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The Independent Culture
EIGHT MAGNIFICENT teams battled it out last weekend in Bugonjo in Bosnia, in the final of the 15th edition of the European Club Cup, with no fewer than 52 grandmasters among the 63 players present.

With such concentrated fire-power there were bound to be heavy casualties and the first round on Friday 29 October saw the demise of the Fide world champion, Alexander Khalifman (playing for his native St Petersburg), at the hands of Alex Huzman. In a close-fought and bloody contest this tipped the balance 3.5-2.5 in favour of Huzman's Beer Sheva. Meanwhile Kiseljak (Bosnia) beat Siberia Tomsk 4-2, Elitzur (Israel) lost 2.5-3.5 to Agrouniverzal, and the holders Panfox (Breda) were defeated 1.5-4.5 by Bosna Sarajevo.

Club play tends to generate controversy and last weekend was no exception, since the finals had been moved at short notice from the projected battle at Sarajevo a few weeks later. As a compromise, Panfox, initially weakened by the change of dates, were allowed to bring in fresh blood, so this heavy defeat was still unexpected. The problems were highlighted next day when Elitzur, an Orthodox Jewish team that had reportedly come to Bugonjo on condition that they would not have to play on the Sabbath, defaulted; they continued their protest by defaulting in the last-place play-off with St Petersburg on Sunday.

Meanwhile Agrouniverzal and Bosna had won through against Kiseljak and Beer Sheva respectively, to reach the final on Sunday. This saw draws on boards 1, 5 and 6 while the middle three were all decisive, with Nigel Short for Agrouniverzal beating Ivan Sokolov but Sokolov's team-mates Topalov and Piket beating Gelfand and Beliavsky respectively for a final score of 3.5-2.5 in Bosna's favour.

This beautifully clean game shows Jeroen Piket at his very best. 22 b4 at least mooted the possibility of either 23 b5 - which is excellent unless Black can successfully respond ...c5; or perhaps 23 Rxc6!? Bd7 24 b5. Beliavsky lashed out with 22 ...b5?! but the exchange of c6 pawn for b4 pawn ruined his pawn structure and after his temporary activity fizzled out, he was in dire straits.

White: Jeroen Piket

Black: Alexander Beliavsky

Queen's Gambit Declined

Tartakover Variation

1 d4 Nf6

2 c4 e6

3 Nf3 d5

4 Nc3 Be7

5 Bg5 h6

6 Bh4 0-0

7 e3 b6

8 Be2 Bb7

9 Bxf6 Bxf6

10 cxd5 exd5

11 0-0 Qe7

12 Qb3 Rd8

13 Rfd1 c6

14 Bf1 Bc8

15 g3 Bg4

16 Bg2 Nd7

17 Rac1 Rac8

18 Ne2 Nf8

19 h3 Bf5

20 Nf4 g6

21 Qa4 Bg7

22 b4 b5

23 Qa6 Qxb4

24 Rxc6 Rxc6

25 Qxc6 Qa4

26 Ra1 Qc4

27 Qa6 Rd7

28 Nd2 Qb4

29 Nb3 Be4

30 Rc1 g5

31 Nh5 Ne6

32 Bxe4 dxe4

33 Kg2 Qa4

34 Rc8+ Nf8

35 Rxf8+ Bxf8

36 Nf6+ Kg7

37 Qxa4 bxa4

38 Nxd7 axb3

39 axb3 Bd6

40 g4 Kg6

41 f3 exf3+

42 Kxf3 f5

43 e4 fxe4+

44 Kxe4 Kf7

45 Kd5 Bg3

46 Kc6 Ke7

47 d5