I'm not a fan of the Sofia rules, but I think sometimes they should be useful. Take, for example, round 3 of the Gorenje tournament in Valjevo, Serbia: all games were drawn and two of them finished after only 21 and 23 moves. In the latter, Iordachescu-Stojanovic, the position was still full of chances for White, who had some pressure on his opponent king-side. I sometimes do not understand professional players... Standings are obviously unchanged: Atalik, Ivanisevic and Roiz share the lead on 2/3, half a point over the field. Official site: www.chessdom.com.
Much more fight took place in Arvier, Aosta Valley, where the European Union championship started today. All the top seeds players won their battles excepting for Nenad Sulava, who drew against French Gerard Gorse (but I guess he wasn't even present at the playing venue, since his game is not available). The main surprises of round 1 came from two young Italian players: WFM Marianna Chierici (rating: 1996) and National female champion Roberta Brunello (1953, sister of Marina and IM Sabino) beat Spanish FM Marcos Llaneza Vega (2455) and Romanian WIM Sabina Francesca Foisor (2333) respectively. Congratulations! 112 players with 10 GMs, 11 IMs and 2 wGMs compete in the event. Official site: www.scacchivda.com.
Some news from Italy: the 2008 Master division of the National team championship will see 14 teams (instead of 10) competing in a 7 rounds (instead of 5) event. Many discussions were made about the old format on the competition: we'll see if the new one will be best. I think (and hope) the answer is yes. More details on www.federscacchi.it.
Brunello,R (1953) - Foisor,S (2333) [A42], Arvier 15.6.2007
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 Bg7 4.c4 d6 5.Nc3 Bg4 6.dxc5 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 Bxf3
A new move in a very rare position. The game Yakovlev-Biriukov, Petrov memorial 2002, continued 7...dxc5 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.Ng5 Ke8 10.h3 Bd7 11.Be3 b6 12.f4 f6 13.Nf3 Nh6 14.Bd3 Nf7 with chances for both sides.
8.Qxf3 dxc5 9.e5
White pawns are weak, but the bishops pair and the space advantage in the center of the board are a very good compensation for that.
9...Nc6 10.Bf4 Qc8?!
10...Qa5 was better
The second weak move in a row. The ugly 11...f6 was more precise.
A bad mistake (probably the losing one). Now White takes a strong initiative. 12...Rd8 would put up more resistence.
13.Qxb7 Rd8 14.Rfe1
14.Bc2 (with the idea Ba4+) was even stronger.
14...Qd7 15.Qxd7+ Nxd7 16.Be4
White dominates and Black can't avoid losing material (sooner or later...).
16...Nb6 was better, although 17.Rab1 (intending Rb5) 17...Kf8 18.Rb5 Nxc4 (18...Kg7 19.Rxc5 Nf6 20.Bf3 Rc8 21.Rxc8 Rxc8 22.Rxe7 Rxc4 23.Be5 would be even worse) 19.Rxc5 Nd6 20.Bf3 Rd7 21.Rd1 would give White excellent winning chances anyway.
Losing an exchange. 17...0–0 18.Bh6 Rfe8 19.Rad1 was not much better anyway.
18.Bb7 Rd8 19.Bc7 e6 20.Rab1!
20...0–0 21.Bxd8 Rxd8 22.Red1 Rb8 23.Ba6 Nb6 24.a4 would have lost anyway.
21.Bxd8 Kxd8 22.Rb5 Kc7 23.Bf3 Nfd7 24.a4 a6 25.Ra5 Nb8 26.Rxc5+ Kd6 27.Ra5 Nxc4 28.Rd1+ Ke7 29.Rc5 Nb6 30.a5 N6d7 31.Rc7 Kd8 32.Ra7
This is almost zugzwang. Black has no good moves now.
32...Kc8 33.Bb7+ Kc7 34.Bxa6+ Kc6 35.c4 Ne5 36.Bb5+ Kc5 37.Rc7+ Nec6 38.a6 Kb6 39.Rb7+ Kc5 40.a7 Nxa7 41.Rxa7 f5 42.Rc7+ Kb6 43.Re7 1–0
And Black finally resigned. A very convincing victory by Roberta Brunello, one of the youngest female Italian champions ever (she is 16 years old).