The recently concluded European Club Cup, held at Porto Carras in Greece, resembled late medieval Italian warfare — populated by armies of mercenaries who seemed to have no allegiance to the geographical area of the clubs they were representing. Thus the British grandmaster David Howell was on the same Norwegian team as the world champion Magnus Carlsen, while the Chinese grandmaster Ding Liren was playing on top board for the Alkaloid team from Macedonia. The eventual winners were Mednyi Vsadnik from St Petersburg. This week a selection of play from this remarkably powerful event.
Carlsen-Potkin: European Club Cup, Porto Carras 2018 (see diagram 1)
World champion Magnus Carlsen only achieved victory in one game. This game was, however, vintage Carlsen. In the diagram position Black seems to stand actively and has his weaknesses covered. Carlsen grinds on though, and eventually the black player’s defences collapse. 28 Rb1 h5 After 28 ... b6, preventing White’s next, the position is completely equal. 29 a5 Now White can create annoying pressure against the b-pawn. 29 ... h4 30 Rb6 Qd7 31 Qb2 Nd3 32 Qb1 Nb4 The last chance was to launch a counterattack with 32 ... Qa4. 33 Qe4 Qd4 34 Qxd4 cxd4 35 Rxb4 dxe3 36 fxe3 Rd1+ 37 Kf2 Ra1 38 Rb5 Ra2+ 39 Kf3 g6 40 c5 Kg7 41 Ke4 Rxg2 42 Rxb7 The queenside pawns win easily for White. 42 ... g5 43 c6 g4 44 c7 Rc2 45 Kd3 Rc1 46 Kd2 Rc6 47 a6 gxh3 48 a7 h2 49 Rb1 Black resigns
Ding Liren-Efimenko: European Club Cup, Porto Carras 2018 (see diagram 2)
The Chinese grandmaster Ding Liren had a fine tournament, narrowly missing a win against Carlsen. In the position that follows Ding Liren’s next move traps a black knight. Black struggles bravely but is eventually mown down by the force of the Chinese attack. 27 f3 Now 27 ... Ng5 is met by 28 Bxg5 Bxg5 29 hxg6 fxg6 30 Bxg6 with a winning attack. Black prefers to give up a piece but in the long run this is hopeless. 27 ... Nxh5 28 fxe4 dxe4 29 Bxa4 f6 30 exf6 Bxf6 31 Bxc6 Qxc6 32 Bh6 Rf7 33 Ng4 c3 34 Rxc3 Qe6 35 Nxf6 Nxf6 36 Rxa5 Ng4 37 Bf4 Rdf8 38 Qc1 e3 39 Rc7 Qe4 40 Rxf7 Black resigns
The world chess championship begins on 9 November at The College, London WC1 (www.worldchess.com for tickets).