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Day Two Report (Rounds 2 & 3)
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The second day of the first European Individual Championship for Small Nations, which also enjoys the status of the Zonal tournament for FIDE Zone 1.10, was full of chess, with the tournament’s first double round and several interesting games.

Playing chess in the morning is always a tough proposition for players, arbiters and organizers alike. However, the early start (and the prospect of yet another round later in the day) did not seem to affect the fighting spirit of the players at all. By a strange twist of the drawing of lots, right after their encounter in the first round, the two Cypriot players had to face the two Grandmasters of the tournament in round two. Antonis Antoniou sacrificed a pawn in the opening against Igor Efimov, in exchange for a strong initiative. Black eventually opted to return the pawn in order to relieve the pressure, and soon an endgame arose with a slight but durable advantage for the local player. For quite a while Antoniou seemed to entertain decent winning chances, but accurate and active defense from his opponent steered the game towards its drawn conclusion; despite the missed chances, still a positive result for the Cypriot.

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Oscar De La Riva Aguado seized on the opportunity and became the tournament’s sole leader (and the only player on 100%) with a hard-working win against Cyprus hopeful Andreas Kelires. The Androrran grandmaster opted for a closed system against the Sicilian Defense, steering the play towards structures more typical of the Ruy Lopez, where he enjoyed a space advantage in the centre. Typical maneuvering followed, with White developing strong pressure on Black’s queenside and eventually winning an important pawn there. Despite fierce resistance by the young Cypriot, De La Riva unmistakably converted his advantage to a full point, to obtain an early lead over the field.




The two International Masters of the event, both from Luxembourg, remained in close pursuit, thanks to their victories in round two. Michael Wiedenkeller enjoyed a slight but none too serious advantage for the greater part of the game against Massimiliano Maccapani, but Black always kept very good drawing chances. However, a careless king move allowed White to force a transition to an instructive pawn ending which was won, due to Black’s inferior pawn structure. Around the same time, Fred Berend successfully concluded his game against Olaf Berg. In a position from a Closed Sicilian, that remain balanced for quite a while, White committed a few inaccuracies which were skillfully exploited by Black, leading to the collapse of Berg’s position in the center. Berend won one white pawn after another and thus scored his first victory in the tournament.


In the remaining games of the second round, Renato Frick bounced back from his first round loss with a win against Tito Kahn. White enjoyed some advantage after the opening and handled the middlegame better; in the position that resulted after several exchanges he had a strong passed pawn and an unassailable knight in the centre, factors that promised him a stable plus. Nice thematic play, involving the activation of the king and the further advance of the passed pawn, concluded in the suffocation of the black king and unavoidable mate. The last game to conclude was that between Peter Kirby and Oliver Said, where the Guernsey player seemed to enjoy the better chances throughout the early stages. However, he didn’t make the most of his chances and failed to act forcefully when necessary; this allowed the Maltese to balance the chances, with a draw being agreed after further simplification.

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After a break for lunch and some rest, the players returned to the Historical Archives building of the Museum of Larnaka for the third round, which included the all-grandmaster clash Efimov-De La Riva. After the long fighting games both players had in the morning, and with their encounter coming so early in the tournament, it was understandable that they would follow a cautious approach. This was indeed the case, and after some opening subtleties a well-known theoretical draw by repetition was played out.


The spectators were not left disappointed, though, despite this uneventful course of the top game of the round, as there was plenty of fight in the other games. The Maltese player Oliver Said won his game against Antonis Antoniou by exploiting his opponent’s mistakes in time pressure. The Cypriot had a very good position after the opening, but in the ensuing complications he mishandled the position. White emerged with some pressure and, by exploiting his superior coordination of forces, created threats of winning a pawn. Black overlooked a strong queen move and lost material – and the game. This win brought the Maltese player to 2.5/3, giving him a share of the lead with De La Riva. Shortly afterwards, Peter Kirby of Guernsey won his game against Tito Kahn of the neighboring island of Jersey in an instructive endgame, where he skillfully exploited his very active king and superior structure, while not much later Olaf Berg scored a full point against Massimiliano Maccapani in a complicated and unbalanced struggle, when White embarked on an erroneous tactical endeavor, one that resulted in a swift mating attack for the Faroese player.

IMG 0255The game between Fred Berend and Renato Frick followed a very uneven course. White had a slight but stable advantage after the opening and sought to increase it by positional means, but some concrete and creative defence by Black allowed him to exchange White’s active pieces and equalize. With a well-calculated temporary pawn sacrifice Black extinguished the pressure, and White seemed to have nothing better than allowing a repetition. Instead, Berend chose to return the extra pawn and try to play for a win, but this turned out to be the wrong decision, as he was left with a weak pawn on d4, that he eventually had to surrender, thus ending up a pawn down in a rook ending. As it turned out, Black’s endgame technique was up to par, allowing the Liechtenstein player to score an upset.


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The hosts had good reason to rejoice today, as their greatest hope, Andreas Kelires, beat Michael Wiedenkeller, thus concluding a disappointing evening for the representatives of Luxembourg. The game featured a lot of heavy maneuvering, with both players jockeying for position. It seems that the Cypriot fared just a little bit better at this, as he managed to create an attack on the light squares, forcing his opponent to tread very carefully in order to defend all the weak points around his king. In the end this task turned out impossible; after a long period of probing, Kelires eventually found the optimal arrangement for his queen and bishop, forcing resignation.




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