Malmö AS top player GM Baadur Jobava shared the top position with GM Maxim Matlakov when only one round was left in the Individual European Championships in Minsk! Not a big deal you may think. However, few people know that Jobava got a very tough virus infection after playing the Top 12 French Teams competition in France. This is the explanation to why Jobava lost both round 2 and 3, and was far down the standings among the other 400 players. At this point we contacted Jobava and suggested he should withdraw, go home and get well. The chances to reach a top position was more or less none. How wrong we were! In some miraculous way and with some luck, Jobava won 8 straight games after this two sad rounds!! Four of the opponents were very strong; GM Anton Demchenko (ELO 2629), GM Gawain Jones (ELO 2654), GM Dimitrios Mastrovasilis (ELO 2580) and GM Samvel Ter-Sahakyan (ELOP 2598).
We will have a brief look into the last game against GM Demchenko where Jobava was fighting for an equal position but Demchenko faced time pressure around move 30 and could not sustain the advantage after his strategic exchange sacrifice earlier in the game which gave Demchenko a free pawn on the d-file and a heavy attack on the king-side. At move 37 the game was equal but Demchenko then made a fatal mistake:
Here the best move is axb5. An alternative is to move the queen by Qe3 or Qe4.
White can hardly exchange queens due to the material disadvantage.
The rest is now a “walk in the park” for Jobava:
38. Qg3 Rg5! 39. Qe3 bxa4 40. Bxa4 Re7! 41. Qg1? Bxh3! 42. Rf1 Bf5 43. Demchenko resigned.
“My tactics today was to play some constructive chess and I deliberately took him into difficult positions with many choices”, said a happy Jobava after the game. “Now let’s go for the title!”.
Earlier today the final game between GM Jobava and GM Matlakov was played on the first board. Despite a positional advantage after move 40, Jobava did not manage to capitalize on this and the game ended in a draw.
GM Matlakov became the European champion and GM Jobava took the runner-up place. Still he can enjoy a prize sum of no less than 15 000 EUR. Congrats from all of us at Malmö AS!