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Day One Report (Round 1)
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The inaugural European Individual Championship of Small Nations, that also serves as a Zonal tournament for Zone 1.10, commenced today in the beautiful seaside city of Larnaka in southern Cyprus. The Mayor of Larnaka, Mr. Andreas Louroutziatis, warmly greeted the participants and guests, wished them all the best in their competitive endeavors and proceeded to execute the ceremonial first move 1.d4 in the game between the two local players, the upcoming talented Andreas Kelires and multiple champion of Cyprus Antonis Antoniou. Under the watchful eyes of several spectators, journalists and television crews, the twelve participants battled it out for over four hours, each of them seeking a positive start to the tournament.

Following hot on the heels of the highly successful team events of recent years for the small nations of Europe, this very first Individual Championship for these chess-loving countries is poised to mark the beginning of a hopefully long tradition. Apart from the not-at-all negligible cash prizes for the top finishers, the winner is also to be awarded a qualifying place for the next World Cup. Such competitive distinctions are understandably rare for the participating nations, where the popularity of chess is greatly constrained by the miniscule size of their population; it is hoped that such opportunities will help boost interest in the sport in these small countries, as well as help tighten the relations among these nations.

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Although some of the top-rated players of the participating nations were not able to attend, the tournament is by no means uninteresting, as it hosts two Grandmasters and two International Masters, thus offering a welcome opportunity to the other players to go after an IM norm. The two grandmasters started their quest for top honors with relatively comfortable victories: Oscar de la Riva Aguado (Andorra) beat Massimiliano Maccapani (San Marino) with Black rather quickly, after obtaining a good position from the opening and then exploiting a nice tactical opportunity offered by his opponent, while Igor Efimov (Monaco) had to exert himself a bit more against Peter Kirby (Guernsey); having won a pawn early after the unsuccessful opening play of his opponent, Efimov failed to exploit some opportunities to end the game more quickly, but never really lost control of the situation and eventually converted his extra material in the endgame. The two grandmasters are obviously the main (but not only) contenders, so it is natural to expect them to seek every single point they can extract from every game.

As is customary in other FIDE round-robin events as well, during the drawing of lots it was agreed that players from the same country should face each other already in the first round, to avoid awkward situations later in the tournament. Both representatives of Luxembourg, Michael Wiedenkeller and Fred Berend, are respectable International Masters and rank among the strongest participants in the event; this, and the lack of time for serious preparation, was probably the main contributing factor behind their quick draw in their first round game: the two players went down a known drawish theoretical line, and after White (Berend) “won” a piece (but had to allow perpetual check) the outcome was clear. It should be noted that the game ended in a threefold repetition; draws by agreement are not allowed until at least thirty moves by both sides have been completed. The all-Cypriot affair was also drawn, but was much more interesting: the opponents quickly bashed out a long series of moves, following a recent encounter of theirs from the Cyprus Championship; Black (Antoniou) improved on that game and obtained a comfortable position, which never strayed from the boundaries of equality, despite both players’ efforts.

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The game between Olaf Berg (Faroe Islands) and Renato Frick (Liechtenstein) was very complicated and exciting. In an unusual position, rather typical of the Scotch, Black appeared to get a fair share of the chances; however, he missed a nice tactical shot on the 24th move, committing a serious error instead. He did spot the idea two moves later, but the timing was bad: despite acute time pressure, the Faroese player made good use of his last few seconds and set up a mating net, from which his opponent was unable to escape. In the last game to finish, Oliver Said (Malta) won against Tito Kahn (Jersey) by exploiting his opponent’s inaccuracies in the middlegame and converting his material advantage in the endgame.



The event is organized by FIDE, the Cyprus Chess Federation (KYSO) and the European Chess Union, with sponsorship from the Larnaka Tourism Board and the Municipality of Larnaka, and takes place at the Larnaka Museum Historical Archives from April 22nd to April 30th. Full coverage of the event can be found at the official website, http://larnaca2014.fide.com, with results, standings, news and photo galleries. All games are transmitted live via the official website, also with real-time computer analysis.
 
 World Chess Federation 2014    www.fide.com