Vladislav Artemiev is 2018 European Blitz Champion

by Iva Videnova
12/8/2018 – Macedonia's political, cultural and economic centre, Skopje, is hosting the European Rapid and Blitz Championships. Unlike other events, in this case the blitz section takes place first. After eleven double-rounds, Vladislav Artemiev emerged as the clear winner with an astounding 18½/22 score. Ivan Cheparinov and David Navara finished in clear second and third places, respectively. IVA VIDENOVA sent a complete report, which includes a selection of top-level blunders. | Photos: Patricia Claros Aguilar

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A blitz specialist

The European Blitz Chess Championship took place from December 6th to 7th, 2018 in Skopje, the capital of the FYR of Macedonia. The event was organized by Chess Club Gambit Asseco See, with the official sponsorship of Asseco SEE Group and under the auspices of the European Chess Union and the Chess Federation of Macedonia. A total of 324 players from 37 different countries took part in the competition, which was held using the Swiss system in 11 double rounds, with a time control of 3 minutes plus 2 seconds bonus per move.

Russian GM Vladislav Artemiev stormed through the competition, finishing with 18½/22 points, leaving the runner-up one and a half points behind. He added over 14 Elo points to his rating, becoming the world’s sixth highest-rated blitz player. Before the last double-round, he was half a point ahead of GM Ivan Cheparinov and a direct duel between them was to decide the title. Artemiev prevailed in the match with a 1½:½ score to clinch the European Blitz Champion title.

Cheparinov, the Bulgarian now representing Georgia, had a fantastic second day (10½ out of 12!) and secured the silver medal with 17 points, while GM David Navara (Czech Republic) finished sole third with 16½ points, thanks to his important last-round 2:0 win over Ivan Saric.

Cheparinov and Stefanova

A star couple — silver medallist GM Ivan Cheparinov and the top female performer, GM Antoaneta Stefanova — had a daughter in October

Final standings (top 15)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Artemiev Vladislav 18,5 0,0
2 Cheparinov Ivan 17,0 0,0
3 Navara David 16,5 0,0
4 Demidov Mikhail 16,0 0,0
5 Guseinov Gadir 16,0 0,0
6 Esipenko Andrey 16,0 0,0
7 Mamedov Rauf 16,0 0,0
8 Salgado Lopez Ivan 15,5 0,0
9 Perunovic Milos 15,5 0,0
10 Ivic Velimir 15,5 0,0
11 Stevic Hrvoje 15,5 0,0
12 Kalezic Blazo 15,5 0,0
13 Bartel Mateusz 15,5 0,0
14 Van Foreest Jorden 15,0 0,0
15 Banikas Hristos 15,0 0,0

GM David Navara claimed the bronze medal

The  2017 World champion for girls U18, WIM Laura Unuk (Slovenia), gained no less than 127 rating points

The first 36 boards were transmitted live, while the top six encounters were enriched with a live view from the playing hall.

All available games


Perhaps the reader has already noticed that the most often mentioned name in the tournament report is “Ivan” — GM Ivan Cheparinov, GM Ivan Salgado Lopez, GM Ivan Saric, GM Ivan Ivanisevic...and all of them represent different nationalities.

Ivan Salgado Lopez

Spaniard GM Ivan Salgado Lopez took 8th place

Ivan Saric

Reigning European Champion in classical chess, GM Ivan Saric (Croatia)

Blunders section

Blitz would not be so much fun to watch if it wasn’t for the inevitable nerve-wracking time scrambles. Many games were decided by unfortunate blunders and the tournament top seeds were not an exception to the rule. Below are a few shocking examples:


39.Bd4?? Qxd1+ 0-1


Van Foreest could have used White’s back-rank weakness and win a piece after 43…Qxe3 44.Rxe3 Rd8. He played 43...Qxb4? instead, but anyway went on to win in 53 moves.


White was hardly hoping to survive against such a pawn formation on the third rank, but the impossible happened: 54…Rf8+?? 55.Kxe3 and White turned the tables. Instead of the blunder on move 54, Black could have promoted the pawn with 54…e2-+.


45.Re3?? b2 and White was soon forced to sacrifice the rook for the dangerous passer. A more precise 45.Ne3! would have kept the tension. 0-1


40…Be4?? Even the 2014 European Blitz champion David Navara blundered against a much lower-rated opponent, and this cost him the game. The Turkish player seized the opportunity to capture the pawn with 41.Rxb3 and went on to win. 1-0


Black definitely had the upper hand with three connected passed pawns on the queenside, but the next move allowed White to turn the game around: 28…b5? 29.Nb3 Rc3 30.Nxa5 and White later won. 1-0


The 16-year-old Serbian hope IM Velimir Ivic had a fantastic tournament, finishing 10th with 15½/22 points. He beat experienced GMs Daniel Fridman, Kiril Georgiev and Viktor Erdos 1½:½ and split the two points with GMs Hristos Banikas, Pavel Potapov, Danilo Milanovic and Vahap Sanal. As a result, he gained a whopping 156 Elo points! In the last round, it looked like his opponent Erdos, playing Black, is the only one with winning chances. Surprisingly though, he continued 35…h5??, obviously missing the fact that the d5-pawn was hanging, and the young Serbian won the pawn-up endgame. 1-0

Everybody blunders... (even those on "Magnus Team" — notice the pin)

Diana Arutyunova

WGM Diana Arutyunova (Ukraine)

Chess 960

A total of 10 rounds of blitz on the first day was not enough for 57 of the participants, who joined another competition that same evening — the Chess 960 tournament. This tournament attracted 7 GMs, 12 IMs, 2 WIMs and 7 FMs. After 9 rounds, Italian GM Danyyil Dvirnyy took clear first with 8 points. Three players shared second place with 7/9, with the silver medal going to Turkish FM Bahadir Ozen and bronze to IM Bogdan Belyakov from Russia.

Ozen, Dvyrnyy, Belyakov, Stojcevski

FM Bahadir Ozen, GM Danyyil Dvyrnyy, IM Bogdan Belyakov, and Tournament Director FM and FT Zoran Stojcevski

Final standings — Chess 960

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Dvirnyy Danyyil 8,0 0,0
2 Ozen Bahadir 7,0 2,0
3 Belyakov Bogdan 7,0 0,0
4 Pezelj Novak 7,0 0,0
5 Sanal Vahap 6,5 0,0
6 Tilicheev Viacheslav 6,5 0,0
7 Podetti Davide 6,5 0,0
8 Gokerkan Cem Kaan 6,0 0,0
9 Popov Valerij 6,0 0,0
10 Perunovic Miodrag 6,0 0,0
11 Moroni Luca Jr 6,0 0,0
12 Dragicevic Drazen 6,0 0,0
13 De Filomeno Simone 5,5 0,0
14 Sebenik Matej 5,5 0,0
15 Danov Lyubomir 5,5 0,0

The tournament program will continue with the European Rapid Chess Championship from December 8th to 9th and a Solving Contest event in the evening of the 8th.

Many players felt the hospitality of Skopje, with its mild weather and flamboyant city centre


WGM Iva Videnova, born in 1987, is from Plovdiv, Bulgaria. She is a qualified chess trainer with a bachelor degree from the Sofia National Sports Academy.


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