European Rapid and Blitz Chess Championship 2022

This year’s edition of the European Rapid and Blitz Chess Championship was a great success. The event was hosted in the same location as in 2021, the Spodek Arena in Katowice. What makes this tournament special is the combination of a big arena, band music, and over 900 competitors playing each other for a weekend. The idea of an arena with spectators, music playing, and some people performing arts or fighting has been a hit for thousands of years. Greek antic theatre, Olympic games, or gladiator fights are such examples. A recipe for success that still pays off.

Spodek Arena in Katowice

Compared to the previous year, the number of participants increased by more than 50% in the rapid section. Also, the percentage of women from all participants who played rose from 17% to over 20% in 2022. The reason is the constant interest in chess worldwide combined with no Covid restrictions this year.

The rapid section of the tournament consists of 11 rounds of chess, and in each round, you get to play someone who has the same amount of points as you. In the end, the person with the most points is declared the Champion of Europe in Rapid chess. Also, the woman who gains the most points is Woman European Champion. This year the winner was Jaime Santos Latasa from Spain with 9.5 points, followed by ten players with 9 points. Aleksandra Maltsevskaya from Poland won the women’s title with 8.5 points. Aleksandra’s win was a surprise as the rating favorite was Alexandra Kosteniuk, who is also the woman world champion in rapid chess. Alexandra Kosteniuk also had 8.5 points but an inferior tiebreak result and ended in second place. Both women represented Russia before, but now that country is banned by FIDE from chess events. Russian players must play for another country or under the FIDE flag in official chess events.

Before the second round. In the center of the picture, you can spot the playing band

It was snowing heavily in Poland during those days, and the train was the safest way to get there, although many trains had delays because of snow. That weekend was also the final of the world soccer championship. The organizers changed the schedule of the chess tournament to finish before the start of the world cup final. Therefore on Sunday, we played without pauses for the 5 rounds and completed the chess in time before the soccer started.

There were players across all of Europe there. Many players are from Ukraine, as the border is close; for them, it was also a way to forget about the war. It is the end of a challenging year, and people want to enjoy a normal life for a weekend as if nothing has happened. Things around us can change anytime; we should enjoy the present moment and what we have.

As always, the event had excellent broadcasting on Youtube with comments and interviews. Here you can watch the last day of the games:

I only wanted to have fun, and am happy with the outcome. I won 5 games and lost 6, no draws, and lost 48 Elo points in the end. I met three titled players, and the best was the International Grandmaster Ralf Akesson from Sweden. The game was excellent but required a lot of mental energy. In the diagram, the black and white bar on the left of the chess table represents the computer evaluation of the position. When the bar becomes completely white, white is clearly winning.

European rapid in Katowice is one of my favorite chess tournaments. It is fun and exciting; you forget about anything else in life for a while. I liked the atmosphere there, and it is hard to express that in words. Perhaps this article explains better what I am trying to say.

European Rapid and Blitz Chess Tournament 2021

The European Rapid and Blitz Chess Tournament venue, Katowice, is a Polish city with modern urban architecture. It looks more like an American city, and it has tall buildings in the center and wide streets and boulevards. It also has a vast sports arena called Spodek, which translates to “saucer”.

The Spodek Arena was the venue for the 2021 edition of the European Rapid and Blitz Chess Championship. The championship was organized really well in such circumstances. One should keep in mind that there were strict sanitary rules in Poland in December 2021.

Spodek Arena in Katowice

Katowice is only about 80 kilometers west of Krakow. Therefore, driving there for this tournament was a good option for me.

The blitz championship took place on Friday and was won by the local chess star Jan Krzysztof Duda. The rapid chess tournament followed on Saturday and Sunday (17-18.12.2021). The playing rate was 15 minutes for the game, with 10 seconds added after each move. Six rounds were played on Saturday and five on Sunday.

I played only in the rapid section of the championship among other 570 players. The tournament was open for any chess player in Europe. There were registered players from 23 countries, and I was the only player from Romania. The Covid pandemic was at its peak in Poland, and many players chose not to risk traveling to play in an event with so many people.

Spodek prepared for the chess tournament

I was pleased with my game from the first round. I met a Polish International Master. The game was exciting and intense, but I made a mistake in mutual time trouble and lost. This is my only game recorded from the 11 played in the tournament. A couple of days later, a colleague told me that my opponent is a famous chess player and streamer in Poland. He finished fifth at the end of the tournament.

The next rounds also came with some hard-fought games, which I am happy for. I wanted to have fun, and it was a great experience. My opponents ranged from 12 to 65 years old, mainly from Poland, and five of them were children.

My result was 4.5 points out of 11 games, but I should have made at least 5 points based on the initial rating and ranking. As a consequence, I lost 40 ELO rapid chess points. The ratings for blitz, rapid and standard (classical) chess are differently measured.

Chess tables are connected with wires for transmitting the games online

The majority of participants were young. This is very good for the chess future. After the “Queen Gambit” series, there is a lot of interest in this game worldwide. Some youtube channels with chess content have more than one million subscribers.

It is good that the parents understood the benefits of chess for the development of children. It is good that the parents understood the benefits of chess for the development of children. Chess offers the possibility of learning things not covered in schools, such as decision-making and assuming consequences.

One of the videoclips from the rapid chess championship. These days chess is very popular on Youtube and Twitch.

The organizers did an excellent job of transmitting live the tournament on youtube, with interviewers and professional players commenting on the games. Lately, chess has been a lot about content streaming.

Games in progress

Chess is very popular in Poland. Besides the European Rapid and Blitz Chess Championship, the World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championship was hosted in Warsaw at the end of December.

Spectators watching the drama closely during the last game of one round

Spodeck was the largest indoor venue of its kind in Poland until it was surpassed by Tauron Arena in 2014. A fun fact is that I participated in sports competitions in both arenas in two months. The Krakow half marathon ended inside Tauron Arena.