Nepomniachtchi & Cramling European Champions

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Nepomniachtchi & Cramling European ChampionsAfter many draws in the penultimate round, Ian Nepomniachtchi (Russia) defeated Vladimir Akopian (Armenia) in the last round and won the gold medal at the European Championship in Rijeka. The women's section was won by Swedish GM Pia Cramling, who beat Viktorija Cmilyte (Lithuania) in the last round.

The 11th European Individual Men and Women's Chess Championship is held from 5th to 19th of March 2010 in Rijeka, in new Zamet Centre sports hall. The event is organized by chess club "Rijeka", in agreement with the Croatian Chess Federation under the auspices of the City of Rijeka and the European Chess Union. It is open to all players representing the chess federations which comprise the European Chess Union (FIDE zones 1.1 to 1.9) regardless of their title or rating. There is also no limit of participants per federation.

The championship is an 11-round Swiss in accordance with the ECU Tournament Rules and FIDE Rules of Chess. The rate of play is 90 minutes for 40 moves plus 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an increment of 30 seconds per move, starting from move one. As always, the European Championship is a qualification event for the next World Cup. According to FIDE regulations and the decision of the ECU Board, 22 players will qualify.

Rounds 10-11

With draws on the first seven boards in round 10, nothing changed in the top of the standings in Rijeka. Ian Nepomnaichtchi went into the final round in sole lead, and no less than seven GMs were chasing him with half a point less. Some GMs in Nice expected the last round's top game Nepomniachtchi-Akopian to quickly end in a draw (since both would be sure of a good prize and qualification for the World Cup) but that's not what happened.

Nepomniachtchi-Akopian Position after 23.Rec1Nepomniachtchi-Akopian
Black played the somewhat passive 23...Bf8?! (perhaps it was time for 23...f5!?) and after 24.b5 axb5 25.Qxb5 Rb8 26.Qa4 White's passed a-pawn became too strong.

Pia Cramling had a very strong finish, drawing with Socko and then beating Khurtsidze, Stefanova and Cmilyte in rounds 8-11. The decisive game went like this:

Cramling-Cmilyte Position after 24.Ne4Cramling-Cmilyte
The ending is about equal, but might become slightly more difficult for White when Black manages to activate her majority on the queenside. 24...Bd5?! Better was 24...Nd4 25.Nc5 Bc8. 25.Nc5 Bxg2 26.Nxg2 a5 27.Ne3 (27.Rxd8 Rxd8 28.a4! was perhaps even stronger) 27...a4 Cramling-Cmilyte 28.Nd7! Rh8 29.Rd6 and White's activity soon yielded a pawn, and eventually the game.

And so for the gold medals in both sections no tiebreak is needed. In the women's section the silver medal goes to Viktorija Cmilyte, who was the only one to score 8.5/11.

Thursday tiebreaks will be played to establish the silver and bronze medal in the open section, the bronze medal in the women's section and to establish the qualifiers for the World Cup.

European Championship 2010 | Round 11 Standings (top 40)
European Championship 2010 | Round 11 Standings
European Championship 2010 | Women section | Round 11 Standings (top 30)
European Championship 2010 | Women section | Round 11 Standings
Full standings here

Selection of games rounds 10-11

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Photo courtesy of the official website, more here


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