16 November 2015

Chasing Each Other in the Pursuit of the Fourth Triumph!

The history of our national teams' performance in the European Team Championships in the review by Dmitry Kryakvin.

Following the footsteps of the Soviet victories. 1992

It was at the European chess forum in 1992 in the Hungarian Debrecen that the Russian team played for the first time in its history. Amid the fall of the Soviet Union, the state coup, and the crisis the policy "Let’s play the Olympic Games with the strongest lineup, and European Championship with the youngest one" was yet a matter of the distant future. It was the strongest team that was as usual knocked together for the event. Meanwhile, at the time of the anticipated dual power in the RCF the Kasparov’s side was badly in need of additional bonuses compared to that of the Karpov’s, so the team was headed by thirteenth champion himself.

Here it needs to mention that back in 1992 a team lineup was reduced from six to four players. That new trend, however, was not particularly favorable for Russia. Meanwhile, our country was lead into the battle by Garry Kasparov, who was young and full of energy then, was going to reign for yet a long time to come and was unaware that he would be disqualified by FIDE twice in future – the first case being almost a year after and another time in almost two and a half decades later!

Could Garry Kimovich ever have imagined when starting the computer-aided preparation marathon back in the 80s that shortly after his retirement the issue of cheating would acquire such dimensions?

Garry Kimovich went on to score 6 out of 8 on board one, having got the best of Vaganian, Short, Ivanchuk and Rozentalis along the way! His effort was backed up by Evgeny Bareev (with 5 out of 8), Vladimir Kramnik (with 6.5 out of 8; he took a rest day only during the last round, when the fate of the first place had already been sealed), Alexey Vyzmanavin (with 5 out of 7). Although Alexey Dreev’s achievements were of a more modest nature (2.5 of 5), he displayed a heroic defense in the key confrontation. The Russian teams outperforms Switzerland with a 3.5-0.5 score, Lithuania 3-1, Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-1, Ukraine 2.5-1.5, Armenia 3.5-0.5, Israel 2.5-1.5, Hungary 2.5-1.5, and Georgia 2.5-1.5. The only draw occurred in the round five, in which Kasparov outplayed Short as Black, but the match situation was critical nonetheless because Bareev and Dreev had difficult endings against Speelman and Adams.  The desperate defense allowed Alexey to scratch up a half point and salvage the match. The strong English team ended up being third, while the Ukrainians took the second place. 

Our leader’s victory over Vassily Ivanchuk undoubtedly became the game of the tournament. It was a decisive game of the match against the future silver medalists.

Kasparov – Ivanchuk

Although White’s advantage is obvious, the conversion is complicated by the white pawn chain а4-b5-c6 being located on the light squares. White cannot afford winning the d3-pawn at the cost of exchanging the rooks as the resulting position is a fortress. However, Black is unable to play the immediate 45… f6? because after 46.Rd4 Kf8 47.Bb3 White wins on spot. Black should have opted for 45...Ba2! 46.Rg4+ Kf8 47.Re4 f6, when the question arises as to the White’s actual capability of getting anything out of this position.  Being in time trouble Ivanchuk, however, makes up his mind in favour of activating his king and blunders while calculating a lengthy line.

45...Kf6? 46.Rh8! Ke5 

Black could sacrifice a piece via 46...Kxf5 47.Rc8 Bxc6 48.bxc6 Rxc6 49.Kxd3, but once given this much advantage Kasparov would never fail to bring it home. 

47.Rc8 Kd4 48.Rxc7 Rh6 49.Rd7 Rh2+ 50.Kc1, and here Vassily Mikhailovich stopped the clock. It turns out that after 50…Kc3 51.Rxd5 d2+ (or 51...Ra2 52.Rxd3+) 52.Rxd2 Rxd2 53.c7 the white pawn is going to queen inevitably. 

Russia defeated his main opponent with a 2.5-1.5 score. Although an impressive victory, it proved, alas, to be the last time when Kasparov and Kramnik played for the Russian team in the European Championships...

A nowadays reader is very likely to wonder a question as to Debrecen-1992: whereas it is all very well clear with Kasparov, Bareev, Kramnik and Dreev, what about this mysterious Alexey Vyzmanavin, who used to totally dominate the last board? I recommend an article published on the ChessPro website, the missing continuation of which is a vile sin of the author of these lines. 

Untimely late Olympiad and European Champion Alexey Vyzmanavin

The “Ladja” from Azov. 1997 

The following European Team Championship took place after as many as five years! It used to be during the troublesome 90s, aggravated by the chess world disintegration processes. A great deal changed during those years in terms of the Russian chess realities, when the most actual question would be “Where to find financing in order to commission the team to a tournament?” Under these circumstances the European Championship would be treated by its contemporaries as a stepchild of the team tournaments, when experimental lineups would usually be dispatched to this type of event.  Meanwhile, the national team of the 1997-Championship, which took place in Pula (Croatia), was represented… by the chess club “Ladja” from Azov! 

To be more precise, the Federation had owed some money to the players following the completion of the 1996 Olympiad, therefore the trainers board meeting would reject no option, including the one with the withdrawal of the team from the competition altogether. However, the floor was suddenly taken by the captain of the European Champions Cup winners Nikolay Pushkov, who offered that a team consisting of the members of his super-club would go to Pula, while taking care of the financial issues was to be done by himself. There was no way his proposal could be rejected by the management of the Federation under circumstances when the pending scandal was about to break loose at any moment. 

Nowadays the sphere of Nikolay Pushkov’s (standing to the right) interests includes the veteran team competitions

So, the members of the “Ladja” team Evgeny Bareev, Peter Svidler, Vadim Zvjaginsev, Igor Glek, and Yuri Yakovich ended up flying to Croatia. All the more powerful English team represented by Nigel Short, Michael Adams, Jonathan Speelman, Matthew Sadler, and Julian Hodgson had turned into the main competitor of the Russians. However, our team started experiencing problems as soon as round one, in which Russia’s win over Lithuania with a 2.5-1.5 score was linked to all sorts of difficulties. A bitter defeat in the game against a Lithuanian master was suffered by Yuri Yakovich; a revenge was taken by Vadim Zvjaginsev, while an overall victory in this painful match was finally secured by Evgeny Bareev, who succeeded in crushing Rozentalis as a result of a barnburner fight.

When in round two our players managed to decimate the strong team from Bosnia and Herzegovina with a 3-1 score it started to look like the team had at last played into the game, but…

In 90s Igor Glek was not an academician yet, but was one of the strongest grandmasters of the country according to his rating

In the third round match against Estonia Igor Glek gives poor handling to a promising position that arises shortly after the opening in his game against Michael Rychagov and soon gives up. The team is on the verge of defeat, but Vadim Zvjaginsev comes to the rescue, defeating the strong grandmaster Lembit Oll also as Black, and the score becomes 2-2. In round four the Russian team confidently outplays Georgia with a 3-1 score, and then signs peace with Latvia by prior agreement of their captains (all games ended in draws around move 20, and I would like to note that the tactical decisions were taken by grandmaster Sergey Smagin, while Pushkov was responsible for the organizational issues).

In round six we are in for one of the most challenging matches against Croatia. Zvjaginsev succumbs to Palac, but Svidler and Yakovich help our team out by defeating Kozul and Dizdar – 2.5-1.5. Meanwhile, the English team accelerates a frenetic pace after having lost to Belarus in round three and after round six it is ahead of the Russian team by a point (the overall sum was calculated based on the individual points). As soon as the supervisees of Pushkov tied with Israel, the gap doubled up! Finally, the English and the Russian squads met face to face in round eight. While the games on three boards ended in draws, Yuri Yakovich was in close proximity to victory over Matthew Sadler.

Yakovich – Sadler

Back in 90s Sadler used to be one of the most promising English grandmasters. In 1997 his rating was as high as 2645 (when, for example, that of Svidler was 2640, for that matter). The "old-timers" described Matthew’s talent as by no means inferior to that of Adams, although Matthew’s parents had strong feelings against chess and constantly demanded that their son take up the "proper job". This eventually led to the Englishman being forced to suspend playing, while it was only recently that the justice has been rendered: Matthew Sadler is back to his beloved black and white squares. 

Despite that Yuri Rafaelovich still outperformed his formidable opponent in a consistent manner, when the white nights penetrated and solidified their positions in the enemy’s camp.


This self-suggestive move is a mistake, whereas 33...h6 34.Rc1 should be preferred since White’s advantage in this case would not be decisive yet. 

34.Nxf5 exf5 

And now the energetic 35.e6! would have forced Black to resign. However, it seems that White is winning by almost any move to his liking...

Yuri Yakovich played 35.Nd6? Ne7, and his fiendishly ingenious opponent managed to bail out to a draw.

36.Kf2 h6 37.Re2 Rd1 38.Re1 Nd5 39.Qe2 Rxe1 40.Qxe1 Qa7+ 41.Kg2 Qa6 42.Kf2 Qa7+. Draw. 

Although being an annoying omission, the battle proved that the team was fully determined to demonstrate its mettle! Prior to the start of the last round the gap of 2 points was still there. It seems that the struggle is over, but in the final round the German team headed by Arthur Yusupov defeats England with a 2.5-1.5 score. Meanwhile, the Russians go on to win a heroic victory over Belarus with a 3.5-0.5 score, at which moment the number of points gained by both teams becomes equal – 22.5. Unfortunately, this proved insufficient, as the England’s ranking turned out superior according to the tie-breakers... The bronze medals went to belong to the Armenian team.

Our national team members came to display the following results: Evgeny Bareev – 5.5 out of 8, Peter Svidler – 6 out of 9, Vadim Zvjaginsev – 5.5 out of 8, Igor Glek – 2.5 out of 5, and Yuri Yakovich with 3 out of 6.

Evgeny Bareev: "It felt extremely bitter, coupled with the economic crisis of those days so that we have never received our payments for this tournament..."

Our model is a junior team! 1999 

Two years passed from that moment only to find that the issue of “how to go about the European Championship” had become even more profound. Having got an unpleasant aftertaste of the Pula competition, neither Svidler nor Bareev were particularly eager to take part in the upcoming event. The issues of payment arrears for the 1998 Olympiad once again came to the forefront, which were helped to be liquidated only so much later by Alexander Zhukov, who entered the Russian chess arena in so timely a moment. At that point a judgment worthy of Solomon was reached – to dispatch a junior team to Batumi, because no fees were needed for its members, whereas the players themselves welcomed every opportunity to perform for the team. As a result, the team came to feature Valery Filippov, Sergei Volkov, Mikhail Kobalia, Alexander Grischuk and Alexander Galkin.

This player and coach is familiar to every Russian junior since his/her childhood years. In 1999, Mikhail Kobalia made his debut for the men's team

Back then they were promising young players: Galkin being the U20 junior world champion, Volkov winning the national championship a year later and taking third in the individual Europe championship in 2002. Theoretical knowledge of Mikhail Kobalia were indeed so deep that as early as 2000 he would be summoned by no other person than Garry Kasparov himself in order to assist him fighting Kramnik, while the young Sasha Grischuk would make his debut (and greatly so!) for the national team in Georgia, when a couple of years later he would already find himself belonging to the elite of the chess world. As for board one in Batumi, it was defended by Valery Filippov, a strong grandmaster (who, unfortunately, quit playing practical chess shortly after), being the only "six hundred" player in our team featuring the 2605 rating. By the way, here are the ratings of our national team members as of the year 1999: Volkov – 2575, Kobalia – 2573, Galkin – 2535, Grischuk – 2549. Nowadays, possession of such ratings would not be enough to be part of the junior team even... However, back in the 1990s a grandmaster featuring 2550 Elo was a very strong chess player, the inflation having affected the chess ratings not yet.

The start was as bright as a rainbow! In round one the Russians defeat Azerbaijan 3-1, in round two they prevail over England 3-1, with the 22-year-old Filippov beating none other than Nigel Short! However, round three proved to be a cold shower as the Russians go down to Hungary with a 1.5-2.5 score. It used to be the sole case in the history of chess when in their match against the Russians the Hungarians featured advantage of almost 100 rating points at each of the boards! Whereas three games were drawn, Volkov failed to defend his position against Judith Polgar.

However, our warriors would not give in and in the next match they went on to defeat the Ukraine with a score of 2.5-1.5; a decisive victory over Romanishin was secured by Volkov. It should be noted that the Ukrainians did not put up Vassily Ivanchuk for the match against our team! They must have underestimated.

The 1999 Championship revealed a new star, which Alexander Grischuk turned into in the very near future

The round five match against Germany ends in a relatively peaceful draw 2-2, whereas in round six Filippov fails to Piket in an opening duel and our team ends up losing to the Netherlands with a 1.5-2.5 score. It had become clear that only great luck would allow the Russians to become the medalists. In the following match Kobalia outplays Milov in a beautiful style and the boys snatch the 2.5-1.5 victory from the Swiss. In the penultimate round the drawing of lots is shiny for the Russians as they are paired against Slovenia, not the most powerful opponent in the world... 

Alas, on boards two through four the Russians failed to reap any benefits, but the struggle of the leaders saw the classical player Alexander Genrikhovich Beliavsky performing against Filippov as if in his prime years and the Slovenian squad ended up winning with a 2.5-1.5 score. In the last round the Russians manage to slam the door, beating a strong team of Poland 3-1 (Filippov had a hard time, but Volkov, Galkin and Grischuk won their games).

Socko – Galkin

Alexander was consistent in outplaying his opponent. The Polish grandmaster was unwilling to get deep into the defensive after 26.Nxd5 Rxd5 27.Rd2 and blundered a tactical shot.

26.Nc4? Nxc3! 27.Ba3 

It turns out that 27.Qxc3 fails to 27…e4 28.d4 exf3 29.dxc5 Bxc3.

27...Qd5 28.Qxc3 Qxf3 White resigns.

The junior team finished up achieving a very decent result by taking the fifth place (Filippov with 2.5 out of 7, Volkov with 4 out of 7, Kobalia with 4.5 out of 7, Galkin with 3.5 out of 6, Grischuk with 6 out of 9), and it became obvious that Alexander Grischuk was already mature for major challenges. However, the year 2001 introduced its own adjustments into the plans and it was the Armenian team that triumphed in Batumi, whereas Hungary took second and the German team closed the top three.

Better refrain from shooting than fearing being wide of the mark. 2001 

The next European Team championship simply... missed the Russian team as neither the "Ladja" club nor the "junior" team nor whoever else went there for that matter for want of money. In the publications of those times is easy to find expression of gratitude to Alexander Zhukov, who rendered assistance in fielding the team at least to the Olympiad. Indeed, without Zhukov the Russians could have had a performance gap on the international arena, consisting of events other that the Leon-2001 only. The situation with the national team financing became more than deplorable. As for that tournament, it was won by the Netherlands, silver and bronze were taken by France and Germany respectively.

A single thread from everyone and a golden thread that be! 2003 

For the first time in ten years Russia put up her team for the European championship with a lineup close to optimal. Black times for the RCF were over, the world prices for energy resources were on the rise, and it was high time to start winning.

A "special purpose detachment" composed of Peter Svidler, Evgeny Bareev, Alexander Grischuk, Alexander Morozevich, Alexander Khalifman moved out for Plovdiv. The team was coached by grandmaster Naum Rashkovsky, who not so long ago won the last Olympiad in which the Russian team happened to participate.

The last coach of the Olympiad champions Naum Nikolaevich Rashkovsky

However, the opening match got our fans worried: Grischuk wend down to Spasov, and Russia barely beat Bulgaria with a 2.5-1.5 score. Round two saw the nerve-racking continued, but Peter Svidler brought our team to victory over the Spanish team by a narrow margin upon having crushed Alexei Shirov. The national team of Slovenia was the next opponent in the way of our team. While three games ended in draws, Evgeny Bareev managed to defeat Adrian Mikhalchishin and the final score was 2.5-1.5 once again. In round four the Russian team finally secures a landslide victory over Serbia with a 3-1 score.

In round five Russia met with her main competitor - the Israeli team, which featured a brilliant lineup: Gelfand, Sutovsky, Smirin, Avrukh, and Erenburg. And again the draws are made on three boards, whereas Grischuk defeats Sutovsky in a spectacular manner.

Grischuk – Sutovsky


As the black queen is endangered, White carries out a nice combination to have it trapped.

21.f6! Bxf6 22.e5! Bg5?! 

Bad is 22...Bxe5? 23.Bf2 or 22...Bh4 23.Bxh6 Rfe8 24.Re4. Black needs to go for 22...Bg7 23.Qe4! g5 24.Qxb7 Nb8 25.Bxc5, although White should win here as well.

23.Bf2 Qf4 24.Re4 Qf5 

24...Rd2 25.Qa4!? Qf5 26.Nxd2 Bxd2 27.Rf1 fails to help either.


Further massive loss of material is inevitable, so the Russian team ended up winning the match with a score of 2.5-1.5.

In round six our team supplements further by defeating Azerbaijan 2.5-1.5 (Khalifman won a decisive game against Ibragimov). The 2.5-1.5 score was seen once again in the match against Poland, with the decisive win secured by Alexander Morozevich. Later the team coach-captain would share in his interview that Plovdiv saw a superb team because every match had found its hero, who wouldn’t fear to venture into winning the game. In round eight against Georgia Grischuk defeats Jobava and the final score is 2.5-1.5 yet another time, and, to top it all, it is followed by a friendly draw with the brotherly Belarus. The chess world had long since witnessed similar domination of the Russian national team! Here are the results of our mighty warriors: Svidler with 5 out of 8, Bareev with 4 out of 7, Grischuk with 4,5 out of 7, Morozevich with 5 out of 7, Khalifman with 4 out of 7, each player having contributed his share into the overall victory of the team. The Israeli team came second and Georgia secured the bronze medal.

The main scorer – Alexander Morozevich

Top three teams headed by Russia

The Gothenburg collapse. 2005 

The Russian national team won the 2002 Olympiad in Bled, won the 2003 European Championship in Plovdiv, finished second at the 2004 Olympiad in Calvia. It seemed as if yet another European team championship should make no difference, but the outcome shocked even the seasoned skeptics. It was for the first time in history that the Russian team failed to make it even into top ten! The national team arrived in Sweden without Morozevich and Grischuk: it consisted of Peter Svidler, Alexey Dreev, Alexander Motylev, Evgeny Bareev and Artyom Timofeev and produced an impression of being a sound mix of youth and experience, which a new coach and a well-known grandmaster Sergey Dolmatov was talking about.

The team was unrecognizable already as soon as the start: a modest 2.5-1.5 victory over Croatia, a 2-2 draw against Azerbaijan and a 1.5-2.5 defeat from the French team.  For a moment it seemed as if the defeat shook the Russians, but it was followed by a crushing 4-0 defeat of Scotland and a big 3-1 victory over Iceland. Russia once again came to the forefront, and in the round six was paired with the leading team of the Netherlands. However, no turnaround occurred as our team lost 1-3, and then went on to have it aggravated further by yet another 1.5-2.5 defeat from the Hungarians. It became clear that the Russians no longer had any chances of getting into the medals that time, but still ... In round eight the Lithuanian players were defeated with a score of 3-1, and in the final round the drawing of lots paired the Russian team against Sweden. It seemed like a lucky pairing as on almost every board our compatriots featured almost as many as 150 points rating superiority!

However, the match worked out superbly for Sweden since the win of Alexey Dreev was answered by three counter wins – 1-3... It was a terrible blow. The Russian national team took the 14th place. The individual results are as follows: Svidler with 4.5 out of 8, Dreev with 5 out of 8, Motylev with 2.5 out of 6, Bareev with 3.5 out of 7, Timofeev with 4 out of 7. 

The 1990s hero Evgeny Bareev at the board


The Swedish event put an end to one and a half decade of playing for the Russian team of Alexey Dreev

The Netherlands triumphed in the tournament; Israel came second once again with France closing the top three.

The floor is given to Alekseev and Jakovenko. 2007

In 2006-2008, attention of the Russian chess public was focused on the performances of Dmitry Jakovenko and Evgeny Alekseev. Two strong young grandmasters compete for the national champion title and rightfully become members of the national team.

Evgeny Alekseev and Dmitry Jakovenko 

In 2007, the Russian squad consisting of Svidler, Morozevich, Grischuk, Alekseev, and Jakovenko flies to the Greek Heraclion. The lineup again includes all the best players except Kramnik, although his second, a strong theoretician Alexander Motylev, is present as a team coach.

In 2007 Alexander Motylev took revenge for Gothenburg, only as a team coach this time

Already as soon as the opening round our team takes a convincing 3.5-0.5 revenge of Sweden. In the second round Armenia is defeated with a 2.5-1.5 score; the decisive game was won by Morozevich. This was followed by a 2.5-1.5 victory over the Czech Republic, a 3-1 win over Slovenia, a landslide 3.5-0.5 (!) victory over Azerbaijan that put up its strongest team, a 3-1 win over Israel, and a 2.5-1.5 victory over France. Following a draw with the traditionally inconvenient team of Spain the Russian team inflicted a final 2.5-1.5 blow to the Bulgarians. A winning point was put by Peter Svidler.

Svidler – Cheparinov


This move crowns a spectacular assault by White. There is no escape for the black king any longer.


24...Bxc5 fails to 25.Re1+ Kf8 26.Rd8+, mating.


Of course not 25.Bxb4 Qxb4, and the black queen keeps an eye over the е1-square.


25...Kd7 brings no relief in view of 26.Re3 Qc4 27.Re7+ Kc8 28.Rc1 Qxc1+ 29.Kxc1 Bxc5 30.Bxb7+ Kb8 31.Rxf7. 

26.Bxb4 Qxb4 27.Rc1 

Cheparinov resigned as either mate or huge material losses could not be stopped from happening.

The individual performance results of the Russian players are as follows: Svidler with 6 out of 7, Morozevich with 6 out of 8, Grischuk with 2,5 out of 6, Alekseev with 5 out of 7, Jakovenko with 5,5 out of 8. Armenia finished second, Azerbaijan came third – a triumph of the Soviet chess school!

The third and so far the latest victory of the Russian team in the European Team Championships

Lack of luck or Salgado Lopez? 2009 

Almost each player that makes up the Russian team leaving for the next European Championship in Novi Sad is a champion: Svidler, Morozevich, Jakovenko, Alekseev and Tomashevsky, who replaced Grischuk. In the first round Jakovenko commits a blunder, and the match against Croatia ends in a 2-2 score. But this setback is of a temporary nature only, and Russia immediately rejoins the race for medals by beating Macedonia 3.5-0.5 and Italy 3-1. In round four a new pothole looms ahead of the Russians as Morozevich stumbles as White and the match against the Netherlands ends in a 2-2 score. However, in round five Russia defeats Israel and in round six faces Azerbaijan, which is her main competitor in the fight for the gold medals.

In 2009 a role of the Russian team captain was taken over by the RCF Executive Director Alexander Bach

While three boards end their games in draws, Tomashevsky, having so far enjoyed a tremendous tournament and being on the rise in this particular game, was offered a chance to win a pawn ending…

Tomashevsky – Mamedyarov


34.Kd5! Kc7 (34...g5 35.g4!) 35.h4! Kd7 36.c6+ Kc7 37.Kc5 h6 38.Kd5 g5 39.h5! (creating a potential extra passed pawn) 39...f4 (39...Kc8 40.Ke5) 40.gxf4 gxf4 41.Kxe4 fxe3 42.Kxe3 Kxc6 43.Kd4! was winning


Now Black should be able to hold out according to Michal Krasenkow’s analysis. 


35.h4!? works for White no longer in view of 35…h6 36.Kd4 g5! 37.h5 (37.Kc4 gxh4 38.gxh4 h5 is just a transposition via a different move order) 37...Kb5! 38.Ke5! Kxc5 39.Kxf5 Kc4 40.Kxe4 (40.Kg6 Kd3 41.Kxh6 Kxe3 42.Kxg5 Kf3 43.h6 e3 44.h7 e2 45.h8Q e1Q=) 40...Kb3 41.Kf5 (41.Kd3 Kxa3 42.Kc3 Ka2 43.e4 a3 44.Kc2 g4 45.e5 Ka1 46.e6 a2=) 41...Kxa3 42.e4 Kb2 43.e5 a3 44.e6 a2 45.e7 a1Q 46.e8Q Qa6! with a drawish queen ending.

35...g5 36.Kc4 h6 37.Kd4 h5! 38.h4 

38.Kc4?? h4 39.gxh4 g4 is going to lose, while 38.Ke5 results in a draw via: 38...Kxc5 39.Kxf5 Kc4! 40.Kxe4 (40.Kxg5 Kb3 41.Kxh5 Kxa3 42.g4 Kb4 43.g5 a3 44.g6 a2 45.g7 a1Q 46.g8Q Qf6!=) 40...Kb3 41.Kf5 (41.Kd3 Kxa3 42.Kc3 Ka2 43.e4 a3 44.Kc2 h4! 45.gxh4 gxh4 46.e5 Ka1 47.e6 a2=) 41...Kxa3 42.e4 Kb3 43.e5 a3 44.e6 a2 45.e7 a1Q 46.e8Q Qf1+ 47.Kxg5 Qxh3=. 

38...gxh4 39.gxh4 Kb5! 40.Kd5 

40.Ke5 Kxc5 41.Kxf5 Kc4 42.Kxe4 Kb3 43.Kf5 Kxa3 44.e4 Kb2 45.e5 a3 46.e6 a2 47.e7 a1Q 48.e8Q was the last chance to play for a win, although the resulting position is a draw, however.

40...f4! 41.c6 

There is no sense in 41.Kxe4 fxe3 42.Kxe3 Kxc5 43.Kd3 Kd5=; 41.exf4 e3 42.c6 Kb6 43.Kd6 e2 44.c7 e1Q 45.c8Q Qd2+ 46.Ke5 Qe3+ with equality. 

41...fxe3 42.c7 e2 43.c8Q e1Q 44.Qe8+ Kb6 45.Qg6+ Kc7 46.Qd6+ (46.Qxe4 Qd1+=) 46...Kb7 47.Qc6+ Kb8 48.Qe8+ Kc7 49.Qe5+ Kd7 50.Qd6+ Kc8 51.Qa6+ Kb8 52.Qb5+ Kc7 53.Qc5+ Kb7 54.Qe7+ Kb6 55.Qf6+ Kc7 

Thus Mamedyarov made a draw and saved the match.

After round six the victory-hungry Morozevich was let into the play from the substitutes' bench and started winning decisive games. Thanks to his victories Russia defeats both Georgia and Armenia with a score of 2.5-1.5!

Before the start of the last round Azerbaijan and Russia share first in terms of the team points gained, but Russia has one personal point too many in her stock. We just need to beat the Spanish team, because our competitors are very unlikely to snatch a victory from the Netherlands with almost a whitewash score. But, alas, Spain is traditionally a tough opponent for the Russians. The "evil demon" of the Russian team Salgado Lopez crushes Alekseev with the white pieces. Morozevich wins back (this being his third victory in a row), but the overall score is only 2-2. However, when the score in the Azerbaijan-Netherlands match was 1.5-1.5, Daniel Stellwagen commits a childish error in the drawish rook ending. Accordingly, the Russians end up winning the silver medals only. The Ukraine finishes in the third place.

In the absence of Kramnik it was Peter Svidler who used to be the first choice of weapon to defend the team board one in the majority of cases

The individual results of the Russian players are as follows: Svidler with 5 out of 8, Morozevich with 4,5 out of 6, Jakovenko with 3,5 out of 7, Alekseev with 4 out of 7, Tomashevsky with 5,5 out of 8. 

Zigzag in Porto Carras. 2011

Following the 2011 failure in Ningbo the RCF had a tough trainers board meeting, at which the proponents and opponents of the acting team coach Evgeny Bareev crossed their swords. As a result of voting the senior mentor of the Russian squad was re-elected, but under the pressure of the mass media was forced to leave the team headquarters altogether. In order to relieve the tension the management of the Federation appointed a neutral figure of Alexander Riazantsev to be the team coach – a great practical and analytical player, who had accumulated many years’ experience working with the leading chess players.

Trainers Board Meeting of the Russian Chess Federation in 2011

The following lineup of star players departed for Greece: Peter Svidler, Sergey Karjakin, who had recently joined the Russian Chess Federation, Alexander Grischuk, Alexander Morozevich and Ian Nepomniachtchi. Alas, having been emaciated by the heavy cycle of individual tournaments, the World Cup being one of them, the grandmasters were unable to restore their former shape prior to the start of an important team competition.

Already the opening match against Moldova proved to be a rather challenging one, in which the overall victory with a narrow margin was provided by Alexander Morozevich due to a blunder committed by Dmitry Svetushkin. Then the rating favorites followed up by a whitewash 3.5-0.5 win over the Czechs, and in round three the members of the Riazantsev team signed a 2-2 peace with the Netherlands. Round four brought us a heavy 1-3 knockdown in the fight against our bitter Bulgarian friends, coupled with the discussion throughout the entire Russian Runet as to whether Sergey Karjakin, accompanied by his individual trainer Alexander Motylev, really had to go out to a disco pending an important game against Ivan Cheparinov, the game which turned into an opening fiasco for Sergey. It turned out that the camp of Karjakin’s accusers was headed by the former team coach Evgeny Bareev and in his reply Motylev promised to challenge the former mentor of the Russians to a duel.

Following his failure to Cheparinov Sergey Karjakin pulled himself together and went on to win several games

In short, the team continued fighting in a rather difficult situation. As ill luck would have it, the chess pairing program continued hooking the red-blue-white players up against the strong opponents even they were slightly behind the race in the "peloton" mode: the national team went on to defeat the Ukrainians due to Morozevich's victory over Alexander Moiseenko, but it was immediately followed by a loss to Azerbaijan as Svidler, being in a superior position, miscalculated in his game against Teimour Radjabov.

Finding themselves in a hit or miss situation, the members of the Russian team summoned up for the remaining three matches, winning 3-1 against Spain, 2.5-1.5 against France (alas, Nepomniachtchi went too far in an effort to get the better of Bauer) and 3-1 against Slovenia. Russia finished sharing third, but additional tie-breakers left her behind the bronze medalists Hungary and Armenia. The German team triumphed, while Azerbaijan ended up being second.

The individual results of the Russian players are as follows: Peter Svidler with 3,5 out of 8, Alexander Grischuk with 5,5 out of 8, Sergey Karjakin with 4,5 out of 7, Alexander Morozevich with 4 out of 6, Ian Nepomniachtchi with 4 out of 7. 

When the air smelled of storm. 2013 

The Russian national team, consisting of Alexander Grischuk, Peter Svidler, Dmitry Andreikin, Alexander Morozevich and Evgeny Tomashevsky, was brought to the 2013 European Team Championship by Grandmaster Yury Dokhoian, a former coach of Garry Kasparov, who had shown himself to great advantage when working with the women's team. The competition took place in the Poland’s capital, Warsaw, and was held at times of a highly tense political situation. The streets were full of rallies and marches featuring the anti-Russian slogans, so that the members of the team were advised against leaving the hotel premises...

The crowd is progressing towards the Russian Embassy in Warsaw

From the very first rounds the team of Dokhoian, which prior to that had nearly won the Chess Olympiad in Istanbul, was going from bad to worse: a narrow victory over the Serbs and a sensational defeat from the Turks – in the dispute of team leaders Grischuk went down to Dragan Solak. It was then supplemented by Morozevich losing to Gawain Jones, whereas Peter Svidler defeated Luke McShane to finish the match against England in a draw.

Three ordinary victories helped Russia get out of the middle of the tournament table: 4-0 against Austria, 3.5-0.5 against Italy, Alexander Grischuk defeated Constantine Lupulescu, thus securing two team points in a duel against the uncompromising Romanians. Alas, the key match against Armenia did not go well as Gabriel Sargissian played very strongly against Tomashevsky – 1.5-2.5.

At the finish the Russian warriors gave splendid accounts of themselves and defeated the Netherlands (Svidler knocked Erwin L'Ami out) and France (Dmitry Andreikin scored a crucial goal against Vladislav Tkachiev) with a slim margin, but fell behind France in the contest for silver in terms of the so-called team’s Buchholz tiebreaker. Azerbaijan was triumphant, while Russia remained in the third place.

Andreikin – Tkachiev

32. Bd6! Qxa2 33. Rc7 Qxb2 34. Ng1!

As the knight provides a reliable shelter to the king Tkachiev has nothing better than to sacrifice a piece. 

34...Qd2 35. Rxd7 Bc6 36. Rd8 Qxd3 37. Bxf8 Nxf8 38. Qb8 Re1 

Threatening mate in one, but it is White’s turn to move.

39. Rxf8+ Kh7 40. Rh8+ Kg6 41. Qf4! There is no confronting a terrible threat of 42.Rxh6+. The time control was over and Black resigned once he made sure that there was no bailing out.

The individual results of the Russian grandmasters are as follows: Alexander Grischuk – with 4,5 out of 8, Peter Svidler with 6,5 out of 9, Dmitry Andreikin with 4,5 out of 7, Alexander Morozevich with 3,5 out of 6, Evgeny Tomashevsky with 3,5 out of 6. 

The finishing burst awarded the Russian team with the bronze medals 

 The Russian men's team performance statistics

Debrecen (Hungary) 1992 – gold
Pula (Croatia) 1997 – silver
Batumi (Georgia) 1999 – 5th place
Leon (Spain) 2001 – the team missed the event
Plovdiv (Bulgaria) 2003 – gold
Goteborg (Sweden) 2005 – 14th place
Iraklion (Greece) 2007 – gold
Novi Sad (Serbia) 2009 – silver
Porto Carras (Greece) 2011 – 5th place
Warsaw (Poland) 2013 – bronze
The History of a great team 

It is impossible for the history of the European Championships to bypass our "golden girls". Historically speaking, the fate of the Russian team performance at the European Team Championship was anything but simple. Following the Soviet Union collapse in the early 90s the team was depleted by departure abroad of a number of leading chess players, so that Julia Demina, Svetlana Prudnikova and Lyudmila Zaitseva (team coach - Marat Makarov) had a hard time fighting against the European heavyweights in Debrecen, resulting in the 17th place in the final standings.

Five years later the team traveled to Pula through the efforts of her captain Galina Strutinskaya - Alisa Galliamova returned to Kazan and Svetlana Matveeva had moved from Kyrgyzstan, so that with Iulia Mashinskaya in reserve it promised excellent chances for a medal. The Russians tied with the Georgians, the future tournament winners, later defeated Romanians, who finished second, although a misfire in a duel with England did not allow them overtaking the representatives of the Foggy Albion, thus landing them in the 4th place.

Alisa Galliamova and Svetlana Matveeva

At the 1999 event in Batumi Russia was represented by Demina, Ekaterina Polovnikova (now Atalik) and Evgenija Ovod (team coach - Marat Makarov). At that time a team consisted of two boards only, and Evgenija Ovod lost her very first game, remaining in the reserve until the end of the tournament. The other two team members were performing with varying success (objectively speaking, the leader was faced off with very formidable opponents such as Khurtsidze, Stefanova, etc.), with the 8th place in the final standings.

Finally, having missed the 2001 event, two giants of the Russian chess Galliamova and Matveeva, supplemented by the heroine of the last FIDE knockout world championship – World Vice-Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk, left for Plovdiv-2003 under the guidance of Yuri Yakovich. The Russians were the rating favorites and progressed forward while being in first place, but in the penultimate round they lost to the Hungarians, who went without the Polgar sisters (Yelena Dembo, Szidonia Vajda, Anita Gara), and then went on to draw the match with not the strongest team of Lithuania (who carried on without Viktorija Cmilyte), thus winding up being in the third place only. However, it was the first medal up to that moment! The Armenian team with Elina Danielian, Lilit Mkrtchian, and Nelly Aginian was victorious.

Svetlana Matveeva, Alisa Galliamova , and Alexandra Kosteniuk together with Yury Yakovich

After 2003 the ECU decided in favour of equalizing men’s and women's rights so that from then on the women were playing the European Championship with four main and one reserve boards. The lineup of the Russian team in Goteborg 2005 was simply awesome: the Vice-World Champion Ekaterina Kovalevskaya, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Alice Galliamova, the Kosintseva sisters Nadezhda and Tatiana, whose stars had just ascended above the Russian chess horizon. The national dream team started off from the first line yet another time, but was opposed by strong teams of Poland, Georgia and the Ukraine. Alas, a failure in the match against Romania had a decisive impact on our girls so that the members of the Yakovich team wound up falling behind the champions from Poland and the silver medalists from Georgia, to whom our team lost in the penultimate round. However, it started to feel like the age of big victories had just begun!
Yuri Yakovich, Alisa Galliamova, Galina Strutinskaya, Ekaterina Kovalevskaya, Alexandra Kosteniuk, Tatiana and Nadezhda Kosintseva, a person sitting is the second team coach and grandmaster Maxim Sorokin (who, alas, has long since gone from us...)

In 2007 (Heraklion, Greece) the Kosintseva sisters’ trainer Yuri Dokhoian released Yakovich from duty of the women's national team coach. Besides Kosintseva, Kovalevskaya and Kosteniuk the team featured the country’s champion Ekaterina Korbut. This time the Russian team performed like well-oiled clockwork - Alexandra Kosteniuk with 5.5 out of 8, Tatiana Kosintseva with 5.5 out of 8, Nadezhda Kosintseva with 5.5 out of 8, Ekaterina Kovalevskaya with 3.5 out of 5, Ekaterina Korbut with 5 out of 7, having defeated the teams of Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia and having drawn against Hungary, Poland and the Ukraine. The team of Dokhoian confidently took the first place, finishing as many as the whole two points ahead of the women’s teams of Poland and Armenia.

Tanya and Sasha – first gold, first trophy! 

Yuri Dokhoian leads his trainees into action (to the right is Ekaterina Korbut, now Sudoplatova)

The European Team Championship in Novi Sad 2009 fetched yet another "gold" to the women's team, but this time as a result of the intense competition with the Georgian team. The awe-inspiring combination of "Kosteniuk and two Kosintseva" coupled with the newcomers Marina Guseva and Valentina Gunina. In round two Russia lost to her direct rival with a slim margin, but then went on to win all the remaining matches, having thus finished ahead based on the individual points scoring. This was a sure thing with Nadezhda Kosintseva having scored as many as 8 out of 9 after all!

One more victory of the Russian "machine"! Marina Guseva and Valentina Gunina are in the center of the picture

The misadventures of men's team in Porto Carras had no influence on the performance of their colleagues from the women's team. The "invincible machine" of Nadezhda Kosintseva + Tatiana Kosintseva + Valentina Gunina + Alexandra Kosteniuk, coupled with the European Championship newcomer Natalia Pogonina, left their rivals with no chances whatsoever. The final lead over the pursuers turned out to be as many three team points! The Russians drew only a single match against Poland and finished up taking individual awards at all boards featuring Nadezhda Kosintseva with 5.5 out of 9, Tatiana Kosintseva with 6 out of 8 Valentine Gunina with 4.5 out of 7, Alexandra Kosteniuk with 5.5 out of 7, Natalia Pogonina with 5 out of 7.

Yuri Rafaelovich, Natalia Pogonina, the Kosintseva sisters, Alexandra Kosteniuk and Valentina Gunina – yet another title!

Alas, prior to the 2013 championship in Poland a scandal in the camp of the three-time champions broke out. The contradictions that arose between the new coach grandmaster Sergei Rublevsky (Dokhoian had begun working with the men’s team, as was mentioned above) and the Kosintseva sisters resulted in the latter leaving the national team, upon which the RCF revoked their scholarships, followed later by both these leading chess players of the country lapsing into a deep and sustained breakdown in their chess careers...

Rublevsky was forced to significantly rejuvenate the lineup of the Russian team: Gunina, Kosteniuk, Pogonina, which were strengthened by the young stars Olga Girya and Alexandra Goryachkina. For want of habit, the Russians sensationally lost to the Israeli team, but later acted in a very confident manner, contributed much by 7.5 out of 8 scored by Alexandra Kosteniuk, who was looking forward to restoring the status of the team leader. At the finish Russia defeated the leading team of the Ukraine, but still ended up being second as she could no longer overtake the Ukraine in terms of the points gained. Poland finished up being third.

Second place is also an excellent result! Team coaches – Evgeny Najer, Alexander Riazantsev, and Sergey Rublevsky; team members - Olga Girya, Valentina Gunina, Aleksandra Goryachkina, Natalia Pogonina and Alexandra Kosteniuk

Russian women's team performance statistics

Debrecen (Hungary) 1992 – 17th place
Pula (Croatia) 1997 – 4th place
Batumi (Georgia) 1999 – 8th place
Leon (Spain) 2001 – the team missed the event
Plovdiv (Bulgaria) 2003 – bronze
Goteborg (Sweden)  2005 – bronze
Iraklion (Greece) 2007 – gold
Novi Sad (Serbia) 2009 – gold
Porto Carras (Greece)  2011 – gold
Warsaw (Poland) 2013 – silver

Pictures by Chessbase.com,ChessPro.com,Chess-news.ru, Evgeny Atarov, Vladimir Barsky and Alexandra Kosteniuk