The 2022 European Championship began this Sunday, featuring 32 of Europe’s finest players battling in a double-elimination tournament for a grand prize of €2,500. The first round saw mostly expected results, with all five professional players progressing into the second round.
Vsevolod Ovsiienko 4d, the 31st seed, came very close to causing an upset on the very first day, losing to top-seeded Artem Kachanovskyi 2p by only a half point. The most surprising result was delivered by the 25th seed, Florent Labouret 5d, who defeated no. 8, Nikola Mitic 7d. Due to the format of the tournament, Nikola still has a chance to continue further in the Championship, and played in the losers bracket on Monday. In his second game, he defeated Vladimir Danek 5d.
Also in the second round, Tanguy le Calvé 1p was knocked out by Fredrick Blomback 6d, but the remaining four professional players in the main draw scored victories and continued their march towards the title. After falling dangerously behind both on time and points, Lukáš Podpěra 7d, the third seed, managed an impressive comeback against Cornel Burzo 6d. Lukáš will next face Fredrick on Tuesday.
Highlights in the third round will no doubt be provided by Cornel’s game against Valerii Krushelnytskyi 6d, both players must secure a win to continue in the tournament. Likewise, Tanguy le Calvé 1p will face Dominik Boviz 6d to remain in the fight. Top seed Artem Kachanovskyi 2p will meet Benjamin Dréan-Guénaïzia 6d on
Tuesday, this will certainly also be a game to keep an eye on.
Valerii has had an interesting journey in the tournament so far, losing his first game but winning in the second. I caught up with him on Monday evening, and he was kind enough to give a short interview:
Valerii, how did your first-round game go?
I played against Elian Grigoriu 6d and lost. I would say it was an intriguing game; I gained an early advantage but he fought back well. I probably felt too confident and lost my lead by the end. I think we both played well, but at different stages of the game. Unfortunately for me, I played better at the start and he towards the end, so I had to resign.
What about your second game, against Denis Dobranis 4d?
I haven’t reviewed it with AI or another player yet, but my impression is that I played well for most of the game. I made a mistake in the middlegame and suddenly things became dangerous again, but I was able to hold on, kill a group and finally force a resignation.
How would you describe your style, what kind of game do you like to play?
I would say I have a somewhat territorial style, I generally like to play fast, keep sente as much as possible and reinforce where I can. I don’t force a fight, but I like to leave multiple areas unsettled and prepare for the fight to start. I asked Andrii Kravets 1p what he thought of my style and he described it as like that of a martyr: I make weak groups everywhere and then struggle to make them all live one by one, my games with both Elian and Denis were like that.
Does your approach to a game change depending on your opponent? If so, how?
Yes, of course it does! If it’s someone I’ve never played against before, I just try and play the “best” moves. I didn’t really have a special strategy for playing against Elian or Denis. But if I were to play against a stronger player like Ali Jabarin 2p or Lukáš, I would certainly try to be more aggressive. Against Lukáš I would have to change my usual way of playing: I think we have very similar styles, so if I just played as I normally do, I would surely lose since he is stronger.
You will face Cornel Burzo 6d next, how will you approach this game?
Cornel is definitely not an easy opponent, but I am confident.