The European Individual Chess Championship was the 17th edition of the annual continental event that was first staged in 2000 in Italy. It started with 245 registrations, which is the lowest turnout since the 2006 event and which has been in steady decline since its peak attendance of 408 players in 2010. (1) There were twenty withdrawals, sixteen of whom were local Kosovars apart from three Albanian players and GMs Potkin and Alekseenko who withdrew before the start of the first round, and Fedoseev who withdrew before the start of the last round.
Under the FIDE regulations, the top 23 placed players qualified for the World Cup 2017.
12 to 23 May 2016.
The tournament took place in Gjakova in Kosovo at Pashtriku Hotel. (2)
11 round Swiss system. (3)
The rate of play was 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. Default time was 15 minutes for each round.
Tiebreaks were applied in the following order:
1. Results of direct encounters between the tied players (applies only if all tied players have played each other);
2. Buchholz Cut 1 (the Buchholz score reduced by the lowest score of the opponents);
3. Buchholz (the sum of the scores of each of the opponents of a player);
4. The greater number of games played with black;
5. The greater number of wins.
The total prize was €120 000, distributed as follows:
1st €20,000 7th €5,000 13th €2,000 19th €1,000
2nd €15,000 8th €4,000 14th €2,000 20th €1,000
3rd €10,000 9th €3,500 15th €1,800 21st €1,000
4th €8,000 10th €3,000 16th €1,600 22nd €1,000
5th €7,000 11th €2,500 17th €1,400
6th €6,000 12th €2,000 18th €1,200
There were also ten prizes worth a total of €5,500 for best performances above rating and five prizes totaling €4,500 for the best results for seniors who turned 50 or more in 2016. There were also ten additional prizes of €1,000 each to ACP premium members who don't win a higher prize in this championship.
The first round produced no significant surprises, although Kryvoruchko, Sargissian and Howell drew their games with much lower rated opponents. Results almost invariably went with rating. 107 players won their first round games, nine others won by default, and there was one bye. There did not seem to be any women in the field.
The second round also had few surprises, although top seed Navara drew with #62 seed Hracek (2598) while #70 seed Ante Brkic defeated #13 seed Ivan Cheparinov. Thirty players finished the round with wins to stand on 2/2.
Round three saw further winnowing, with nine players registering their third consecutive wins, all of whom were rated over 2600 apart from Parligras (2599) and Sturua (2548).
Round four thinned the herd even further, with six players falling away from the lead after losses and draws. The three players on 4/4 were Wojtaszek, Inarkiev and Jobava. 231 players remained in the event.
Round five failed to produce any players winning their fifth game. The three leaders all drew, while Navara and Saric from the chasing pack won their games to join (or rejoin in the case of Navara) the lead. There were now five players on 4.5/5. Three players, all Kosovar locals, remain on zero.
Round six saw a lone leader for the first time, with Croatian GM Saric winning his game against Matlakov. His standing at the end of this round was sole first with 5.5/6, with a chasing pack of five players on 5/6, including the other four from round five with Kovalenko moving up into shared second following his win with Black against Parligras. Only one player, a Kosovar junior, had yet to get off the mark.
In round seven, Inarkiev beat Saric, and Navara beat Jobava to share the joint lead with 6/7. Saric fell back to the chasing pack of six players on 5.5/6. The local junior remained on zero. 228 players remained in the event.
Round eight saw a sharp tactical battle between Navara and Inarkiev for the lead in the event, with Inarkiev emerging as the winner of the game and sole leader at this point in the championship with 7/8 and a superb TPR of 2948. Navara (6/8) fell behind the chasing pack of Wojtaszek, Kovalenko and Goganov who were in joint second with 6.5/8.
Round nine and Inarkiev consolidated his sole lead with a win over Kovalenko who made a couple of blunders in the endgame. Inarkiev now led the event with 8/9, a point ahead of Wojtascek and Goganov on 7/9. One player in the field was still to get off the mark.
The penultimate round yielded the predictable number of draws as players standing to qualify for the World Cup sought to defend their potentially qualifying placements thus far. Nine of the top twelve games were drawn, including Inarkiev's game against Goganov (with Inarkiev retaining his full point lead over the field). The exceptions were Kovalenko's win against Fressinet, Nisipeanu's win over Khismatullin and Dreev's win over Yilmaz. The qualifiers will come from the large group of players who finish the event with seven points or more. However, as players standing on 6.5 or 7 points were placed 5th through to 42nd on placement, there was considerable tension leading into the last round, especially on the twenty one players with 6.5 points currently located at 21st to 42nd on the standings.
In the 11th and final round, Inarkiev drew with Piorun to become the 17th European Champion, scoring 9/11 and taking clear first place by half a point from outright second-placed Igor Kovalenko from Latvia. They, and 21 other players from the event have qualified for the World Cup of 2017.
(1) Wikipedia article: European Individual Chess Championship; (2) https://www.google.com.au/maps/plac... & Wikipedia article: Gjakova; (3) Wikipedia article: Swiss-system tournament
European Individual Championship (2015)
European Individual Chess Championship (2017)
Complete Results and standings