Paradoxically, the closer we get to the European Championships, the faster the players conclude their games. On Saturday morning, the two semi-finals began at around 10am. By 2pm, they were over.
The first and fastest victory was by Benjamin Dréan-Guénaïzia 6d over Fredrick Blomback 6d; this game saw a series of ko’s played out all across the board in the middlegame. Benjamin built a solid lead of around fifteen points and held onto it long enough that Fredrick had no choice but to resign. Artem Kachanovskyi 2p required only a little longer to achieve a victory against Nikola Mitic 7d; after leading throughout the game, Artem finally forced a resignation. Nerves may have unfortunately prevented Nikola from playing at his best: he spent 20 minutes of his time considering a single move in the late opening.
Thus, the 2022 European Championship has almost come to an end. The final pairings are complete: Artem will face Benjamin for the title, while Nikola and Fredrick battle for the third and fourth places. The stakes for both finalists are high; if Artem wins, it will be his first time claiming the Championship after three previous times placing second. Should Benjamin be victorious, it will be his greatest achievement thus far and his first major European title.
I would predict a long game in any case; Artem will likely aim to play a calm and careful game, wanting to give his opponent no opportunity to play on his terms. In order to outplay Artem, Benjamin will need to find a way to complicate the game to such an extent that Artem is liable to make mistakes.
Artem goes into this final with a 4-0 record against Benjamin and more experience playing Championship finals. As the statistical underdog, however, Benjamin can perhaps play with less weight on his shoulders. Speculations aside, this is sure to be an unmissable game. Be sure not to miss the broadcast on Pandanet starting at approximately 10am on Sunday, as well as the Pro commentary on the EGF Twitch channel beginning a little later.