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Maxim Matlakov Wins European Championship

Maxim Matlakov Wins European Championship

Three players topped the devilishly strong European Individual Championships which took place May 31 through June 10 in Minsk, Belarus. GMs Maxim Matlakov, Baadur Jobava, and Vladimir Fedoseev each scored 8.5/11 though they did it in quite different ways. The victor on tiebreaks was Matlakov who is the 2017 European Chess Champion.

Headline image: The winners take their spots on the podium.

Photos: official site by Igor Klevko and Eteri Kublashvili.

To make their way to the top of the field, they had to best 120 (!) other grandmasters including many current and erstwhile 2700s such as Peter Leko, David Navara, Etienne Bacrot, Evgeny Tomashevsky, Ruslan Ponomariov, Arkadij Naiditsch, Dmitry Andreikin and Dmitry Jakovenko.

What incentive could bring so many players out in force? The primary motivation was spots at the 2017 World Cup. 22 spots were up for grabs.

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Two strong players—Jan-Krzysztof Duda (crossing 2700 just after turning 19) and Tomashevsky who qualified. | Photos: official site by Igor Klevko and Eteri Kublashvili.

Despite his 2700 rating at the still young age of 26, many may not know Matlakov's name, such is the chess-rich world we live in. Matlaokov's most important win was probably his round 10 defeat of GM David Howell who lead for a chunk of the tournament; however, his most fun enjoyable win had to be this fourth-round smash.

Jobava and Fedoseev each took more spectacular routes to the podium. Jobava lost in both rounds two and three before winning seven games in a row, an achievement affectionately named the Caruana after the same's 2014 Sinquefield Cup streak.

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Jobava's aggressive sharp style wins many fans. | Photos: official site by Igor Klevko and Eteri Kublashvili.

Jobava's second defeat to IM Alexey Sarana was quite dramatic and featured some really beautiful tactical ideas. Sarana was one of four victors in U18—the others were IMs Haik M. Martirosyan (with 7.5), and Aram Hakobyan, Kirill Shevchenko who with Sarana had 7 points.

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U18 winners Martirosyan, Hakobyan, and Shevchenko. | Photos: official site by Igor Klevko and Eteri Kublashvili.

Two rounds later, Jobava won this game in which chaos reigned all across the board.

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In the final round, Matlakov and Jobava drew a hard-fought game where Jobava had serious chances. | Photos: official site by Igor Klevko and Eteri Kublashvili.

Fedoseev's two consecutive losses came later on as he dropped both rounds five and six against GMs Daniel Fridman (after an enterprising sacrifice) and Levan Pantsulaia. He closed with five wins in a row, the most instructive of which was this nice rook endgame against GM Aleksandr Shimanov.

The women's champion was WGM Olga Girya (6.5/11) followed by IM Elisabeth Paehtz on the same score and Aleksandra Goryachkina. The senior champion was GM Zurab Sturua (7/11) followed by GMs Michael Godena and Ram Soffer (6/11).

nullnullWomens and Senior's prize winners. |  Photos: official site by Igor Klevko and Eteri Kublashvili.

Final Standings | 7.5 Points And Up

Rk. SNo FED Title Name Rtg Pts. Rp rtg+/-
1 5 GM Matlakov, Maxim 2714 8.5 2834 16.6
2 6 GM Jobava, Baadur 2713 8.5 2745 6.6
3 14 GM Fedoseev, Vladimir 2690 8.5 2797 14.7
4 79 GM Fridman, Daniel 2605 8 2778 25.3
5 16 ECX GM Cheparinov, Ivan 2688 8 2783 13.4
6 28 GM Motylev, Alexander 2665 8 2726 8.2
7 13 GM Duda, Jan-Krzysztof 2693 8 2740 6.8
8 1 GM Navara, David 2739 8 2682 -0.2
9 18 GM Howell, David W L 2684 8 2754 10
10 38 GM Kravtsiv, Martyn 2653 8 2702 6.6
11 22 GM Areshchenko, Alexander 2677 8 2747 9.4
12 56 GM Bluebaum, Matthias 2632 8 2675 6.2
13 33 GM Grachev, Boris 2658 8 2713 7.3
14 130 GM Kunin, Vitaly 2551 8 2675 19.1
15 87 GM Bok, Benjamin 2598 7.5 2735 21
16 36 GM Jones, Gawain C B 2654 7.5 2697 6.6
17 31 GM Dubov, Daniil 2660 7.5 2699 6.2
18 11 GM Bacrot, Etienne 2696 7.5 2750 6.8
19 72 GM Melkumyan, Hrant 2613 7.5 2692 12.3
20 105 GM Mastrovasilis, Dimitrios 2580 7.5 2709 22
21 45 GM Zhigalko, Sergei 2643 7.5 2681 6.2
22 19 GM Artemiev, Vladislav 2682 7.5 2705 3.8
23 10 GM Rodshtein, Maxim 2698 7.5 2738 6.1
24 124 GM Aleksandrov, Aleksej 2559 7.5 2703 23
25 12 GM Tomashevsky, Evgeny 2696 7.5 2721 4.1
26 71 GM Erdos, Viktor 2614 7.5 2693 12.3
27 52 GM Kuzubov, Yuriy 2637 7.5 2715 12.2
28 47 GM Lenic, Luka 2641 7.5 2671 4.9
29 32 GM Riazantsev, Alexander 2659 7.5 2701 6.5
30 157 IM Martirosyan, Haik M. 2516 7.5 2685 27.6
31 43 GM Sutovsky, Emil 2646 7.5 2698 8.1
32 58 GM Yilmaz, Mustafa 2630 7.5 2675 7.6
33 7 GM Ponomariov, Ruslan 2712 7.5 2696 -1.6
34 89 GM Ter-Sahakyan, Samvel 2598 7.5 2634 7.2
35 40 GM Sargissian, Gabriel 2650 7.5 2657 1.9
36 20 GM Movsesian, Sergei 2680 7.5 2676 0.5
37 35 GM Berkes, Ferenc 2654 7.5 2673 3.5
38 210 IM Hakobyan, Aram 2449 7.5 2607 26.5

World Cup qualifiers (pending ECU review) are in bold. Jobava, Navara, Cheparinov, Dubov, and Zhigalko had already claimed spots in 2016. Thanks to user @bangcpa for this correction!

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