Jakovenko’s Turbo Speed
Dmitry Jakovenko is the new European Champion! After winning his last encounter on board one, he managed to complete a remarkable finish striking in his last three games. He managed to add some extra power in his final games and deserved the title with the six wins and five draws that he made overall. Just like four years ago, the EICC championship was claimed by the only player who won his last encounter in the leading group. The title did not come easy at all.
The Russian Top GM managed to defeat A. Timofeev with the black pieces in round nine, risked and sacrificed a piece against his compatriot Kobalia, and finally showed excellent technique in his game against Laurent Fressinet (the French GM was leading solely before the final round).
There was a big tie for the second place. L. Fressinet took home the silver medal. He was solely leading before the final round, but could not get out of the opening in the last round. This is his first big success at the European championships. V. Malakhov edged D. Andreikin by a mere point on the performance tie-break and took the bronze medal. He did not risk in the last three rounds and ended them peacefully, but in accordance to the rules.
Malakhov’s encounter in round nine against Vl. Akopian of Armenia was a sixteen-move-draw after a threefold repetition. Contrary to the game Baron-Safarli from the same round which caused a lot of pressure worldwide Akopian and Malakhov were not forfeited as they knew how to apply the tournament rules. Malakhov first wrote the move on his score sheet, stopped the clock and called the arbiter to claim the repetition.
Still it became obvious at this EICC that the new rules are not yet clear to most of the players and even for the arbiters themselves. First of all one need to give a definition of the meaning of a pre-arranged result. Is it a game that lasts one hour, two hours? And how long should that game be? There are many more questions but the general impression is that the players do not want to be restricted of more rules especially if they are paying on their pocket the expenses of an event. At the same time most of my colleagues understand that our sport has to become more attractive for the general audience.
The same ninth round was the longest one. Two Turkish players (Sanal Vahap versus Emre Can) fought for 7 hours and 52 minutes, and drew the game after 228 moves! It seems as this is the longest game on the history of the European championships in general. The game was played on board 129, and was not related to the qualification of any of the two players.
Further on in the cross table we discover the total domination of the Russian players. D. Andreikin is fourth, E. Inarkiev spoiled excellent winning chances in the final two rounds and is fifth, sixth place is for the pleasant surprise M. Matlakov. I am sure that we shall hear about this young player in the near future.
Another youngster Kirill Alekseenko made a remarkable performance and scored a GM norm. Altogether there were twenty norms- ten for GMs and ten for IMs. Irina Bulmaga of Moldova made the tournament of her life, as well as her final IM male norm.
From the 23 players who qualified for the World Cup the only big surprise is Vasif Durarbeyli of Azerbaidjan. The main trouble-maker was Gawain Jones, who kept on sacrificing material till the very last round, and the greatest come-back was Jan Smeets, who scored 7/8 after the poor start (1/3).
Despite the problems with the new rules, the championship in Plovdiv was organized very well. The playing conditions were excellent, refreshments were offered to all the players, the players had a choice where to stay and what to eat.
The organizers tried to help everyone in need and the last two French players were brought to Sofia from the stuff members and taken on the plane back home yesterday. The slight delay was caused by a passport blunder in a discotheque in Plovdiv.