8 November 2017

The Thinkers Pursuing Gold

Decisive battles of the European Team Championships. Photo report by Maria Emelianova

Coming to an end in Crete, Greece, is the European team championship, full of tragedies, surprises and great combinations! Five minutes before the start, the conference hall foyer gathers a huge number of participants, who get there after passing through a metal detector.

The Russian girls, Valentina Gunina among them, come earlier to avoid “traffic jams” and get in touch with friends.

Our girls won all their matches but one, while in round eight they defeated Turkey with a landslide score!

Shakhriyar Mamedyarov is serious about his membership in the 2800+ club -- the tournament had him conquering this summit twice -- while the matchup against Hungary saw him as high as number two in the world live rating list!

Hungary started off powerfully, defeating Russians among other teams, but rounds 7 and 8 did not work out quite well for them, whereas a defeat from the Ukrainian national team, playing without Vassily Ivanchuk, stripped them of any chances to step up the podium.

A rather meek performance was delivered by the young Norwegians that clearly suffer the absence of Magnus Carlsen. They ended up going down even to Finland!

Meanwhile, the young Italian team has everything to benefit from the presence of a veteran player in its ranks. Michele Godena has a long-standing record performing for the country’s main team, and although his results in individual competitions are modest sometimes, he brings important points to the team when needed!

Levon Aronian is always happy to perform for his beloved Armenia.

A presentation of David Llada’s incredible masterpiece, a book Thinkers, took place at the tournament. The book contains 177 portraits, which you find hard to tear your eyes off. Also included is a picture of the Netherland’s young grandmaster Jorden van Foreest, who looked enthusiastic when signing it for the author of these lines.

The book has not one, but as many as two pictures of the magnificent Boris Gelfand. Your humble servant still believes Boris’s portrait, taken in Zurich, to be her best photographic picture.

Will Shakh manage to hold his line three in the world’s ranking list following the duel against Eljanov?

The Armenian team is always smiling and ever so strong! Meanwhile, its leader, Elina Danielian, has not missed a single game! The only day of rest was ... the official day off. When asked if in need of some rest, Elina just smiled, "That's the way it should be!"

Even though Victor Erdos’s rating is much inferior to that of Rapport and Almasi’s, he proved a hard nut to crack as Hungary’s board two. Like Peter Leko, he did not lose a single game, while bringing his team a victory more than his more titled teammate.

The Azeri’s match triumph over the Hungarians - 3:1! Eltaj Safarli, standing in the center, is congratulating Rauf Mamedov.

Daniil Dubov, Nikita Vitiugov and Alexander Grischuk, standing behind them, upon defeating the Croats.

Teimour Radjabov has been demonstrating an excellent shape. This said, the most significant FIDE Grand Prix stage in Mallorca is still ahead...

It was such a crucial game that Daniil Dubov lost...

Alexander Grischuk has made a heroic save against Ivan Saric.    

The Croats, despite round 7 and 8 defeats, have little to complain about: seeded number 14, they still have chances to make it into top 5!

The women's section is not without its heroes, too. Thus, the Greek Stavroula Tsolakidou, known to have championed almost all age groups of the children's world championships, has performed without rest at this event to score 6 out of 8 for her team!

Marin Bosiocic (Croatia)

The Poland’s Mateusz Bartel has had little joy from the tournament.

The Italian teams feature Marina and Sabino Brunello, a brother and sister.

The Armenian team’s goalkeeper, Gabriel Sargissian, has not missed a single ball.

Alina L'Ami, known as a photographer, is on the Romanian national team’s roster.

Laurent Fressinet plays for the French.

The earlier mentioned Jorden Van Foreest. The recent tournament in the Netherlands saw him participate in the company of five brothers and sisters! This is a chess family indeed!

The Netherlands national team’s captain has his head clutched in his hands. Loek Van Wely jokingly admitted that he had already been fired as coach (ahead of the infamous coach of same country’s national football team, which is quite a surprise), and already the Batumi event will mark his return as a tournament player.

The Hungary team captain has little to be happy about as well. Csaba Balogh (to the right) is there with Zoltan Almasi to witness the downfall of his team in a matchup against Azerbaijan.

Even though Sergei Rublevsky might look unhappy, he has all reasons to be proud for his team!

The Russian women’s team snatched gold with one round to go yet.

Olga Girya

Round eight: Russia – Turkey, 4:0!

Ian Nepomniachtchi’s face reads panic. The team’s honor was upheld only by Maxim Matlakov (in the middle) by getting the better of Arkadij Naiditsch.

Ian is not in a hurry to give up his lost position to Teimour Radjabov, focusing on the games of his teammates instead.

Grischuk had a lengthy post mortem with Mamedyarov. Over the board, Alexander never found out where things had gone wrong for him.

Radjabov and Mamedyarov, penultimate round heroes.

The ultimate round pits the Azeri team against the Ukraine.

The Russian girls will match strength with their Armenian counterparts.

Having defeated the national teams of Armenia and Israel at the home stretch, the Germans are now set for their main battle against Russia.

Germany’s newly drafted board four, Rasmus Svane, gaining his team some points in the most crucial of matches and scoring 5 out of 8, is not among the players to challenge the Russian team. I think we are definitely going to see more of him in the Batumi Olympiad!

Alexander Grischuk