Forty-nine of the strongest chess players from ten of Europe’s smallest countries will gather on Saturday at Les Cotils in St. Peter Port, for the start of the week-long European Small Nations Tournament: the fourth renewal of this FIDE World Zonal Team Championship, and the first to be hosted in Guernsey.
Teams from Andorra, Cyprus, The Faroe Islands, Guernsey, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco and San Marino will do battle for the title last contested in Monaco in 2013, when The Faroe Islands emerged triumphant.
The tournament is an all-play-all event, with five players per team, four of whom will play in any given round. The exception to this is Malta, whose four representatives face the challenge of competing throughout the tournament without a break.
The team from Luxembourg enters the week as first seed. However, there is little to separate the relative strengths, on paper, of Luxembourg, Monaco, The Faroe Islands and Andorra.
The other six participating nations are fairly evenly matched among themselves and, while it would be an astonishing feat for any one of them to challenge the dominance of the leading quartet, every match throughout the week is guaranteed to be fiercely contested.
To ensure neutrality, the tournament draw was made in London, one week in advance, by Julie Denning – the Guernsey-born Deputy President of the Southern Counties Chess Union – and overseen by SCCU President David Smith and the Championship’s Chief Arbiter, David Sedgwick.
The draw could scarcely have produced a more spectacular start to the tournament, with the big four pitted against each other in Sunday’s first round, when Monaco will face the top seed, Luxembourg, while the Faroe Islanders open their title defence against Andorra.
Meanwhile, Liechtenstein will face Cyprus in Round 1, Jersey take on San Marino, and Malta will open their campaign against the host nation, Guernsey.
The worldwide chess community will be able to follow proceedings closely as – for the first time in the Channel Islands – all of the boards and pieces in the tournament hall have inbuilt sensors, and every game from every round will be streamed live to the internet.
For live game coverage commencing on Sunday 19th April at 13.30 GMT (14.30 BST) – and every round thereafter – please follow this link:
For daily reports and photographs throughout the tournament, please manually refresh this page.