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Day Six Report (Rounds 8 & 9)
10257413 677749845617037 3319297169551447336 oThe last double round in the tournament schedule, right before the finishing straight, was widely expected to help clarify things at the top of the standings in the inaugural European Individual Championship for Small Nations, but instead only served to complicate the situation further. As the clash of the leaders ended without a winner, and with three other players remaining in close pursuit and strengthening their challenge with positive results, the fight for tournament victory and a place in the next World Cup is as tense as ever, promising lots of excitement in the last two rounds.
 
882328 677749868950368 8088320939001943568 oAndorran grandmaster Oscar De la Riva Aguado managed to retain his slender lead after the events of the day, but it took a herculean effort from him in the afternoon game against his closest rival, IM Michael Wiedenkeller from Luxembourg. Both players arrived having won their morning games without undue effort, against Renato Frick and Antonis Antoniou respectively, after the latter committed serious mistakes leading to rapid loss of material. The long-awaited clash commenced with a quiet opening, perhaps indicating De la Riva's desire to avoid risk, but this placid attitude allowed Black to gradually seize the initiative. The leader felt compelled to sacrifice an exchange in order to reverse this trend, but a further error in time pressure left him in a very difficult situation. The game kept going for several hours, with Wiedenkeller trying to disrupt White's fortress, but he didn't manage; the transposition to a pawn-up endgame was the best he could find, but it promised him no more than a draw, thus allowing De la Riva to remain half a point ahead of the field.

10333427 677749962283692 5411720484065837616 oAfter a rather moderate start, Igor Efimov has picked up the pace and scored several wins in a row. Two more were added to his account on the sixth day: a long and tense effort against local player Andreas Kelires, in a somewhat untypical Hedgehog battle (the young Cypriot at least managed to bounce back with a swift victory over Oliver Said in the afternoon), and a less demanding one against Renato Frick in the afternoon. By taking advantage of the slowdown of the leaders, Efimov has now caught Wiedenkeller in second place, just half a point behind De la Riva (who also has a relatively tougher schedule in the concluding rounds) and has become a serious contender for first place. Two players are a further half point behind. Olaf Berg won a crisp attacking game against Peter Kirby in the morning, but was in serious trouble against Antonis Antoniou in the afternoon; the Cypriot missed several excellent opportunities and eventually, having burned most of his time without finding something decisive, offered a move repetition. He was thus caught by Fred Berend, the other player to score two wins on this day, against the representatives of the neighboring states of Jersey and Guernsey, Kahn and Kirby respectively - the conqueror of the English Channel! :-)

photo  (20)While the competitive aspect of the event should have proved very enticing for the spectators, the show was understandaby stolen by the parallel event taking place on Europe Square, right outside the venue: a similtaneous exhibition by GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili, against a field of twenty players that included members of the Cyprus national team, delegates from participating countries and promising youngsters. The simul lasted close to three hours and attracted a big crowd, as it was being played in the city's most popular outdoor meeting point. The Georgian grandmaster received a loud applause from opponents and spectators after concluding the exhibition, in what was a very busy day for those involved with the tournament: most of them had to join the simul right after a session of the FIDE International Organizers' Seminar that is taking place at the tournament hotel, with IO Theodoros Tsorbatzoglou in the role of lecturer.

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