Vladislav Artemiev’s fantastic year continued as the 21-year-old Russian added the European title to victory in Gibraltar and double gold at the World Team Championship. In the final round he held a tricky position against Maxim Rodshtein, who would have taken gold with a win but had to settle for 4th place. Sweden’s Nils Grandelius matched Artemiev’s 8.5/11 but took silver on the tiebreak of having lower-rated opponents, while Poland’s Kacper Piorun won bronze. The top 26 players are all qualified for the World Cup later this year.
You can replay all the games from the 2019 European Championship using the selector below:
We’ve been talking about Vladislav Artemiev for a while now – for instance in our last report from Skopje, Artemiev overtakes Kramnik – and there’s little more to add! The Russian grandmaster is suddenly playing at a stable 2800 level that has taken him to world no. 14, and he made justifying his status as top seed to win the European Championship look easy.
He scored his fifth win in five with the white pieces by beating 17-year-old compatriot Andrey Esipenko in the penultimate round. With White it looks as though, like a certain Magnus Carlsen, he’s happy merely to “get a game”, but when Ivan Sokolov suggested that to him Artemiev pointed out that he was actually well-prepared in his offbeat systems… something else that applied to the young Magnus (of course by now Magnus is well-prepared everywhere).
He entered the final round with a half point lead over the field, knowing that a draw would leave him at worst tied on points for first place. He would later comment, “I tried to play safely today, but it's not easy when you play the Najdorf!”, and in fact it turned into a slow-moving thriller. It was uncomfortable for Black, but in the end Artemiev managed to build a fortress and draw in 46 moves. Afterwards he talked in great, great detail about the game with Ivan Sokolov. Yannick Pelletier, who worked as the Press Officer at the World Team Championship, commented of that:
You can check out the interview here:
The silver medal went to Nils Grandelius, who was the only player to win on the top 7 boards after his opponent Benjamin Gledura went for an unsound sacrifice in what was already a difficult position. Kacper Piorun faced the toughest opposition of any player in Skopje, and since that was the first tiebreak he would have taken gold if he’d beaten Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu in the final round, but a 17-move draw, his 5th draw in a row, gave him bronze.
The European Championship is perhaps less about medals, however, than qualifying for the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk later this year. There were 22 places up for grabs, and in the end it was enough to finish 26th, since Grandelius, David Anton (who came close to taking a medal in the final round), Eltaj Safarli and Ivan Cheparinov had all already qualified from last year’s European Championship. The final standings were as follows:
That meant the unfortunate players to score 7.5/11 but still miss out were Evgeny Alekseev, Vadim Zvjaginsev, Markus Ragger, Yuriy Kuzubov, Aleksey Dreev, Daniel Fridman, Haik Martirosyan, Andrei Volokitin and Paco Vallejo ("casi" = "almost"):
For each hard luck story, however, someone else had something to celebrate. Alexandr Predke (vs. Vladislav Kovalev), Mateusz Bartel (vs. Igor Kovalenko) and Niclas Huschenbeth were among the players to score clutch wins and qualify in the final round. This is Niclas with Black against Romain Edouard:
35…Rxg2+! 36.Kxg2 Rg6+ 37.Kh1 Qxf2 There were still some more twists in that game, but it was a fine win for one of our chess24 video series authors.
Daniil Dubov, one of the stars of the last World Cup, had the most spectacular path to qualification. By the time control against Viktor Erdos he was completely lost with the white pieces:
The computer spots the win 42…Qb2+! 43.Kh3 Ng4!, threatening Nf2+ and Nxe3. After 43.Bxg4 hxg4+ 44.Kxg4 Black wins the rook with 44…Qe2+, while 44.Kh4 Rc6! will soon be mate. After 42…Rc2+ in the game Erdos was still much better, but remarkably when the players eventually reached an ending on move 54 it was only level despite Black being two pawns up. One mistake was then all it took for Dubov to actually win, finish 23rd and qualify.
One player who was disappointed with his final round was 20-year-old Norwegian Johan-Sebastian Christiansen, who let a winning advantage slip against Daniel Fridman:
That was financially costly, but in the end only meant the difference between finishing in 5th or 12th place. It had been a wonderful unbeaten tournament for the 110th seed, who performed at 2712, gained 27 rating points and of course qualified for the World Cup.
The top woman’s prize went to Aleksandra Goryachkina, who finished on 6.5/11, while Boris Gelfand took the senior prize as well as qualifying for the World Cup with 7.5/11. He’d done the hard work in Round 10, with a win from an opening that he’d played in a game in 2013:
For the curious here’s that game, where the final position is 0.00 according to the computers. Gelfand put his falling asleep at the board down to jetlag rather than any overindulgence in the local rice wine.
So that’s all for the 2019 European Individual Championship! For those interested in the World Cup, the 128-player knockout that will take place in Khanty-Mansiysk from 9th September to 2nd October this year, you can find a good regularly updated qualification list here.
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