First held in Vienna in 1957 when the Soviet Union led by Paul Keres were victorious, this was originally for men only (though now there is an open section and a parallel women’s championship, inaugurated in Debrecen 1992) and held every four years or so. From Pula 1997 onwards, it has been held on a biennial basis - and the Soviets/Russia have dominated this event by winning twelve (9x Soviet, 3x Russia) of the 19 titles contested.
In Reykjavik, Russia may lack top stars Vladimir Kramnik and Sergey Karjakin, but they are still seeded No.1 with a powerful squad led by seven-time national champion Peter Svidler. And Russia lead the field after six rounds, undefeated on 11/12 match points, a point ahead of nearest rivals France on 10-points, and Azerbaijan on 9-points, with an eight-team chasing pack on 8-points.
The Marshall Attack, named after the legendary US champion, Frank J. Marshall, who used it as his secret weapon against Jose Raul Capablanca at New York 1918. The myth goes that Marshall deliberately kept his analysis secret for seven years before playing it - but this has since been debunked by historians.
Nevertheless the Marshall remains very popular at club level with its easy piece-play. During his pomp as world champion, Boris Spassky demonstrated just how equally lethal the Marshall can be at elite level; and in today’s game at the elite level, Svidler keeps the torch burning by being the game’s leading expert on the Marshall Attack - and he ably demonstrated this in his fourth round annihilation of the Ukraine No.1, Vassily Ivanchuk, in a game that helped the Russians to an emphatic victory as they stormed into the lead.
Vassily Ivanchuk - Peter Svidler
20th European Team Ch., (4)
Ruy Lopez, Marshall Attack
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0-0 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 Nxd5 10.Nxe5 Nxe5 11.Rxe5 c6 12.d3 The tabiya of the Marshall Attack comes after the more usual main-line with 12.d4 . Ivanchuk's 12.d3 was an original idea from the great Soviet free-thinker in the game, David Bronstein. 12...Bd6 13.Re1 Bf5 14.Qf3 Re8 15.Rxe8+ Qxe8 16.Nd2 Qe1+ 17.Nf1 Bg6 18.g3 b4 So far, so theory. As usual in the Marshall Attack, the theory goes deep; though now Ivanchuk comes up with a new idea - albeit a bad one. 19.h4?! You can see the immediate idea is to win Black's bishop by threatening h5 - but this is easy to defend against, and Ivanchuk's new idea instead turns into a terrible idea, weakening g3 and giving the knight an excellent outpost on g4. 19...h5 20.c4 Nf6 21.Bd1 It's the age-old issue in the Marshall Attack: If White can somehow exchange queens - such as with Qe2 - then he will be OK. 21...Re8 22.Bd2 Qe5 23.Rc1 Bc5! Svidler rightly keeps up the pressure, eschewing the easy pawn capture, as after 23...Qxb2?! 24.Qxc6 Bf8 25.Qa4 White is over the worst of it and perhaps emerges a little better going into the endgame. 24.a3 No matter how active Black's bishops would have been, Ivanchuk had to go for 24.Qxc6 Bxd3 25.Bf3 and take his chances here. 24...a5 25.axb4 axb4 26.Rc2 Ng4 27.Ne3 Qd6 28.Nxg4 hxg4 29.Qxg4 Bh5!! (See Diagram) A surprise move that totally poleaxed Ivanchuk, as the over-worked queen can't defend everything. 30.Qxh5 What else was there? If 30.Qf4?? Qxf4 31.Bxf4 Re1+ 32.Kg2 Rxd1 would have easily won. 30...Qxg3+ 31.Kh1 Qxf2 0-1 There's no defence. If 32.Qg4 Qf1+ 33.Kh2 Bd6+ wins easily.