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Ukraine, Russia Winners At 2021 European Team Chess Championships
Team Ukraine with the gold medals. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

Ukraine, Russia Winners At 2021 European Team Chess Championships

PeterDoggers
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30 | Chess Event Coverage

Ukraine won its first ever European Team Chess Championship in Brezice, Slovenia on Sunday. The gold medal winners edged out France on tiebreak, a team whose silver medals were largely the result of GM Alireza Firouzja's historic performance. Russia won the women's section with a round to spare.

 
While all the attention went to Firouzja's historic result, it was Ukraine who climbed up the standings and went home with the gold medals. It's hard to believe that the team only managed to win this tournament for the first time, after coming second two years ago in Batumi and third four years ago in Crete.

The achievement was especially remarkable taking into account that a number of top players from the country did not play, such as GM Pavel Eljanov, GM Yuriy Kryvoruchko, or the legendary Vasil Ivanchuk.

While the lower three boards (GMs Yuriy Kuzubov, Lindores Abbey Blitz winner GM Kirill Shevchenko, and GM Volodymyr Onyshchuk) played roughly at their rating level or slightly below, the top two boards played a fantastic tournament. GM Anton Korobov had a 2771 performance with 4.5/7 on board one, while the best performance came (not for the first time!) from GM Andrei Volokitin: 6/8 and a 2824 performance.

It was fitting that both these top boards won their last-round game against Armenia, who played their first team tournament without GM Levon Aronian. On board one, Korobov faced the seasoned GM Gabriel Sargissian instead, and won quickly:

Korobov-Sargissian European Team Chess Championship 2021
Korobov-Sargissian. Photo: European Team Championship/ECU.

Volokitin's experience prevailed over GM Haik Martirosyan's youthful energy in a sharp game that followed an earlier Martirosyan encounter for 17 moves:

Andrei Volokitin European Team Chess Championship 2021
Andrei Volokitin during the last round. Photo: European Team Championship/ECU.

Speaking of individual results, the special character of France's silver medal should be highlighted as well. As it turned out, GMs Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, Etienne Bacrot, Maxime Lagarde, and Jules Moussard all lost Elo points in Slovenia but Firouzja's incredible 8/9 against an average of 2664 (good for a staggering 3015 performance rating) made all the difference.

Board Fed Name Rtg 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Pts. Games RtgAvg Rp rtg+/-
1 Firouzja 2770 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 ½ 1 8,0 9 2664 3015 22,3
2 Vachier-Lagrave 2766 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 5,5 9 2616 2696 -7,2
3 Bacrot 2647 1 0 0 1 ½ ½ 3,0 6 2591 2591 -4,6
4 Lagarde 2647 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 3,0 7 2583 2533 -10,9
5 Moussard 2632 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 2,0 5 2577 2505 -8,7

After five rounds, Firouzja had surged to the world's number-three position, passing GM Fabiano Caruana on the live rating list. After beating GM Dimitrios Mastrovasilis, he also won against GM Baadur Jobava in round eight but the latter's rating was not high enough for Firouzja to also jump ahead of GM Ding Liren.

Alireza Firouzja European Team Chess Championship 2021
Alireza Firouzja during the last round. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

After a draw against GM Alexander Grischuk, Firouzja's live rating was 2789.9, just below Ding's 2799. For a long time during the final round, it seemed that the chess world had to wait a few months for this record-breaking 2800 was going to happen—until GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov erred in the endgame. With three draws on the other boards, Firouzja had once again taken his team to another level, let alone himself. 

France Azerbaijan European Team Chess Championship 2021
The start of the Azerbaijan-France match. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

France European Team Chess Championship 2021
Silver medals for France. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

European Team Championship 2021 | Final Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Team + = - TB1 TB2 TB3
1 7 Ukraine 5 4 0 14 212,5 21,5
2 3 France 7 0 2 14 207,5 21,5
3 4 Poland 5 3 1 13 192,5 22,5
4 8 Spain 4 5 0 13 190,0 20,0
5 2 Azerbaijan 4 4 1 12 224,0 21,5
6 1 Russia 5 2 2 12 206,5 20,5
7 11 Armenia 4 4 1 12 206,0 21,0
8 13 Serbia 6 0 3 12 160,5 20,0
9 6 Netherlands 4 3 2 11 175,5 20,5
10 9 Germany 5 1 3 11 167,0 21,0
11 25 Georgia 4 2 3 10 162,5 18,0
12 15 Israel 3 4 2 10 158,5 20,0
13 5 England 3 4 2 10 154,5 19,0
14 20 Greece 5 0 4 10 152,0 19,5
15 14 Croatia 3 4 2 10 148,5 19,0
16 10 Hungary 3 3 3 9 185,5 19,5
17 24 Norway 2 5 2 9 165,0 18,0
18 17 Turkey 4 1 4 9 154,5 18,0
19 12 Czech Republic 4 1 4 9 154,0 18,5
20 26 Switzerland 4 1 4 9 148,5 20,0

MP=match points, SB=Olympiad-Sonneborn-Berger, GP=game points; full standings here

The women's tournament had little suspense as Russia was just too strong for the competition. The full 18 match points were really a team effort, with two players playing at their level and three players above it:

Board Fed Title Name Rtg 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Pts. Games RtgAvg Rp rtg+/-
1 GM Goryachkina 2604 1 1 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 5,5 7 2436 2666 5,1
2 GM Lagno 2550 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 6,0 8 2353 2546 0,4
3 GM Gunina 2480 1 1 1 0 1 0 4,0 6 2336 2461 -1,2
4 IM Shuvalova 2515 1 1 1 1 1 1 ½ ½ 7,0 8 2332 2668 11,7
5 IM Kashlinskaya 2482 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 6,5 7 2273 2695 11,9

With their victory over Ukraine, Russia already secured tournament victory with a round to spare. Here's GM Kateryna Lagno's win from that match:

Russia women European Team Chess Championship 2021
Gold for Russia in the women's section. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

European Women's Team Championship 2021 | Final Standings (Top 20)

Rk. SNo Fed Team + = - TB1 TB2 TB3
1 1 Russia 9 0 0 18 272,5 29,0
2 3 Georgia 7 1 1 15 215,0 22,5
3 5 Azerbaijan 5 2 2 12 196,0 22,0
4 2 Ukraine 5 2 2 12 187,0 20,0
5 7 Germany 5 1 3 11 153,5 21,0
6 12 Serbia 4 3 2 11 150,5 21,5
7 4 Poland 4 2 3 10 194,5 19,5
8 14 Netherlands 4 2 3 10 178,5 21,5
9 13 Italy 4 2 3 10 175,5 19,0
10 6 France 4 2 3 10 170,5 20,0
11 8 Armenia 4 2 3 10 167,0 20,0
12 11 Hungary 3 4 2 10 153,0 20,0
13 18 Greece 5 0 4 10 137,5 16,5
14 10 Romania 4 1 4 9 166,0 20,0
15 17 Slovakia 3 3 3 9 134,0 18,0
16 28 Lithuania 3 3 3 9 131,0 16,5
17 21 Sweden 4 1 4 9 117,0 16,5
18 15 Slovenia 1 3 2 4 8 139,5 18,5
19 16 Czech Republic 2 4 3 8 111,0 17,0
20 9 Spain 4 0 5 8 110,5 17,5

MP=match points, SB=Olympiad-Sonneborn-Berger, GP=game points; full standings here.

The European Team Chess Championships took taking place November 12-21, 2021 in Brezice, Slovenia. The format was a nine-round Swiss for teams of four players. The time control was 90 minutes for 40 moves plus 30 minutes for the rest of the game, with a 30-second increment starting from move one. 


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