Inarkiev New European Champion

Inarkiev New European Champion

GM Ernesto Inarkiev won first place at the European Individual Chess Championships with 9.0/11. He finished a half point ahead of his nearest rival, GM Igor Kovalenko, while moving to 27th in the world rankings thanks to a performance rating of 2882.

Header photo courtesy of the official site.

Inarkiev has long been a fierce competitor ranked regularly in the high 2600s with occasional ventures north of 2700. However, this is by far his best tournament. In combination with his undefeated +3 at the Russian Team Championships in Sochi, Inarkiev is up 42.7 points in the past month.

Round 9

When we left you, Inarkiev led with 7.0/8. His nearest rivals were GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek, GM Igor Kovalenko, and GM Aleksey Goganov.

Kovalenko had White against Inarkiev and clearly wanted to win to take the lead. Perhaps he wanted it a bit too much. As his initially sizable advantage slipped away, he pushed a bit too hard and found himself in trouble. It is always difficult to circle the wagons and make a draw when the trend is against you, and Kovalenko could not quite find the path to safety and he eventually succumbed.

The competitors appear eager to do battle. | Photo Gunnar Bjornsson.

One doesn't often talk about bishops on the rim being grim, but in the following game GM Alexander Ipatov could not seem to extract his bishop from a4. Consequently, GM Arman Pashikian was able to pressure on both sides while the bishop looked on.

Meanwhile, the former world champion GM Ruslan Ponomariov gave an excellent lesson on exploiting weaknesses. His knights nimbly hopped into each loose square that GM Parligras created.

Round 10

While Inarkiev drew on board one, Kovalenko quickly bounced back from his defeat and put GM Laurent Fressinet under the sort of pressure that he had hoped to apply yesterday. Fressinet could not keep things together as Kovalenko masterfully created and exploited weaknesses with his heavy pieces.

GMs Danil Dubov and David Navara both delivered some of the most exciting chess of the tournament, but paired against each other they were peaceful. | Photo Gunnar Bjornsson.

Norway's new great talent, 16 year-old GM Aryan Tari, won an incredibly combative game against the erstwhile leader, GM Ivan Saric.

Tari evidencing mature play, demeanor, and dress. | Photo Gunnar Bjornsson.

Two players who have often pleased the crowd, GM Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu and GM Denis (Kg1!!) Khismatullin matched wits with Nisipeanu, emerging the day's victor with a clever usage of tactics to keep the pressure on high.

Nisipeanu seems to have successfully bored Khismatullin into error with his opening  | Photo Gunnar Bjornsson.

In the midst of the pack, GM Olexandr Bortnyk found the narrow defensive path needed to snatch the point away from a sacrificial GM Ferenc Berkes.

In another humorous case of bishops on the rim, GM Peter Prohaszka's bishop ended up on a4 at just the wrong moment against GM Gabriel Sargissian.

Round 11

With his full-point-lead in the final round, Inarkiev needed to take no risks, and he happily accepted a draw in a position that was trending his way against GM Kacper Piorun.

Thus began the battle for second place with GM Baadur Jobava looking to move into the tie as he harvested a full point with magnificent technique against Wojtaszek.

Analysis by GM Dejan Bojkov

GM Francisco Vallejo Pons also demonstrated good technique in confidently converting a rook endgame plus against GM Alexander Donchenko.

Sadly for Jobava and Vallejo Pons, their efforts were only sufficient for a tie for third as in the longest, decisive game of the round (at least at the top), Kovalenko ground down Goganov and reached sole second place with 8.5/11. The endgame was the same one that saw IM Sarasadat Khademalsharieh resign a drawn endgame against GM Natalia Zhukova in the final round of the Tehran Women's Grand Prix.

This outing was different, as Goganov played out the endgame but erred and lost it on the board. The key technique is described below.

Navara was the final player to enter the tie for third as he found a way to trap Pashikian's bishop with aggressive play.

GM Anton Demchenko wasn't able to catch the leaders, but he was able to move into the critical 23rd position and hopefully qualify for the 2017 World Cup with brutal attacking play against English GM David Howell.

Analysis by GM Dejan Bojkov

Inarkiev collected the sole first prize of €20,000 or $22,618.

For many of the remaining competitors, their prize-earnings might be less important than qualification to the 2017 World Cup with its sizable prize fund and opportunities to play the elite. The top 23 players qualify to the World Cup. Standings plus tiebreakers are below. However, please note that our lists are not official.

European Championship | Final Standings (7.5 Points and Up)

Rk. SNo Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4 TB5 Rp rtg+/-
1 12 GM Inarkiev Ernesto 2686 9 0 72.5 77.5 6 7 2882 25.9
2 37 GM Kovalenko Igor 2644 8.5 0 67 71.5 5 7 2787 21.2
3 26 GM Jobava Baadur 2661 8 0 73.5 78 5 6 2791 19.4
4 1 GM Navara David 2735 8 0 72.5 78.5 5 6 2796 8.6
5 5 GM Vallejo Pons Francisco 2700 8 0 71 77 5 5 2777 10.6
6 2 GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw 2722 7.5 0 76 82 6 5 2763 6.7
7 16 GM Piorun Kacper 2681 7.5 0 69 74.5 5 5 2708 5.4
8 8 GM Fressinet Laurent 2692 7.5 0 68.5 73.5 5 5 2734 6.6
9 60 GM Goganov Aleksey 2600 7.5 0 68.5 71 5 5 2734 19.6
10 36 GM Dubov Daniil 2644 7.5 0 68 73 5 4 2728 11.4
11 3 GM Vitiugov Nikita 2721 7.5 0 67 72.5 5 5 2732 2.1
12 13 GM Cheparinov Ivan 2685 7.5 0 67 72 5 5 2691 2
13 15 GM Najer Evgeniy 2681 7.5 0 67 72 5 5 2693 1.5
14 43 GM Hovhannisyan Robert 2632 7.5 0 66.5 70.5 5 4 2682 8.9
15 33 GM Zhigalko Sergei 2647 7.5 0 66 71 5 5 2691 7.8
16 72 GM Palac Mladen 2577 7.5 0 66 71 5 5 2671 16
17 50 GM Salgado Lopez Ivan 2618 7.5 0 66 69.5 5 5 2686 11.9
18 24 GM Dreev Aleksey 2662 7.5 0 65.5 70.5 6 5 2663 1.6
19 51 GM Anton Guijarro David 2616 7.5 0 65.5 69.5 5 4 2671 10.5
20 94 GM Stupak Kirill 2535 7.5 0 65.5 68.5 6 5 2672 20.2
21 19 GM Nisipeanu Liviu-Dieter 2669 7.5 0 65 70.5 5 4 2688 4.2
22 85 GM Tari Aryan 2558 7.5 0 64.5 69.5 5 5 2670 17
23 69 GM Demchenko Anton 2589 7.5 0 64.5 68 5 5 2725 21.9
24 59 GM Ter-Sahakyan Samvel 2601 7.5 0 64 67.5 5 6 2688 15.7
25 48 GM Lupulescu Constantin 2620 7.5 0 63 67 5 6 2662 7.7
26 83 GM Bortnyk Olexandr 2565 7.5 0 62 67 5 6 2649 13.7
Full final standings can be found here.

The 17th European Individual Championship took place May 11-24 in Gjakova, a city in western Kosovo. The tournament was an 11-round Swiss. A total of 245 played, 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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