The European Team Championship in Batumi crossed a half-way mark. With four more rounds to go the participants are enjoying the day off.
Although many teams did not manage to bring their best players, there are nine GMs with a rating over 2700 in the Open section, with Anish Giri (Netherlands), Shakhriyar Memedyarov (Azerbaijan) and Levon Aronian (Armenia) at the top of the list.
Despite the absence of its leaders, the Russian team in which the star of Grand Swiss Kirill Alekseenko took over Vladislav Artemiev at the very last moment entered the competition as the rating-favorite. Since four team members arrived in Batumi right from the Isle of Man, a slow start – a draw 2:2 with Denmark (Matlakov and Alekseenko suffered defeats) hardly came as a surprise. However, after a hiccup in the first round, the Russian squad picked up momentum and won the next four matches, including a key clash with Armenia without losing a single game. Dmitry Andreikin is giving an excellent performance (4 out of 5); Daniil Dubov is making up for his poor result in Grand Swiss (3.5 out of 4 on the fourth board); Nikita Vitiugov is demonstrating very solid chess (3 out of 4).
After 5 rounds Russia is tied for the first place with Ukraine with its unchallenged leader Vassily Ivanchuk at the helm. Ivanchuk won in the first two rounds and then drew his games with Mamedyarov, Aronian, and Adams. Thanks to his efforts and a very strong performance by Yuriy Kuzubov (who had nearly beaten Magnus Carlsen on the Isle of Man) Ukraine conceded just one matchpoint.
The key match of the entire tournament is coming on Wednesday – Russia, and Ukraine will face each other.
Germany and the tournament sensation - the Slovenian team with Jure Borisek shining on the second board - are sharing the third position.
Anish Giri found himself in the spotlight – the Dutch GM has enough rating points to qualify for the Candidates tournament, but can’t afford to lose many. Thanks to his brilliant victories in the second and third rounds Anish has preserved his rating, unlike one of his potential competitors Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who has not scored a single victory yet and is 5 points down in the live-rating. On the other hand, the GM from Azerbaijan has a chance to secure the slot in the Candidates Tournament through the Grand Prix Series.
Before the start of the women’s tournament, there were no doubts about the favorites: Russia and Georgia enlisted their best. The leaders faced off as early as in the fourth round - Valentina Gunina beat Meri Arabidze and supplied a winning point to the Russian team (all other games were drawn).
Russia won all five matches and has two matchpoints lead over its competitors. Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Serbia scored four victories in five matches. The Serbian team caused surprise by taking down a traditionally strong Ukrainian squad, which is third in the rating list despite the absence of the Muzychuk sisters.
In the sixth round, Azerbaijan will try to stop Russia, whereas the team Georgia is taking on the Serbian squad.
In conjunction with the European Team Championship, the Annual European Chess Union General Assembly took place on October 26, with 40 European Federations participating. The key items on the agenda were the innovative ECU projects developing in 2019, updating the tournament regulations, standardization of the European Championships conditions and the venues of 2021 official events.
The tournament will resume on Wednesday, October 30