Who will win the Euros?

The 1st round of the European Team Championship starts on Friday the 13th in Reykjavík, Iceland.

Russia will be top seeds in the Open section, as usual, but the Russians have struggled in some team events in recent years. They will be challenged by the likes of Ukraine (Ivanchuk, Eljanov…), Azerbaijan (with new arrival Naiditsch), France (MVL, Fressinet…), England, Armenia (Aronian, Sargissian…) and Hungary (non-playing captain Judit Polgar).

Who do you think will win the Open Section of the 2015 European Team Championship?

I should avoid interfering with the sanctity of an internet poll, but as a loyal Brit I like the medal hopes of an England team of Adams, Short, Jones, Howell and McShane. And good luck to Scotland and Denmark, with the Danish non-playing captain Jacob Aagaard. In fact, if you check out the team list you could make a few fine teams out of the non-playing captains.

Last week’s ‘What is your usual defence against 1.e4?’ resulted in a win for orthodoxy and the main lines. Sicilian, 1…e5, French and Caro-Kann, in that order, grabbed over 80% of the vote between them. “Tired of bad positions? Try the main lines!” as someone once said.


21 thoughts on “Who will win the Euros?”

  1. Good to see England fielding their strongest possible team. Perhaps Sadler instead of Jones could be argued, Sadler was a beast at the last Olympiad for England as well. I think England will be the dark horse of the event, we’ll need Adams to hold draws on top board, then Short and McShane can rack up the points on boards 2 and 3. Howell is reliable and in good form, it’s Jones that worries me, in particular his King’s Indian and Dragon, it’s a shame he doesn’t have a better repertoire, I think if he played better openings he would be in the 2700 club by now.

  2. James :
    Jones that worries me, in particular his King’s Indian and Dragon, it’s a shame he doesn’t have a better repertoire, I think if he played better openings he would be in the 2700 club by now.

    Gosh, I couldn’t disagree more!!

  3. a concentrated Nigel Short will be a big difference compared to the Olympiad.

    Just an observation,
    Wheren’t you guys thrilled with Gawain’s Dragon books ?

  4. @The Doctor

    If he played the Nimzo/QGD against 1.d4 and the Berlin, Breyer or Marshall against 1.e4 he would get to 2700 within a couple years imo. David Howell has been at Uni the last several years, his first year playing chess professionally (after finishing Uni) he jumps to 2700. Personally, I don’t think this is because Howell is more talented than Jones. The glaring difference between the two players is Howell has a much more reliable opening repertoire. For the last five years, Jones’ rating, tends to fluctuate between 2600 and 2650. I think he’s at a critical point in his chess career, where he needs to play better openings to reach the next level. If he sticks to the King’s Indian and Dragon, I fear he’ll still be fluctuating between 2600 and 2650 five years from now.

  5. Jones and Howell are quite different players. It’s not surprising to me that their openings choices are different.

    I’ve got no idea what would make the difference between Gawain being 2600 and pushing to 2700. Those ratings are so far above my own that I’d feel silly making suggestions. I suspect that getting a naturally dynamic player to play the QGD/Berlin isn’t the missing ingredient though.

  6. @Tim S
    I totally agree. Players like Nakamura, Ding Liren and Radjabov are 2700+ while playing the KID very regularly (look e.g. at the fantastic win of Nakamura against So, who is not exactly a weak player himself).

  7. @Tim S

    It worked for Nakamura. He use to play exclusively Najdorf and King’s Indian, he started playing the Berlin and QGD and is in and around 2800 now. No problem with the Najdorf, but it’s good he plays the King’s Indian less frequently.

    Same can be said for Kramnik and Gelfand. Kramnik use to play sharp openings then switched to more solid openings and became World Champion. Gelfand ditched the King’s Indian in 1997 and became a better player. Another example would be Adams dropping the Caro-Kann for the Marshall back in the late 90s, he quickly broke into 2700 soon after. I expect there will be many examples of players switching from second tier openings to top tier ones and improving.

  8. Except that there’s no direct causality there – as an example, Radjabov moved away from the KID to the QGD and his rating suffered dramatically. But does this have to do with him (at least partially) abandoning the KID? Almost assuredly not – it was most likely something completely different: spending more time with a child and family, personal problems, a lack of interest in the game, etc.

    I know it’s shocking to those of us who follow opening theory closely and buy all of the new books, but occasionally you can make progress without doing anything differently for the first 15 moves!

  9. @James
    I advice you to closely study the series of Kotronias on the KID, and you’ll see that the KID is anything but ‘second tier’. The same goes for the Caro-Kann by the way – just look at Negi’s volume on 1.e4 and see how difficult it is to prove anything against the Caro-Kann. Ding Liren gained rating points since he switched from the ‘first tier’ Slav to the ‘second tier’ KID, so I guess that would be proof that the KID is better than the Slav?

  10. It appears I’ve upset a few King’s Indian and Dragon fans. I’ll just make one further point, there’s a reason the top guys rarely play these openings. My original point was I thought these two openings were holding Jones back, I stand by this point and I’m confident if he gives them up in favour of more reliable openings, he will break into 2700. I don’t think he’ll get there playing the King’s Indian and Dragon, that’s my opinion and I’ll leave it at that.

  11. 🙂 Indeed! Well, actually I think James may have a point with respect to the Dragon, but it’s simply not true that the KID is rarely played above 2700 level. On the contrary, it’s getting more popular with Nakamura and Ding Liren playing it quite regularly. Besides, I doubt if the opening is that important. Carlsen is satisfied with reaching an equal position from the opening, from which he can grind down his opponents. If one of the lesser gods (<2700) whould play his openings one could state that with such openings he won't break into 2700. But that would be a wrong statement in my view – he could be the new Carlsen. I think it's more important to choose your openings such that the positions suit your playing style.

  12. It is an interesting question how much elo do good preparation add. With good opening knowledge you may have some wins here and there on book, and avoid losing such games, but the main difference would be to go out of the opening with a +0.30 instead of a +0.1, which does not seem that impressive.

    I think the main point is to play positions you like and you feel comfortable, and improve your overall strength. Carlsen and Kramnik play unambitios openings but those openings they like and they take full advantage of the position, hence that suits them. Maybe for Jones what suits him is asking for trouble with dragon and KID, like Naka.

  13. I think that’s true for Carlsen more than Kramnik. Kramnik is renowned for being a theoretical monster, although it’s seems that recently he’s mixed it up a bit more with some sidelines.

  14. Carlsen is playing openings which arent “qmbitious” because he is an excellent positional player with great understaning of middle and end games. He is trying to avoid “sharp” openings because an average player can memorise those lines till endings which can be =, +-, -+. Thats why he is wchamp. He is much better in chess than others.

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