Women's European Chess Championship-2011
The 12th Women’s European Chess Championship was held in May in the hospitable city of Tblisi, Georgia. 130 participants, 9 of them with ratings over 2500 FIDE, 14 qualifying spots for the World Championship. For me it was the 8th WIECC (not counting junior ones), while the only person who has played in all twelve WIECCs is Maia Lomineishvili.
A new tie-break system was introduced this year at both the Men’s and Women’s championship. Apart from points, the 1st tie-break was performance and, very importantly, the tie-break matches (for gold and the qualifying spots) have been abolished. This measure makes one stay concentrated from round 1 to the very end, otherwise there is a chance to start poorly and guarantee oneself a low performance, which means saying goodbye to all competitive goals.
In fact, I did quite the opposite. I started out terribly – just 1.5 points out of 4 and two consequent losses. However, I have gone through that before. In WIECC-2003 I got 1.5 out of 4 and finished at 6.5 out of 11. Luckily enough, that was enough to qualify for tie-breaks. After playing very convincingly there, I won a ticket to the World Championship. This time the situation was different though: no tie-breaks, and a guaranteed low performance rating (since I would not be playing as high-rated players as those on the top boards), so all I could do was try to switch to survival mode and score LOTS of points in the rounds to come.
Meanwhile, on the top boards a tough fight was going on. Viktoria Cmilyte has three silver medals from WIECC, and it was clear that this time she was motivated to win. She scored 5 points in the first 5 rounds! Then ex-WWC Antoaneta Stefanova won an important game vs her and caught Viktoria on points. Among other pursuers were the local girl Bella Khotenashvili and Women’s Blitz Champion Ekaterina Lahno.
Nonetheless, after round 9 Cmilyte became the sole leader of the tournament and won the WIECC-2011 quite impressively. 2-4 places went to Stefanova, Danielian and Matveeva. Elina had been playing at top tables throughout the event, while the experienced Svetlana started with 0.5 out of 2.
In rounds 5-9 I scored four points and realized I need to win the last two games to qualify (when I pointed that out to David Pruess, he replied reassuringly: “Well, then win them!”). Why not? Two victories brought me to 7.5 out of 11 and sharing 5-13 places. This event turned out to be very tiresome and tense for me, but at least I reached my minimum goal and qualified for the World Championship.
After the tournament some participants decided to stay and take part in the Women’s European Rapid Chess Championship. Lacking the energy for this, I decided to head home.
The following game was played in round 2 against Kharatyan Anakhit. After drawing with White in round 1, I was determined to put up a fight.
After having equalized in the opening, I made an inaccurate move 16…b4 and could have ended up being worse. However, my opponent missed a nasty blow 20…d5 and failed to come up with the right decision. My active play based on sacrificing two pawns led to a success, although it wasn’t guaranteed.