The European Championship

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Bobby Ang

Chess Piece

European Individual Chess Championship
Skopje, Rep of Macedonia
March 18-29, 2019

Final Standings

1-2. GM Vladislav Artemiev RUS 2736, GM Nils Grandelius SWE 2694, 8.5/11

3-11. GM Kacper Piorun POL 2631, GM Maxim Rodshtein ISR 2673, GM Ferenc Berkes HUN 2666, GM David Anton Guijarro ESP 2643, GM Liviu Dieter Nisipeanu GER 2670, GM Sergei Movsesian ARM 2627, GM Niclas Huschenbeth GER 2594, GM Grigoriy Oparin RUS 2613, GM Eltaj Safarli AZE 2662, 8.0/11

12-26. GM Johan Sebastian Christiansen NOR 2539, GM Aleksej Aleksandrov BLR 2574, GM Ivan Cheparinov GEO 2683, IM Paulius Pultinevicius LTU 2439, GM Andrey Esipenko RUS 2603, GM Nikita Petrov RUS 2591, GM Boris Gelfand ISR 2655, GM Benjamin Gledura HUN 2630, GM Alexandr Predke RUS 2611, GM Aleksandr Rakhmanov RUS 2629, GM Mateusz Bartel POL 2609, GM Daniil Dubov RUS 2703, GM Igor Lysyj RUS 2635, GM Ruslan Ponomariov UKR 2667, GM Constantin Lupulescu ROU 2611, 7.5/11

Total participants: 361 players

Tiebreaks: (1) Points scored, (2) Opponents’ rating minus the lowest, (3) Buchholz without the lowest scoring opponent, (4) Buchholz, (5) Direct encounter, (6) Rating

Time control: 90 minutes for the first 40 moves, then 30 minutes play-to-finish with 30 seconds added to your clock after every move starting move 1

The 20th European Individual Championship took place from 18-29 March 2019 in Skopje, organized by the government of North Macedonia. The prize fund is €100,000 (roughly P5.9 million), with €20,000 (around P1.18 million) for first prize. Aside from the prize money the first 22 placers will qualify for the next World Cup, scheduled to take place Nov. 4-30 in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. The World Cup, aside from its huge money prizes (even the losers go home with around P250,000 each), will qualify its top finishers to the Candidates’ tournament, the final step in determining the challenger for the world title.

In the list above you can see the final standings. There was a huge logjam at 7.5/11 which extended from the 12th to 35th places. GMs Nils Grandelius, David Anton, Eltaj Safarli and Ivan Cheparinov had previously qualified for the World Cup from the European Championship last year, so that frees up four additional slots and everybody up to 26th place goes to Khanty-Mansiysk. The names of all qualifiers are shown above.

Sweden’s Nils Grandelius scored the biggest win in his career by tying for first place. Born in Lund, Sweden in June 3, 1993, he has been trained by GM Evgenij Agrest since 2013. He is one of the attractions on the Internet Chess Club with his terrific blitz play and exciting attacks. Grandelius is also known as among the best bughouse players in the world. This chess variant, wildly popular in tournament after-hours, is a game for four players and two chess sets. Players partner up in teams of two, and then two teams play each other. When your partner captures pieces on her board, she passes them to you. On your turn, you may either make an ordinary chess move, or place a piece your partner has given you on any empty square (except no pawns on the first or eighth rank). Ending the game on one board (by flag or checkmate), ends the game for the other board too.

Formerly one of the few GMs (Grandmaster) with dreadlocks, he has an aggressive opening repertoire, is not averse to taking risks and really tries to win every game. Normally this would guarantee a high percentage of wins but also of losses. However, ever since Nils started working as a second of Magnus Carlsen in the Norwegian’s world championship matches he has gotten better and more stable. Take a look at the following game.

Grandelius, Nils (2694) — Keymer, Vincent (2509) [B97]
EU-ch Skopje 2019 Skopje (4.34), 21.03.2019

Vincent Keymer (born Nov. 15, 2004 in Mainz, Germany) is another very promising chess prodigy. Last year he won the Grenke Chess Open ahead of 49 GMs, including four 2700+ grandmasters. His final score was 8/9, achieving his first GM norm at age 13 (only 6.5 points were required, he thus scored 1.5 more points than needed). This event was a qualifier for the Grenke Chess Classic, a tournament of the world’s Top 10 players, including the world champion Magnus Carlsen. We will see later this year how Vincent will do there.

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Qb6 8.a3 Nbd7

Not 8…Qxb2? 9.Na4 the queen is trapped

9.Bh4 Be7 10.Bf2 Qc7 11.g4 Nc5 12.Bg2 h6?!

I wonder if this is supposed to be an improvement? The …h6 and …g5 maneuver that Keymer undertakes does not seem to have bite, it does not even prevent White’s e4–e5 pawn thrust.

Perhaps 12…d5 was a better choice. After 13.exd5 Qxf4 14.Qf3 Qe5+ 15.Nde2 exd5 16.h3 Nfe4 17.0–0–0 Nxf2 18.Qxf2 Ne4 Black is doing fine. Polakovic,P (2452)-Nekhaev,A (2512) ICCF email 2016 1/2 29.

13.Qe2 g5 14.e5! dxe5 15.fxe5 Nfd7 16.Bg3 Nf8 <D>


Obviously Black has messed up the opening. The hammer blows come quickly.

17.Nf5! exf5 18.Nd5 Qd8 19.0–0–0 Be6 20.Nf6+ Bxf6 21.exf6!

[21.Rxd8+ Bxd8 22.gxf5 Bxf5 23.Qf2 also wins]


Keymer had to face a threat against his queen and gxf5, winning the bishop. 21…Qxf6 cannot be played because of 22.Be5. Checking on b3 allows Black to get his queen out of the way and attempt to close the center.


[22.Kb1? Nd4 23.Qe1 f4 is what Black was hoping for]

22…Qc8+ 23.Kb1 f4 24.Bf2 Nd7 25.h4 Rg8 26.hxg5 hxg5 27.Rd6 Kf8

[27…Nf8 28.Rc1 Qb8 (nowhere else for this queen to go) 29.Rb6! Ra7 30.Bd5 Black is going to be mated]

28.Rxe6 fxe6 29.Qxe6 1–0

Black cannot prevent mate. 29.Qxe6 Qe8 30.Qd6+ Kf7 31.Rh7+ Kg6 32.Qd3+ Kxf6 33.Qf5#

GM Kacper Piorun rampaged out of the starting line with five wins and a draw in the first six rounds, beating in the process GMs Valeriy Neverov and two of his co-leaders GMs Tal Baron (Israel) and Ferenc Berkes (Hungary). Then he relaxed a bit and finished with five straight draws.

Piorun (born Nov. 24, 1991) is a principal component of the resurgent Polish national team (remember their surprising 4th place finish in the 2018 Batumi Olympiad?) and at the same time a 4-time world champion in chess problem solving (2011 Jesi, 2014 Beerne, 2015 Ostroda and 2016 Belgrade). If you like tactical labyrinths or chaotic positions he is not one to trifle with.

Tsydypov, Zhamsaran (2551) — Piorun, Kacper (2631) [C45]
EU-ch Skopje 2019 Skopje (3.10), 20.03.2019

IM Zhamsaran Tsydypov is a 22–year old IM from Russia. He made a stir last December during the World Blitz Championship when he defeated Anand and Mamedyarov, both former world blitz champions, in successive rounds.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 Ba6 9.b3 0–0–0

Black also has 9…g6, 9…g5 and 9…Qh4.


A rare line but Black is doing well against the usual 10.g3 g5! 11.Bb2 Bg7 12.Bg2 (12.Nd2 (on its way to f3 to give additional support to e5) 12…Nb4 13.Nf3 Rhe8!? Black has completed his development whereas White still doesn’t know where his king will go. Jones,G (2567)-Gajewski,G (2573) Crete GRE 2007 0–1 60.) 12…Rde8 13.0–0 Bxe5 14.Qxe5 Qxe5 15.Bxe5 Rxe5 16.cxd5 Bxf1 17.Kxf1 cxd5 Black has R+2Ps vs White’s B+N. We cannot make any conclusions but so far Black has scored well. Morozevich, A (2751)-Mikhalevski, V (2631) Zuerich 2009 1/2 65.

10…Nb6 11.Be2 Re8 12.f4

[12.Bf4 g5 13.Bg3 Bg7 14.Nc3 f5! (a common theme in this line which our readers should take note of) 15.f4 (15.exf6? Qxf6 16.Rc1 Nd5! 17.cxd5 Rxe2+ Black is clearly winning) 15…gxf4 16.Bxf4 Bxe5 17.Bxe5 Qxe5 18.0–0 Qd4+ 19.Kh1 Rxe2 20.Qxe2 Qxc3 21.Rac1 Qf6 22.a4 Kb8 23.Qh5 Rf8 24.Qxh7 d6 25.Rf3 Bc8 Black’s pieces are unraveling after which he will have a clear advantage. Ljubojevic,L (2605)-Seirawan,Y (2605) Wijk aan Zee 1986 0–1 39. 0–1 (39)]


Black is winning a pawn.


Not 13.exf6? Qe4! 14.f7 Re6 15.Nc3 Qxg2 16.Rf1 Bb4 Black is clearly winning; White should have just given away the pawn with 13.0–0 fxe5 14.f5 it is still a fight, but there is no doubt that Black is better.

13…fxe5 14.0–0

[14.f5 as in the previous line no longer works as now Black penetrates with 14…Qh4+ 15.g3 Qe4 16.0–0 Bc5+]

14…exf4 15.Nc3 Nd5! 16.cxd5 Bxe2 17.Rf2?

[17.Nxe2 was the only move. After 17…Qxe2 18.Qxe2 Rxe2 19.dxc6 Bc5+ 20.Kh1 g5 Black is better, but not yet winning]


Threatening …Qe1+

18.Bxf4 Qb4

Now the idea is …Bc5.

19.Kh1 Bc5 20.Rf3 Rhf8 21.Qc1 g5 22.Bxg5 Rxf3 23.gxf3 Bd4 24.Bd2 Qf8!

Mark Dvoretsky in one of his books opined that a retreating move like this is the hardest tactic to see.

25.f4 Qg7 0–1

The threat is now …Rg8, and to this White has no defense.


Bobby Ang is a founding member of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines (NCFP) and its first Executive Director. A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), he taught accounting in the University of Santo Tomas (UST) for 25 years and is currently Chief Audit Executive of the Equicom Group of Companies.