2012 Polish Extra League

by ChessBase
5/19/2012 – Not all chess leagues can sustain the pure caliber of the German Bundesliga, but the Polish Extra League does have a good excuse: they limit teams to only one foreign 'import'. If you thought this might mean each would be jockeying for a 2700, think again as Polonia invested in Anna Muzychuk (2598) to strengthen their lineup. The start brought hard-fought games with several creative efforts.

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2012 Polish Extra League

The opening of the 2012 Polish Extra League

The first three rounds of the QUATRA Polish Team Chess Championship 2012 took place in Warsaw, in the modern Olympic Centre, well known to chess fans due to the European Rapid Chess Championship in 2005. In the previous year Polish Extra League changed its formula and the tournament is now divided into three sessions.  In each session all teams play three matches, each in the host city of last year’s medalists. The next session takes place 14‑16 September in Gorzów Wielkopolski (last year bronze medalist) and the last one 28‑30 September in Katowice (last year silver medalist). The sponsor of the first session of the championship was Biuro Informacji Kredytowej BIK (Credit Information Office), while QUATRA is the titular sponsor of the whole tournament. Wasko HetMan Szopienice Katowice and Baszta Żnin lead the tournament after three rounds.

In the 90’s the Polish chess scene was dominated by two clubs – Stilon Gorzów Wielkopolski (six gold medals and one bronze medal) and Polonia Warszawa (two gold medals, four silver and one bronze).  Winning the championship in 1999 Polonia started its hegemony, winning all events until 2007, when a remarkable rival appeared - Wasko HetMaN Szopienice Katowice, who dominated the league in 2007, 2008 and 2010, with the remaining events won by Polonia. 

Bartlomiej Macieja, top board for Polonia Warszawa

Before the tournament start, Wasko (average 2591 Elo) and Polonia Warszawa (average Elo 2575) seemed to be the clear favorites threatened only by Polonia Votum Wrocław (2558). Other medal candidates include  Stilon Gorzów Wielkopolski (2501), Pasjonat Dankowice (2499) and Baszta MOS Żnin (2462).  

Bartosz Socko beat Gregory Gajewski in the opening round clash

While the team ratings may not seem especially impressive, but it should be noted that each team consists of five men and one woman.  Apart from that, Poland is one of the few European countries with a foreign player limit – teams may include only one foreign player in each match. On one hand this rule decreases the tournament level, as not many top foreign players can be’ imported’ (like in Germany’s Bundesliga) but on the other hand clubs are forced to invest in national players and young talents. Top players include  Radosław Wojtaszek (2717, Polonia Wrocław), David Navara (2706, Wasko), Mateusz Bartel (2677, Polonia Wrocław), Yuriy Kryvoruchko (2676, Stilon) but the unquestionable star of this year QUATRA Extra League is GM Anna Muzychuk (2598) who has been an undoubted reinforcement for Polonia Warszawa. The team lists have almost not changed at all in comparison to the previous year, only Polonia Warszawa has decided to strengthen their woman’s board with Anna Muzychuk and Karina Szczepkowska‑Horowska. All together 32 GMs (two above 2700 and ten over 2600), 21 IMs, 11 WGMs (among them two GMs, two IMs) and 4 WIMs are participating.

David Navara was the top rated player in the league

The first session of the QUATRA Extra League was organized by the last year gold medalist Polonia Warszawa in the Olympic Centre in Warsaw. The playing conditions were very good, the tournament venue was spacious and open for spectators. Moreover, in addition to all games transmitted via the Internet crucial clashes were broadcast on a big screen in the hall, so fans could keep up with affairs on the boards. In parallel with the team event a big children tournament took place in the same venue. It must have been very demanding for the organizers to combine such two events, but the outcome was very positive. The QUATRA Extra League drew hundreds of spectators, among them a lot of children, many of whom got the opportunity to see grandmasters for the first time in their life. The organizational success is nothing surprising, if taken into consideration that these tournaments were organized by Mrs. Maria Macieja, who has already dealt with much bigger events such as the European Rapid and Blitz Championships. Needless to say she has already simply accustomed chess lovers to a high organization level.   

Round one

The most important matchup of the Extra League took place right in the first round when Polonia Warszawa faced Wasko HetMaN Szopienice. The pairings was quite tight:

Navara (2706) B. Macieja (2614)
B. Soćko (2635) G. Gajewski (2622)
K. Mitoń (2622) R. Kempiński (2606)
P. Bobras (2550) M. Olszewski (2522)
K. Bulski (2543) T. Warakomski (2489)
M. Soćko (2484) A. Muzychuk (2598)

Anna Muzychuk was the fourth highest rated player on her team all around with 2598

Before the match Wasko was probably counting mostly on the point on the first board, and Polonia on the woman’s board, however the host did not start the tournament as they had wished.  Though Anna Muzychuk outplayed Monika Soćko, Wasko took revenge on boards two, three and five, winning the match 4-2.  Other medal candidates Polonia VOTUM  Wrocław and Stilon Gorzów Wielkopolski after tight battles outplayed their opponents only 3.5-2.5.   Baszta MOS Żnin and  IMPACT TEAM Ostróda won their matches 5-1 and became first leaders.

Round two

The most riveting match of the second round was played between Polonia Wrocław and Wasko, albeit Polonia weakened by the lack of Radosław Wojtaszek had little to say in the match. The team from Wrocław is very strong – many believed that with Wojtaszek, Mastrovasilis, Świercz, Zawadzka and reigning Polish champions – Bartel and Rajlich they might fight for gold. Nevertheless, their ‘star list’ is quite short and when one good player cannot play, the whole team ‘suffers’. Because of Wojtaszek’s absence, a talented teen rated 2300 had to play on the board four and Iweta Rajlich on the man’s board but it was not enough. After games on three boards were drawn, Wasko prevailed on the remaining ones, winning clearly 4.5-1.5. 

The playing venue

Another interesting match was expected between Stilon and Baszta Żnin – teams that are supposed to fight for a medal, and ended 3.5-2.5 for Baszta. 

Polonia Warszawa crushed their opponents 5.5-0.5.  The most exciting game of the match was the game between Anna Muzychuk and Anna Szewczak. Muzychuk must have underestimated her opponent rated over 500 Elo less and had to fight over 70 moves to score a whole point. In other matches AZS Politechnika Poznańska Pocztowiec won against IMPACT TEAM Ostróda and ROTMISTRZ TWOJA SZKOŁA Grudziądz against  NADNARWIANKA Pułtusk, 4-2 each.

Round three

The third round brought the next clash of giants between the two Polonias. This time the team from Wrocław had no chance. Bartel continues his fantastic form, after winning Aeroflot and the Polish championship this year, and simply crashed Macieja in fine style. Nevertheless, on board two, Gajewski also outplayed Dariusz Świercz, the reigning world champion under 20.  

[Event "Ekstraliga"] [Site "Warsaw POL"] [Date "2012.05.06"] [Round "3"] [White "Gajewski, Grzegorz"] [Black "Swiercz, Dariusz"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A15"] [PlyCount "103"] [EventDate "2012.??.??"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e3 Bg7 6. Bc4 Nb6 7. Bb3 O-O 8. d4 Nc6 9. O-O e5 10. d5 Na5 11. e4 Bg4 12. h3 Nxb3 13. axb3 Bd7 14. Be3 c6 15. Bc5 Re8 16. Nd2 cxd5 17. exd5 Bf5 18. Bxb6 $5 {An idea to somehow use his knight pair to outdo the bishop pair.} Qxb6 19. Nc4 Qd8 20. d6 Qd7 21. Nd5 b5 { There is no question White had seen this and planned his next move.} 22. Ncb6 $5 {Gajewski feels that his rook combined with passed pawn will now overpower the bishops. A battle of ideas!} axb6 23. Rxa8 Rxa8 24. Nxb6 Qb7 25. Nxa8 Qxa8 26. Qc1 Bf8 27. Rd1 Qe8 28. Qc7 Bd7 29. Ra1 e4 30. Kh1 Qe6 31. Ra8 Kg7 32. Rd8 e3 33. fxe3 Qxe3 34. Qc3+ Qxc3 35. bxc3 Be6 36. b4 Bc4 37. d7 Be7 38. Re8 Kf6 39. h4 h6 40. Kg1 Be6 41. d8=Q Bxd8 42. Rxd8 Ke5 43. Kf2 h5 44. g3 Kf5 45. Kf3 Bc4 46. Rc8 Ke5 47. Rc5+ Kd6 48. Ke4 ({White could already play} 48. Rxc4 $1 bxc4 {and the pawn endgame is easily won.} 49. Ke4 f6 50. Kd4 $18) 48... Bf1 49. Kd4 Be2 50. Rd5+ Kc6 51. Re5 Bf1 52. Re7 ({after} 52. Re7 {the kingside pawns cannot be defended. For example} Bc4 53. Ke5 Bd5 54. Kf6 Bc4 55. Rxf7 { and White mops up the pawns.} Bxf7 56. Kxf7 Kd5 57. Kxg6 Kc4 58. Kxh5 Kxc3 59. g4 Kxb4 60. g5 Kc5 61. g6 {etc.}) 1-0

There was a time when the female competition was such that
Iweta Rajlich could walk over the opposition. No more.

On other boards positions were more or less equal, only Iweta Rajlich had a fantastic position with various attacking possibilities and big time pressure against Tomasz Warakomski. When everybody expected Iweta to win, she lost the thread, time advantage and got her own queen trapped. Among other games, the fight between Muzychuk and Zawadzka should be noted. In the ‘hedgehog structure’ Muzychuk had a typical space advantage, but Zawadzka took the initiative after pleasing to the eye complications resulting from typical ...d5, though after forced exchanges the position simplified too much to give the Polish Grandmaster real chances for an equalizing victory. The result was 3.5-2.5 for Polonia Warszawa.  

In other matches Wasko, Stilon and Baszta beat their opponents 4.5-1.5 and Politechnika Poznańska Pocztowiec  scored an even more impressive 5-1 victory.


After first three rounds Wasko and Baszta Żnin lead the leaderboard with three team victories. However, points scored by Wasko are much more remarkable, as the team outplayed main rivals in direct clashes whereas Baszta will have to face the favorites in next matches.

To sum up, chess lovers who decided to spend some of the sunny May afternoons in the Olympic Centre cannot regret it. There were no quick draws, as according to the regulations agreeing for a draw before the move 40 is forbidden. Most games were exciting and tense and spectators could witness not only beautiful attacks and defenses but also complicated endgames.

Decisive matches will be played in September.                    

Click here for full results.


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