Monicka Socko wins the European Women’s Chess Championship

by André Schulz
9/1/2022 – Polish grandmaster Monika Socko was the clear winner of the European Women’s Championship which took place at the Don Giovanni Hotel in Prague. Socko scored 8½/11 points to leave a 5-player chasing pack a half point back. Azerbaijani representatives Gunay Mammadzada and Ulviyya Fataliyeva grabbed second and third place, respectively. Nine players gained spots in next year’s Women’s World Cup. | Photos: Official site

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A clear winner

Polish grandmaster Monika Socko is the 2022 European Champion. At the tournament in Prague, traditionally played as an open event, the 44-year-old left no fewer than 123 players behind. The championship winner finished in clear first place as the only player who collected 8½ points in 11 rounds.

After the fifth round, Socko took the lead by defeating her compatriot Jolanta Zawadzka, and she did not relinquish it until the end. In the following six rounds, Socko had to deal exclusively with players from Armenia and Azerbaijan. Both nations were represented by strong delegations.

In the second half of the tournament, two wins and four draws were enough for the Polish star to win the title. In the final round, she split the point with Armenian IM Lilit Mkrtchian after reaching a drawn rook ending, and hoped that none of the chasers would win and catch up with her. The strategy worked out.

Four players finished half a point behind with 8 points. Two Azeri WGMs — Gunay Mammadzada and Ulviyya Fataliyeva — had the best tiebreak scores and took second and third place respectively. The first nine qualified players gained a spot in the next edition of the Women’s World Cup.

Ulviyya Fataliyeva, Gunay Mammadzada

Ulviyya Fataliyeva and Gunay Mammadzada

The last player to join the pack standing a half point behind the winner was Romanian number one Irina Bulmaga, who had a rough start with back-to-back losses in the first rounds but managed to end the event with five wins in a row for an 8/11 score.

In Wednesday’s final round, Bulmaga defeated defending champion Elina Danielian from the white side of a French Defence. Danielian failed to sense the danger in the middlegame, as she mistakenly grabbed a pawn on move 18.

 

Danielian thought long and hard (for 20 minutes) before playing 18...Qxc2, when the alternative 18...Bc6 was the only move that kept the battle going. Bulmaga did not take long to play the refutation — 19.Rfd1 Ne2+ 20.Kf1 Qxe4 21.Rxd7 and White is winning.

In the final position, Bulmaga had a piece for a pawn, active major pieces and even managed to capture her opponent’s queen.

 

Black resigned. Bulmaga and Socko have plenty to celebrate.

Another great performance was achieved by 15-year-old Eline Roebers from the Netherlands, who obtained a WGM norm after scoring 7½ points in the Czech capital.

The European Championship took place in Prague’s Hotel Don Giovanni, which also hosts the annual Prague Chess Festival. The event was organized by the Czech chess agency AVE.

Additional reporting by Carlos Colodro


Final standings

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Socko Monika 8,5 0
2 Mammadzada Gunay 8 0
3 Fataliyeva Ulviyya 8 0
4 Mkrtchian Lilit 8 0
5 Maltsevskaya Aleksandra 8 0
6 Bulmaga Irina 8 0
7 Ushenina Anna 7,5 0
8 Sargsyan Anna M. 7,5 0
9 Brunello Marina 7,5 0
10 Salimova Nurgyul 7,5 0
11 Injac Teodora 7,5 0
12 Javakhishvili Lela 7,5 0
13 Roebers Eline 7,5 0
14 Danielian Elina 7 0
15 Mammadova Gulnar 7 0
16 Dzagnidze Nana 7 0
17 Gaponenko Inna 7 0
18 Narva Mai 7 0
19 Beydullayeva Govhar 7 0
20 Balajayeva Khanim 7 0

...123 players


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André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.
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