolov, Inarkiev played a game that we'd like to dub Fischeresque: all moves seemed simple and crystal clear, but were the result of a tactically sharp vision.

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Gawain Jones and Andrei Volokitin played an extremely interesting draw:

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Laurent Fressinet was awarded for continuing to play for a win several times:

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Andreikin demonstrated the power of the bishop pair on his game against Istratescu.

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The following game seemed a bit à la Fischer as well, but maybe that's just us. Caruana, now a top 10 player, likes to grind down his slightly lower rated opponents and really has a special knack for it:

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Alexander Khalifman, who played an excellent Aeroflot Open this year, is doing well again. The former FIDE World Champion won a splendid game against a 2700 GM:

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For the players of the following game, we hope they have enough energy left for two more rounds.

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European Championship 2012 | Round 9 standings (top 40)

Rk. Title Name FED Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3
1 GM Fressinet Laurent FRA 2693 7.0 2827 45.5 49.5
2 GM Inarkiev Ernesto RUS 2695 7.0 2817 44.0 48.0
3 GM Malakhov Vladimir RUS 2705 7.0 2815 44.5 48.5
4 GM Kobalia Mikhail RUS 2666 7.0 2814 42.0 46.0
5 GM Andreikin Dmitry RUS 2689 7.0 2811 46.0 50.0
6 GM Matlakov Maxim RUS 2632 7.0 2805 47.0 51.0
7 GM Akopian Vladimir ARM 2684 7.0 2778 42.5 47.0
8 GM Jones Gawain C B ENG 2635 6.5 2791 47.5 51.5
9 GM Kuzubov Yuriy UKR 2615 6.5 2783 46.5 50.5
10 GM Bacrot Etienne FRA 2706 6.5 2777 45.0 49.0
11 GM Vitiugov Nikita RUS 2709 6.5 2775 46.5 51.0
12 GM Jakovenko Dmitry RUS 2729 6.5 2774 44.5 48.5
13 GM Caruana Fabiano ITA 2767 6.5 2774 44.0 48.0
14 GM Dreev Aleksey RUS 2698 6.5 2758 41.0 45.0
15 GM Khismatullin Denis RUS 2656 6.5 2744 43.5 47.5
16 GM Nisipeanu Liviu-Dieter ROU 2643 6.5 2743 42.0 45.5
17 GM Zhigalko Sergei BLR 2649 6.5 2743 40.0 44.0
18 GM Vachier-Lagrave Maxime FRA 2682 6.5 2742 44.0 48.5
19 GM Bologan Viktor MDA 2687 6.5 2742 43.5 47.5
20 GM Azarov Sergei BLR 2667 6.5 2741 43.5 47.5
21 GM Vallejo Pons Francisco ESP 2693 6.5 2739 44.0 47.0
22 GM Berkes Ferenc HUN 2682 6.5 2737 43.5 47.5
23 GM Ragger Markus AUT 2654 6.5 2720 40.5 44.0
24 GM Volokitin Andrei UKR 2695 6.5 2713 39.5 42.5
25 GM Balogh Csaba HUN 2664 6.5 2712 38.5 42.5
26 GM Khenkin Igor GER 2632 6.5 2702 41.0 44.0
27 GM Khalifman Alexander RUS 2649 6.5 2691 39.0 43.0
28 GM Smeets Jan NED 2610 6.5 2639 37.5 41.0
29 GM Lenic Luka SLO 2637 6.0 2730 45.0 48.5
30 GM Movsesian Sergei ARM 2702 6.0 2728 43.0 47.0
31 GM Cheparinov Ivan BUL 2664 6.0 2725 43.5 47.0
32 GM Durarbeyli Vasif AZE 2543 6.0 2708 41.5 44.0
33 GM Jobava Baadur GEO 2706 6.0 2704 44.5 47.5
34 GM Khairullin Ildar RUS 2626 6.0 2698 43.5 47.5
35 GM Sokolov Ivan NED 2653 6.0 2697 43.0 47.5
36 GM Korobov Anton UKR 2679 6.0 2693 46.5 49.5
37 GM Kryvoruchko Yuriy UKR 2666 6.0 2688 42.5 47.5
38 GM Fridman Daniel GER 2653 6.0 2685 40.5 44.5
39 GM Najer Evgeniy RUS 2640 6.0 2681 42.5 46.0
40 GM Sargissian Gabriel ARM 2674 6.0 2681 41.0 45.0

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.


Zeblakob's picture

A messy mess, a pure bureaucracy.

Bastian's picture

What does that have to do with bureaucracy? The players know the rules, respect them or loose.

Remco G's picture

Knowing pointless rules and respecting them is more or less the definition of bureaucracy.

Pal G.'s picture


Ashish's picture


darkergreen1327's picture


aerodarts's picture

Take the 0 tolerance rules and line it up for the firing squad kill it.

Frits Fritschy's picture

Attention goes to Mamedyarov, but the Baron-Safarli game is more interesting, from a 'legal' point of view. As I understand it, Akopian and Malakhov went the official way, calling in the arbiter and let him decide whether the same position was going to be reached for the third time. All the arbiter could do is acknowledge the claim. Baron and Safarli decided to cut the red tape.
I knew that according to FIDE rules a draw claim is considered a draw offer, but seeing not opposing a draw claim as accepting a draw offer, that is a completely new interpretation to me. At first sight, looking into the Laws of chess and the tournament regulations, it seems possible. But it can lead to strange situations.
Suppose player A wants to claim a draw. He stops the clocks and calls for the arbiter. He has done nothing wrong. Before the arbiter has arrived or has given his verdict, his opponent, player B, says "alright, it's a draw", and signs his scoresheet. As I understand it, player A will get half a point and player B a 0.

bondegnasker's picture

Interesting point - and if a draw claim is considered to be a draw offer and draw offers are not allowed, how can draw claims even be legal? So if you claim a draw you lose; unless the arbiter (mistakenly) considers the claim and then accepts it, in which case the game is drawn...

Frits Fritschy's picture

That has been taken care of. The tournament rules don't say much about draw offers, they just more or less say that communication between the players is not allowed, so claims themselves are legal.

Roger's picture

If you wanted to make a protest which didn't involve sacrificing the game, you could try to reach a position where it was plausible to claim a repetition of position, but it hadn't actually occurred. You could then wake up the arbiter or disturb their lunch, to come and validate.

Steve Giddins's picture

See my blog post about this:

The players really have only themselves to blame.

Frits Fritschy's picture

You may be right or wrong, but your comparison with mass (?) protests in professional cycling doesn't quite work. If I were to disagree with you, this would be an open target.
Firstly, the cyclists have come to their senses: they all now wear helmets. Some tragic accidents were contributing to that. It was the same with doping: strikes against controls stopped after what happened to Simpson on the Mont Ventoux.
Secondly, chess players are individuals, cyclists are team members, with leading and supportive roles. When Hinault said there was to be a strike, everyone complied - you didn't want him as an enemy. When Carlsen didn't play the candidates, everyone just shrugged his shoulders - one enemy less.
Many of those cycling protest are pushed through by the strongest teams, against the wishes of other teams. Remember Cancelara in the Tour, two years ago?

Bob's picture

Surely chess players are also colleagues, not just individuals. They compete over the board but they have common interests. This "every man for himself" attitude is why chess seems to be run by loonies.

Mike Magnan's picture

There's nothing wrong with trying to get that :Class: back into the equation.

aerodarts's picture

before the tournament begins....the rules should be put to a vote by the players...and if the majority say hell no we won't go play under those rules....then no one should go play at the tournament.....but I bet some of these people who run these tournaments will say so what.....and close it down....

Bartleby's picture

Do they play chess or some kind of kinky submission game? Are they contractually obliged to address Danailov & his arbiters with "Master"?

Mike Magnan's picture

Pure nonsense!!! They must have set a record for forfeits in this tourney. Whoever the organizers are should be banned from having and holding any more serious tournaments. They're obviously not equiped with any common sense. Whille I'm not against the Sophia rule in it's intended essence...showing up late by 20 or so seconds is a ridiculous reason to be forfeited. I hope people remember who these morons (Organizers) are.

Thomas's picture

I guess the Dresden Olympiad, where the zero tolerance rule was first enforced, still holds the record for number of forfeits. However, these concerned mostly unknown players on lower tables, not a 2700er as Mamedyarov. And there was no daylight saving time incident: the tournament is in fall, so if anything some players might arrive an hour early for one round ... .

Actually I don't think we can blame the organizers or more precisely the arbiters. They are bound to rules imposed by FIDE and ECU. And even if arbiters have some flexibility - I think the rules say something like "a player who is late at the board will be forfeited unless an arbiter decides otherwise" - if they had made an exception for Mamedyarov and someone had noticed, some eyebrows might also be raised. In any case, such incidents could also happen if the tournament took place in any other European country.

Maybe only the incident in Baron-Safarli was avoidable: here an arbiter could have approved the draw in retrospect, or could have told the players to continue and endorse the draw after 1/2 additional move (14.-Be4). Here the decision was correct according to _letters_ of the rule, but violating their spirit: early move repetitions are still legitimate, in some cases they are even forced. And in Alonso-Mamedyarov, would it have been possible to tell the players to resume their game, rather than imposing a double forfeit?

Mike Magnan's picture

There are rules and there are rules...If a player shows up late he pays for it on the clock.Simple as that. Chess players should not be treated like trained animals.
Its ridiculous to enforce draconian (3rd world) measures. Nest they'll be telling girls that they can't wear hats and have at least three buttons on their...oh wait..that was last month. Stupid Stupid Stupid. And the only people who really believe and want to enforce these rules are NOT the players.(That would be asking too much I imagine). The people doing this are imbeciles who actually think what they're doing is a good thing..without the knowledge of actually being a serious competitor. It's a joke.

paul's picture

haha Sokolov playing four pawns down....he probably real
y liked his starting fee and decided to make a few more moves to enjoy the public (as he told about the Hoogeveen tournament..i like to play when the conditions are right)

aerodarts's picture

"without asking the arbiter", I would be rolling on the floor laughing, but this thing organizations who set themselves up to run has to end....2 grandmasters decide on draw and they have to ask an arbiter if it is ok? what is the arbiter rating? are they gonna say, no play on, white has good winning chances! Calling all professional chess players to go on strike and get together and decide the rules they want to play under. It is not they are going to lose millions of the big money there is in other professional sports.

Septimus's picture

This is like kindergarten. What is so hard about following the rules? The organizers could have organized a quick seminar of sorts and highlighted the more critical rules that are in effect. But, this is the players' fault for not being aware of the new rules.

TBone Tyler.'s picture

As Septimus says..this is like Kindergarten. Why is it that we want to treat players as if they were in Kindergarten? That's probably the whole point. The organizers are not showing common sense. The dress codes, zero tolerance, Drug testing..Its ridiculous thinking. The only people who need to follow all these ridiculous rules are the Arbiters!!! The players should simply ignore them.

Mike Magnan's picture

Yes,,,seems we live in an era of smartphones and stupid people.

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