A.XAT Montemor O Velho wins Portuguese Team Championships

by Stefan Löffler
8/4/2021 – On the Peniche peninsula, a center of fish processing and surfing, the Portuguese team champion was determined. Two Spanish Grandmasters put in a special effort for the winning team A.XAT Montemor O Velho, reports Stefan Löffler. | Photos: The Portuguese Chess Federation

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Pepe and José win the cup

This year, Jorge Antão, sponsor of AX Gaia, was determined to become Portuguese champion. With the veterans Pavel Eljanov, Yuri Kuzubov, Lubomir Ftacnik and Oleg Korneev as well as 15-year-old Raunak Sadwhani, Antão, who runs the Profigaia vocational school, indeed really had the strongest squad, at least on paper. Antão would have tried to get even better players but the league clashed with the World Cup. Therefore, he sponsored another team besides AX Gaia, EP Gaia. However, this was not official and Antão's two teams were not seeded against each other in the first round but met in the third round. The match ended in a 2-2 draw, about which AX Gaia was not happy, especially since another team did not show any weakness.

Last season, A.XAT Montemor O Velho narrowly missed the title. To do better this year, the club from the Alentejo changed its concept and the strong juniors Bruno Martins and Francisco Veiga were not guaranteed to play. But because they could only get title norms if they played all nine rounds, they skipped the league and instead tried their luck in an open in Spain. Without the juniors, José Santos Latasa, Manuel Perez Candelario, Pepe Cuenca Jimenez and Neuris Delgado Ramirez played for the club. Santos and Cuenca, who won all eight of their games, also scored full points in the decisive match against AX Gaia.

For last year's champion, Dias Ferreira from Matozinhos, the tournament began with a disaster. Grandmaster Alexander Fier was late and forfeited his game, and the first match ended with a 2:2 draw. Worse still, Karen Grigoryan tested positive for Covid-19 after the match. The strong Armenian and his opponent did not compete. Without Grigoryan, Dias Ferreira no longer played for the title and finished fourth. Portugal's number one Jorge Ferreira, who played on top board for the team, is currently writing his PhD in philosophy at New York University and could not travel last year because of the pandemic. This year he combined a visit to Portugal with play in the league and finished with a solid 5 out of 9 result.

The tournament venue in the hotel MH Atlantic

In the best eight of the ten teams, locals played only a quarter of the games. Only the ninth and tenth-placed teams used Portuguese players consistently and achieved a few notable successes.

Arjun Erigaisi (EP Gaia) plays against Neuris Delgado Ramirez from the eventual winner A.XAT

In the top match, Neuris Delgado Ramirez (A.XAT, left) managed to defend a difficult position against Pavel Eljanov (AX Gaia, right).

"The league was stronger than ever," says Lubomir Ftacnik, who also has nothing but good things to say about the organization by the Portuguese Chess Federation. The playing conditions and safety precautions were impeccable. Only the weather did not cooperate at all and he hardly saw the sun.

Some players went straight from Peniche to the Open in Famalicão. There, Alexander Fier seemed to be on the winning track, but he was beaten in the last round and overtaken by the young Lisbon player José Guilherme Santos, who shared first place with Peng Li Min, a Ukrainian of Chinese origin.

That started the Portugal Chess Tour 2021, and it's about to continue briskly. The 150 places in Bragança (18-24 August) are fully booked. For some, after the last round on the same evening, the next Open will already begin in Guimarães, where the 300 places will probably all get booked as well. This will be followed by the festival in Maia, where Anatoly Karpov is scheduled to give a simul. In September, various championships will be played. In October, open tournaments in Pombal and Figueira da Foz will follow. Even the Open de Portugal could still take place this year, as one of the few international sporting events while Lisbon is the European Capital of Sport. It is scheduled for 7 to 12 December.

In the middle, the (presumably beaming) winners from A.XAT Montemor O Velho. Runner-up AX Gaia, is missing a few players.

Final result

g. Snr Team Anz   +    =    -   Wtg1   Wtg2   Wtg3   Wtg4   Wtg5 
1 2 A.XAT - MONTEMOR O NOVO A 9 9 0 0 27 0 25,5 429,8 2272
2 1 AX GAIA A 9 7 1 1 24 0 27,5 423,3 2469
3 4 EPGAIA - CLUBE DE XADREZ A 9 5 3 1 22 0 23,5 377,8 2133
4 3 GD DIAS FERREIRA A 9 4 2 3 19 0 19,5 300,8 1767
5 6 CX MONTEMOR-O-VELHO/CTGA A 9 3 3 3 18 0 18,5 275,8 1666
6 7 ESTRELAS S. JOÃO DE BRITO A 9 3 2 4 17 2 18,0 291,8 1616
7 5 ASSEMBLEIA FIGUEIRENSE A 9 3 2 4 17 0 19,5 284,3 1758
8 9 O AMANHÃ DA CRIANÇA A 9 2 1 6 14 0 12,0 182,3 1109
9 8 CX A2D A 9 2 0 7 13 0 9,0 136,8 801
10 10 CCD CORVOS DO LIS A 9 0 0 9 9 0 7,0 118,3 609

Team line-ups at chess-results...

Games

 

Links


Stefan Löffler, a journalist and International Master based in Vienna and Lisbon, is member of FIDE's Education Commission, a consultant at ChessPlus Ltd. www.chessplus.net and Programme Director of the London Chess Conference: www.londonchessconference.com.
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