Gawain Jones wins European Online Blitz Championship

by André Schulz
12/21/2020 – The European Blitz Championship was played as an online tournament during the weekend. An 11-round Swiss open served as a qualification event, with 16 players moving on to the knockout phase. In the end, Gawain Jones took first place after beating Alexei Shirov in the final. Matthias Bluebaum defeated David Navara to get the bronze medal. | Photo: Alina l’Ami

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Shirov and Bluebaum complete the podium

The European Blitz Championship was played online over three days on December 18-20. The tournament was organized by the Silesian Chess Federation and the European Chess Union with the support of the City of Katowice, the Polish Ministry of Sport and Polish company Mokate, which frequently sponsors chess events. The tournament was played on the Tornelo platform and was inaugurated by ECU President Zurab Asmaiparashvili. 

On Friday evening, an 11-round Swiss tournament — open to all players with a rating above 2300 (plus some wildcards) — kicked off the proceedings. A total of 353 players from 40 countries participated, including 134 Grandmasters and 100 International Masters. The time control was 3 minutes for the game with 2-second increments per move.

European Online Blitz Championship 2020

The medallists

The top 16

After 11 rounds, 16 players had qualified to the knockout section of the tournament. Before confirming who had qualified to the deciding stage, the games of the top 16 were subjected to a cheating check.

The best female players in the preliminary event were GM Antoaneta Stefanova (7 points), Anna Sargsyan (6½) and Monika Socko (6). They received special prizes, as did the best seniors and juniors.


Final standings - Preliminary (top 26)

Rk.   Name FED Rtg Pts.  TB1 
1 GM Wojtaszek Radoslaw POL 2705 9 74,5
2 GM Hovhannisyan Robert ARM 2642 9 73,5
3 GM Pantsulaia Levan GEO 2553 9 72,5
4 GM Onischuk Vladimir UKR 2622 9 69,5
5 GM Indjic Aleksandar SRB 2604 9 66,5
6 GM Navara David CZE 2697 8,5 74,5
7 GM Jones Gawain C B ENG 2670 8,5 74,5
8 GM Demidov Mikhail RUS 2523 8,5 74,5
9 GM Shirov Alexei ESP 2662 8,5 68,5
10 GM Deac Bogdan-Daniel ROU 2625 8,5 67,5
11 GM Safarli Eltaj AZE 2598 8,5 65,5
12 IM Ozen Deniz TUR 2397 8 81,5
13 GM Bluebaum Matthias GER 2670 8 76
14 GM Yilmaz Mustafa TUR 2630 8 71,5
15 GM Petrosyan Manuel ARM 2628 8 71
16 GM Meier Georg GER 2628 8 71
17 GM Steinberg Nitzan ISR 2553 8 69
18 IM Theodorou Nikolas GRE 2554 8 68,5
19 GM Hakobyan Aram ARM 2598 8 67,5
20 GM Sanal Vahap TUR 2563 8 66,5
21 GM Moranda Wojciech POL 2618 8 66
22 GM Saric Ivan CRO 2652 8 65
23 GM Sargissian Gabriel ARM 2682 8 64,5
24 IM Garayev Kanan AZE 2331 8 64
25 GM Dourerassou Jonathan FRA 2477 8 63,5
26 GM Aleksandrov Aleksej BLR 2574 8 62

...323 players


On to the knockout

The knockout phase kicked off on Saturday, with 4-game mini-matches followed by an Armageddon decider when needed (5 minutes for White and 4 minutes for Black, no increments, Black gets draw odds). 

In the round-of-16, Georg Meier prevailed in Armageddon against the winner of the preliminary tournament, Radoslaw Wojtaszek. Alexei Shirov knocked out Mihkail Demidov. Levan Pantsulaia defeated Mustafa Yilmaz, also in Armageddon. The Armenian duel between Manuel Petrosyan Manuel and Robert Hovhannisyan ended with a win for Petrosyan, again after Armageddon.

Aleksandar Indjic won against Deniz Ozen with a smooth 3:0. Matthias Bluebaum also got a clear win, against Vladimir Onischuk. David Navarra, a member of the Wasko HETMAN GKS Katowice club, was one of the local heroes and won his match against Eltaj Safarli. Finally, Gawain Jones advanced to the next round by defeating Bogdan Daniel Deac.

In the quarterfinals David Navara, Gawain Jones, Alexei Shirov and Matthias Bluebaum won their matches against Levan Pantsulaia, Manuel Petrosyan, Georg Meier and Aleksandar Indjic respectively.

Jones beats Shirov in the final

The semifinals, final and match for the third place were played on Sunday. In both semifinals an Armageddon encounter was necessary to find a winner. Gawain Jones defeated David Navara and Alexei Shirov got the better of Matthias Bluebaum.

Gawain Jones got a 2½:½ victory in the final match against Alexei Shirov. The match for third place between Matthias Bluebaum and David Navara ended with the same result in favour of the German grandmaster.


 

27.Nc4 Rxc4! [Black often sacrifices an exchange in the Sicilian, but it usually happens on c3.]

28.bxc4 Bf4 29.Kg2 Qc6 [29...Rc8! 30.c3 Rxc4 31.Qd3 Qc6 Black is better.]

30.c3 b3 31.Ba3 Qxc4 32.Qxd6 Rd8 33.axb3 axb3 34.Qb4 Qd3 35.Rbd1 Qxd1!? [A good practical decision in blitz. The two knights near the black king are quite dangerous. 35...Bd2–+]

36.Rxd1 Rxd1 37.Qxb3 Rd2 38.Bc1 [38.Nf1 Re2 39.Qb5]

38...Rd3 39.Qc2 [Better was 39.Bb2] 39...Bxc1 40.Qxc1 [40.Qxd3 Nf4+]

40...Nf4+ 41.Kg1 Rxg3+ [Yet another fork threat.]

42.Kh2 Rh3+ 0–1


The Sicilian Dragon 1 & 2

Volume one of the DVD deals with 9.Bc4, White's sharpest option, and shows how Black can counter this ambitious try by White with the main lines of the Soltis variation (12...h5), which was played by Magnus Carlsen regularly as well.


All games - Top 4

 

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André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.

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