Luxembourg Shock Andorra to Place One Hand on the Trophy

It will take something of a miracle to deny Luxembourg the title of European Small Nations Chess Champions 2015, after the long-term leaders demolished their rivals from Andorra in Thursday’s seventh round.

The Luxembourgers have scarcely faltered all week, but as they sat down to face the powerful Andorrans no one could have predicted the comprehensive nature of the victory to come.

Pierre Gengler put the first point on the board for Luxembourg, winning in only fifteen moves, and his team-mate Philippe Linster added the second win very shortly afterwards. It took rather longer for IM Michael Wiedenkeller’s victory over FM Raul Garcia Paolicchi to put the match beyond Andorra’s reach, but finally, nearly six hours after the start of play, GM Oscar de la Riva Aguado conceded defeat to IM Fred Berend, and an unlikely whitewash was complete.

With two rounds to go, Luxembourg holds a two point lead over both Monaco and the Faroe Islands. Even should they suffer a shock defeat against one of the teams from the Channel Islands in their remaining matches, Luxembourg almost certainly hold the tie-breakers, having amassed a string of one-sided victories during the early stages of the tournament.

The Channel Islanders themselves had a disappointing day on Thursday, with Jersey going down 3.5-0.5 against Monaco and, despite Captain FM Fred Hamperl’s marathon attempt to save the match, Guernsey defeated 2.5-1.5 by Cyprus.

For the second time this week Malta’s captain, CM Colin Pace, recorded the only win of the match to secure a 2.5-1.5 victory for his team, this time over Liechtenstein.

Meanwhile, the Faroe Islanders kept their faint hopes of defending their title alive, overpowering San Marino by a margin of 3.5-0.5.

On Thursday evening, the tournament organisers ran a blitz tournament, with a prize fund of £400, which was open to all.

IM John Rodgaard of the Faroe Islands scooped the trophy and £100 cash prize for first place, while his compatriot, Martin Poulsen, lost out on the second place trophy on countback to one of the main tournament’s Deputy Chief Arbiters, IM Axel Smith of Sweden.

Poulsen was also amongst the grading prize winners, as were the Luxembourger duo of Pierre Gengler and FM Hubert Mossong, Arsenios Hadjikyriakou of Cyprus and CM Kevin Thurlow of England, who is also in Guernsey in the capacity of Deputy Chief Arbiter of the Championships.

WIM Ellinor Frisk of Sweden won the ladies’ trophy and prize while, perhaps unsurprisingly given that they had supplied the winner and one of the joint second place finishers, the Faroe Islands were awarded the team trophy for the combined scores of IM John Rodgaard, Martin Poulsen and Joan Hendrik Andreasen.