European Team Chess Championship-2011

European Team Chess Championship-2011

| 20 | Chess Players

The European Team Chess Championship finished quite recently, on November 11th. This was my debut year. Generally speaking, this event is held once every two years, and attracts nearly all the top grandmasters from Europe. Exciting and fighting games, sensational results – these accompany every championship. This year the tournament took place in a resort city, Porto Carras in Greece. During the first few days the weather was nice and warm, and some of us even had a chance to go swimming, but then finally the cold prevailed. All the participants were staying at the same hotel, which was located within a 10 minute walk of the playing hall. Another way to arrive to the venue was by taking a special small train. About half an hour before the start of the round one could see a long column of participants stretched between the hotel and the playing venue. Being late was a strict no-no due to the “zero tolerance” rule (immediate forfeit).


The distance was 9 rounds without rest days. In the women’s section 28 teams were participating, with the main favorites being Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Poland and Armenia. Our team won the first three matches and started facing one main competitor after the other in rounds 4-7. We won three more matches and drew one (against Poland). While our final result (17 match points out of 18, 3 points ahead of the 2nd place) was quite impressive, the championship wasn’t an easy walk. Many of the matches were very intense, and the situation on the boards kept changing over and over again, while the outcome was not clear. During decisive moments our team spirit and mutual support (both during and between rounds) played its role. My personal result was 4 points in 5 games (+3 =2), including the critical wins against Georgia and Armenia. This performance was sufficient for an individual gold medal on board 5.


Here is the top-10 (board points in brackets):

1. Russia 17 (25.5)
2. Poland 14 (23)
3. Georgia 14 (22.5)
4. Ukraine 12 (21.5)
5. France 12 (21)
6. Bulgaria 11 (19.5)
7. Armenia 11 (19)
8. Germany 10 (20.5)
9. Israel 10 (19)
10. Slovenia 10 (19)

The best players at each board were awarded medals for top individual performances:

Board 1
Anna Muzychuk (2557), SLO - gold
Lahno Kateryna (2549), UKR - silver
Nana Dzagnidze (2516), GEO - bronze

Board 2
Tatiana Kosintseva (2526), RUS - gold
Jolanta Zawadzka (2326) POL - silver
Iva Videnova (2297), BUL - bronze

Board 3
Anna Ushenina (2463), UKR - gold
Melanie Ohme (2361), GER - silver
Valentina Gunina (2514), RUS - bronze

Board 4

Alexandra Kosteniuk (2439), RUS - gold
Nino Khurtsidze (2440), GEO - silver
Karina Szczepkowhska-H. (2379), POL – bronze

Board 5
Natalia Pogonina (2451), RUS - gold
Mariya Muzychuk (2460), UKR - silver
Melia Salome (2392), GEO - bronze

While in our section it was obvious from the very start who the main challengers would be, in the Open championship (38 teams) things were less clear. This year’s tournament was exceptionally sensational. The Russian team (naturally, the rating favorite) lost to Azerbaijan in round 6, thus minimizing their chances of winning a medal. Even a hat-trick in the last three rounds didn’t allow them to compensate for it. The Olympic champion Ukraine (seeded 2nd) led by Vassily Ivanchuk, and with all the top players present, experienced an epic fail and ended up being 15th. Azerbaijan (3rd seed) was in contention for gold throughout most of the distance, but failed to make it to the top. Armenia (#4) also didn’t make it. Quite unexpectedly, the championship was won by the German team (10th seed!!) after a last round win against Armenia. Azerbaijan got silver, while Hungary leaped to bronze by wiping out Bulgaria (led by Topalov himself) 4-0 and thus earning a meager 0.5 board points more than Armenia!


The top-10 teams were:

1. Germany 15 (22.5)
2. Azerbaijan 14 (23)
3. Hungary 13 (23)
4. Armenia 13 (22.5)
5. Russia 13 (21.5)
6. Netherlands 12 (19)
7. Bulgaria 12 (18.5)
8. Poland 11 (22)
9. Romania 11 (20)
10. Spain 11 (19.5)

The players who won individual medals for best board performances were:

Board 1
Michael Adams (2734), ENG - gold
Levon Aronian (2802), ARM - silver
Arkadij Naidich (2712), GER - bronze

Board 2
Alexander Grischuk (2752), RUS - gold
Zoltan Almashi (2707), HUN - silver
Vugar Gashimov (2757), AZE -bronze

Board 3
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (2733), AZE - gold
Sergey Karjakin (2763), RUS - silver
Vladimir Akopian (2681), ARM - bronze

Board 4
Alexander Morozevich (2762), RUS - gold
Gabriel Sargissian (2671), ARM - silver
Jan Gustaffson (2633), GER - bronze

Board 5
Christian Bauer (2641), FRA - gold
Helgi Olaffson (2531), ISL - silver
Evgeny Postny (2640), ISR - bronze

The tournament is over, but I still have lots of pleasant impressions and satisfaction with the result. It was also nice to receive congratulations from the organizers and find out that the official website of the event was visited by over 1.4 million unique users, while the women’s championship received nearly as much attention as the Open section: 45% to 55%.

Coming up next is the World Team Chess Championship which will be held in Turkey in December.

Today I have chosen to annotate for you the game from the very first round of the ETCC against Olga Vasiliev (Israel).


Being rather excited about the start of the event, I missed a promising opportunity to gain advantage on move 12. When sacrificing material, you have to play actively, which was not the case in this game. Later on both of us had chances to sway the balance in her/my favor, but the game ended in a draw.

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