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.
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.
@2700chess) June 9, 2017
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.
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.
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.
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).
Womens and Senior's prize winners. | Photos: official site by Igor Klevko and Eteri Kublashvili.
Final Standings | 7.5 Points And Up
|9||18||GM||Howell, David W L||2684||8||2754||10|
|16||36||GM||Jones, Gawain C B||2654||7.5||2697||6.6|
|30||157||IM||Martirosyan, Haik M.||2516||7.5||2685||27.6|
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!