Outsiders win European Blitz and Rapid Championships

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage

Hrant Melkumyan of Armenia won the European Blitz Championship while Georgian Baadur Jobava finished first in the Rapid tournament. The events were held 16-18 December in Warsaw, Poland.

The top boards in Warsaw | All photos courtesy of the official website

EventEuropean Rapid and Blitz Championship | Games in PGN: Rapid | Blitz via TWIC
DatesDecember 16th-18th, 2011
LocationWarsaw, Poland
System13 rounds Swiss + tiebreaks for medals with 2-game mini-matches in the blitz

Top players included Nepomniachtchi, Bacrot, Naiditsch, Polgar, Movsesian, Riazantsev, Dreev, Wojtaszek, Shirov, Jobava, Volokitin and Potkin.

Rate of play

Rapid: 15 minutes plus 10 seconds per move. Blitz: 3 minutes plus 2 seconds per move.

Prize fund
Rapid: cash prizes € 20,000 + item prizes worth € 2,000; blitz: cash prizes € 10,000

Armaggedon games (blitz 4 minutes for white, 3 minutes for black, 1 second increment; rapid 5 minutes for white, 4 minutes for black, 1 second increment)

The European Blitz and Rapid Championships were for the seventh time held in Warsaw, this time in the Palace of Culture and Science right in the center of town. Main sponsor was MetLife Amplico, the Polish branch of an international insurance company.

By Thomas Richter

Both tournaments followed a similar scenario: the winner wasn't one of the pre-tournament favorites, and finished on top only in the final rounds. Armenian Hrant Melkumyan won the blitz event after Armaggedon tiebreaks, while Georgian Baadur Jobava created a 0.5 point gap with the field in the last round in the rapid event.


As IM Stanislaw Zawadzki wrote on behalf of the organizers,

the [blitz] tournament was developing according to hosts hopes

– but didn't finish with a full happy end from a Polish perspective. Wojtaszek was leading for most of the event; then Bartosz Socko took over in round 10 with a 2-0 victory against his compatriot. However, Socko's reign was short-lived: two rounds later he lost 0-2 against Melkumyan (part of the Armenian's 8.5/10 finish) and eventually fell just short of the medal ranks. The trio Dreev-Wojtaszek-Melkumyan shared first place with 20/26, and tiebreaks had to decide the colors of their medals.

The venue was the Palace of Culture and Science in the centre of Warsaw

Dreev first got a "bye" as he had the highest Buchholz score; thus Wojtaszek and Melkumyan faced each other a few minutes after drawing their mini-match in the final round. In a must-win situation with White, Wojtaszek never got a tangible advantage and eventually blundered a rook missing a sudden mating threat. In the final Melkumyan had the white pieces against Dreev and gradually outplayed him, then again benefitting from a blunder by the opponent (28.Nd7?). The 22-year old Armenian, still relatively unknown, is a "student" of Levon Aronian. At his own request, he plays board 1 in the German Bundesliga ahead of his teacher; his current 4/7 score includes a win against Gashimov. In due course he may become part of the Armenian national team.

Hrant Melkumyam - often a second of Levon Aronian, but now successful himself

Judit Polgar "obviously" won the women competition and finished in overall 6th place – thanks to a 2-0 win against Nepomniachtchi in the final round which put the Elo favorite down to 41st place. Other 0-2 losses by the Elo favorites included Nepomniachtchi's earlier match against Wojtaszek, Movsesian's matches against Dreev and 5th finisher Korobov, and Bacrot's match also against Korobov.

Judit Polgar "obviously" won the women competition

From the blitz event, only the tiebreak games are currently available:

PGN file

European Blitz Championship 2011 | Final standings (top 50)

128Melkumyan, HrantGMARM261520.0182.50215.009
26Dreev, AlekseyGMRUS271020.0191.00223.0010
38Wojtaszek, RadoslawGMPOL270520.0190.50224.009
421Socko, BartoszGMPOL263519.5189.00223.009
515Korobov, AntonGMUKR266019.0186.00218.009
64Polgar, JuditGMHUN271019.0182.50211.508
77Riazantsev, AlexanderGMRUS271019.0181.00210.509
839Moranda, WojciechGMPOL256819.0175.00205.508
945Jaracz, PawelGMPOL254218.5177.00209.008
109Volokitin, AndreiGMUKR269518.0177.50208.507
1142Shimanov, AleksandrGMRUS254918.0176.00207.509
1216Timofeev, ArtyomGMRUS265918.0175.50203.006
1327Gajewski, GrzegorzGMPOL261618.0174.00206.008
1431Kravtsiv, MartynGMUKR260118.0166.00196.007
155Movsesian, SergeiGMARM271017.5190.00222.009
1614Bologan, ViktorGMMDA266517.5184.50216.507
172Bacrot, EtienneGMFRA271417.5183.50213.008
1820Jones, Gawain C BGMENG263517.5180.50212.506
1933Swiercz, DariuszGMPOL258417.5179.50212.507
2035Ruck, RobertGMHUN257917.5178.00209.507
2119Belov, VladimirGMRUS264117.5175.50207.009
2247Olszewski, MichalGMPOL253917.5174.50206.007
2336Lintchevski, DaniilGMRUS257517.5174.00204.008
2424Sjugirov, SananGMRUS262217.5173.00205.507
2530Kempinski, RobertGMPOL260317.5171.50203.007
2618Zhigalko, SergeiGMBLR265117.5170.50202.006
2753Simonian, HrairGMARM246817.5170.00198.507
2844Tomczak, JacekIMPOL254417.5169.00199.508
2940Banusz, TamasGMHUN256317.0185.50219.007
3012Azarov, SergeiGMBLR266717.0185.00218.006
3122Howell, David W LGMENG263317.0179.00209.006
3246Durarbeyli, VasifGMAZE253917.0177.50208.007
3354Pakleza, ZbigniewIMPOL246817.0177.50208.006
3410Potkin, VladimirGMRUS268417.0175.50208.507
3526Andriasian, ZavenGMARM261917.0175.00206.009
3637Zhigalko, AndreyGMBLR257217.0172.50204.508
3741Nyzhnyk, IllyaGMUKR256217.0169.00199.007
3838Vovk, YuriGMUKR257117.0168.50200.006
3956Grabarczyk, MiroslawGMPOL245717.0161.50189.507
4029Markowski, TomaszGMPOL260617.0159.00188.007
411Nepomniachtchi, IanGMRUS273016.5189.00222.507
4234Fedorov, AlexeiGMBLR257916.5184.50217.505
4323Erdos, ViktorGMHUN262316.5173.00202.506
4425Miton, KamilGMPOL262216.5171.00202.007
45107Meskovs, NikitaFMLAT229216.5168.50196.507
4691Przybylski, WojciechFMPOL233016.5161.50189.007
4732Dziuba, MarcinGMPOL258916.0176.00206.005
4817Bartel, MateuszGMPOL265316.0176.00204.006
4943Gabrielian, ArturGMRUS254516.0175.50204.506
5077Krzyzanowski, MarcinmPOL237516.0171.50203.006



In the rapid event, 18-year old Sanan Sjugirov (a "product" of the Elista chess school) was in sole or shared lead from round 7 onwards. After round 12 he got company from five other players. In the final round two top games, Erdos and Sjugirov quickly drew their game; Korobov-Movsesian was also drawn with no questions remaining in a pawn ending. Jobava broke through with a kingside attack against Volokitin, concluding his 4/4 finish to secure the gold medal.

[Event "European Rapid 2011"]
[Site "Warsaw POL"]
[Date "2011.12.18"]
[Round "13"]
[White "Jobava, Baadur"]
[Black "Volokitin, Andrei"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D40"]
[WhiteElo "2678"]
[BlackElo "2695"]
[PlyCount "69"]
[EventDate "2011.12.17"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c5 5. e3 cxd4 6. exd4 Bb4 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8.
Bd2 Nc6 9. Bd3 Be7 10. O-O O-O 11. Nxd5 Qxd5 12. Bc3 Bf6 13. Qc2 g6 14. Be4 Qd6
15. Rad1 Ne7 16. h4 Nd5 17. h5 Bd7 18. Ne5 Rac8 19. Rfe1 Bc6 20. Bd2 Ne7 21.
Bh6 Bg7 22. Bxg7 Kxg7 23. Qd2 Bxe4 24. Rxe4 Nd5 25. Ng4 Rfd8 26. hxg6 hxg6 27.
Qh6+ Kg8 28. Re5 Rc6 29. Rd3 Qf8 30. Qh4 Qe7 31. Rg5 Qc7 32. Ne5 Rc1+ 33. Kh2
Kf8 34. Rf3 f5 35. Rxg6 1-0

Seven other players entered tiebreak matches for the other medals; certainly again a pleasure for the Polish organizers that these included GMs Kempinski, Mista and Olszewski who came from behind with wins against higher-rated opponents. Kempinski beat Nepomniachtchi, or maybe Nepomniachtchi (for whom there seems to be a curse on the 13th round, cf. the blitz event) beat himself.

[Event "European Rapid 2011"]
[Site "Warsaw POL"]
[Date "2011.12.18"]
[Round "13"]
[White "Kempinski, Robert"]
[Black "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D72"]
[WhiteElo "2603"]
[BlackElo "2730"]
[PlyCount "137"]
[EventDate "2011.12.17"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. g3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nb6 6. Bg2 Bg7 7. Ne2 c5 8. d5
e6 9. O-O O-O 10. Nec3 Na6 11. a4 exd5 12. exd5 Bf5 13. Na3 Qd7 14. a5 Nc8 15.
Bf4 Nb4 16. Qd2 Bd3 17. Rfe1 Nd6 18. Be5 Ba6 19. Bxg7 Kxg7 20. Ne4 Nxe4 21.
Bxe4 Qd6 22. Nc2 Nxc2 23. Qxc2 Rac8 24. Rad1 Rfe8 25. Qc3+ Kg8 26. Bf3 b5 27.
axb6 axb6 28. h4 h5 29. Kg2 Bb7 30. Qc4 Rcd8 31. Qc3 b5 32. b3 b4 33. Qd2 Rxe1
34. Qxe1 Rc8 35. Qe4 Kf8 36. Qe3 c4 37. Qd4 c3 38. Qh8+ Ke7 39. Qg7 Re8 40. Kh2
Kd7 41. Qxf7+ Re7 42. Qf8 Kc7 43. Bg2 Rd7 44. Qf3 Qc5 45. d6+ Kb6 46. Qf4 Bxg2
47. Kxg2 c2 48. Rc1 Qd5+ 49. Kh2 Qxb3 50. Qd4+ Kb5 51. Qe5+ Kb6 52. Qd4+ Kb5
53. Qe5+ Kb6 54. Qd4+ Kb5 55. Qe5+ Ka4 56. Ra1+ Qa3 57. Rxa3+ Kxa3 58. Qa5+ Kb2
59. Qb5 b3 60. Qxd7 c1=Q 61. Qg7+ Ka2 62. d7 Qd2 63. Qf7 Qd4 64. Kg2 g5 65.
hxg5 h4 66. Qe6 hxg3 67. Kxg3 Ka1 68. Qf6 Qxf6 69. gxf6 1-0

Mista and Olszewski won with the black pieces, the former from a rather dubious position.

[Event "European Rapid 2011"]
[Site "Warsaw POL"]
[Date "2011.12.18"]
[Round "13"]
[White "Azarov, Sergei"]
[Black "Mista, Aleksander"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B33"]
[WhiteElo "2667"]
[BlackElo "2587"]
[PlyCount "112"]
[EventDate "2011.12.17"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 a6 8.
Na3 b5 9. Bxf6 gxf6 10. Nd5 f5 11. Bd3 Be6 12. c3 Bxd5 13. exd5 Ne7 14. Nxb5
Bg7 15. Na3 e4 16. Be2 O-O 17. O-O Ng6 18. Nc4 Rb8 19. f4 exf3 20. Rxf3 f4 21.
Kh1 Qg5 22. Qd2 Be5 23. Bd3 f5 24. Raf1 Kh8 25. g3 Rg8 26. gxf4 Nxf4 27. Qf2
Qg4 28. Nxe5 dxe5 29. Rxf4 exf4 30. Be2 Qh3 31. d6 Rg7 32. Rd1 Rbg8 33. Bf3 h6
34. c4 Rg3 35. Rf1 R3g7 36. c5 Rb8 37. b3 Rd8 38. Rd1 Rg3 39. Bg2 Qh5 40. Re1
Re3 41. Rxe3 fxe3 42. Qxe3 Qd1+ 43. Qg1 Qd2 44. h3 Re8 45. Qa1+ Kh7 46. d7 Re1+
47. Qxe1 Qxe1+ 48. Kh2 Qe5+ 49. Kh1 Qa1+ 50. Kh2 Qd4 51. c6 Qd6+ 52. Kh1 Kg6
53. b4 Kg5 54. a4 Kh4 55. b5 axb5 56. axb5 Kg3 0-1

After some dramatic tiebreak games (should one even try to comment on Armaggedon games?) Sjugirov eventually got silver, and Kempinski bronze.

PGN file

Third, first, second in the rapid: Robert Kempinski, Baadur Jobava and Sanan Sjugirov

As far as some of the pre-tournament favorites are concerned, two not-so-famous K's jointly put an end to the hopes of Bacrot and Nepomniachtchi who lost their respective games against Kempinski and Korobov. Korobov's final 4th place probably was the best combined blitz-rapid result. Shirov started with 6/6 including several games in his typical style. Then the future winners extinguished the fire on the board (0.5/2 against Jobava and Sjugirov). In the remaining rounds, Shirov conceded too many draws against lower-rated players and came half a point short of a spot in the tiebreaks. Wojtaszek lost against Kempinski and Erdos, whose 5th place was another surprise of the event. For Naiditsch it just wasn't his weekend.

The rapid game viewer includes the key games mentioned above, and a few other examples of what characterizes rapid chess also at a rather high level: upsets, opening catastrophes and the occasional blunder (see games 4, 11 and 27 below).

PGN file

European Rapid Championship 2011 | Final standings (top 50)

112Jobava, BaadurGMGEO267811.0100.00117.5010
227Sjugirov, SananGMRUS262210.5101.00117.508
333Kempinski, RobertGMPOL260310.597.50114.009
416Korobov, AntonGMUKR266010.5103.00119.009
525Erdos, ViktorGMHUN262310.5104.00122.008
65Movsesian, SergeiGMARM271010.594.00109.509
754Olszewski, MichalGMPOL253910.590.00106.0010
836Mista, AleksanderGMPOL258710.591.50107.0010
910Volokitin, AndreiGMUKR269510.0102.00118.508
109Shirov, AlexeiGMESP270510.099.50116.508
118Wojtaszek, RadoslawGMPOL270510.097.50115.009
122Bacrot, EtienneGMFRA271410.097.50114.509
1351Tomczak, JacekIMPOL254410.090.00105.509
141Nepomniachtchi, IanGMRUS27309.5101.50119.508
154Polgar, JuditGMHUN27109.5100.50118.008
1618Bartel, MateuszGMPOL26539.599.50116.009
1763Bryzgalin, KirillGMRUS24679.599.00116.009
1813Azarov, SergeiGMBLR26679.598.00115.008
1952Jaracz, PawelGMPOL25429.598.00114.508
2029Andriasian, ZavenGMARM26199.597.00114.008
2115Bologan, ViktorGMMDA26659.596.00113.009
2219Zhigalko, SergeiGMBLR26519.596.00112.509
233Naiditsch, ArkadijGMGER27129.595.50112.009
2417Timofeev, ArtyomGMRUS26599.595.00113.508
2523Howell, David W LGMENG26339.594.00110.509
2630Gajewski, GrzegorzGMPOL26169.594.00109.508
2768Kovalev, VladislavFMBLR24469.593.50110.009
2847Antoniewski, RafalGMPOL25599.592.00108.008
296Riazantsev, AlexanderGMRUS27109.591.50108.008
3059Neiksans, ArtursIMLAT25029.590.50108.009
3128Mastrovasilis, DimitriosGMGRE26219.590.00106.507
3246Nyzhnyk, IllyGMUKR25619.588.50104.509
3335Dziuba, MarcinGMPOL25899.588.50104.508
3438Ruck, RobertGMHUN25799.588.00103.509
3550Gabrielian, ArturGMRUS25459.586.00101.509
36123Klekowski, Maciejk+POL23089.585.00100.008
3722Jones, Gawain C BGMENG26359.096.50112.507
3861Podolchenko, EvgeniyGMBLR24849.095.50112.008
3911Potkin, VladimirGMRUS26849.095.50112.007
4045Banusz, TamasGMHUN25639.095.00112.008
4114Kryvoruchko, YuriyGMUKR26669.095.00111.506
427Dreev, AlekseyGMRUS27109.094.50111.508
4334Kravtsiv, MartynGMUKR26019.094.50111.507
4432Markowski, TomaszGMPOL26069.094.00109.507
4541Zhigalko, AndreyGMBLR25729.093.50111.008
4640Lintchevski, DaniilGMRUS25759.092.00107.507
4721Socko, BartoszGMPOL26359.091.50108.008
4844Zontakh, AndreyGMUKR25669.091.50107.008
4973Akesson, RalfGMSWE24219.091.00107.008
5031Melkumyan, HrantGMARM26159.090.50106.508


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