Evgeny Najer is 2015 European Champion

by Albert Silver
3/11/2015 – Following a fascinating rest day in Old Jerusalem, in the final round, Evgeny Najer completed his final sprint with a draw and the title. In the midst of numerous safe results (AKA short draws) to guarantee a seat in the World Cup, one that stood out was Bartel Mateusz, who finished in third after beating Nepomniachtchi with an inspired sacrificial attack. Large illustrated report.

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The day before

On the second Saturday prior to the last round the players enjoyed once again an enjoyable and instructive excursion. This time it was a city tour dedicated to the old city of the Israeli capital led by the chess NM and tourist guide Peter Gokhvat.

Getting ready to visit a bit of history

During its long history, Jerusalem has been destroyed at least twice, besieged 23 times,
attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times.

Visiting the many beautiful sites within the city

A fresco depicting ancient Jerusalem

The Western Wall where worshippers come on pilgrimages

Round eleven

The gong for the start of the 11th and final round was jointly hit by the guest of honour 
MK Zeev Elkin, chairman of the Likud party in the Knesset ( the Israeli parliament), a chess
enthusiast himself who blessed the participants in Hebrew, English and Russian, and the
president of the European Chess Union GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili.

The fresh European champion for 2015 is Russian GM Evgeny Najer! In the final round having a better position he accepted a draw offer by his compatriot Denis Khismatullin to secure the desired championship title though not before making sure that David Navara, the other runner-up, wouldn’t achieve more than a draw against Bulgarian Ivan Cheparinov.

The final step before becoming champion

Top-seed David Navara came just short of winning with 8.0/11 with a 2801 performance

The new champion scored 8.5/11 ahead of Navara, Bartel and Khismatullin with 8.0/11 each. 22 players scored 7.5 points each securing a place in the world cup games next October in the Azeri capital of Baku.

Georgian IM Nino Batsiashvili finished in the middle of the pack with 6.0/11

Enjoying the many activities surrounding the tournament

The great upset of the championship was the poor finish of the former continental champion, Russian Ian Nepomnianchtchi; who had led the field to what seemed to be a second title but managed to score just half a point in the last three rounds with an  especially painful defeat against Polish Mateusz Bartel, and missing the qualifying group by a half-point.

To his credit, Bartel's win was an inspired attack, sacrificing the knight on move fourteen:

[Event "16th ch-EUR Indiv 2015"] [Site "Jerusalem ISR"] [Date "2015.03.08"] [Round "11.3"] [White "Bartel, Mateusz"] [Black "Nepomniachtchi, Ian"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B51"] [WhiteElo "2631"] [BlackElo "2714"] [PlyCount "77"] [EventDate "2015.02.24"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bb5+ Nc6 4. O-O Bd7 5. Re1 a6 6. Bxc6 Bxc6 7. d4 cxd4 8. Nxd4 Bd7 9. Bg5 {Upon seeing this move, one is inclined to expect either some oddball transposition to a known line, or a completely off-the-wall opening. The latter is what took place.} Nf6 10. Bxf6 gxf6 11. Nc3 e6 12. Qh5 Bg7 13. Rad1 Rc8 {[#] Since Black cannot possibly not have seen White's next shot, one can only presume that either he grossly underestimated its strength, or felt there was no adequate defense.} 14. Nf5 $1 exf5 ({There is really no declining it. For example,} 14... O-O {is pounded with} 15. Nxg7 Kxg7 16. Rd3 Rg8 17. Rh3 Kf8 18. Nd5 $1 {and don't think for an instant that White would miss this after having played 14.Nf5!} Rg7 19. Qh6 {threatening both f6 and Rg3 winning the rook.}) 15. exf5+ Kf8 16. Ne4 Bc6 17. Nxd6 Qc7 18. Nxc8 Qxc8 19. Rd4 Qc7 20. Qd1 Bh6 21. h4 Qa5 22. Rd8+ Kg7 23. Qg4+ Bg5 24. Rdd1 h6 25. a3 Qc7 {[#]} 26. Qg3 $5 {At first sight, this might look like a blunder. After all, with the queen exchanged, the bishop will no longer be pinned.} Qa5 ({Howwever, things are not so simple. After} 26... Qxg3 27. fxg3 {it becomes apparent the bishop is out of the pot and into the fire as it has nowhere to flee.}) 27. f4 Qc5+ 28. Re3 Bxg2 29. fxg5 ({Obviously not} 29. Kxg2 $4 Qxc2+) 29... hxg5 30. hxg5 Rh1+ $2 {Panic or despair, Black was lost anyhow.} 31. Kxg2 Qc6+ 32. Rf3 Rxd1 33. gxf6+ Kxf6 34. Qh4+ Kg7 (34... Ke5 35. Qe7+ Kd4 (35... Kd5 36. c4+ Kd4 (36... Kxc4 37. Qe2+) 37. Qe3+) 36. c3+ Kc4 37. Qe2+) 35. f6+ Kg8 (35... Kg6 36. Qg4+ Kh6 37. Qg7+ Kh5 38. Qxf7+ Kg5 39. Qg7+ Kh5 40. Qh7+ Kg5 41. Qf5+ Kh4 42. f7) 36. Qg3+ Kf8 37. Qb8+ Qe8 {[#]} 38. Rh3 $1 {Leading to mate.} ({A careless move such as} 38. Qxb7 {would be punished without remorse.} Qe2+ 39. Kg3 Rg1+ 40. Kf4 Qd2+ 41. Ke5 (41. Re3 Qh2+ 42. Kf5 Qh5+ 43. Ke4 Qh1+ 44. Rf3 Rg4+ 45. Ke5 Qe1+ {etc.})) 38... Rd2+ 39. Kf3 1-0

The greatest surprise of the last round was the young Israeli Ohad Kraus who beat former European champion, Russian Vladimir Potkin scoring a GM norm and mind you he is just an untitled 2190 rated player!

Final standings

1 37 GM Najer Evgeniy RUS 2634 8.5 2636
2 1 GM Navara David CZE 2735 8.0 2643
3 39 GM Bartel Mateusz POL 2631 8.0 2600
4 28 GM Khismatullin Denis RUS 2653 8.0 2547
5 71 GM Vovk Yuri UKR 2588 7.5 2648
6 11 GM Korobov Anton UKR 2687 7.5 2646
7 67 GM Ipatov Alexander TUR 2592 7.5 2634
8 3 GM Eljanov Pavel UKR 2727 7.5 2623
9 33 GM Volokitin Andrei UKR 2646 7.5 2623
10 7 GM Matlakov Maxim RUS 2695 7.5 2615
11 13 GM Sjugirov Sanan RUS 2678 7.5 2609
12 8 GM Moiseenko Alexander UKR 2695 7.5 2608
13 22 GM Motylev Alexander RUS 2665 7.5 2607
14 128   Iljiushenok Ilia RUS 2450 7.5 2598
15 47 GM Kempinski Robert POL 2625 7.5 2592
16 30 GM Smirin Ilia ISR 2650 7.5 2590
17 12 GM Cheparinov Ivan BUL 2681 7.5 2589
18 20 GM Sargissian Gabriel ARM 2668 7.5 2585
19 35 GM Popov Ivan RUS 2639 7.5 2583
20 19 GM Laznicka Viktor CZE 2670 7.5 2583
21 26 GM Rodshtein Maxim ISR 2660 7.5 2580
22 73 GM Brkic Ante CRO 2586 7.5 2577
23 27 GM Nisipeanu Liviu-Dieter GER 2654 7.5 2540
24 18 GM Grachev Boris RUS 2670 7.5 2531
25 75 GM Nabaty Tamir ISR 2585 7.5 2530
26 92 GM Can Emre TUR 2555 7.5 2463

Click for complete standings

Prize giving

The winner's trophy

The prize giving was attended by the board of the European chess union and started with a projected blessing by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu .Speeches were made by President of the ECU, GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili (himself a former European champion) and ACP (Association of chess professionals) president GM Emil Sutovsky who both praised the superb organization of the event expressing their hope for more such major tournaments in Israel soon enough.

The ceremony included a spectacular dance and light show

Lights were provided to include the audience in the show

Together with Moshe Slav chairman of the Israel chess federation and Amiram Kaplan, chairman of the organizing committee and secretary of the ECU Thodoros Tsorbatzoglou awarded the 120 thousand Euro prize-fund and the huge trophies.

The winners David Navara (second), Evgeny Najer (first) and Mateusz Bartel (third)

In addition to the general standings winners special prizes were given to the best ACP premium members and to the best seniors headed by GMs Alexander Beliavsky (Slovenia), Valery Neverov (Ukraine) and Alex Khuzman (Israel) on 6.5 points each. Best Junior was Polish GM Jan Krzysztof  Duda on 6.5/11 and best Jerusalem player was Ori Kobo on 5.5 and a final norm for the IM title.

Report by Yachanan Afek and Albert Silver
Photos by Yoav Nis


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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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