Motylev Convincing Winner European Individual
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Alexander Motylev of Russia won the European Championship in Yerevan, Armenia convincingy. The 34-year-old grandmaster from Yekaterinenburg finished on 9.0/11 (good for a 2872 performance rating), a full point more than the rest of the pack. Another excellent result was achieved by Spanish grandmaster David Anton Guijarro, who finished second on tiebreak.
After eight rounds Alexander Motylev had a one-point lead over a group of 13 grandmasters. In the last three rounds the Russian GM managed to hold on to that lead with two draws and one more win. Motylev remained unbeaten throughout the tournament, with 4 draws and 7 wins - the same superb score as his compatriot Ian Nepomniachtchi achieved in 2010 in Rijeka.
Motylev won a whopping 28.8 rating points but in fact the runner-up in the event did even better: +32.5. That was the 18-year-old Spanish GM David Anton Guijarro, who finished second on tiebreak, tied with Vladimir Fedoseev (Russia), Dragan Solak (Turkey), Pavel Eljanov (Ukraine), Constantin Lupulescu (Romania), David Navara (Czech Republic), Ivan Saric (Croatia) and Igor Lysyj (Russia).
According to the regulations the top 23 players would qualify for the 2015 World Cup. Besides the aforementioned grandmasters, the lucky ones were Hrant Melkumyan (Armenia), Radoslaw Wojtaszek (Poland), Dmitry Jakovenko (Russia), Vladislav Artemiev (Russia), Ilya Smirin (Israel), Laurent Fressinet (France), Gabriel Sargissian (Armenia), Alexander Areshchenko (Ukraine), Milos Perunovic (Serbia), Ivan Cheparinov (Bulgaria), Viorel Iordachescu (Moldavia) Sergei Zhigalko (Belarus), Samvel Ter-Sahakyan (Armenia) and Csaba Balogh (Hungary). Other European players can try it again in next year's Championship.
Alexander Motylev doesn't play that many tournaments these days as he mostly works with other grandmasters. For example, he is a second of Sergey Karjakin, who is playing the Candidates’ Tournament in Khanty-Mansiysk as we speak. On Saturday Karjakin reacted as follows:
“My training with Motylev is clearly successful - maybe it's not shown in my games, but certainly in his! We are in contact all the time and I am very happy for him because he deserves such a huge win. For a long time he had been a little bit in a shadow but now he's a champion!”
In the ninth round Motylev drew comfortably with the reigning European Champion, Alexander Moiseenko of Ukraine. After 17.Qa3 it seemed that Black was in trouble, but he found a good way to equalize.
Boards 2-5 were drawn as well, but two players managed to get to half a point behind the leader: Dragan Solak and Ilya Smirin. Both won their games as Black:
In the penultimate round Motylev increased his lead to a point again: he beat Smirin himself, while Solak drew with Wojtaszek. The tournament winner showed that he's not only an opening expert, but has excellent technique as well. Black's knight on d4 looked so strong, but in the end the bishop prevailed.
David Navara played a beautiful positional game against Perunovic. Using the weak squares on the queenside, then invading on the queenside, followed by the power of the passed pawn... Great stuff from the Czech number one.
Norway's number two Jon Ludvig Hammer failed to qualify for the World Cup by half a point. In round 10 he missed a tactic with his last move 32...Qd7.
The following game was a great example of attacks on opposite wings. With both players going all or nothing it was a really exciting fight!
Anton Guijarro set a great step towards World Cup qualification thanks to the following, impressive victory.
In the final round Motylev held Navara to a draw, using a creative way to trade the queens. The resulting ending was still slighty better for White, but Black was solid.
Eljanov defeated Najer, who miscalculated and then completely collapsed:
On slightly lower boards the fight was really about getting into the first 23 spots, and so the players had to take some risk. This led to great games such as this one:
Or the following, in which Baadur Jobava goes down against Anton Guijarro:
And so there were 23 happy players (mentioned above), and many more not so happy. Some big names who didn't qualify: Vladimir Akopian, Evgeny Alekseev, Zoltan Almasi, Etienne Bacrot, Mateusz Bartel, Aleksey Dreev, Boris Grache, Ernesto Inarkiev, Baadur Jobava, last year's winner Alexander Moiseenko, Judit Polgar, Alexander Riazantsev, Maxim Rodshtein, Evgeny Tomashevsky and Andrei Volokitin.
European Championship 2014 | Final Standings (Top 30)
|2||99||GM||Anton Guijarro David||ESP||2559||8||2644||65||69||7||2775||32,5|
(Full final standings here.)
The European Individual Chess Championship 2014 took place 2-15 March in Yerevan, Armenia with over 260 players from 27 countries. All photos © Arman Karakhanyan courtesy of the official website.