Inarkiev Breaks Through in Gjakova: EICC Rounds 7 & 8

Inarkiev Breaks Through in Gjakova: EICC Rounds 7 & 8

After the rest day on Wednesday Rounds 7 and 8 were filled with decisive victories on the top boards at the 17th Individual European Championship in Gjakova, Kosovo. Emerging through the fire was GM Ernesto Inarkiev, who managed to score back-to-back wins against GM Ivan Saric (the previous leader) and top seed GM David Navara, to sit atop the leaderboard with 7/8.

Here are the some of the critical and most exciting games from the last two rounds:

Round 7

On Board 1 Inarkiev started to outplay Saric towards the end of the first time control, deep into the middlegame, culminating in an untimely queen sac that did not work out for the one-time leader of the event:

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A determined Inarkiev showed no remorse in his first of two victories. | Photo Gunnar Bjornsson

On Board 2 Navara took GM Baduur Jobava into a simple rook endgame and displayed flawless endgame skill to grow his small advantage into a decisive one, forcing his opponent to resign a game where he couldn't mange to create a single threat:

A few boards lower GM Samvel Ter-Sahakyan was able to outplay former FIDE World Champion GM Ruslan Ponomariov in a sharp and theoretical Sicilian:

Round 8

The new leaders Navara and Inarkiev faced off on Board 1, with the #1 Czech player lashing out on the kingside in a middlegame filled with pieces, soon regretting his decision:

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Still in the opening, but already deep in concentration. | Photo Gunnar Bjornsson
On the second board GM Radek Wojtaszek took Ter-Sahakyan into an endgame and slowly maneuvered around to eventually break through:

Several boards down saw a combination for the ages: GM Daniil Dubov found a surprising queen sacrifice to end his game quickly against GM Ante Brkic: 

The game prompted some action on Twitter, including this tweet by GM Pavel Eljanov:

For comparison, here is the famous game Eljanov is referring to:


With three rounds to go and 23 spots for the 2017 World Cup up for grabs, the finish is sure to filled with many decisive games.

European Championship | Round 8 Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4 TB5 Rp rtg+/-
1 12 GM Inarkiev Ernesto 2686 7 0 38.5 41.5 4 6 2967 27.2
2 2 GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw 2722 6.5 0 39.5 43.5 4 5 2839 12.8
3 37 GM Kovalenko Igor 2644 6.5 0 36 38.5 4 5 2726 11.1
4 60 GM Goganov Aleksey 2600 6.5 0 34 35.5 4 5 2806 22.8
5 1 GM Navara David 2735 6 0 38.5 42 3 5 2786 6.5
6 26 GM Jobava Baadur 2661 6 0 38 41.5 4 5 2771 14.3
7 5 GM Vallejo Pons Francisco 2700 6 0 36.5 41 3 4 2758 7.1
8 8 GM Fressinet Laurent 2692 6 0 36.5 40 4 4 2764 8.7
9 43 GM Hovhannisyan Robert 2632 6 0 33.5 36 3 4 2699 9.2
10 36 GM Dubov Daniil 2644 6 0 33 36.5 3 4 2751 11.3
11 16 GM Piorun Kacper 2681 6 0 31.5 35.5 4 5 2722 6
12 30 GM Saric Ivan 2650 5.5 0 38.5 42.5 4 5 2695 6.4
13 13 GM Cheparinov Ivan 2685 5.5 0 37.5 41.5 3 4 2679 0
14 32 GM Ipatov Alexander 2648 5.5 0 37 40.5 4 4 2639 -0.8
15 42 GM Berkes Ferenc 2636 5.5 0 35.5 39.5 4 3 2689 7.5
16 15 GM Najer Evgeniy 2681 5.5 0 35.5 39 3 3 2627 -5.6
17 29 GM Bartel Mateusz 2653 5.5 0 35 38.5 3 4 2668 2.7
18 33 GM Zhigalko Sergei 2647 5.5 0 35 38 4 4 2673 4.1
19 80 GM Donchenko Alexander 2569 5.5 0 34 37.5 4 3 2701 14.6
20 55 GM Zubov Alexander 2612 5.5 0 34 37.5 3 2 2728 12.4
Full standings through Round 8 can be found here.

The 17th European Individual Championship is taking place May 11-24 in Gjakova, a city in western Kosovo. The tournament is an 11-round Swiss. A total of 245 players are playing, including 103 GMs and 29 IMs. The prize fund is 120,000 / $135,708 with a 20,000 / $22,618 first prize. The top 23 players will qualify for the 2017 World Cup.

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