Othello news


18 April 2024
Written by Alexandr Melnikov

The first stage of the Euro Grand Prix resembled a twisted detective story in which everything quickly became confused, and the denouement came at the very end. 

In Swiss system tournaments it often happens that the leader defeats everyone for a long time, and sometimes wins all the games. This happened even at the world championships. But in Wroclaw everything immediately went differently. After the fifth round, there were no participants left without defeat! This meant that there was no obvious gap in the overall strength of the game and the current performance of the participants, and the tournament would be won by the best among equals. 

After the first day, it became clear that there were four main contenders: two hosts of the competition – Dominik Novak and Pavel Peczkovski, and two guests from France - Marc Tastet and Takuji Kashiwabara. Three rounds before the end, it seemed that this quartet could reach the finish line together and only MBQ would decide who plays in the final and who for third place. 

But the plot turned out to be even more dramatic. Round 9 was a horror for Polish players. Novak played only a draw with Tomas Douda, and Peczkovski completely lost to Bintsa Andriani.
Game 1 Andriani - Peczkovski 36 - 28

Moreover, Bintsa played this game perfectly - on the 38th move, Pavel played minus 4 (h3) instead of 0 (f7) and then the opponent acted perfectly, not giving a chance for salvation! 

Could the French guys relax and go to the final? Not so! In the 10th round, Kashiwabara, having completely outplayed his opponent, made a very strange 44th move and the Danish traveler Palle Badsted had a chance to punish him for this.
Game 2. Badsted - Kashiwabara 31 - 33​​​​​

The move c8, which Palle made, looks natural. But there were only six squares left to the end and it was necessary to count that d8 gives more disks... 

After the miraculous rescue of Kashiwabara, one would think that now everything was decided in the qualifying tournament. But there was still one last round left, and it brought a big surprise. In the game between Marс Tastet and Michal Buka, from the opening everything was heading towards a calm and confident victory for Marс. Michal played the opening poorly and was forced to give up the corner on move 16.   Game 3. Tastet - Buka 27 - 37

At this moment the program evaluates the position as approximately +18 and it is clear to an ordinary player that Black is doing very well (here Black just needs to play 17.f3!). What happened next to Marc, perhaps he himself does not know. Suddenly Black began to play poorly (17.e3 is not bad yet, but it has already made White's life easier), worsening his position move by move, and instead of the expected +18 he ended the game with -10. So Michal Buka gave an excellent gift to Dominic Novak, who unexpectedly made it to the final. 

And the highlight of the final between Kashiwabara and Novak was the decisive third game. In the “Dead Draw” variation, Dominic, unlike his opponent, played excellently for a long time and completely controlled the course of the game until the 47th move. And then a four-move drama happened. First, on move 47, Dominic did not find a simple path to victory and the position became a draw, and a draw would have suited Takuji!
Game 4. Nowak - Kashiwabara 33 - 31

But on move 50, Takuji chose a slightly inaccurate solution (in the position on the diagram he played h5 instead of a8), it was worse for White by only one disk, but it was the most important disk in the entire tournament! 32:31 and Dominic Novak becomes the first winner of the 2024 European season. 

Read Ewa´s article about the Wroclaw EGP!

1. Andriani - Peczkovski 36 - 28

2. Badsted - Kashiwabara 31 - 33​​​​​

3. Tastet - Buka 27 - 37

4. Nowak - Kashiwabara 33 - 31