The 1st European Championship took place in Tallinn, Estonia, December 26-30, 1994.
Since the European Championship was not going to be as large scale event as World Championship, it took less efforts and costs to organize the tournament. The main organizer, Ants Soosõrv used the fascilities of the Youth Center in Tallinn to carry out the First European Championship. It was very convenient especially because that building is also the center of Estonian renju, and all the people knew renju very well there. What may have made some diffrence was the season of the year. The tournament, played in cold winter may differ from the ones we used to play in summertime with comfortable weather. Anyway, players got positive emotions from that fact, because winter in Estonia is beautiful.
Speaking of the players that joined the tournament, it was surely the strongest participation in the history. There were so many strong players present, that the level of the tournament was pretty close to the World Championship finals. There were players like Aldis Reims (WC 3rd, 1991), Stefan Karlsson (WC 3rd, 1999), Igor Sinyov (WC 2nd, 1999), Stepan Peskov (WC 5th, 1995), Arnis Veidemanis (WC 9th, 1995), Ando Meritee (WC 1st, 1993), Margus Tuvikene (Youth World Champion), Oleg Fedorkin (E-mail World Champion), Pavel Salnikov (Team World Champion), Victor Alexandrov (Team World Champion), Konstantin Nikonov (Team World Champion), and many other top players with many National and International titles.
Therefore the tournament was going to be very tough and exciting. Only one of those "stars" could become an European Champion. But who? It was very hard to guess because the tournament was going to be played in Swiss System which increases the element of luck in great deal. Of course, luck itself was not enough, one had to be a good player, a really good player to win the tournament.
The World Championship players Reims and Meritee failed in this tournament. Meritee was not well prepared, and was also distracted by his work, not having a vacation from work those days. Ants Soosõrv (WC 5th, 1993) did not participate at all, being too busy with hosting the tournament. The success of Arnis Veidemanis was quite unexpected. Arnis had not shown any super good results before that tournament (except the 1st place in the USSR Team Championship and successful performance in Leningrad New Year Prize, both in 1990), and was not the candidate for top 3 among guessing people. Perhaps, not being the favorite, was one of the keys for his success. People did not notice his powerful raise until it was too late to stop him. The game between Veidemanis and Meritee in the 6th round ended with Veidemanis' victory and after that Arnis was considered as one of main challengers for the first prize. Stepan Peskov, another surpriser of the tournament had identical score with Veidemanis up to the 7th round. Since the game between them had ended with draw in the 5th round, people were watching with excitement - who will have more nerves and confidence for the last two rounds. Arnis' countrymate, Aldis Reims, stepped into the fight, and "pulled down" Peskov with a draw game, allowing Veidemanis to bring the gold medal to Latvia. Peskov got the glorious 2nd place.
The third place was not decided easily. Margus Tuvikene and Igor Sinyov were ready for the toughest game between them in the last round, because the winner of that game was going to get the 3rd place. The experience usually wins in such situations. That's what happened. Igor Sinyov won the game and ensured the 3rd place. Only half a point of coefficient separated him from the 2nd place.
Meritee, after the big failure, had to accept the 4th place, having lost 3 games out of 9. Aldis Reims, a stable player, would have probably entered the top 3 if he did not have an unlucky loss from Golosov in the 2nd round. Probably the latter was an underestimated player, and in such case the surprises may always happen. Victor Golosov, although being an outsider of the tournament at that time, has made a remarkable progress and is among top players in Russia today.
The most unlucky player was Stefan Karlsson, who was expected to get a good place with all the skill he had, but for some reason he could not find himself in the tournament and played insecurely. At that time people could not expect Stefan will be in top 3 in the World Championship 5 years later, but that is what happened. Several players grow and become stronger while others fall during years.
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