European Club Cup 2019: Favourites begin with easy wins

by Sagar Shah
11/11/2019 – The European Club 2019 is taking place in Montenegro from the 10th to the 16th of November 2019. Team Alkaloid is the top seed in the open section and Kyiv Chess Federation is the strongest team in the women's section. Altogether 66 teams in the open and 14 teams in women have taken part. The first round was quite an easy one for all the top seeds. We acquaint you with the teams and also tell you about what you can expect in the next rounds.

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The European Club Cup is taking place from the 10th to the 16th of November 2019 in Ulcinj, Montenegro. There are 66 teams in the open section and 14 teams in the women's section. Both events are swiss tournaments with six boards in the open event and four boards in the women. The nice thing about the European Club Cup is that it is not limited to just European players. Clubs can take players from all across the world. This year with two important events clashing with the European Club Cup — the Superbet Rapid and Blitz Grand Chess Tour in Bucharest, and the FIDE Grand Prix in Hamburg, has resulted in the average rating of the top teams being considerably weaker.

Top 10 seeds in 2018

No.   Team RtgAvg
Alkaloid 2741
AVE Novy Bor 2712
Odlar Yurdu 2702
Mednyi Vsadnik St.Petersburg 2696
Valerenga Sjakklubb 2672
Obiettivo Risarcimento Padova 2657
Molodezhka 2587
Beer Sheva Chess Club 2582
Itaka 2532
SV Werder Bremen 2468

Top 10 seeds in 2019

No.   FED Team RtgAvg
MKD Alkaloid 2701
RUS Mednyi Vsadnik 2689
CZE AVE Novy Bor 2687
ITA Obiettivo Risarcimento Padova 2686
RUS Primorsky District 2615
RUS Molodezka 2605
RUS Moscow Chess Team 2605
NOR Valerenga 2601
ISR Beer Sheva 2580
DEN Koge SK 2567

You note something quite interesting from the above statistics. Although there were three teams above the average rating of 2700 in 2018, the average rating of the tenth seeded team in 2018 SC Werder Bremen was just 2468. On the contrary in 2019, although we have only one team with a 2700+ average rating, the tenth seeds are Danish Koge SK which has an average of 2567! So the overall strength of the event has surely gone up!

Team Alkaloid in 2018 (top) as compared to their team in 2019

At the top we have the Alkaloid team in 2018 and at the bottom we have the team from 2019. Alkaloid had Ding Liren and Yu Yangyi back in 2018, this time they have Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, who is missing the first two rounds as he was playing at the Grand Chess Tour. Sam Shankland, Inarkiev and Kovalev are the new entries to the team and overall the Alkaloid team looks quite solid.

In round one team Alkaloid scored a 5-1 win over Echiquier Mosan | Photo: ECC 2019

Here's an interesting position from the game of Yuriy Kryvoruchko:


Black's position looks quite bad. Although White's pawn structure is completely ruined, his piece activity is tremendous. How should Black try to limit the damage to his position? If you look carefully, White's main threat is to play ♗a4! when the b7 pawn is extremely difficult to defend. If Black is able to look at his opponent's threat, he can find the move ♚d8! in the above position. The idea is that ♗a4 is met with ♞d4! and Black begins to get a good position. It's not like ...♚d8 gives Black an advantage, but it's the best move in the above position. On the contrary, Umudova played ...d8 and after ♗a4, it was all over. The main point being ♜d7 is met with a6! and White wins.

Mednyi Vsadnik

The biggest competition to Alkaloid will come from the Russian team of Mednyi Vsadnik. The team is led by world-class GM Dominguez Perez on the top board. He is followed by the talented Russian youngsters — Matlakov, Alekseenko, Fedoseev. This team has excellent chances of winning the event.

Dominguez Perez Leinier
Matlakov Maxim
Alekseenko Kirill
Fedoseev Vladimir
Rodshtein Maxim
Ponkratov Pavel
Goganov Aleksey

Mednayi Vsadnik (right) scored a 5½:½ win over Tammer-Shakki | Photo: ECC 2019

Ave Novy Bor

The Ave Novy Bor team has an excellent bonding in the team. With a nice mix of Indian, Czech, Polish and Austrian players, Ave Novy Bor will definitely be fighting for the top spots.  

Harikrishna Pentala
Vidit Santosh Gujrathi
Navara David
Ragger Markus
Sasikiran Krishnan
Bartel Mateusz
Babula Vlastimil
Kriebel Tadeas

As Harikrishna took rest in the first round, it was GM Vidit Gujrathi who took board no.1 against Buducnost. Ave Novy Bor scored a 5½:½ win | Photo: ECC 2019

Obiettivo Risarcimento Padova

The Italian team of Obiettivo Risarcimento Padova has a nice balance of experience and youth, aggression and solidity. You have the experienced and solid guys like Adams, Leko and Vallejo and you have the aggressive Rapport, Gawain Jones and Saric. The team also has top two Italian players Vocaturo and Brunello. 

Rapport Richard
Adams Michael
Leko Peter
Vallejo Pons Francisco
Jones Gawain C B
Saric Ivan
Vocaturo Daniele
Brunello Sabino

Rasmus Skytte managed to hold Michael Adams to a draw. Obiettivo Risarcimento Padova began with 5:1 win over Aarhus Skolerne. | Photo: ECC 2019

Three Russian teams

The fifth, sixth and the seventh seeds of the event are Russian teams — Primorsky District (2615), Molodezka (2605) and Moscow Chess Team (2605).

Primorsky District

Sanan Sjugirov leads the Primorsky District. They won their round 1 with a score of 5½:½. | Photo: ECC 2019

Sjugirov Sanan
Alekseev Evgeny
Rakhmanov Aleksandr
Kokarev Dmitry
Rozum Ivan
Sychev Klementy
Nakhodkin Gennadiy


Russian youngsters Chigaev, Paravyan, Esipenko, Yuffa, Antipov and Kryvakin! Now that's a a team you really want to keep your eyes on! | Photo: ECC 2019

Chigaev Maksim
Paravyan David
Esipenko Andrey
Yuffa Daniil
Antipov Mikhail Al.
Kryakvin Dmitry

Moscow Chess Team

12-year-old Volodar Murzin is just 12 years old. He is playing on the sixth board of Moscow Chess team. | Photo: ECC 2019

The youngest participant of the tournament is Jovan Kisic, just 9 years old, rated 1780, and one of the brightest talents of Serbian chess. He plays for the team Itaka.

Dreev Aleksey
Zvjaginsev Vadim
Grachev Boris
Popov Ivan
Kobalia Mikhail
Murzin Volodar
Zlochevskij Alexander

The Moscow team was the only one that scored 6.0/6 in the first round.

Replay all the games from round 1:


Women's section:

With Mariya and Anna Muzychuk on top two boards, Kyiv Chess Federation (Elo average:2499) is the favourite to win the women's section. However, they will face stiff resistance from at least four teams — Cercle d`Echecs Monte Carlo (2461), Nona (2457), Ugra (2440), Caissa Pentole Agnelli (2440). Three more teams who must be followed closely are Odlar Yurdu (2383), AVE Novy Bor (2370),  SPB Chess and Draughts Sport School (2335).

Kyiv Chess Federation (2499)

Four Ukrainian strong players and one Kazakh prodigy - Zhansaya Abdumalik. The Kyiv Chess Federation is the team to beat at the event. | Photo: ECC 2019

Muzychuk Mariya
Muzychuk Anna
Abdumalik Zhansaya
Osmak Iulija
Gaponenko Inna

Cercle d`Echecs Monte Carlo (2461)

Humpy's inclusion in the Monte Carlo team means that they have good chances to beat any team on a given day. | Photo: FIDE

Koneru Humpy
Cramling Pia
Socko Monika
Daulyte-Cornette Deimante
Skripchenko Almira

Nona (2457)

The Georgian women (left) are always a formidable force to reckon with. | Photo: ECC 2019

Dzagnidze Nana
Javakhishvili Lela
Batsiashvili Nino
Khotenashvili Bela
Melia Salome

Ugra (2440)

With Anna Ushenina and Natalija Pogonina on boards one and two, the Russian team Ugra cannot be underestimated | Photo: ECC 2019

Name Pts.
Ushenina Anna 0,0
Pogonina Natalija 1,0
Girya Olga 1,0
Guseva Marina 1,0
Kovanova Baira 0,0

Ave Novy Bor has fielded a women's team for the first time. Current under-18 and under-20 girls world champion Polina Shuvalova will play on board one! | Photo: ECC 2019

Replay all the games of round 1:



Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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