Top Prizes For Navara, Duda At European Blitz, Rapid

Top Prizes For Navara, Duda At European Blitz, Rapid

GM David Navara won the European Blitz Championship last Friday in Wroclaw, Poland. Two days later, local hero GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda won the rapid section.

Navara's victory was very convincing: he finished on a splendid 19.0/22; two points more than the rest of the pack. Duda won on tiebreak after sharing first place with GM Andrei Volokitin, GM Grzegorz Gajewski and GM Vladislav Kovalev.

Traditionally the European Championship in both blitz and rapid are held in one weekend in December. This year the host city was Wroclaw, the largest city in western Poland. The venue was one of Wroclaw's popular tourist attractions: the Centennial Hall.

The Centennial Hall in Wroclaw. | Photo Wikipedia.

The blitz tournament was a Swiss consisting of 11 double rounds. The time control was 3 minutes plus 2 seconds increment.

Navara was in great shape on Friday and really dominated the tournament. 

“I admit that I am surprised by this result. I was in a very good shape today, and I was very lucky as well,” said the Czech player, who is well known in Poland where he represents the club Wasko Hetman Katowice.

Navara finished first, Duda second, Salgado Lopez third (photo courtesy Marta Wolska).

Navara once played the King's Gambit in a Grand Prix tournament against Boris Gelfand, and here's another example of that same theme!

His win against Alexander Mista was nice too. Whether it was an exchange sacrifice or a mistake doesn't really matter as White was always pressing:

Duda's stranglehold against a higher-rated GM in the Breyer Variation helped portend what he was about to accomplish later in the rapid.

GM Anton Korobov began with the highest blitz rating (2752) but finished in a tie for eighth. You may know him from his hilarious interview from last year's World Cup, where he said that returning to chess after his five-year hiatus was a "big mistake" and he preferred "just philosophizing" at home.

What a pity, when he can play creative chess like this in the final round. Kudos to his opponent, who played the "Polish" in Poland!

Joining Duda in a tie for second were GMs Salgado Lopez, Savchenko, Alekseev, Anton Guijarro and Efimenko. The latter joined this group by surviving this final-round onslaught from a home-country GM:

With apologies for bringing up Mista one more time, his nine-move loss may help chess players of all levels understand that we can all make mistakes.

Sunce it was a blitz event, viewers were treated to a wide array of openings not normally seen at the top levels. Besides the Grand Prix, Polish and Spanish Delayed Exchanged, there were Alekhines, Benonis and Trompowskies.

Let's close by looking at one final effort from the winner in the rare Cambridge Springs Variation.

GM David Navara, 2014 European Blitz Champion (photo courtesy Marta Wolska).

2014 European Blitz Championship | Final Standings (Top 20)

Place S.No. Title Name Fed. FIDE (Blz) Elo (Std) Total
1 4 GM NAVARA, David CZE B 2705 2727 19
2 51 GM DUDA, Jan-Krzysztof POL B 2525 2603 17
3 53 GM SALGADO Lopez, Ivan ESP B 2522 2622 17
4 2 GM SAVCHENKO, Boris RUS B 2733 2598 17
5 22 GM ALEKSEEV, Evgeny RUS B 2624 2679 17
6 13 GM ANTON Guijarro, David ESP B 2664 2608 17
7 17 GM EFIMENKO, Zahar UKR B 2640 2643 17
8 10 IM BORTNYK, Olexandr UKR B 2679 2533 16,5
9 1 GM KOROBOV, Anton UKR B 2752 2693 16,5
10 9 GM KOVALENKO, Igor LAT B 2682 2653 16,5
11 5 GM VITIUGOV, Nikita RUS B 2695 2738 16,5
12 37 GM LYSYJ, Igor RUS B 2577 2686 16,5
13 29 GM BOLOGAN, Viktor MDA B 2601 2643 16,5
14 34 GM BARTEL, Mateusz POL B 2585 2664 16
15 8 GM MATLAKOV, Maxim RUS B 2683 2695 16
16 52 IM DOURERASSOU, Jonathan FRA B 2523 2469 16
17 18 GM KEMPINSKI, Robert POL B 2637 2626 16
18 68 IM GEORGIADIS, Nico SUI 2465 2465 16
19 42 GM GAJEWSKI, Grzegorz POL B 2560 2643 16
20 23 GM MITON, Kamil POL B 2621 2601 15,5

(Full final standings here.)

The silver medal winner, 16-year-old GM Jan Krzysztof Duda, confirmed his status as Poland's biggest talent two days later. The Polish number 10 won the rapid tournament, which had the same format of 11 double rounds, but the time control was 15 minutes plus 10 seconds increment. 

Duda gets a gold to pair with his blitz silver while Volokitin grabs second and Gajewski third (photo courtesy Marta Wolska).

He opened with six straight wins, including this grind in round three where he eventually got behind White's defenses...

...and this pleasing attack in the following round where he offered his dark-squared bishop twice on consecutive turns...

...and finally this strange affair where both sides' pieces kept landing on unusual squares.

In round six he finished the streak by beating world number 20 GM Nikita Vitiugov.

A draw in round seven and a loss in round 10 to GM Andrei Volokitin meant he needed some help in the final round.

It was a much closer affair than the blitz. With one round to go Gajewski and Volokitin were tied for first place with 9 points, and five GMs were trailing by half a point. The results of the final round at the top were as follows:

1 [9,0] 2633 GAJEWSKI, Grzegorz ½ - ½ VOLOKITIN, Andrei 2643 [9,0]
2 [8,5] 2618 KOVALEV, Vladislav 1 - 0 MOISEENKO, Alexander 2670 [8,5]
3 [8,5] 2467 DUDA, Jan-Krzysztof 1 - 0 NAVARA, David 2633 [8,5]
4 [8,0] 2684 WOJTASZEK, Radoslaw 1 - 0 KOVALENKO, Igor 2721 [8,5]

The draw on board one allowed two other players of the white pieces to catch up (Kovalenko couldn't join them). And so Duda, Volokitin, Gajewski and Kovalev all ended on 9.5/11.

Fittingly, Duda had to go through the winner of the blitz, Navara, to win his own title.

Duda needed some help from Navara (photo courtesy Marta Wolska).

Both players were clearly "going for it" as was evidenced by the top Czech player's optimism on move 55. Instead of securing the draw by taking the b-pawn, he played the reckless 55...Kh3 (probably hoping for 56. Bd7+? Kh2 which seems to win for Black).

Duda's better tiebreaks secured the gold medal.

GM Jan-Krztsztof Duda, 2014 European Rapid Champion (photo courtesy Marta Wolska).

The Poles performed even better in the rapids, taking two of the three medals and finishing with four of the top six players.

2014 European Rapid Championship | Final Standings (Top 20)

Place Title Name Fed. Elo (Rpd) Total Rn-1
1 GM DUDA, Jan-Krzysztof POL R 2467 9,5 2540
2 GM VOLOKITIN, Andrei UKR R 2643 9,5 2455
3 GM GAJEWSKI, Grzegorz POL R 2633 9,5 2445
4 GM KOVALEV, Vladislav BLR R 2618 9,5 2370
5 GM WOJTASZEK, Radoslaw POL R 2684 9 2513
6 IM WARAKOMSKI, Tomasz POL R 2491 9 2432
7 GM KOROBOV, Anton UKR R 2673 9 2375
8 GM LYSYJ, Igor RUS R 2613 9 2366
9 GM NEIKSANS, Arturs LAT R 2581 9 2341
10 IM BORTNYK, Olexandr UKR R 2559 8,5 2514
11 GM KOVALENKO, Igor LAT R 2721 8,5 2509
12 GM VALLEJO PONS, Francisco ESP R 2689 8,5 2509
13 GM MOISEENKO, Alexander UKR R 2670 8,5 2473
14 FM ALEKSEENKO, Kirill RUS R 2520 8,5 2468
15 GM INARKIEV, Ernesto RUS R 2653 8,5 2458
16 GM FEDORCHUK, Sergey A. UKR R 2664 8,5 2454
17 GM NAVARA, David CZE R 2633 8,5 2453
18 GM DEVIATKIN, Andrei RUS R 2587 8,5 2441
19 GM MATLAKOV, Maxim RUS R 2684 8,5 2429
20 GM BARTEL, Mateusz POL R 2674 8,5 2417

(Full final standings here.)

According to the organizers more than 600 players from 31 countries competed Wroclaw. Next year the tournament will be held in the same weekend in Minsk, Belarus.

( staff member Mike Klein contributed to this news report.)

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