The 2023 European Team Chess Championship commenced in Budva, Montenegro. The Opening ceremony took place in Hotel Splendid, the official hotel and the playing venue of the competition.
The ceremony was inaugurated with the rendition of the ECU and Montenegro anthems. The President of the Chess Federation of Montenegro, Jovan Milovic, then took the floor and welcomed the players and distinguished guests. “I am very proud that we organised the European Team Chess Championship two months before celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Chess Federation of Montenegro. It is the best gift of all: chess players, chess enthusiasts and friends of chess, Montenegro,” said Milovic.
The President of the European Chess Union, Zurab Azmaiparashvili, addressed the players and guests and expressed his gratitude to the Montenegro Chess Federation for their hospitality. “I believe that Montenegro is becoming the number one chess destination in Europe. I would like to praise the overall work of the current leadership of the Chess Federation of Montenegro, as well as their efforts regarding the Chess in School projects,” emphasized Azmaiparashvili.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Youth and Sports of Montenegro, Dragoslav Scekic, wished the competitors a nice stay in Montenegro. “I would like to thank the European Chess Union for entrusting our country with organizing one of the biggest European chess events. I admire their work and believe we will have a successful cooperation,” he said.
The Opening ceremony also featured musical performances and a short historical movie about chess development in Montenegro.
World #1 Magnus Carlsen attended the opening ceremony of the event and kindly poseв for photos with fans.
The Technical meeting took place after the opening ceremony, with the attendance of the team captains. The Chief Arbiter of the event, Nenad Doric, addressed the captains and introduced them to the tournament rules together with his colleagues: Fair Play Officer Tania Karali and Deputy Chief Arbiter Igor Vujacic.
The event brought together 70 teams from 39 European federations, with 38 teams in the Open section and 32 teams in the Women’s tournament. Azerbaijan (Rtg average 2701) headlines the Open tournament, and Georgia (Rtg average 2471) is the top seed of the Women’s event.
Top European players represent their federations at the championship, including the World No1 GM Magnus Carlsen (NOR, 2829), GM Richard Rapport (ROU, 2748), GM Teimour Radjabov (AZE, 2745), GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (AZE, 2734), GM Vincent Keymer (GER, 2721), and GM Alexandra Kosteniuk (SUI, 2526), GM Bella Khotenashvili (GEO, 2488), GM Nino Batsiashvili (GEO, 2487), GM Elisabeth Paehtz (GER, 2473), and WGM Dinara Wagner (GER, 2467) in Women’s section.
The ECU President Zurab Azmiaparashvili and the ECU Honorary Vice President, and the Vice President of the Montenegro Chess Federation Veselin Draskovic played the first ceremonial moves on the top boards of the Open and Women’s event to open the round.
The first round brought some unexpected results. Denmark beat the top seed Azerbaijan by a minimal margin (Mads Andersen defeated Shakhriyar Mamedyarov; other three games were drawn), while Norway and Romania were held to a draw by lower-rated Slovakia and Austria, respectively.
There were no surprises in the women’s section as almost all the favourites scored confident victories in Round 1. The only exception was the match between Germany and Greece, which the latter tied after all four games were drawn.
Text and photos: European Chess Union
Official website: etcc23.me/