Venues for the EuroCup are often off the beaten track, so it was good to have the event in the spectacular city of Bilbao; the playing hall was very decent and as a bonus also hosted the four player Bilbao Masters alongside. However the other organization was surprisingly haphazard, with problems announcing pairings, and entering the games and I see that, even now, many of them have not percolated through to Megadatabase.
After Baden-Baden decided to move on from participating in the event, frustrated in part by the unpredictable pairing system, I was very happy to get an opportunity to play for the strong SOCAR team. A pattern began to develop as my team-mates were winning games to the left and right of me, my games seemed to just continue. A 62 move win over Alexey Dreev, was followed by another 127 moves against Penteala Harikrishna. We reached rook and bishop v rook, and as my opponent had little time remaining other than the 30 second increment I thought I might create some problems, but drawing on previous experience in that ending he held effortlessly. The endgame streak continued as I finished the event with an 120 move win against Alexei Shirov, our second game in a few months after a seven year drought.
SOCAR had already clinched victory with a round to spare, the sixth time I’ve been part of the winning team after a long wait. I got a rest, so was able to relax and watch Veselin Topalov who like many in the team was in strong form clinched a 3.5-2.5 victory with the only decisive game against Peter Svidler. This gave him the best performance on board 2, completing an impressive trio of team results, he was also the Gold medal winner on board 1 at both the European Team in Warsaw and the Tromso Olympiad!