European Team Championships under way

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For everyone who didn't know it yet: after the European Club Cup yet another huge event is under way in this October month of 2007. After Turkey it's now Greece that has the honour to host an international mega tourney for teams: the European Team Championships (to clarify: this time it's for countries!). 39 countries participate, from Russia and Armenia all the way to Monaco and Wales, and what follows is a list of the best ten players who will be playing at least a few games there on the island of Crete: Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine), Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria), Alexander Morozevich (Russia), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaidzhan), Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaidzhan), Levon Aronian (Armenia), Alexei Shirov (Spain), Peter Svidler (Russia), Michael Adams (England) and Evgeny Alekseev (Russia). The European Team Championships are held from 27 October till 7 November 2007 in the Maris Conference (five-star) Hotel in Hersonissos Heraklion, Crete (Greece). Organisation is in the hands of the European Chess Union and the Greek Chess Federation. Matches consist of four boards and each country could bring five players. The time control is 90 minutes for 40 moves + 30 minutes for the rest of the game + 30 seconds increment per move (from the first move).

The schedule:

28 October: Round 1 - 15:30 29 October: Round 2 - 15:30 30 October: Round 3 - 15:30 31 October: Round 4 - 15:30 1 November: Round 5 - 15:30 2 November: Free Day 3 November: Round 6 - 15:30 4 November: Round 7 - 15:30 5 November: Round 8 - 15:30 6 November: Round 9 - 11:00 + Closing Ceremony

In the women's event thirty teams participate, the strongest seeds being Russia (with Kosteniuk and the Kosinteva sisters), Georgia (with Chiburdanidze on board one) and Ukraine (with Lahno and Zhukova). Other strong females present on Crete include Hoang Thanh Trang (Hungary), Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria) and Viktorija Cmilyte (Lithuania).

First round The tournament started a bit strange with the men from Bosnia Hercegovina not showing up for their match against the Ukraine; the team was forfeited. The Russians, all rated above 2700, were too strong for the not too weak team from Sweden: 3?Ǭ?-?Ǭ?. Azerbaidzhan-Turkey was a 4-0 walkover, Armenia started well against Romania (3-1) and Bulgaria took Lithuania 2?Ǭ?-?Ǭ?. The current European Team Champs are The Netherlands, who won the tournament in 2005 in Gothenburg, Sweden. They started with a 3-1 victory over Italy. In the women's section, Georgia already slipped in the first round, losing to Lithuania 1?Ǭ?-2?Ǭ?.

Second round Both the women's and the men's sections saw Armenia-Russia on board one and both ended in 1?Ǭ?-2?Ǭ? victories for the top-seeds. In the men's there were three draws and Morozevich beating Akopian, in the women's there were more decisive games. The men from Spain held the Ukraine, not with Ivanchuk yet, on a 2-2 tie and Bulgaria went down to Azerbaidzhan 1?Ǭ?-2?Ǭ?.

Third round Yesterday another very close (2?Ǭ?-1?Ǭ?) victory for Russia, again decided by just one decisive game on board one: Svidler-Navara 1-0. The same happened in Azerbaidzhan vs Denmark where Mamedyarov-Heine Nielsen 1-0 marked the result. Now four teams are left in with the maximum of six board points, and they are paired against each other today: The Netherlands vs Azerbaidjan and Russia vs Slovenia. In the women's section Hungary, Poland and Russia won all their games; it's Russia-Hungary and Poland-France today.

As always, all results and statistics can be found at chess-results.com.

Here's a selection of interesting game fragments:



The congress center (2800 sq. m.), playing hall of the ETCC 2007

Outdoor swimming pool close to the sea

At the opening ceremony George Mastrokoukos (head of the organizing committee) speaks, with in the background Boris Kutin, President of the ECU, and Panagiotis Nikolopoulos, the chief arbiter

The playing hall when filled with chess players

Veselin Topalov (Bulgaria), good to see him back in action

Antoaneta Stefanova (Bulgaria)

Alexander Kosteniuk (Russia)

Vassily Ivanchuk (Ukraine)

Alexei Shirov (Spain)

Tatiana Kosintseva (Russia)

Magnus Carlsen (Norway)

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"155","attributes":{"alt":"","title":"","class":"media-image","typeof":"foaf:Image","wysiwyg":1}}]] Shakhriyar Mamedyarov & Teimour Radjabov (Azerbaidjan)

Peter Svidler (Russia)

Sergey Karjakin (Ukraine)

Levon Aronian & Vladimir Akopian (Armenia)

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"159","attributes":{"alt":"","title":"","class":"media-image","typeof":"foaf:Image","wysiwyg":1}}]] Jan Gustafsson (Germany)

Suat Atalik (Turkey)

Vasilios Kotronias (Greece)

Bulgaria vs Azerbaidzhan

The Russian team

The Netherlands vs Greece, with for the Dutch ladies the same mascotte (an orange lion) as we saw at the last Olympiad
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