European Club Cup 2016

Much to my regret and disappointement, due to an unforeseen force majeure, I was forced to withdraw from this year’s edition of the most prestigious club championship. As last year, I was supposed to play for my English team Cheddleton, and in view of having a stronger team than last year we had high hopes for this one. Alas, it was not meant to be…

Held in Novi Sad, Serbia, the tournament is a bit less strong than last year’s edition, mainly because it coincides with the World Championship match (due to start in a couple of days) and the strong tournament in the USA comprising of Caruana, Nakamura, Anand and Topalov.

My team Cheddleton started well, with two wins in the first two rounds, but then lost two in a row – if the first one was more or less expected, against the second ranked Alkaloid, today they lost to the Romanian team ranked next to them. But Cheddleton is famous for its exciting members and this translates to the boards. Take a look at this, for example:

Williams,S-Nevednichy,V

It’s a pity that Simon lost this one, as he got a very promising position after gratuitously giving away a pawn on move 2.

The Macedonian teams are doing great so far. Alkaloid, won all their matches and tomorrow they face the first stern test when they play Mednyi Vsadnik (Svidler, Dominguez, Vitiugov, Bu Xiangzhi).

Gambit are also on a fine run, they won two matches, drew one and lost one, but tomorrow they face the best Serbian team VSK Sveti Nikolaj Sprski (Mamedyarov, Rapport, Morozevich). I’m sure they will be enjoying themselves!

Here is a short selection of some fragments that caught my attention:

Kramnik continued to use 1 e4 on a regular basis. Today he faced the Dragon against Mamedov and he chose a positional line instead of the most critical Yugoslav Attack. Carlsen also played like this recently (albeit in an online blitz), so perhaps this line is up for a revival? However, note that Kramnik got nothing out of the opening, quite a rare occurrence in his practice.

Here’s Cheddleton’s best chance to score a win against Alkaloid:

And who said you have to treat the Spanish in traditional ways? Take a look at Ivanisevic’s idea against Leko:

10…g5?!?!

With 3 rounds left to play the tournament is wide open for all. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Cheddleton (who face Cercle d’Echecs Fontainois) and the Macedonian teams!

Alex Colovic
A professional player, coach and blogger. Grandmaster since 2013.
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