Alexey Sarana Wins European Online Chess Championship
Alexey Sarana won the first European Online Chess Championship.

Alexey Sarana Wins European Online Chess Championship

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
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17 | Chess Event Coverage

On Sunday, Russian GM Alexey Sarana won the group for 2300+ players of the first European Online Chess Championship. The tournament was played over different rating categories between May 16 and 31 on Chess.com.

Sarana won a 16-player knockout on Sunday as one of the 14 participants that came from the qualifier tournament held on Friday and Saturday. To those 14 players, two invited participants were added: GM Anish Giri and GM David Navara.

2020 European Online Championship bracket

The knockout matches consisted of two games (10+2) and in the event of a tie, an armageddon game decided.

One of the biggest clashes possible in this event was the quarterfinal match between Giri, who had beaten the Russian FM Artem Galaktionov 2-0, and Sarana, who had beaten GM Matthias Bluebaum in the armageddon.

Top-seed Giri was knocked out as Sarana held the draw as Black and then won his white game:

European Online Championship zoom call
The player cams during the first round.

Sarana's semifinal against Armenian GM Sergei Movsesian was one of those rare occurrences of someone winning a match without winning a single game. After two draws in the regular games, the Russian player went through after drawing the armageddon. That felt quite justified as he was winning for most of the game:

Sarana won the championship and the 1,200 euro first prize thanks to a 2-0 victory over Navara in the final. After a nice, technical win in game one with the white pieces (see the game viewer below), the second game was more tactical and saw a remarkable idea on move 20 for Black:

"I feel really nice because in every previous online tournament, like Titled Tuesdays, I couldn't get near the prizes. I'm very happy that in the end, I can play well," said Sarana, who is indeed a regular participant on Tuesdays here on Chess.com.

"I am really happy we had this tournament because for players like me and other 2600 players, there are big tournaments, but there is a lot of competition and very low prices. It's difficult for us to play; it's hard to get anything. In this tournament, it is more easy to play than for example Titled Tuesday because there are no Indian players, and there are almost no top players." [Quotes slightly altered for language correction.]

Sarana European Online Champion
Sarana speaking to the commentators after his victory.

Sarana, Navara, and Armenian GM Gabriel Sargissian, who defeated his compatriot Movsesian in the match for third place, all qualified for the European Individual Championship, to be held December 8-21, 2020 in Terme Olimia, Slovenia.

The top female player was GM Nino Batsiashvili, who won 700 euros and directly qualified for the European Individual Women's Championship (October 31-November 12 in Mamaia, Romania).

The first European Online Chess Championship was a tournament for members of European national chess federations. The time control for all games was 10 minutes plus a two-second increment.

There were five separate Elo categories, with the lowest for groups playing a two-stage Swiss tournament over two days. The top group followed a Grand Prix system, whereby 14 players qualified for the knockout stage. Qualification was based on the players who scored the most combined points across two Swiss events.

Each player advancing to the 16-player knockout stage was required to play with camera and audio on a video Zoom call, with their face and playing area in full view with adequate lighting. Participants in all groups had to agree to abide by all rules and site policies stated at Chess.com/legal.

The event was streamed live with commentary by GM Roeland Pruijssers and WGM Keti Tsatsalashvili. 

All of Sunday's games 

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