European Seniors: Russia wins, Korchnoi best

4/14/2009 – The 11th European Senior Team Championship in Velden, Austria, ended with a convincing Gold for the Russian team. Silver and Bronze went to Switzerland and Finland. The best player in the event was Viktor Korchnoi: the indomitable septuagenarian – he has just turned 78 – scored 7.5/9 on board one and had the highest performance in the event. Big illustrated report by Franz Rulitz.

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11th European Senior Team Championship:
Russia wins ahead of Switzerland and Finland

Report from Velden, Austria, by Franz Rulitz

Before the last round it was clear that Russia is the new Seniors‘ Team European Champion. After their win against Korchnoi’s Switzerland and Austria’s draw with Denmark, Russia couldn’t be caught anymore. So only silver and bronze were up for grabs in the ninth round on Easter Monday. The Swiss, facing Danmark, were set for second place, and the winner of Austria vs. Germany could snatch the third and last remaining medal on offer. But that match ended in a draw.

The Finnish team had a great finish (ouch – you wouldn’t even find that one in a Chrismas cracker!) and hopped on the steps with a nice 3-1 against Leipzig. Then came an elated Catalonian team in the overall fourth position – they bypassed Austria and Germany with a 3-1 win over Italy. Before the last round Austria was still ahead of Germany, due to Buchholz-technicalities. But in the overall ranking the Germans had the better end to themselves. Which means that the only team that got out of a meeting with Russia unbeaten, failed to make it to the podium. Hoelzl & Co. were not happy, but that’s life (and chess) for you.

Final standings after nine rounds

Rk. SNo Team
Gms
  + 
  = 
– 
 TB1 
 TB2 
 TB3 
1 1 Russland (Russia)
9
8
1
0
17
27.5
193.5
2 5 Schweiz (Switzerland)
9
6
2
1
14
23.5
194.0
3 10 Finland (Finland)
9
6
1
2
13
24.5
182.5
4 11 Catalonia (Catalonia)
9
5
3
1
13
24.0
168.0
5 2 Deutschland (Germany)
9
5
3
1
13
22.5
193.5
6 4 Österreich (Austria)
9
5
3
1
13
22.5
192.0
7 9 SF Katernberg 1913 e.V.
9
5
2
2
12
24.0
182.5
8 16 Schweden I (Sweden)
9
6
0
3
12
21.5
175.5
9 3 Tschechien (Czech Rep.)
9
5
1
3
11
23.0
190.0
10 20 Belgien (Belgium)
9
4
3
2
11
21.5
161.5
11 8 Danmark 1 (Denmark)
9
3
5
1
11
21.0
191.5
12 7 SG Leipzig (SG Leipzig)
9
5
1
3
11
20.5
176.5
13 18 Wien 2 (Vienna)
9
5
1
3
11
19.0
175.0

Full standings and individual tables available here.

The playing hall at the closing ceremony was packed once again, with the organizers, local political dignitaries and officials of the national chess association bestowing prizes and special honours awards on teams and players. The three oldest participants honoured were: Horst Mueller (b. 1923) from Dresden/Germany , Peter Grasser (b. 1926) from Spittal/Austria and Andreas Dückstein (b. 1927) from Vienna/Austria.

In the category “Nestor” (best players aged 75 years or older) the winners were Viktor Korchnoi, Evgeni Vasiukov, Andreas Dückstein and Otto Rost van Tonningen (who in an emotional speech thanked the organizers for their effort). Korchnoi collected another first place for best player on board one, closely followed by a not too happy Vitaly Tseshkovsky and a very happy Orestes Rodriguez Vargas from Catalonia (all of them 7.5 points). The best player on board two was Erkki Aalto (7) from the Helsinki team, board three went to Norbert Stull of Luxemburg (7.5), and on board four Oleg L. Chernikov (6,5) of the Russian team triumphed.

Overall performances

Nr. Ti. Name Elo Team
Rp
Pts.
Gms
%
Bo.
1 GM Korchnoi Viktor 2552 Schweiz
2644
7.5
9
83.3
1
2 GM Tseshkovsky Vitaly 2554 Russland
2624
7.5
9
83.3
1
3 GM Rodriguez Orestes 2406 Catalonia
2513
7.5
9
83.3
1
4 GM Vasiukov Evgeni 2482 Russland
2510
6.0
8
75.0
2
5 GM Westerinen Heikki 2344 Finland
2483
6.5
9
72.2
1
6 GM Jansa Vlastimil 2480 Tschechien
2473
6.5
9
72.2
1
7 GM Chernikov Oleg L 2388 Russland
2460
6.5
8
81.3
4
8 IM Hoelzl Franz 2356 Österreich
2438
1.5
3
50.0
1
9 IM Donchenko Anatoly 2378 Deutschland
2434
5.5
9
61.1
1
10 IM Danner Georg 2445 Österreich
2424
5.5
9
61.1
1
11 IM Brinck-Claussen Bjorn 2290 Danmark 1
2417
6.5
9
72.2
2

The arbiters’ spokesperson Manfred Mussnig thanked the participants for their sportsmanship and pointed out that no troubles on the boards had arisen during the tournament. He must have missed the incident when your’s truly knocked over the Danes’ vase with flower and flag. The puddle, which formed after this accident, forced Austrian IM Georg Danner and former Danish correspondence chess World Champion Jorn Sloth to move their board to the next table.

On behalf of the ECU, Per Ofstad congratulated the organizers for “a very good job”. He admitted that he had felt “a little nervous” when the championship had after ten years been moved from Dresden to Velden. He had feared that fewer teams would participate. But 54 is a great number. Next year the event will be in Dresden again (February 16-24th). Before that, the individual seniors’ European championship will be not far from Austria – in Rogaska Slatina in Slovenia (July 22-30th). The next event featuring a board game in the Velden casino, however, will start in two days: a backgammon tournament!


The last round: grey cells working under grey hair for the ninth time during the tournament


The match Katernberg vs Russia


Schachgemeinschaft Leipzig with Manfred Boehnisch, Gottfried Braun, Heinz Boehlig, Bernd Weber


The Berlin team (from right to left): Friedrich Baumbach, Peter Rahls, Harald Lieb, Hartmut Badestein


The Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) carried news reports on the tournament on the radio,
on their website and on local television. In the photo, IM Franz Hölzl of the Austrian team is being interviewed for TV.


Danner and Korchnoi in the post mortem


Viktor Korchnoi in high spirits after this game


The Gold medal winning Russian team


Silver for Switzerland, led by the indomitable Viktor Korchnoi (cream jacket)


Bronze for the Finnish team (with Velden dignitaries)


The local Catalonia team in fourth place!


Honoring the best player of the event: Director of Velden Casino Othmar Resch, Managing director of the Velden tourism board Roland Sint, Best Player Viktor Korchnoi, President of the Carinthian Chess Association Friedrich Knapp, Provincial sports director Reinhard Tellian, Velden Mayor Ferdinand Vouk.


One of the medals for which the participants were playing


The best female player: Helga Stangl from the Carinthian ladies team


John Rety (center), member of the team England II, initiated a collection among the teams for the victims of the recent earthquake in Italy. Before the last round this morning, the sum was handed over to the Italian team which will pass it on when back home.


An exhibition by members oft he Velden Art Club in the Casineum (next to the playing
hall) featured “The game of kings”. Here’s the painting I like best...


A fountain in Velden that look eerily like the white pieces on a chessboard


The “Tamburizza group Latschach/ Loce”. You will find some authentic “Oberkrainer”
music here (the page doesn't appear to work in Firefox, but is fine in Internet Explorer)

On Easter Sunday many chess players and their entourage visited the nearby village of Koestenberg, where there was an all-day-long programme of local customs, handicraft-exhibitions, culinary specialties (no event in Kaernten without them) and music (choir singing, folk music). The place was packed, indeed so much, that I didn’t go there, although I had initially planned to do so. The shuttle busses were going back and forth like crazy.


Easter bunnies made of straw greet the Easter visitors


Breads, salamies, hams, cheeses – all indigenous products from Velden

Links

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