European Championship Quarter Finals: Upsets on three boards

In a tournament that has been full of surprises, perhaps we should have expected what happened in Vatra Dornei this Friday. Each quarter-final game included one professional player, and all but one of them were eliminated by an amateur.

The quickest game to finish was the most uneventful: Oscar Vázquez 6d fought valiantly against Artem Kachanovskyi 2p but, after falling behind in the early midgame, was unable to overcome the more experienced Championship player. In his game against Nikola Mitic 7d, Stanisław Frejlak 1p managed to pull slightly ahead in the opening but, as the middlegame continued, Nikola was able to recomplicate the situation, gradually build a lead and finally cut off a group of stones. Nikola’s reward for knocking out a professional player is a meeting with another: he will face Artem in the semi-finals on Saturday.

The next professional to be defeated was Andrii Kravets 1p, who fell to Fredrik Blomback 6d. Fredrik thus continues his excellent run in this Championship; he previously defeated Tanguy le Calvé 1p in the second round, and Lukáš Podpěra 7d in the third. The final upset was delivered by Benjamin Dréan-Guénaîzia 6d, who eliminated Ali Jabarin 1p in an all-day marathon game.

Benjamin Dréan-Guénaïzia 6d

Saturday will thus see semi-final games between Artem Kachanovskyi 2p and Nikola Mitic 7d, and Benjamin Dréan-Guénaîzia 6d against Fredrik Blomback 6d. Both promise to be exciting pairings: Artem and Nikola are both experienced players with many years of playing at the top level of European go; Benjamin and Fredrik, both title holders of national and regional tournaments, have yet to claim a major European title such as this – perhaps this will provide them an extra motivation to prove themselves this weekend.

Fredrick Blomback 6d