''The Dutch team had a lot of fun at the event, on and off the board…''
Anish on European Team Championship with his game analysis.


©Official website
The land of Polish 'Rzeczpospolita'…
As there are a few days in between the two country team events, the European and the World Team Championship, there is also some time to reflect on the first one. Our team consisted of me, experienced fighter Ivan Sokolov, Erwin L'Ami and Jan Smeets, both very well know what chess is about and finally young and ambitious Robin van Kampen, serving as a fresh blood in the team.

The tournament was held in Poland, in the heart of the country, the very centre of Warsaw. I must say I didn't know what to expect, but finally we were all very pleasantly surprised to see the surroundings, that looked incredibly modern and even the very-western European countries could learn a thing or two from the land of Polish 'Rzeczpospolita'.

The hotel was very well located and very good (the loud nightclub in front served as a little nuisance for those who got the windows on the 'wrong' side, but being in the centre that's inevitable) and the restaurant left very decent impressions, although as you may guess, towards the end of the tournaments the team started to slowly discover the wide variety of Polish cuisine outside the hotel.

Instability
Dutch team is known for its remarkable instability throughout the tournament, yet even more remarkable stability when it comes to the final result. Somehow there have been even draws with Malaysia (Olympiad 2012), yet one way or the other the Dutch always end up as decisive factor at many of those events, having their say in the arrangements of the medals. This time too, the loss to Austria in the first round haven't disturbed us from fighting our way back and almost getting there to the top, only to lose a very unfortunate match to Russia.

©Official website
As you may have figured out by now, the first round didn't go very smooth for us. I was always on the pressing side with black against the solid Ragger, but somehow it was never enough in the rook endgame. Have I seen the (future) course of events in the Anand-Carlsen match, I believe I would have found the way to win that very drawn endgame, but back in those days no one would take such positions seriously. While our lower rated opponents somehow managed to neutralize Robin and Erwin with black, it was Jan Smeets who went as far as to lose the game. Jan is a very strong player, no doubt, but playing so little chess these days it often happens that he needs some time to warm up. Just so you know our board 4 is a very strong player, I refer you to Olympiad 2012 and European Individual 2012, where Jan started in a similar fashion but followed it up with 5 wins in a row in both those events. Running ahead, at the end, Jan started his roll in this tournament as well, but the tournament turned out to be too short.

Partial recovery
The comeback on Wales (4-0) was too natural to really pay close attention too and all of us had 'sweet' games, those games that you win when your opponent is resisting, but in the way that you want him to resist (this often happens in simul, when somehow it looks as if both sides are working towards a spectacular masterpiece).
©Official website


Immediately the next challenge was a cold shower, young Israeli taught us a thing or two, and again it was 1,5-2,5 (all draws, board 4 lost). I misplayed my position completely and only my name saved my face. Other three games we had no chance to win either and Jan's preparation on board 4 backfired when he went for the material instead of stabilizing the position of his king. Believe it or not, 1,5-2,5 was more than deserved.

Still the Dutch team with its never-dying spirit was far from giving up. We consecutively beat Denmark and Poland (3)'Goldies' to get on to +1 before the rest-day.
I missed a chance to win a full pawn against Sune Berg Hansen, with a very peculiar knight move and my win in the next round against Marcin Tazbir was very well timed, as my frustration caused with my toothless play slowly started to accumulate.

Game analysis: A. Giri - M. Tazbir (click arrows to view the annotation)




In the final table
After the rest-day we had to play the Czech team, a very serious opponent. I got very lucky and so did our board 2, Ivan Sokolov, who kept winning game after game. Yet things got out of hand and by losing on the last 2 boards we gave away a match point. 2-2.

Game analysis: D. Navara - A. Giri (click arrows to view the annotation)

Thankfully in the consecutive round, playing Slovenia we did get very lucky and even though at one point the match seemed almost level, the final outcome 3,5-0,5 was very convincing. The only non-winner of the day was me, but I couldn't have complained, as I let solid Lenic to force a draw out of the opening in one of the main lines of Grunfeld. In fact, I even ended up slightly lightly better in 4 vs 4 on one flank, but then again, it only works for Magnus, as Lenic managed to build a simple fortress.

©Official website
The time came when we could have had a say in the final table. Our next opponents were Russia and it was obviously a very serious challenge. Ivan Sokolov who was on 5,5/6 decided that 5,5/6 is better than 5,5/7 and so was kind enough to let Erwin L'Ami face White Svidler on board 2. All of us got very good positions in the opening, but finally Erwin couldn't handle the pressure from his eminent opponent. As Grischuk got a very , very wrong version of a Caro-kan I was on my way to win, as well as Robin van Kampen, who surprisingly outplayed and out-calculated Morozevich. First, I messed it up and later Robin as well and so instead of 2,5-1,5 it was 1,5-2,5 and our team had finally lost hopes for a good score.

The team building
The victory against Bulgaria in the last round 3,5-0,5, although very appreciated, hadn't really changed the course of the history of European chess. I won a nice endgame against Rusev (Topalov had a rest-day) and Sokolov had finally achieved the so desirable board medal.

©Official website

Finally, one can have no doubt that the Dutch team had a lot of fun at the event, on the board and off it and the Italian restaurant, cheap-yet-great dönner place and the table tennis table all served as great settings, platforms so to speak, for the team building.

Next stop is Antalya, World Team Championship. Our time will be slightly different; instead of Robin van Kampen and Jan Smeets we will have very experienced Sergei Tiviakov and Loek van Wely. Wish us luck!

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Official Website of the Tournament