The European Chess Club Cup was held in Rhodes from the 20-26th October, with the Czech team of Novy Bor pulling off a sensational victory ahead of the big favourites from Azerbaijan and Russia.
The European Club Cup is an annual tournament in which all teams registered with European chess federations can take part. It was surprising, therefore, that the all-conquering German Bundesliga champions Baden-Baden didn't participate. Team manager Sven Noppes explained the reasons on the Bundesliga website:
We don’t have any planning guarantees as many dates in the international tournament calendar are set too late. In such conditions it’s impossible for us to compete with our desired team.
There is one positive to take from
the team’s non-participation, however, as Sven says he’ll be able to
concentrate on next year's GRENKE Chess Classic. The hope is to arrange that tournament for
August 2014, shortly after the Olympiad, with chess24 responsible for the tournament's live broadcast.
Germany was still well-represented in numerical terms on the Greek island with Solingen, Eppingen and Mülheim, but since all the teams featured amateurs it was clear from the outset that none of them would be in the running for the top places. The favourites were the usual suspects from East Europe – SOCAR, a team of world stars sponsored by the Azerbaijan state oil company, and three Russian teams.
Up until the 6th round everything was going to plan for SOCAR, but then the wheels came off against Novy Bor. The Czech/Polish team lost 2.5:0.5 on the lower boards but pulled off a complete surprise by winning all three games on the top boards. The highlight was the following spectacular victory for Radoslaw Wojtaszek over Veselin Topalov.
1. e4 c5 2. ♘f3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. ♘xd4 ♘f6 5. ♘c3 a6 6. ♗e3 e5 7. ♘b3 ♗e6 8. f3 h5 9. ♘d5 ♗xd5 10. exd5 ♘bd7 11. ♕d2 ♕c7 12. c4 g6 13. 0-0-0 ♘b6 14. ♕a5 ♗h6 15. ♗xh6 ♖xh6 16. ♔b1 ♘fd7 17. ♕d2 ♖h8 18. ♖c1 ♘a4 19. ♗e2 a5 20. ♘a1 ♔f8 21. ♘c2 ♔g7 22. ♘a3 ♘f6 23. ♘b5 ♕e7 24. ♖he1 ♘c5 25. ♗d1 ♘fd7 26. b3 ♕f6 27. ♗c2 h4 28. ♖f1 b6 29. ♖ce1 ♖ae8 30. a3 ♖e7 31. ♕c3 ♖ee8 32. ♔b2 ♘b7 33. b4 ♕f4 34. ♖h1 ♘f6 35. ♗b3 ♖h5 36. ♖e2 ♖g5 37. ♗c2 ♖c8 38. ♗e4 ♘h5 39. ♖c2 ♘f6 40. ♕e1 ♘d7 41. ♕f2 ♔g8 42. ♗d3 ♖h5 43. ♕e2 ♔g7 44. ♔b1 ♖hh8 45. ♕f2 ♖a8 46. ♘c3 axb4 47. axb4 ♖a3 48. ♔b2 ♖ha8 49. ♖d2 ♘bc5 50. bxc5 ♘xc5 51. ♗e4 ♖b3+ 52. ♔c2 ♖aa3
In the last round Novy Bor
were paired against the 10th seeds, Minsk. Some spoke of luck, but the
Czech/Polish team had already played against almost all the other possible
opponents, so it was a logical outcome. It turned into a stroll in the park for
the favourites, who emerged 4.5:1.5 victors.
Silver medals were claimed by Malachite (Russia) while SOCAR had to settle for bronze after drawing 3:3 with St. Petersburg.
Novy Bor didn’t only win gold but also had the tournament’s
top player in Radoslaw Wojtaszek.
In the women’s tournament the powerhouse of Monte
Carlo claimed their expected gold medals with a round to spare.
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