By GM Arturs Neiksans

It’s not easy to be a leader, nor to play with one! In the end somebody will become the European champion – with the stakes so high no wonder nerves sometimes produce unexpected results! Today in the 6th round of the championship we witnessed exactly that and much more!

Starting with the youngest groups, a true drama happened at the top board of the Girls U-8 group where Veronika Yudina in a Russian derby was facing the first seeded Diana Preobrazhenskaya, who was leading the tournament with a perfect 100% score.

Yudina, Veronika (RUS, 1194) – Preobrazhenskaya, Diana (RUS, 1294)

Although White got a great position out of the opening, she miscalulated a line and ended up losing piece for no compensation whatsover. White has just played 28.f3 so all Black had to do is to retreat 28…Nf6 and slowly convert the material advantage. One can’t really blame the girl for playing 28…Ng3?? because it makes sense. It’s an active move, also threatening to fork on e2. There’s one minor problem with the plan however…

29.Rxd6! Oops! The problem for Black is that she can’t take neither the rook on d6 or c1 because of the back-rank checkmate! Thus Diana decided to go for 29…Rxe5 but after 30.Rd8+ Kf7 Veronika found a yet another resource 31.Kf2! and suddenly Black is in trouble! The game continued with 31…Ne2?! Tempting, but bad. Much better was to try to keep the extra piece 31…Rg5 32.h4 Rg6 33.Rxd5 c6 34.Re5 Rb5 35.Rxb5 cxb5 36.Rc7+ and Black is fighting for the draw here, but probably still should achieve it with a perfect play. After 32.Re1 Re7 33.Rxe2 Rxe2+ 34.Kxe2 White confidently converted this position to a win.

In the O-8 section Denis Gordeev (Russia) confidently outplayed Daniil Yasmo (Ukraine) who gambled with a dubious Scandiavian opening variation, and had to bail out once it became clear that White was perfectly prepared for the variation. After a mistake in the middlegame Black had to give up a pawn, and his position collapsed quickly after that. Denis is one of the two players in all of the age groups who still has a perfect 100% score with 6 points out of 6.

A truly unbelievable game went on in the Girls U-10 group where Anna Shukhman was facing Alexandra Shvedova (both from Russia) which was one of the players still with a perfect score of 5 points out of 5.

Shukhman, Anna (RUS, 1577) – Shvedova, Alexandra (RUS, 1758)

White is completely lost, so in desperation she went for 43.Ke4. It took mere seconds for Black to blitz out 43…d2 which is easily winning, of course, but had Alexandra used at least one minute of the available 44 on the clock, she would had found 43…Rxb5 so much simpler. However, the text move still easily wins. After 44.Kxd5 d1-Q+ 45.Kc5 normally White should resign but why not make a few moves? Nobody has salvaged points by resigning too early! I probably don’t need to present any winning plans for Black as the queen is so much superior to a bishop and a pawn, but here Black suddenly decided to be greedy! 45…Qg1+ 46. Kc6 Qxh2 47. a5 Qxg3 48. a6 Qxf4 all of this is still winning of course, but why go for complications and give White the only chance which is pushing forward the a-pawn?

49. a7 Qe4+ 50. Kb6 Qa8? A truly terrible move – there was no need to rush there with the queen! Any move was much simpler as Black can give up her queen whenever she wishes! 51. Bc6 Qxa7+ 52. Kxa7 White is still losing, however, had Black spent a little more time to gather her thoughts. Here a classic shouldering by the king would had ensured Black a win with 52…Ke7, followed with Kd6 and only then pushing forward the pawns.

52…f5?? After this the game should be drawn. 53. Kb6 g5 54. Kc5 Kf7 55. Kd4 Kf6 56. Ke3 h5 57. Kf3 h4 58. Bd7 Ke5 59. Bc8 g4+ 60. Kg2 Kf4 61. Bd7 Kg5 62. Bc6 f4 63. Bd5 h3+ 64. Kh2 Kh4 65. Be4 g3+ 66. Kg1 Kg4 67. Bc6 f3 68. Bd7+ Kh4 69. Bc6 Kg4 70. Bd7+ Kh4 71. Bc6 f2+ 72. Kf1 Kg5 73. Bd7 h2 74. Bc6 Kf4 75. Bg2 ½-½ The nerves!

In the Open U-10 section the top seed Artem Pingin from Russia was trailing behind by a half a point from the leader Rudolf Pashikyan (Armenia), and was looking for ways to beat the leader. A golden opportunity arose after White’s 32nd move as the Russian missed a little combination which would have given him great winning chances. He went on to draw the game, allowing the Armenian to keep the lead.

Another dramatic turn of events had the top board of the Girls U-12 section where Veronika Shubenkova from Russia was playing against her compatriot Olga Karmanova, the tournament leader with a perfect score. Things for the leader were looking really great as the final phase of the game approached.

Shubenkova, Veronika (RUS, 1700) – Karmanova, Olga Dm. (RUS, 1730)

Black here is doing really great and has excellent chances to score her 6th point. All she needs to do is to play 32…a6 and think about activating the king towards the e4 and f4 pawns. Instead of it Black decided to go to queens immediately. 32…e3?! With the black king so far away after this careless move the victory most likely is already gone. 33. Nh3 Nd3 34. Kf1 Nd5?! Why give up the a7 pawn? 34…a6 was still playable. 35. Nxa7 perhaps here Black finally noticed that the intended 35…Nxe1 isn’t going to win after 36.Kxe1 Bc3+ 37.Kf2 Bxa5 38.Nb5 and the black pawns have lost all support to hope for more than a draw. So suddenly Black believed in the magic of 35…Nc1?! which is not even threatening anything. After 36. Ng1 Black, most likely shaken by the unexpected turn of events that the win is gone, immediately threw away the whole game after 36…Nc3?? 37. Bxc3 Bxc3 38. a6 and there’s no stopping of the passed pawn except giving up a whole piece! 38…f3 39. gxf3 Bd4 40. Nb5 Bc5 41. a7 Bxa7 42. Nxa7 and White easily converted the extra piece into a victory.

Also the Open U-12 group had a change of the leaders. Yahli Sokolovsky from Israel, who was leading the group with a perfect score, got an excellent position with White against the top seeded Volodar Murzin from Russia however the required continuation was not obvious. The young Israeli misplayed the position and immediately landed into a much worse position. Murzin didn’t give his opponent any chances and beat him in a very important game to become the new sole leader of the tournament.

The Girls U-14 group also could have seen a change of the leader but somehow the current leader Martyna Wikar from Poland prevailed!

Allahverdiyeva, Ayan (AZE, 2046) – Wikar, Martyna (POL, 1974)

Black is completely busted! It’s obvious that the b-pawn is going to fall, but White also is up an extra exchange. Going offensive was the right answer, and attack with the heavy pieces on the 7th rank would had decided the game in White’s favour. However, in time trouble it’s easier said than done.

Allahverdiyeva – Wikar

32. R8c4 Rb3 33. Qa7 Rxb4 34. Rc7 That’s it, White has seemingly done it, so Black tries the last trick 34…Rb1 35. Rxb1?? Oh my… Qxb1+ 36. Kh2 Qh7+! What an extremely unpleasant move to miss! Black gives White a perpetual check now, and remains the tournament leader!

In a clash of two pre-tournament favorites in the Open U-14 section nobody came out as a winner – Dmitry Tsoi from Russia was pushing for more than 100 moves to beat Jonas Buhl Bjerre from Denmark, but the latter was accurate until the end to hold his ground. In the meantime, at the 2nd board Marc Morgunov from Austria beat Nikolozi Kacharava from Georgia to become the new sole leader with 5.5 points out of 6.

The Girls U-16 tournament is still very much unclear as the two leaders Gabriela Antova (Bulgaria) and Zala Urh (Slovenia) finished their complex game with a draw, and so did the next three boards! Tomorrow we will see a clash of the first two seeded players as Olga Badelka from Belarus has returned to the first board and will try to overtake one of the leaders!

Sometimes a player can have a complete off day and you can’t do anything about it. This is what probably the young Frenchman Remy Degreave had to say about his game in the Open U-16 group where at the top board he lost badly with the White pieces against the first seeded Italian Francesco Sonis who has now become a sole leader with 5.5 points by scoring his 4th win in a row!

Aleksandra Dimitrova, the hero of the 5th round where she won probably one of the nicest games in the tournament, today in the Girls U-18 group easily defended her lead by drawing with black pieces against the 2nd seeded Alexandra Obolentseva. Actually it was Dimitrova who for some time was pushing for something more than a draw, however in the end she decided to play it safe.

In the meantime, the players of the Open U-18 tournament can be divided into two groups: Evgenios Ioannidis is in the first group while everyone else – in the second. The young Greek keeps annihilating his opposition without mercy and is well on his way for a sensational gold medal! After today’s round he has extended his lead to a whopping 1.5 points and tomorrow will face the 2nd seeded Robby Kevlishvili from Netherlands with the black pieces. Can Ioannidis be stopped? Tomorrow we will find out!