2nd ESNA Individual Championship – Luxembourg 2016

IM Helgi Dam Ziska

IM Helgi Dam Ziska from Faroe Islands wins the 2nd European Small Nations Individual Championship with 9,5 / 11 points and will represent the FIDE Zone 1.10 in the World Cup 2017. Congratulations to Helgi for this great performance! GM Oscar de la Riva Aguado from Andorra finished in second place with 9 points and the defending champion IM Michael Wiedenkeller from Luxembourg follows on 3rd place with 8,5 points.

The twelve participants (both the host nation and the strongest player who wasn’t initially nominated receive a wild card) arrived in Luxembourg on the 1st April and after a quick opening ceremony went back to their hotel to get a much-needed rest. The schedule for this event was decided with 11 rounds being played in the space of only eight days (with one rest day) – making for a total of three double rounds. Faroese IM Helgi Ziska was the top seed at 2542, but there were at least three other players who were in with a good chance of fighting for the top places: GM Oscar De la Riva (2494) from Andorra, IM Andreas Kelires (2466) from Cyprus and title defender IM Michael Wiedenkeller (2451) from Luxembourg. With a spot in the next World Cup at stake (along with a 2000 envelope for the winner), nerves were bound to be tested and there would be no easy games. 

Kelires found this out the hard way when he lost to his young compatriot, 13-year old Konstantinos Michaelides (2133), in the upset game of the first round. Next to stumble was top seed Ziska, as he was held to a draw by Peter Kirby (2008) with the white pieces in round 3. Ziska also drew his encounters against 2nd and 4th seeds De la Riva and Wiedenkeller, but other than that he won all his games to set up a last round decider against Kelires.

After his shock loss from the first round, the Cypriot had gone on to score 8 points out of the next 9 games and was thus only trailing Ziska by half a point before their final clash, in which he was to have the white pieces. Similarly to the Candidates Tournament, these two players were the only two still in with a chance to get the much-coveted first place and qualifying spot, as De la Riva could still finish equal first, but had the worse tie-break out of the three. 

Although Kelires-Ziska ended up being a short game, it didn’t lack in excitement.

And so Helgi Dam Ziska was crowned winner of the tournament with 9.5/11 and earned the much-coveted qualification spot for the next World Cup, which will be held in Georgia in 2017.

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