Several Upsets As European Championship Takes Off In Jerusalem

Several Upsets As European Championship Takes Off In Jerusalem

| 11 | Chess Event Coverage

The first round of the European Championship, held in Jerusalem, saw several upsets. The biggest was Israeli Champion GM Viktor Mikhalevski losing to Itay Westreich, rated 1929!

The 2015 European Championship takes place February 24-March 8 in Jerusalem, Israel. It's a big, 11-round Swiss with 248 participants, including more than 100 GMs.

The tournament is covered live every day on with video commentary by GM Alon Greenfeld and GM Ronen Har-Zvi.

The opening ceremony on Monday night lasted rather long, but it has to be said: it probably the most entertaining ceremony this reporter has ever attended. The reason? It was hosted by the world famous supernatural entertainer and mentalist Lior Suchard.

He played all kinds of tricks on a number of players, such as guessing the name of Daniel Vocaturo's first love when the Italian player was nine years old — Michaela — or guessing which number between 21 and 100 GM Alexander Ipatov was thinking of, and doing all kinds of sudoku-style calculating magic with that number.

Suchard on stage with reigning European Champion GM Alexander Motylev.

The next day at three it was time for the first round. Let's immediately jump to the biggest upset: GM Viktor Mikhalevski (2559) losing to Itay Westreich (1929). A pretty cool game for a 1900-player!

Another member of the Israeli Olympic team, GM Evgeny Postny, lost against the three-time Israeli champion IM Nathan Birnboim (63):

Lots of strong players immediately dropped a half-point in the first round. On the first 28 boards, no less than 16 games were drawn.

On board three, GM Pavel Eljanov was close to losing, but eventually brought home the full point:

Some scary moments for Pavel Eljanov. | Photo Joav Nis.

Something peculiar happened on board six. GM Paco Vallejo played GM Yehuda Gruenfeld, who didn't exactly improve theory by bringing a losing novelty on the board. Vallejo thought for more than an hour (!) on move 18, but missed a textbook Bxh7 sacrifice that would have won the game.

The tournament lasts 11 rounds. The top 23 players will qualify for the World Cup, to be held in September in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The time control is the standard FIDE rate of play: 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.

2015 European Championship | Schedule

Day Date Event
Sunday-Monday 22-23 February Arrival of participants
Monday 23 February at 20:00 Opening ceremony
Tuesday 24 February at 10:00 Technical Meeting
Tuesday 24 February at 15:00 1st round
Wednesday 25 February at 15:00 2nd round
Thursday 26 February at 15:00 3rd round
Friday 27 February at 11:00 4th round
Saturday 28 February Rest day – A journey to the Dead Sea
Sunday 1 March at 15:00 5th round
Monday 2 March at 15:00 6th round
Tuesday 3 March at 15:00 7th round
Wednesday 4 March at 15:00 8th round
Thursday 5 March at 15:00 9th round
Friday 6 March at 11:00 10th round
Saturday 7 March Rest day – Guided tour in Jerusalem
Sunday 8 March at 13:00 11th round
Sunday 8 March at 20:30 Closing Ceremony
Monday 9 March Departure

IM Yochanan Afek provideed the following details in his press release: 

248 players from 33 countries take part in the championship. 167 of them are titled players of which 112 are grandmasters. Six grandmasters are rated 2700+ and seven are past European champions including the current champion, the Russian Alexander Motylev.

The largest national group is, as expected, the Israeli one with 101 players led by Israel’s No.2 Maxim Rodshtein. The largest and the strongest guest group is the Russian delegation with 42 players ahead of Ukraine 12, Armenia and Turkey 9 each. 

The tournament is covered live every day on with video commentary
by GM Alon Greenfeld and GM Ronen Har-Zvi. | Photo Joav Nis.

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