Jersey’s chess fans were excited to welcome some of Europe’s leading chess players to the 8th European Small Nations Chess Championship held at the Pomme d'Or Hotel, which took place between 28 October 2023 and 5 November 2023. This was the first time that Jersey had ever hosted the championship.
Jersey is the last ESNA nation to host an event, with all other ESNA nations having hosted the Team, Individual or Women’s Individual event at least once before.
The World Chess Federation (FIDE ), The European Chess Union (ECU), local investment management and financial advisers SaSo Strategic Advisers and global accountancy practice Grant Thornton are sponsoring the 8th ESNA event.
The event is played as a 10-team round-robin event with the participation of the following teams: Andorra, Cyprus, Faroe Islands, Guernsey, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco and San Marino.
Each team consisted of four players and one reserve player. Each team played in nine rounds of chess, with round one starting on 29 October and round nine concluding the tournament on 4 November 2023.
The time control was 90 minutes for 40 moves, with 30 minutes for the rest of the game and a 30-second increment per move from move one.
It was suggested that the four favourites to place in this championship are Andorra (placed 97th in the world ranking), Faroe Islands (78th), Luxembourg (79th) and Monaco (84th).
The actual results were as follows:
So they guestimated the top three places correctly!
Historically, Jersey hasn’t fared particularly well in this championship, having placed last in three out of the past seven events. However, it did manage sixth position in 2009, when the ESNA tournament began. This year, Jersey achieved a very respectable 8th place with wins against Cyprus (for the first time ever!), San Marino, and a draw against Guernsey.
The Jersey team for this year’s tournament were Paul Carpenter on the top board as island champion and Candidate Master (CM) Jem Gurner, Fide Master Jon Hawes, CM Garry Forbes and CM Paul Wojciechowski.
Gary Forbes, Managing Director of SaSo Strategic and member of the Jersey team, said of the tournament,
”SaSo were delighted to sponsor the 8th European Small Nations team chess tournament.
SaSo has long been a sponsor of chess on the island. It is a proud moment for Jersey to host this special event thanks to Tournament Director Paul Wojciechowski and his hard work bringing the event to Jersey and The Pomme D’or in particular.
Jersey welcomed some of the best talents of each of the ten nations participating in the event, and the best Jersey players looked forward to the challenge of the nine matches, especially against their close rivals and friends from Guernsey.
Having played in the event twice before (Monaco 2013 and Guernsey 2015), I know how tough the competition is, so let us hope that home advantage can inspire some of the Jersey team against our stronger opponents.”.
Adam Budworth, Grant Thornton’s Managing Director, said, “We are pleased to sponsor the 8th European Small Nations team tournament. At Grant Thornton, we understand the importance of supporting and nurturing intellectual pursuits, and we were delighted to be able to support this tournament that brings together the chess community across various small European nations, including Jersey and Guernsey. We sent our best wishes to all the participants.’’.
Since launching the ESNA Small Nations Chess Championship, it has expanded to include four individual events and has extended further in recent years to include a women’s individual event. The individual events invite one representative from each island to participate in an all-play-all, which has been held in non-team event years.
FIDE Zone 1.10 (10 European Small Nations) was created by FIDE (World Chess Federation) in 2010 during the Khanty-Mansiysk Chess Olympiad. This meant that the Individual event winner qualified for World Championship qualifiers, which was very lucrative for the winner as the chances of any players qualifying for the World Championship cycle were very small.