European Championship and Youth Championship in Turkey, Çanakkale


Estonia: Villem Mesila, Aivo Oll

Russian Renju Association: Ekaterina Chernetsova, Dmitry Epifanov, Anastasia Linich, Maksim Metreveli, Sergey Mikryukov, Maxim Orlov, Ekaterina Porokhina, Mikhail Savvateev, Maksim Startsev, Vladimir Sushkov, Yulia Vostriakova, Polina Yudina

Turkey: İbrahim Kaan Aslan, Alp Ali Kirkan

The tournament took place in Kolin Hotel (5 star). We decided to play 9 rounds in Swiss system.

Time control was 2 hours per player + 30 seconds per move.  The opening rule was Taraguchi -10. I will try to comment on some games and share my views of the tournament.

1st round:

Epifanov played a very sloppy game against Maksim Startsev. After 14, black had a good chance to win the game:

In the end, white prevailed.

I had a very long game with Alp Ali Kirkan and managed to escape with a win.

My opponent had a win after I made a mistake on the 34th move.

In the end, I got lucky. If 83 – 86, then white has no win.

2nd round:

I was a bit lucky against Villem since he did not manage to find the defense after my 27th move.

If 28 – 29, then black is in trouble. Although I think there are very few players in the world who would have found this beautiful defense.

Sushkov made a blunder against Maksim Metreveli already on the 12th move!

Fortunately for Sushkov, Maksim chose a strange continuation and, in the end, white won.

The first surprise of the tournament happened in the 2nd round in a game between Porokhina and Orlov. Orlov played a difficult halyava as white, but Porokhina responded with the wrong 7th move. In the end, Maksim was not able to win.

3rd round:

I chose a poor plan against Sushkov and paid the price for it.

Here, 10 – J8 is much better for white, and some Chinese players consider this 5th move as white win. My 30th move was the last mistake, if 30 – 31 then white might get a draw.

Meanwhile, Epifanov avenged his loss against Orlov in the Russian High League and subdued his opponent with a nice foul.

4th round:

The leaders, Epifanov and Sushkov met. Epifanov chose a bad variant in D8. Nevertheless, Sushkov tried his best to win but in the end, he was not successful.

The correct 8th move is 8 – J10. Sushkov did not make the best 13th move. The winning plan looks something like this:

Sushkov had a chance to win after 44th move but missed his win due to severe lack of time.

I had an up and down game with Porokhina, I missed several wins in the beginning and after my stupid attack, my opponent had quite an easy win.

My opponent was not up for the task and in the end I won.

5th round:

In this round, Estonians got a proper beating by playing poor games.

Villem chose a bad variant against Sushkov and even though Vladimir tried to help his opponent by missing several wins, in the end he still won quite easily.

In my game against Epifanov, I played a losing 4th move. He did not even think about putting 10 winning 5th moves and decided to let me play the 5th move. He had checked my correspondence game against Yao Yujie so I decided to change the 23rd move. That was a big mistake since the 23rd move I made is much worse than 23 – 41. Even though my opponent missed some wins, I made too many blunders to avoid a loss.

6th round:

Not many interesting games in this round. Orlov made a bad plunder against Sushkov already on the 6th move and the game was over.

7th round:

Orlov continued his poor play by playing a losing 5th move against me that he was not aware of. The best defense here is 16 – 17. In that case, the win starts with 17 – 21.

Villem chose another poor variant in I5 and took a fast loss because of that.

8th round brought the longest game of the tournament between Orlov and Mesila.

After 19 moves white is in total control but Villem played too passively and after his 24th move Maksim could have easily won.

Alas, Orlov was not up for the task and after that a long struggle started for black. Villem probably missed a million wins here and there but in the end got lucky after his opponent missed a 4 move VCF.

9th round:

I lost to Savvateev by not thinking enough. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Luckily, it did not have any effect on my place in the tournament. 10 – G10 is an easy win for white.

Sushkov had a tough game with Alp Ali Kirkan. He played a very strong 5th move in I5.

After his 16th move, his opponent even had a chance to win:

As usual, luck favoured the stronger player in this game and Vladimir won.

So, who won? Well, after 9 rounds both Epifanov and Sushkov had gathered a whopping 8.5 points out of 9! Also, their coefficients and everything were the same. So, an extra game was waiting. We decided to play it next day in the morning. 30 minutes per player + 15 seconds per move.

   Extra game:

Sushkov was white against Epifanov in their first game, so this time he was tentative black.

Epifanov, as usual, went for I10 opening. Sushkov responded with the same 4th move he had used against Porokhina. Was Epifanov not prepared for it? It is a semi-halyava 4th move in the sense that there are 8 winning 5th moves and 2 other 5th moves that are much stronger for black.

Epifanov just swapped. Sushkov put the 10th best 5th move! Luckily for him, his opponent took white. Epifanov was not familiar with the position as his 8th move is not the best one. Well, then came 9th move… Epifanov had a chance to win now but he responded with 10! These moves resemble more of a move made in a 1-minute blitz game not in a 30-minute rapid game. After 10th move, Sushkov could breathe easier and finished off his opponent. Congratulations!

Here is the win after 9th move:

Here is the game itself:

The correct 9th move would have been 9 – J5. After that, white is pretty much dead. The best 8th move here is 8 – I8. Even then I am not sure if white can defend.

Here is a possible continuation of the moves:

Final Standings:

  1. Vladimir Sushkov
  2. Dmitry Epifanov
  3. Aivo Oll
  4. Villem Mesila
  5. İbrahim Kaan Aslan
  6. Maksim Metreveli
  7. Mikhail Savvateev
  8. Ekaterina Porokhina
  9. Maksim Orlov
  10. Sergey Mikryukov
  11. Alp Ali Kirkan
  12. Maksim Startsev
  13. Polina Yudina
  14. Anastasia Linich
  15. Yulia Vostriakova
  16. Ekaterina Chernetsova

I would like to thank Mert Osman Gurguc for organizing this tournament, I hope there will be some other tournaments in Turkey soon!

Here are my ratings for the top 5 players before the tournament:

Vladimir Sushkov: 5

Although he had a few scary moments, he played well considering he has probably had very little practice in the past few years (last tournament was Tallinn Open and he won there as well). It was his first European Championship title and now he became the first European player to get his hands on every important adult title (2 times individual world champion, 3 times team world champion, 2 times correspondence world champion).

Dmitry Epifanov: 5

He was the only player who challenged Sushkov and even had a chance against him in the extra game.

Aivo Oll: 2

I played really poorly and there is no excuse for that.

Villem Mesila: 3

In his games against top 3 there was the following scenario:

He chose a poor variant, spent most of this time trying to defend and, in the end, still lost quite fast. He needs to get better at every aspect of his game if he wants to beat the strongest players in Europe, I am not sure if that is even possible at the age of 30.

Maksim Orlov: 2

I was expecting a lot more from the current Russian Renju Association champion. On the bright side, he is still only 21. So, he can improve his game a lot. Hopefully, he will do better in the next big tournament.

Picture of the top 3: