European Team Championship underway in Batumi



The biennial European Team Championships 2019 is underway at the Sheraton Hotel in Batumi, Georgia. At the time of writing, three rounds have been played.

This fall looks to be one of the busiest chess programs of all time with the World Cup, FIDE Grand Swiss, European Team Championship and FIDE Fischer Random World Championship, all taking place back to back (or simultaneously!) 60 days.

The busy schedule has seen its ups and downs with several top players. World champion Magnus carlsen is absent in Batumi because he plays in Norway, while other big GMs such as Anish Giri, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Jan-Krzysztof Duda are back after missing the Isle of Man.

The opening ceremony of the 2019 European Team Championship in Batumi, Georgia. Photo: European Team Championship.

The open section of the European Team Championship has 40 teams of five players each (including one reserve) with Russia as usual favorites. This year, the Russian Federation fielded a young team with fiery power while defending champions Azerbaijan brought their “A team” with only the recent World Cup winner, Teimour Radjabov, missing. England, Poland and Armenia are also strong contenders and finish among the top five seeds.

The FIDE Grand Swiss in the Isle of Man ended just two days before this event, and the roster and play seem to be affected by such tight timing. The young Russian team faced 21st seeded Denmark in the first round. That pair of seeds seemed to be comfortable for the seeds, but they fell short and were held to a 2-2 draw by the spirited Danish side in a game that had decisive results on all four boards.

The Russian team. Photo: European Team Championship.

Rising star and latest Russian sensation, GM Kirill Alekseenko, made his senior debut but lost to GM Sune Berg Hansen on board two.

This upheaval was offset as the four-way board game saw GM Daniel Dubov, after a disappointing Isle of Man tournament, beat Denmark’s last and youngest grandmaster, the 15-year-old Jonas Buhl Bjerre.

Dubov used a novelty from the eighth move in Ruy Lopez’s Anti-Marshall, which may be theoretically important. As Black he developed strong initiative after sacrificing two pawns and then won with an overwhelming attack in probably already tournament play:

Elsewhere, ratings favorites England lured lower-rated Austria as their third GM Gauvain Jones lost again after a disastrous event on the Isle of Man last week. DG Nicolas pert made a winning comeback for their national side and helped England draw 2-2.

Other favorites in the table – Poland, Armenia and Azerbaijan – had landslide victories over Belarus, Serbia and Norway in the first round respectively.

The French team with a 12 year old child! Photo: European Team Championship.

The second round saw some of the favorites go head to head on the top boards. On board one, the Czech Republic beat England in a bloody affair while Azerbaijan narrowly beat France as managing director Rauf Mamedov beat 12 year old IM Marc Andria Maurizzi on board three.

Dutch number one Giri is back on the board and claimed the only victory in the Greece v Netherlands game.

Giri once again showed the way for his side by winning once again in the first table in a match where the Netherlands beat table favorites Spain. This time his victim was GM David Anton, who performed so well in the Isle of Man:

European Team Championship | Ranking of the 3rd round (Top 10)

Rk. SNon Flag Team + = TB1 TB2 TB3
1 5 Armenia 3 0 0 6 22.0 9.0
2 8 Ukraine 3 0 0 6 22.0 8.0
3 seven Netherlands 3 0 0 6 20.0 7.5
4 2 England 2 1 0 5 19.5 8.5
5 1 Russia 2 1 0 5 16.5 7.5
6 17 Turkey 2 1 0 5 13.5 7.5
seven 28 Switzerland 2 0 1 4 16.0 8.0
8 4 Azerbaijan 2 0 1 4 16.0 7.5
9 9 Germany 1 2 0 4 16.0 6.5
ten 14 Georgia 1 2 0 4 15.5 6.5

(Full ranking here.)

Women’s Section:
The women’s section has 32 teams. As usual, the favorites are Russia and host Georgia and Ukraine, although teams like Poland, Azerbaijan and Armenia are also definitely in the mix. Some of the best players were also in action in the FIDE Grand Swiss as they received wild cards from the organizers.

The Muzychuk sisters are notable absentees, but Ukraine still beats Germany (albeit narrowly) with a score of 2.5-1.5. Otherwise, the first round went off without a hitch for the seeds as all of them had convincing victories except for Poland who drew against Greece. Azerbaijan shut out Latvia with a white score of 4-0.

Azerbaijani women’s team. Photo: European Team Championship.
An incredibly rare moment came when Norway fielded a team with twins across the board.

If the first lap was smooth sailing, then the second lap was completely the opposite. Russia barely managed to win against second host team Georgia 2 with a 2.5-1.5 win. Georgia 1 won a landslide victory over Turkey while Ukraine and Azerbaijan were defeated by Italy and Spain respectively.

I AM Marina brunelloBlack’s victory over IM Inna Gaponenko aboard a was instrumental in the victory of Italy over Ukraine.

Another amazing story that deserves attention is that of the Swedish women’s team. Three team members — GM Pia Crunchy, Siv Bengtsson and WIM Borislava Borisova-are together again. They first played together at the 1978 Chess Olympics.

European Team Championship (Women) | Ranking of the 3rd round (Top 10)

Rk. SNon Flag Team + = TB1 TB2 TB3
1 2 Georgia 3 0 0 6 26.0 9.5
2 1 Russia 3 0 0 6 22.5 9.0
3 11 Italy 3 0 0 6 17.5 8.0
4 13 Armenia 2 1 0 5 15.0 8.5
5 seven Hungary 2 1 0 5 15.0 7.0
6 12 Spain 2 0 1 4 20.0 7.5
seven 8 Romania 2 0 1 4 14.0 8.5
8 3 Ukraine 2 0 1 4 14.0 6.5
9 15 Serbia 2 0 1 4 12.5 9.0
ten ten Turkey 2 0 1 4 11.0 7.0

(Full ranking here.)

The event is also being broadcast for the first time on Georgian TV in English and Georgian.

You can follow and replay all the games with engine analysis here:
European Team Championship 2019
European Women’s Team Championship 2019

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