Russian Women Rule At European Team Championship
The Russian women's team dominated the European Team Championship in Crete, Greece and won the event with a round to spare. IM Jovanka Houska, who played for the English team, reports.
Sometime in the
Of course, not only has the event has grown considerably from being a small
This report focuses on the women's tournament where 31 nations, 32
The match Turkey vs. Netherlands in round two. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Each team consisted of four players with one reserve available. The standard FIDE time control was in place, and draw offers were only allowed after move 30. As with FIDE team events, a team victory counted for two points and a draw one point.
Security measures were tight. Of
These security measures perhaps added only very slightly to the
Happy vibes! The Georgian ladies with team trainers GM Baskaran Adhiban and GM Elizbar Ubilava. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
The Russian women's team have, from 2007, been dominating the competition, winning since then all the championships bar one slip in 2013. Perhaps there was some positive karma circling in the air as it was here in Hersonissos, in the exact venue that the Russian team won
In fact, the top six teams were:
2017 European Women Team Championship | Top 6 Teams
|1||GM||Kosteniuk Alexandra||2552||1||GM||Socko Monika||2479|
|2||GM||Lagno Kateryna||2541||2||WGM||Zawadzka Jolanta||2422|
|3||GM||Gunina Valentina||2502||3||IM||Szczepkowska Karina||2406|
|4||WGM||Girya Olga||2505||4||WGM||Kulon Klaudia||2358|
|5||WGM||Goryachkina Aleksandra||2478||5||WGM||Majdan Joanna||2349|
|1||GM||Dzagnidze Nana||2520||1||IM||Paehtz Elisabeth||2453|
|2||IM||Batsiashvili Nino||2472||2||WIM||Heinemann Josefine||2269|
|3||GM||Khotenashvili Bela||2459||3||WGM||Hoolt Sarah||2423|
|4||IM||Javakhishvili Lela||2438||4||WGM||Michna Marta||2376|
|5||IM||Melia Salome||2412||5||WGM||Levushkina Elena||2309|
|1||GM||Muzychuk Anna||2576||1||GM||Sebag Marie||2495|
|2||GM||Zhukova Natalia||2426||2||IM||Milliet Sophie||2377|
|3||GM||Ushenina Anna||2445||3||IM||Skripchenko Almira||2399|
|4||IM||Gaponenko Inna||2433||4||IM||Collas Silvia||2288|
|5||IM||Osmak Iulija||2339||5||WGM||Guichard Pauline||2285|
The opening ceremony kicked off proceedings with some very energetic Cretan dancing and that zeal continued onto the chess board in round one with all the favorites winning their matches, perhaps as one would quite rightly expect... However, things often are not as simple as they appear on paper with a surprising amount of countries winning by the narrowest of margins.
Cretan Dancing at the opening ceremony. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
There were some nice personal upsets too, with local heroine WGM Stavroula Tsolakidou (Greece), Nastassia Ziaziulkina (Belarus), Teodora Injac (Serbia), Laura Unuk (Slovenia), Sheila Barth Sahl (Norway) and Bojana Bejatovic (FYROM) all recording memorable victories for their teams. One of the most spectacular games was 17-year-old Unuk’s fantastic attacking game over Polish IM Jolanta Zawadzka.
Laura Unuk (Slovenia) playing Sophie Milliet (France). | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
In 2003 it was decided that the new scoring system for the European Team Championship would be decided by match points. Instead, game points were to be used as a form of
"It’s not how you start but how you finish" is every chess player’s hopeful mantra but in Crete, the reverse was true. Rounds two and four saw some of the most critical match-ups between the top seeds. These rounds quickly became a critical battleground as to who could maneuver into that
The highest rated player of the tournament, GM Anna Muzychuk (Ukraine), in
However, it was in round 3 down on "board four" that the crowd got to see the first clash between the juggernauts Russia and Ukraine. The Russian team, captained by GMs Sergey Rublevsky and Alexander Riazantsev, had been somewhat convincing, although they had been winning their previous two matches with the smallest margin.
Yet Russia played like a team, covering any individual losses with the requisite wins. In comparison, Ukraine
Valentina Gunina of Russia. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
It was a case of deja-vu in the fourth round when Russia faced off against second seeds Georgia. The Georgian team had arrived
Although Russia's 2.5-1.5 victory implied a close match, in
After this, the script was written. Russia would sail smugly into the lead and Georgia would have to forever play catch up.
Kosteniuk and Lagno both won gold board medals for their individual performances. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
Whilst it was very clear that Russia
By the time Poland and Russia met in round six, they were considered the last team to have the "firepower" to stop the Russian train. What followed next could have been the defining moment of the tournament. After three draws had been agreed, it all fell to the young WGM Alexandra Goryachkina to defend the following hopeless position.
The Russians were consistent in overwhelming their opponents, defeating Italy,
Georgia struck first in round six by defeating Ukraine - in a repeat scenario, from round four. This time it was Natalia Zhukova's loss against Nino Batsiashvili on board two that decided the
In round seven Poland did further damage by "holding" or rather letting the
Georgia-Poland in round eight. | Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.
In the match between Georgia and Poland, Polish IM Karina Szczepkowska had very impressively defeated IM Lela Javakhishvili on board three so invariably it had
In the end, things sadly went topsy-turvy for the plucky Polish in the final round when they lost 3-1 to an inspired Romanian team. (The English team can
European Team Championship (Women) | Final standings
Captain Alexander Riazantsev, Alexandra Kosteniuk and Kateryna Lagno at the opening ceremony.
A glamour photo with Alexandra Goryachkina and Olga Girya after their victory.
Third place: Ukraine.
Second place: Georgia.
Board one medals: 1. Alexandra Kosteniuk (2632 TPR), 2. Anna Muzychuk (2621 TPR), 3. IM Deimante Cornette (2599 TPR).
Board two medals: 1. GM Kateryna Lagno (2605 TPR), 2. GM Natalia Zhukova (2513 TPR), 3. WGM Stavroula Tsolakidou (2497 TPR).
Board three medals: 1. GM Bela Khotenashvili (2608 TPR), 2. GM Valentina Gunina (2563 TPR), 3. IM Ana Matnadze (2521 TPR).
Board four medals: 1. IM Inna Gaponenko (2552 TPR), 2. IM Lela Javakhishvili (2508 TPR), 3. WGM Klaudia Kulon (2433 TPR).