A CROWDED LEAD IN THE EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP
The signal to the start of the seventh round of the European championship in Jerusalem was given yesterday by IA Eliahu Levant, the 87 years old mythological director of Beer- Sheva club, the pioneer who emigrated from St. Petersburg at the early seventies to build up from scratch a chess empire in the capital of the Negev, the southern desert of Israel.
Following multiple draws at the top the lead was reinforced by those who managed to emerge winners in the seventh rounds. Both matches between the leaders Motylev vs Nepomnianchtchi; Bartel vs Sargissian ended peacefully leaving all four at the lead. However they were joined by the five winners in the sub-top group: Ukrainian Anton Korobov inflicted on Israeli Emil Sutovsky his first defeat in an eventful and exciting battle to return to the lead following a short absence ; Russian Ivan Popov stopped the surprising success of the unknown Israeli Pinkhas Kantraji; German (until not long ago Romania No.1) Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu downed in a hair-raising encounter Russian Ivan Bukavshin Englishman David Howell beat now Romania No.1 Constantin Lupulescu and Ukrainian Andrei Volokitin defeated Russian Aleksey Goganov. All nine are having 5.5 points.
The daily sensation was the victory of the unknown young Israeli player Ohad Kraus on Armenian GM Hrant Melkumian who is almost 500 rating points higher!
Things are expected to become even more complicated in the forthcoming rounds as the race for the 23 qualification tickets to the world cup and for the prize fund of 120,000 Euros is about to enter its decisive stage.
Top encounters of the eighth round are: Nepomniachtchi vs Howell; Nisipeanu vs Korobov; Sargissian vs Volokitin; Popov vs Motylev and Bartel vs Eljanov. The games are to start Wednesday at 15.00 pm and to be transmitted by the official website www.eicc2015.com
By Yochanan Afek
Photos by Yoav Nis