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NAO defends Euro Club Cup title

10/14/2004 – A giant among goliaths, NAO Chess Club of France went undefeated to win the 2004 European Club Cup in Cesme, Turkey. Even without Vladimir Kramnik, NAO lived up to its billing by not losing a single game. Report and photos.
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The 2004 European Club Cup

David gets all the press when he beats Goliath, but most of the time the big guy wins. The chess club goliath that is the French club NAO took their second consecutive European Club Cub championship. The winning team is composed of Michael Adams, Alexander Grischuk, Etienne Bacrot, Francisco Vallejo Pons, Joel Lautier, Teimour Radjabov, Laurent Fressinet, and Igor-Alexandre Nataf.

NAO won five matches and drew two, the only club to go through the event without a match loss. In fact, they went through without losing a single GAME! They scored 31 points from 42 games. Overall, Elo was king in Cesme. The top seven seeds by rating finished in the top seven positions.

Gold medal winners NAO Chess Club

Apart from their lofty ratings, the top seed was a model of consistency from board to board. Their star performer was second board Alexander Grischuk, who scored four wins and two draws. That earned the young Russian the top prize for board two. Board one honors went to Shakriyar Mamedyarov, who had the best performance rating among the three first boards who scored +5 =2. Naiditsch and Glek had the same score. We should point out that due to the vagaries of the team system, many of their wins came against much lower-rated players. Of course they can't be blamed for this, and Naiditsch collected a 2700 scalp with his win over Ivanchuk.

Board one prize winners Mamedyarov, Naiditsch, and Glek

Three teams finished behind NAO machine with identical match scores of +5 =1 -1. Game points serve as tiebreakers and Bosna Sarajevo was well ahead here to take second place. Alexei Shirov and Nigel Short led the squad, but their lower boards turned in the big numbers. Victor Bologan won the board four prize with five wins and two draws. Ivan Sokolov and Sergei Movsesian were close to board prizes.

Silver medalists Bosna Sarajevo

Russia's Ladya Kazan came third on board points. A relative underdog, they came in as the sixth seed and used a balanced approach with different players on different boards. Their top board Sergei Rublevsky caused one of the event's sensations by beating Garry Kasparov in the second round. Their third board, Artyom Timofeev, turned in one of the event's best performances, as did reserve Andrei Kharlov (who played in all seven rounds!).

Bronze medals for Ladya Kazan

The second seeded Max Ven Ekaterinburg team was edged out of the medals and was somewhat lucky to finish as high as they did. Garry Kasparov could only muster a pro forma win against Shirov and finished with an even score. His draws against several much lower-rated players will likely drop him below the 2800 rating mark, although he'll have a chance to make the points up before the next rating list is published. The real disaster for the team came on board three, where Aleksandrov lost his first three games. Vaganian, Sakaev, and Motylev picked up the slack.

The women's event, with just 10 teams, was won by top seed NTN Tblisi. Nana Dzagnidze, Maia Lomineishvili, Lela Javakhishvili, Ana Matnadze, and Sopio Gvetadze made up the champion team. The top board prize when to the excellently named Irina Botvinnik of Israel's Herzliya Chess Club. Tatiana Shadrina scored a perfect 5/5 on board four of the Finec St. Petersburg team.

Top seed NTN Tblisi took first in the women's event

Final Standings

1 NAO Chess Club
+5 =2 -0
2 Bosna Sarajevo
+5 =1 -1
3 Ladya Kazan
+5 =1 -1
4 Max Ven Ekaterinburg
+5 =1 -1
5 Polonia Plus GSM Warszawa
+4 =2 -1
6 Tomsk 400
+5 =0 -2

Board Prizes

Board 1: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Eczacibasi Sport Club
Board 2: Alexander Grischuk, NAO Chess Club
Board 3: Artyom Timofeev, Ladya Kazan
Board 4: Viktor Bologan, Bosna Sarajevo
Board 5: Ernesto Inarkiev, Tomsk 400
Board 6: Attila Groszpeter, Zalaegerszeg Csuti Hydrocomp
Board 7: David Marciano, C.E.M.C. Monaco


The 2004 European Club Cup as played in Izmir Cesme (Smyrna) in Turkey. A total of 36 men's and 10 women's teams from 22 countries are taking part.

Looking at the list of participants we have counted a total of 86 GMs and 41 IMs. Remarkable there are 38 players rated over 2600. The star, of course, is Garry Kasparov, playing for the Max Ven Ekaterinburg, together with Vaganian, Aleksandrov, Beliavsky, Motylev, Rustemov and Shariyazdanov. The Elo average of 2682 is second to the NAO Chess Club, with Adams, Grischuk, Bacrot, Vallejo Pons, Lautier, Radjabov, Fressinet and Nataf, with an average of 2698. The lowest average is 1717, held by the team Minatori Mitrovice.

All pictures from the official tournament page



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