Carlsen’s Offerspill clear winners at European Chess Club Cup

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
10/8/2023 – An exciting final round of the European Club Cup in Durrës saw Offerspill and Superchess grabbing gold medals in the open and women’s sections, respectively. In the open, the Norwegian team, led by Magnus Carlsen, beat Asnieres with wins by Pranav Venkatesh and Aryan Tari, while in the women’s tournament, Superchess beat Garuda Ajka in a close match, thanks to victories by Dinara Wagner and Marsel Efroimski. | Photo: Niki Riga

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Pranav scores back-to-back, crucial wins

Going into the final round of the European Chess Club Cup, two teams remained undefeated at the top of the standings: Offerspill, with Magnus Carlsen and Raunak Sadhwani on the top boards, and Superchess, the rating favourites with Richard Rapport and Vishy Anand as their two strongest representatives.

The co-leaders were paired up against the very strong Asnieres and Novy Bor, respectively.

In the end, two close matches ending 3½-2½ saw Offerspill beating Asnieres and Novy Bor getting the better of Superchess. Thus, Offerspill won the tournament outright as the only team to go undefeated throughout the event, while Novy Bor were joined by two other squads that reached 12 match points after winning in round 7: Gokturk Chess Sport Club from Turkey and Sentimento Ajka BSK from Hungary.

European Chess Club Cup 2023

Novy Bor beat Superchess to grab silver medals | Photo: Niki Riga

European Chess Club Cup 2023

In an all-Turkish battle, Gokturk Chess Sport Club beat Turkish Airlines Sports Club to climb to third place in the final standings | Photo: Niki Riga

Shortly after winning the FIDE World Cup for the first time in his career, Magnus Carlsen won his first major team event in Durrës. With 5 out of 6 points, he was the top scorer for his team, and obtained the fourth-highest tournament performance rating in the event — Turkish prodigy Ediz Gurel and Hungarian GM Imre Balog finished with perfect 7/7 scores, while Swiss IM Jacob Sylvan obtained a perfect 5/5.

Also remarkable were the performances by the two Indian players in the Norwegian team, Raunak Sadhwani and Pranav Venkatesh, who both collected 5/7 points. Particularly important was Pranav’s ability to show his best under pressure, as he obtained back-to-back wins in the two final rounds, when the eventual winners drew Superchess and beat Asnieres by the smallest of margins.

Carlsen quipped on X:

Magnus Carlsen

An ecstatic Magnus Carlsen receiving an individual gold medal for his performance on board 1 | Photo: Niki Riga

Three other young players also have a lot to celebrate after strong runs in Albania:

  • Vincent Keymer, who scored 5/7 on the top board for silver-medallists Novy Bor, gaining 6.7 rating points to reach the 24th spot in the live ratings list.
  • Haik Martirosyan, who ended with 5½/7 points on board 2 for Asnieres, gaining 12.2 rating points to reach the 33rd spot in the live ratings list.
  • Nihal Sarin, who scored 5/7 on the top board for TAJFUN SK Ljubljana, gaining 7.8 rating points to cross the 2700-rating barrier for the first time in his career.

Vincent Keymer

Vincent Keymer | Photo: Niki Riga

Final standings

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 Offerspill Sjakklubb 13
2 Novy Bor 12
3 Gokturk Chess Sport Club 12
4 Sentimento Ajka BSK 12
5 Superchess 11
6 Turkish Airlines Sports Club 10
7 Asnieres - Le Grand Echiquier 10
8 TAJFUN SK Ljubljana 10
9 Schachclub Viernheim 1934 e.V. 10
10 Beer Sheva Chess Club 10
11 C' Chartres Echecs 10
12 Rishon Lezion A 10
13 SK Zmaj 10
14 Schachgesellschaft Riehen 10
15 Elektroprivreda 10

...84 teams

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Superchess grab women’s title

Unlike what was seen in the open, the two co-leaders going into the final round were paired up against each other in the women’s tournament. In the end, it was the Romanian squad of Superchess who prevailed in the confrontation against the Hungarian Garuda Ajka BSK to claim the title.

Two teams stood a match point behind the leaders after six rounds, but none of them managed to win on Saturday. SP Gaz Ukraine lost to SK Crvena zvezda Data Driven Lab, while TAJFUN SK Ljubljana only managed a draw against Schachgesellschaft Solingen.

Those results left SK Crvena zvezda Data Driven Lab and TAJFUN SK Ljubljana tied in match points with Garuda Ajka BSK in the final standings.

European Chess Club Cup 2023

The champions (from left to right): Alxander Motylev (captain), Eline Roebers, Marsel Efroimsky, Dinara Wagner, Nino Batsiashvili and Irina Bulmaga | Photo: Niki Riga

European Chess Club Cup 2023

Silver-medallists Garuda Ajka BSK: Csaba Balogh (captain), Teodora Injac, Nurgyul Salimova, Zsoka Gaal, Bella Khotenashvili and Hoang Thanh Trang | Photo: Niki Riga

European Chess Club Cup 2023

Bronze-medallists SK Crvena zvezda Data Driven Lab: Jovana Rapport, Adela Velikic, Jovana Srdanovic, Lilit Mkrtchian, Elina Danielian and Stefan Djuric (captain) | Photo: Niki Riga

The clash of co-leaders saw the eventual champions collecting two wins to outscore their rivals, who grabbed a full point on board 2. The heroes of the day for Superchess were Dinara Wagner from Germany and Marsel Efroimski from Israel.

Efroimski had a piece for three pawns, playing black against Zsoka Gaal on board 4.

Black is in the driver’s seat, but still needs to be careful with her king devoid of pawns to defend it. Gaal’s 28.f4 was a crucial mistake, though, as Efroimski confidently replied by 28...Rg3, when after 29.Nf3 Rag8 30.Ng5, getting rid of the tricky white knight with 30...R8xg5 only increases Black’s advantage.

Efroimski showed good tactical awareness to deal with her opponent’s threats and eventually grab the 37-move win that put her team ahead on the scoreboard.

European Chess Club Cup 2023

The eventual champions at the start of round 7 | Photo: Niki Riga

Georgian stars Bella Khotenashvili (Garuda Ajka) and Nino Batsiashvili (Superchess) obtained the highest tournament performance ratings in the event, as they played on the top boards for the two teams that became the protagonists in Albania.

Khotenashvili and Batsiashvili both played for the Georgian team that recently won the World Women’s Team Championship which took place in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

Final standings

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 Superchess 12
2 Garuda Ajka BSK 10
3 SK Crvena zvezda Data Driven Lab 10
4 TAJFUN SK Ljubljana 10
5 Monte Carlo 9
6 SP Gaz Ukraine 9
7 Schachgesellschaft Solingen 9
8 Gokturk Chess Sport Club 9
9 Asnieres - Le Grand Echiquier 9
10 Wood Green 8
11 MSK Centar Asseco See 8
12 Offerspill Chess Club 8
13 Rishon Lezion 7
14 Galaxias Sports Club 7
15 Teuta 6

...26 teams

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Carlos Colodro is a Hispanic Philologist from Bolivia. He works as a freelance translator and writer since 2012. A lot of his work is done in chess-related texts, as the game is one of his biggest interests, along with literature and music.