European Championship Takes Off in Yerevan
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On Monday the European Individual Chess Championship 2014 started in Yerevan, Armenia with over 260 players from 27 countries. The ceremonial first move was made by Silvio Danailov, President of the European Chess Union. The top seeds are Etienne Bacrot (France), Pavel Eljanov (Ukraine) and Dmitry Jakovenko (Russia).
The 15th European Championship takes place 2-15 March in the Elite Plaza Business Centre of Armenia's capital Yerevan. It is organized by the Armenian Chess Federation under the auspices of the European Chess Union. The tournament is open to all players representing chess federations which comprise the European Chess Union, regardless of their title or rating.
The European Championship is a qualification event for the next World Cup; the 23 highest ranked players after 11 rounds will qualify. The rate of play is 90 minutes for 40 moves plus 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move, starting from move one. The tournament has a total prize fund of 160,000 Euros; the winner takes home 20,000 Euros.
On Sunday the tournament started with a spectacular opening ceremony, held in the National Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Yerevan. Among the spectactors were Serzh Sargsyan, who is both the President of the Republic of Armenia and the President of the Armenian Chess Federation, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and ECU President Silvio Danailov.
The cultural program included a performance of a brass band, a video dedicated to the 9th World Champion Tigran Petrosian and a musical. In the YouTube video below there's also lots of wonderful footage with Petrosian:
On Monday the first round was played, and there were quite a few upsets. Bacrot and Eljanov started with wins, but on board 3 Jakovenko was held to a draw by one of the local heros, Lilit Mkrtchian. Anton Korobov even lost:
Reigning champion Alexander Moiseenko also dropped half a point against one of the 2400-players, Asaf Givon, and so did Maxim Matlakov against Norwegian talent Aryan Tari. Judit Polgar doesn't play in ladies tournaments but she did face a girl.
I started the Chess EC with a win against the big hope of Russian women chess, the 15 year old Goryachkina. pic.twitter.com/rz1qnU4lgE— Judit Polgar ( @GMJuditPolgar) March 3, 2014
Boris Grachev also suffered a loss, against Ashot Nadanian. The latter has almost 300 points less, but was in full control:
Even Ivan Saric, who did so well at the Tata Steel tournament this year and also won the Croatian Championship right after, started with a loss:
Following the David vs Goliath theme, Markus Ragger was beaten by Roman Kozlitin:
There were two more: Norayr Torosyan (2216) beat GM Dmitry Svetushkin and Aram Hakobyan (2103) won against GM Athanasios Mastrovasilis. You can find all results here at Chess-Results.