Luxembourg Beats the Hosts to Seal the Title
Luxembourg are the new European Small Nations Chess Champions. Having led the week-long tournament at Les Cotils in Guernsey from start to finish, they sealed their triumph with a 3-1 victory over the host nation in Saturday’s final round.
The players from the Grand Duchy – IM Fred Berend, IM Michael Wiedenkeller, Philippe Linster, Pierre Gengler and their Captain, FM Hubert Mossong – have been in dominant form all week, beating eight of their nine competitors for the title and conceding just one solitary tied match to the outgoing champions, the Faroe Islands.
The Faroe Islanders, themselves, ended their week with a 4-0 whitewash of Liechtenstein. Hogni Egilstoft Nielsen’s win against CM Mario Kobler on the top board in this match would later receive the tournament’s Best Game Prize, but even this comprehensive victory was not enough to earn the Faroese second place overall.
That honour went to Monaco, on count back and by just half a point, after Karl Johan Ribbegren secured the only win in their 2.5-1.5 defeat of Cyprus.
The Andorran team will be disappointed with their showing this week, but still finished their campaign with a 3-1 defeat of San Marino, despite a fine win for the Sammarinese Captain, CM Danilo Volpinari.
Malta, on the other hand, have become ever stronger as the week has progressed and confirmed their hold on the coveted fifth place – the best team outside of the Big Four – with a 4-0 hammering of winless Jersey in the final round.
Farewell to Guernsey, as Eyes Turn to Andorra in 2017
As soon as the last game of these Championships finished, work began preparing the playing hall for the farewell banquet, so that players and officials could gather and celebrate a week during which, in the words of Guernsey Chess Federation President Peter Rowe, “everyone fought fiercely, but no bad word was spoken, each player competing with perfect sportsmanship.”
After dinner, the prizes were awarded for the blitz tournament as well, and then for the main business of the week. Luxembourg was crowned as European Small Nations Champions 2015 and its players received coveted silver versions of traditional Guernsey milk cans as commemorative trophies. There were milk cans too, made of copper, for the runners-up and third place finishers, Monaco and the Faroe Islands.
Specially produced Guernsey Chess Federation paperweights were awarded to the strongest performer on each board throughout the week. These went to (beginning with Board 1) IM Fred Berend (Luxembourg), IM Michael Wiedenkeller (Luxembourg), Martin Poulsen (Faroe Islands), Jean-Francois Nelis (Monaco) and Karl Johan Ribbegren (Monaco). Additionally, each team received a copy of Roy Bisson and Gregory Stevens Cox’s fascinating and deeply researched pictorial history: “Chess in Guernsey”, and two of the electronic chess sets used at the tournament, which are a gift from the FIDE Developing Nations Committee.
Hogni Egilstoft Nielsen of the Faroe Islands was awarded the Best Game Prize and a number of players received discretionary awards from the Chief Arbiter, David Sedgwick.
Both of the tournament’s Deputy Chief Arbiters – Axel Smith of Sweden and Kevin Thurlow of England – received their FA Norm Certificates. These were presented by Finnbjorn Vang and Ion-Serban Dobronauteanu, respectively Vice President and Deputy President of the European Chess Union.
Mr Vang and Mr Dobronauteanu spoke briefly on behalf of President Zurab Azmaiparashvili, and their continuing strong support for the European Small Nations was warmly appreciated.
Peter Rowe – President of the Guernsey Chess Federation – gave his concluding remarks and thanks to all of the participants, and a presentation was made to Fred Hamperl, Guernsey’s Captain and the tournament’s Chief Organiser.
Finally, Paris Klerides – President of FIDE Zone 1.10 and Captain of Cyprus – brought the tournament to its official close and announced that Luxembourg’s 2017 defence of their title will take place in Andorra.
Full coverage of the event can be found on the official website, http://www.guernseychessfederation.org.gg/small_nations/reports.htm with results, standings, news and photo galleries.