Ivan Saric Wins European Championship
Ivan Saric is the new European champion. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Ivan Saric Wins European Championship

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
Mar 29, 2018, 1:18 PM |
23 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Ivan Saric won the European Championship in Batumi, Georgia. The 27-year-old grandmaster became the second Croatian player to do so, after GM Zdenko Kozul in 2006.

The 19th European Individual Chess Championship was held March 17-28 in the Sheraton Hotel in Batumi, Georgia. In this grueling, 11-round Swiss, a total of 302 players from 34 federations participated, among them 135 grandmasters.

There were eight 2700+ players in Batumi: GMs Dmitry Jakovenko (Russia, 2746), Radoslaw Wojtaszek (Poland, 2738), David Navara (Czech Republic, 2737), Francisco Vallejo Pons (Spain, 2716), Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine, 2713), Rauf Mamedov (Azerbaijan, 2709), Maxim Matlakov (Russia, 2707) and Daniil Dubov (Russia, 2701).

Sadly, fourth-seeded Vallejo decided to leave the tournament after a few rounds, due to issues with the Spanish tax authority based on an old law from 2011. You can read more about that here.

The tournament is traditionally strong, since it's also a qualifier for the 2019 World Cup. 23 players from this year's European Individual, and another 23 next year will qualify. But the top prizes are definitely something to play for as well: €20,000 for first, €15,000 for second and €10,000 for third.

Batumi European Championship 2018

The playing hall in Batumi. | Photo: official Facebook page.

The Croatian grandmaster Ivan Saric, the 26th seeded player in the tournament, was the only player to finish on 8.5 points—he was the only one to win his game in the final round out of seven players who were on 7.5/10.

In that final round Saric defeated Czech GM David Navara, who took some risks by employing a sideline of the Accelerated Dragon but he was not doing too badly out of the opening. However, he missed his chance, and then Saric got a strong initiative. He won a piece for two pawns, and didn't leave his opponent a chance in the technical phase.

The endgame seems to be one of Saric's strong points. Look at this game from the ninth round, where the Croatian GM showed, as the Dutch say, "velvet technique."

As you can see in the standings below, some very strong players failed to finish among the first 23, for example the aforementioned Dubov, Jakovenko, Ivanchuk and Mamedov, but also e.g. GM Baadur Jobava and the former FIDE world champion GM Ruslan Ponomariov.

Among the lucky ones were both English GMs Gawain Jones and Luke McShane, besides two big surprises: GM Daniil Yuffa of Russia (seeded 123) and IM Miguel Santos Ruiz of Spain (seeded 146).

McShane is back to playing chess more regularly, and it showed in the following game, in which he managed to grind down veteran GM Alexander Beliavsky.

Jones won an interesting game in round seven against 2016 champion GM Ernesto Inarkiev of Russia.

2018 European Individual | Final Standings (Top 30)

# SNo Fed Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 rtg+/-
1 26 GM Saric Ivan 2657 8,5 0 67 72,5 19,6
2 2 GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw 2738 8 0 72 77 5,7
3 29 GM Sjugirov Sanan 2652 8 0 69,5 74 20,4
4 30 GM Jones Gawain C B 2651 8 0 69 74 19,4
5 7 GM Matlakov Maxim 2707 8 0 67 72 4,5
6 34 GM McShane Luke J 2647 8 0 67 71,5 17,2
7 21 GM Korobov Anton 2664 8 0 66,5 71 14,4
8 40 GM Safarli Eltaj 2639 8 0 63,5 69 14,4
9 11 GM Nabaty Tamir 2690 7,5 0 73,5 78,5 7,4
10-11 16 GM Najer Evgeniy 2683 7,5 0 70,5 75 7,2
10-11 18 GM Demchenko Anton 2672 7,5 0 70,5 75 6,5
12 35 GM Grandelius Nils 2646 7,5 0 69 74,5 6,1
13 123 GM Yuffa Daniil 2521 7,5 0 69 71,5 31,6
14 3 GM Navara David 2737 7,5 0 68,5 73,5 -1,2
15 15 GM Inarkiev Ernesto 2684 7,5 0 68 74 5,5
16 69 GM Hovhannisyan Robert 2601 7,5 0 68 73 24,1
17 10 GM Cheparinov Ivan 2693 7,5 0 68 72,5 2,5
18 51 GM Bok Benjamin 2622 7,5 0 67 71,5 17,5
19 146 IM Santos Ruiz Miguel 2488 7,5 0 67 70,5 34,2
20 64 GM Abasov Nijat 2608 7,5 0 66,5 71 14,2
21 86 GM Pashikian Arman 2585 7,5 0 66,5 71 22,6
22 92 GM Sarana Alexey 2577 7,5 0 66 70,5 22,3
23-24 33 GM Anton Guijarro David 2647 7,5 0 65,5 70,5 5,7
23-24 39 GM Parligras Mircea-Emilian 2642 7,5 0 65,5 70,5 -0,2
25 22 GM Melkumyan Hrant 2664 7,5 0 65 71 5,1
26 6 GM Mamedov Rauf 2709 7,5 0 64,5 69,5 -1,5
27 36 GM Guseinov Gadir 2646 7,5 0 64 69 8,2
28 73 GM Kobalia Mikhail 2599 7,5 0 62,5 67,5 6,8
29 104 GM Savchenko Boris 2550 7,5 0 62 66,5 13,1
30 144 IM Ferreira Jorge Viterbo 2492 7,5 0 61,5 66,5 27,6

(Full final standings here.)

Interestingly, GM David Anton Guijarro of Spain and Mircea-Emilian Parligras of Romania finished on the exact same tiebreaks on 23rd place, which begs the question who has qualified for the World Cup. It's likely that both can travel to Khanty-Mansiysk next year, if only because some players who finished higher in this tournament might qualify by rating instead.

Below you will find some more games from the championship as puzzles. Enjoy!

Games via TWIC.

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