Photos by Harry van der Krogt
While our four confirmed quarter-finalists enjoyed two days of rest, the playing halls remained abuzz with activity. The atmosphere was perhaps even more charged, considering that the stakes of each game in rounds 4 and 5 were higher: the winner of each would take a step closer to joining the quarter-finals, the loser would exit this year’s Championship for good.
Something of an upset was delivered first of all by Cornel Burzo 6d, who knocked out our newest EGF professional, Jan Šimara 1p. Cornel built a gradual lead move by move, making few mistakes and capitalising on each of his opponent’s, who resigned after the 150th move. Cornel then progressed into the fifth round to face Fredrik Blomback 7d – with a place in the quarter-finals in the balance. Last year’s bronze medal winner, however, proved too strong. Fredrik played an incredibly accurate opening and a tricky ko in the centre of the board left Cornel with a vulnerable group. Fredrik led from then on until, after 201 moves, he had earned a place back in the main bracket and a Friday appointment with Artem Kachanovskyi 2p.
Cornel’s fate was shared by Rémi Campagnie 6d, who beat Matias Pankoke 6d on Wednesday, only to fall to the formidable Ali Jabarin 2p the following day. That game progressed with barely an inaccuracy from either player until, on the 78th move, Rémi made a mistake that he couldn’t recover from. Such a gift is one a professional will rarely refuse, and Ali built upon his lead from then on to secure himself a quarter-final encounter with Jonas Welticke 6d.
Lining up an all-pro pairing in the sixth round, Andrii Kravets 1p beat both Lukáš Podpĕra 7d and Tanguy le Calvé 1p to make it back into the main bracket. In the estimations of our commentators, Stanisław Frejlak 1p and Jonas Welticke 6d, Tanguy played with the confidence of someone already enjoying a ten-point lead. However, since Andrii played so accurately, even Tanguy’s minor mistakes were too easy for him to profit from. Moments where Tanguy still had a chance to complicate the game passed, and Andrii won in the final count by 11½ points. He will face Stanisław in the fifth round in another pro vs. pro match-up, can Andrii beat two professionals in a row?
The remaining quarter-final will be between two amateurs: Ashe Vázquez 7d and Thomas Debarre 7d. In the fifth round, Thomas narrowly escaped defeat at the hands of Valerii Krushelnytskyi 6d in a thrilling comeback attempt. Valerii, in his usual martyr style, found himself with a dying group early in the game. After trailing by around twelve points for 100 moves, he was able to re-complicate the game with a corner invasion. Granted a potential lead of half a point, however, a later blunder ended the game by resignation. Thomas had withstood Valerii’s aggression and booked himself an encounter with Ashe.
Four professionals remain in the running, four amateurs join them.
All four quarter-final games will be broadcast live starting at 10am, and I need give no recommendations as to which pairing to focus on – each will be unmissable. Will those that had one or two days off be fresher and better able to play at their full strength? Or will those that had to work hard for their place in the quarter-finals fight all the more fiercely to remain in the competition? Make sure to tune in to the excellent commentary on the EGF Twitch channel to find out, and return here for another round-up of the day’s events! In only three days, the dust will have settled and our 2023 European Champion will have emerged!