Wednesday Sees the Last of the Early Starts

The European Small Nations Chess Championship reached its half-way point, with an early start for the first of two rounds on Wednesday. This was the last double-round day of the tournament, which can’t fail to come as a relief to the players.

In the early session, Luxembourg lost their perfect record, as they were held to a 2-2 draw by the Faroe Islands. With draws on the top two boards, and wins for white on Boards 3 and 4, this was the Faroe Islanders’ third tied match of the week so far.

The Faroese have now completed their games against their three main rivals. Only time will tell whether ties in all three of these matches will be sufficient for the defending champions to retain their title.

The dropped point for the leaders, Luxembourg, allowed Andorra to close the gap at the top of the table to just one point, courtesy of their 3-1 win over Guernsey.

However, the hosts could take considerable pride from this match, even in defeat. With FM Fred Hamperl rested, CM Peter Kirby moved up to Board 2 and overcame a substantial grading deficit to secure a draw against CM Daniel Jose Queralto. Meanwhile, on Board 1, CM Chris Holland faced an even greater gulf in strength, but was still able to take a half-point off the tournament’s highest-graded player: GM Oscar de la Riva Aguado.

Monaco kept up the pressure on the leaders by sweeping aside Liechtenstein 3.5-0.5 although, much like his Guernsey counterpart, Liechtenstein’s CM Mario Kobler can be rightly proud of his draw against the Monégasque grandmaster, Igor Efimov.

In the other early matches, Jersey’s difficult week continued as they went down 3-1 to Cyprus, while Malta’s fortunes continued to improve with a narrow victory over San Marino, the lone win of the match for either side going to the Maltese Captain, Colin Pace.