England crush Netherlands and soar to joint lead

Leonard Barden






After dour performances in their previous five matches, England produced a stunning victory in yesterday’s sixth round of the European team championship in Budva, Montenegro. Their 3.5-0.5 win against the Netherlands jumped them into the joint lead with Germany, who drew 2-2 with Romania. England v Germany in today’s seventh round (of nine) will now be a potential gold medal match. It can be watched, live and free, on chess24.com and other leading chess websites, starting at 2.15 pm and continuing for four or five hours. Yesterday’s victory was sparked by a fine win on top board for the former Russian champion and now England No 1, Nikita Vitiugov, who exploited Jorden van Foreest’s passive play to drive home a fierce king’s side attack in 26 moves, launched by a knight sacrifice on f4 and climaxed by a queen-rook checkmating attack on the h file. David Howell, on board two, took advantage of a late error by Max Warmerdam to score in a queen and pawns endgame in a marathon 75 moves as he forced a pawn through to promote to a second queen. Luke Mcshane, on board four, demonstrated subtle skills in a 55-move knight and pawns endgame to win by zugzwang, a rare technique where the opponent is on the move but only has a choice of losing replies. Benjamin Bok v Michael Adams on board three was drawn at move 41 after level play. England women also registered their best result so far in round seven, defeating higher rated Spain by 2.5-1.5, with wins by Harriet Hunt and Katarzyna Toma on boards three and four and a draw by Lan Yao on board two. Toma’s victory was outstanding as she scored with a checkmating queen and rook attack against an opponent who had been one of the top performers of the tournament. England women, who were seeded only 13th, are up to sixth place and will now meet the No 2 seeds, Azerbaijan, in today’s seventh round.