Februar 24, 2024

Serbia and Bulgaria claim European Team Open and Women’s Chess Championships 2023

The European Team Chess Championship 2023 concluded yesterday evening in Budva, Montenegro after 10 days of intense chess battles. The last round determined the medalists, and the very last game of the tournament determined the Winner of the Open section.

Scoring 15 match points (each), the teams of Germany and Serbia tied for the top of the European Team Chess Championship 2023, and the tiebreaks determined the Winner of the event. With only one Olympiad Sonneborn Berger point advantage, Serbia claimed historical gold.

Germany and Serbia headed into the last round as co-leaders of the event, and it was clear that both teams needed to chase the victory in their matches. Germany narrowly won against Croatia, thanks to GM Dmitrij Kollars (GER, 2642) who defeated GM Marin Bosiocic (CRO, 2537) while the other three games finished in a draw.

Simultaneously, Serbia took an early lead against Greece as GM Velimir Ivic (SRB, 2557) crushed GM Evgenios Ioannidis (GRE, 2502). However, GM Alexandr Predke (SRB, 2661) had a very tough position against GM Theodorou Nikolas (GRE, 2619) and eventually resigned, while the evaluation of the positions on the second and the third boards was more than unclear.

GM Alexey Sarana (SRB, 2669) prevailed against GM Dimitrios Mastrovasilis (GRE, 2573), leaving GM Aleksandar Indjic (SRB, 2601) to fight for a draw and the overall match victory. Playing against GM Stamatis Kourkoulos-Arditis (GRE, 2543), Indjic had a very unpleasant position, which was eventually evaluated as completely lost. Nonetheless, the hero of the Serbian team entered a tricky endgame, turned it into a draw, and in the end won the game to bring Serbia a convincing 3-1 match win!

It was clear it is a tie between Germany and Serbia, and that the Olympiad Sonneborn Berger decides the Winner of the Open section. The calculations showed that everything depends on the match played between Iceland and Turkey. If Turkey wins the match, gold goes to Germany, but if the match finishes in a tie or with a win for lower-rated Iceland, Serbia becomes the champion.

With the 1.5-1.5 result in the Iceland-Turkey match, both German and Serbian teams followed the last ongoing game of the tournament, played between GM Gudmundur Kjartansson (ISL, 2449) and GM Cemil Can Ali Marandi (TUR, 2544).

As it was not dramatic enough for the potential winners, the game went to a Rook + Knight vs Rook endgame with Ali Marandi having a material advantage. After a total of six hours of play, Kjartansson and Ali Marandi signed a draw, and the official results announced Serbia as the Winner of the event!

The German team won silver medal and showed great sportsmanship to bear the final results.

Armenia won bronze medal, scoring 13 match points, with the last-round victory over England. It was a direct encounter for the third place, and Armenia took a narrow 2.5-1.5 victory thanks to GM Shant Sargsyan (ARM, 2625) who won with black against GM Michael Adams (ENG, 2670) as the other three games finished with draws.

The last round was also decisive for the medalists of the Women’s section, but the situation for gold was much more clear than in Open event. Bulgaria defeated the top seeded Georgia to emerge as the sole Winner of the event with the score of 16 match points.

Bulgaria took the 1.5-0.5 lead in the match with draw on the second board in the game between IM Nurgyul Salimova (BUL, 2412) and GM Nino Batsiashvili (GEO, 2487), while GM Antoaneta Stefanova (BUL, 2417) scored a huge victory over GM Bella Khotenashvili (GEO, 2498). IM Salome Melia (GEO, 2354) equalized the score, defeating WGM Beloslava Krasteva (BUL, 2262), and the remaining game between FM Gergana Peycheva (BUL, 2287) and IM Lela Javakhishvili (GEO, 2440) came to be a decisive one. Peycheva had a troublesome position, but she made a miracle and won the game for the final score of 2.5-1.5.

Azerbaijan won the last round against Serbia with convincing 3-1, scoring 15 match points to clinch silver medal.

IM Ulviyya Fataliyeva (AZE, 2395), WGM Govhar Beydullayeva (AZE, 2383) and IM Khanim Blajayeva (AZE, 2328) scored for Azerbaijan, while IM Teodora Injac (SRB, 2431) won against IM Gunay Mammadzada (AZE, 2441).

Four teams tied for bronze scoring 12 match points (each): France, Ukraine, Greece, and Poland. With the best tiebreak criteria, the French team came third, Ukraine was fourth, Greece finished in the fifth place and Poland ended the tournament in the 6th place.

The Closing ceremony of the event took place yesterday evening with the attendance of the ECU President Mr. Zurab Azmaiparashvili, ECU Vice Presidents Mr. Alojzije Jankovic and Mr. Gunnar Bjornsson, ECU Honorary Vice President and the Vice President of the Chess Federation of Montenegro Mr. Veselin Draskovic, the President of the Chess Federation of Montenegro Mr. Jovan Milovic, and other distinguished guests.

Final rankings
Official website of the event
Photos by Mark Livshitz