I bet that you are no longer surprised to learn that the Bulgarian team championship took place on the Black sea again. The differences are the names of the resorts that hosted the event and the dates. After two years in the north part (Albena) the south part welcomed the players and the venue was Sunny Beach. This year we played in the middle of September instead of the beginning of May and got lucky with the weather: good + 30 degrees Celsius contributed to the cheerful mood of the participants.
After two golden years it was time for my team Naiden Voinov from Vidin to get some rest. Well, it is the mantra “crisis” which led to such a decision. It is quite sad to see that the only strong sport team of the town near the Danube River would not get sufficient funding, but this is how chess is treated in some places. Many places actually…
There were new heroes though. One of them was the “Poker team” of Razgrad. This squad popped up the previous year but had only modest expectations then. Survival, for example. But a couple of months before the start of the event things changed for good. A successful day on the Poker Stars server yielded 200 grand to one of the supporters and he was generous enough to spread his wealth with the chess players. Two strong legionnaires strengthened the team- Pavel Eljanov of Ukraine and Kamil Miton of Poland. Together with some strong local players the team was one of the favourites together with Lokomotiv Plovdiv (led by Ivan Cheparinov, together with five more GMs). The clash of these teams was supposed to decide the outcome of the event. It took place in round four, and Razgrad were luckier with Eljanov turning a bad position into a win.
But it was too early to celebrate yet as the solid Lokomotiv Sofia had their day on the next round and knocked down the leader rather convincingly. Kiril Georgiev defeated P. Eljanov in the clash of the leaders.
Lokomotiv Sofia on turn only drew in the next round against my team.
Suddenly, it all became very complicated and before the last round four teams were leading with eight match points (the above-mentioned three teams and the third Lokomotiv-2000 from Plovdiv.) Funnily, the latter had always been very ambitious for the past three-four years but to no avail and now when they decided to play for fun produced an excellent score.
Lokomotiv 2000 won their match against the underdogs from Tundzha and secured the medals. Surprisingly the team from Razgrad could not overcome the team of Maritza, which managed to hold to the draw and stayed in the first division thanks to that result.
Everything was decided in the clash of the Locomotives. The one from Plovdiv did better and grabbed the gold thanks to the following masterpiece of their team leader:
Another interesting game in this match was the following one:
The women's championship was no less interesting. Champions became Lokomotiv 2000 Plovdiv, a young and progressing team. Second were CSKA, bronze medals grabbed Shah 21. The spice in the event was brought by the team of G. Daskalov. The girls played with one board less than the others and quite naturally got relegated from first division. However, they were the only team to defeat the champions, and managed to draw as well with the silver medalists.
You can have a look at some interesting moments of the battle here: