Jobava, Inarkiev, Wojtaszek Still Perfect At European Championship

Jobava, Inarkiev, Wojtaszek Still Perfect At European Championship

PeterDoggers
PeterDoggers
May 16, 2016, 4:12 AM |
21 | Chess Event Coverage

Three players have started the European Championship in Gjakova, Kosovo by winning their first four games: Baadur Jobava (Georgia), Ernesto Inarkiev (Russia), and Radoslaw Wojtaszek (Poland).

The 17th European Individual Championship is taking place 11-24 May in Gjakova, a city in western Kosovo. This means that, for the first time, the tournament is held in a country that's not universally recognized as a state. On the website of the European Chess Union (ECU) it is noted that ”[a]ny mention of Kosovo will be followed with an asterisk and the note referring to UN Resolution 1244, without prejudice of status.”

Kosovo on a cake presented at the opening ceremony... | Photo courtesy EICC2016.

...as part of a big chess cake! | Photo courtesy EICC2016.

So, do we see participants from countries that do not recognize Kosovo as an independent state? Absolutely. For example, Armenia has eight participants (maybe it helps that the president of the country is also the president of the chess federation!) and so does Belarus. Azerbaijan, however, didn't send any participants. According to Chess-News the players have been “recommended” not to play chess there.

Only one Serbian player (FM Kasem Vebic) is participating;  Serbia does not recognize Kosovo as a sovereign state but has begun to normalize relations with the Government of Kosovo in accordance with the Brussels Agreement.

A peek into the playing hall. | Photo courtesy EICC2016.

The system of a championship that moves to a different country each year has its charms, but there are two obvious downsides: in some countries you cannot expect the same conditions as in others, and almost always the organizers have never handled such a big event before. (However, often nobody is really to blame, especially in a country that still hasn't fully recovered from a terrible war.)

Still, it didn't come as a surprise that players started complaining from the early moments. GM Emil Sutovsky, the President of the Association of Chess Professionals (ACP), wrote on Facebook last Friday:

As always, the tournament is an 11-round Swiss with one rest day on May 18th. A total of 245 players are playing in one big Swiss which has 103 GMs and 29 IMs.

Kosovo itself has a huge number of participants: 88, even though the chess federation only lists 56 rated players. The tournament can be seen as a big open: 13 players are rated below 2000, and 51(!) players don't even have a rating yet.

15th seed Evgeny Najer (2681) of Russia is defending his European Championship title which he won last year in Jerusalem, Israel. Just like last year, David Navara (2735) of the Czech Republic is the top seed. There are four more 2700 players: Radek Wojtaszek (2722), Nikita Vitiugov (2721), Ruslan Ponomariov (2715) and Francisco Vallejo Pons (2700). There are 60(!) 2600+ players.

The playing hall is the Pashtriku Hotel in central Gjakova. 

So, you may wonder, why on earth does an open tournament with a fancy name, to phrase it very cynically, attract so many strong players? Well, two reasons. For starters the prize find is not bad: 120,000 / $135,708 in total with a 20,000 / $22,618 first prize. But, most importantly, the tournament functions as a qualifier for the 2017 World Cup. The top 23 players will qualify, and 23 more from next year's European Championship will join them (besides many other qualifiers).

Four rounds have been played so far in Gjakova, and three players still have a 100 percent score: Baadur Jobava (Georgia), Ernesto Inarkiev (Russia), and Radoslaw Wojtaszek (Poland). Let's look at a game from each of these three players. All of them were rather inspired in the second round. First Jobava:

In the same round Ernesto Inarkiev, who won the U16 European Championship in 2001, got the chance to play an exchange sacrifice instead of just collecting an exchange:

Also in the second round, Wojtaszek didn't have any trouble finding the following combination (though he did spend 4 minutes double checking the variations — never a bad idea when you have the time).

Ex-FIDE World Champion Ruslan Ponomariov started with two wins but then drew his next two. His first-round win (in a Benoni!) wasn't bad:

Top seed Navara is doing fine with 3.5/4. His win in the third round against Vitaly Kunin of Germany was quite instructive in the theme of playing with a passed pawn in the middlegame.

Paco Vallejo played a very nice game in round three as well. He followed Anish Giri's sharp Najdorf vs MVL from Norway for a while, but then deviated with a Bd3/Qe2 setup. The opening was a great success; already at the start of the middlegame White had a winning pawn push.

European Championship | Round 4 Standings (Top 30)

Rk. SNo Title Name Rtg Pts. TB1 TB2 TB3 TB4 TB5 Rp rtg+/-
1 2 GM Wojtaszek adoslaw  2722 4 0 8,5 10 2 4 3376 12,5
2 12 GM Inarkiev sto  2686 4 0 8 10 2 4 3332 12,4
3 26 GM Jobava ur  2661 4 0 7,5 9,5 2 4 3304 12,7
4 36 GM Dubov  2644 3,5 0 8,5 10 1 2 2870 8,1
5 7 GM Matlakov axim  2693 3,5 0 8 10,5 2 3 2905 8,6
6 30 GM Saric  2650 3,5 0 8 10 2 3 2828 7,6
7 84 GM Kovalev islav  2562 3,5 0 8 9,5 2 3 2863 13,6
8 1 GM Navara d  2735 3,5 0 8 9,5 1 3 2882 5,4
9 42 GM Berkes c  2636 3,5 0 8 9 2 3 2795 6,6
10 3 GM Vitiugov ta  2721 3,5 0 7,5 10 2 3 2900 6,8
11 33 GM Zhigalko gei  2647 3,5 0 7,5 9 2 3 2799 6,3
12 32 GM Ipatov nder  2648 3 0 9,5 11 2 2 2740 3,6
13 58 GM Andriasian aven  2602 3 0 9,5 10 2 3 2691 5,7
14 89 GM Sturua   2548 3 0 9 10 2 3 2735 10
15 8 GM Fressinet rent  2692 3 0 8,5 11 2 2 2750 3
16 5 GM Vallejo Francisco  2700 3 0 8,5 11 1 2 2748 2,4
17 13 GM Cheparinov van  2685 3 0 8,5 10,5 2 3 2677 0,2
18 4 GM Ponomariov Ruslan  2715 3 0 8,5 10,5 2 2 2759 2,3
19 100 GM Andersen ads  2505 3 0 8,5 10,5 2 2 2698 10,3
20 48 GM Lupulescu onstantin  2620 3 0 8,5 10 2 3 2671 3,6
21 56 GM Khismatullin Denis  2609 3 0 8,5 10 2 3 2644 2,7
22 108 IM Petrosyan anuel  2480 3 0 8,5 10 2 2 2686 11
23 22 GM Duda ysztof  2666 3 0 8,5 10 1 1 2707 1,5
24 20 GM Laznickaor  2668 3 0 8 10 2 2 2702 2,6
25 31 GM Grandelius ils  2649 3 0 8 10 2 2 2667 1,6
26 39 GM Kravtsiv tyn  2641 3 0 8 10 2 2 2624 0
27 50 GM Salgado ez Ivan  2618 3 0 8 9,5 2 2 2720 6,3
28 55 GM Zubov nder  2612 3 0 8 9,5 1 1 2733 4,9
29 17 GM Korobov on  2674 3 0 8 9 2 2 2703 2,1
30 43 GM Hovhannisyann Robert  2632 3 0 8 9 2 2 2621 0,3

(Full standings here.)

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