Euro Teams: Six co-leaders, Gledura and Firouzja keep on winning

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
11/17/2021 – Going into the rest day at the European Team Championships, six nations are sharing the lead on 8/10 match points in the open section, with the Netherlands, Ukraine and Armenia the latest to join the leading pack. Meanwhile, in the women’s section, Russia now have a 2-point lead over Georgia and an over-performing Greek team. | Photos: ECU Press

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Firouzja world number 3

With four rounds to go in the European Team Championships, six teams are sharing the lead in the open section. Russia, Azerbaijan and Hungary were the co-leaders after Monday’s fourth round, and all three teams collected one match point by drawing their round-5 encounters. This allowed the Netherlands, Ukraine and Armenia to join them in first place on 8/10 points.

While the Netherlands and Ukraine beat lower-rated opposition, Armenia scored a remarkable victory over third-seeded France despite Gabriel Sargissian losing on top board against an inspired Alireza Firouzja. Following his 8/11 performance at the Grand Swiss, the 18-year-old has so far collected 4½/5 points in Slovenia for an overall 2890 Tournament Performance Rating! Firouzja has thus climbed to third place in the live ratings list. 

Firouzja’s win for France was outweighed by Armenian victories on boards 3 and 4, with Robert Hovhannisyan beating Maxime Lagarde and Samvel Ter-Sahakyan getting the better of Jules Moussard.


Black has the initiative here, but White still has enough of a solid position to continue fighting. However, Moussard faltered at this point with 26.Re4, when Black simply has 26...Rxe4 27.Qxe4 Rc4, winning.


There is no way to save the bishop on f4, since the black bishop protects e8, from where White could have given an intermediate check with the queen.

European Team Chess Championships 2021

The playing hall at the Terme Čatež Spa Complex

While Azerbaijan and Russia played conservatively and signed four draws on Tuesday, Hungary and Spain provided chess fans with a fascinating match. Benjamin Gledura continues to be Hungary’s main weapon, as the 22-year-old grandmaster kept his perfect score (5 wins in as many games) by beating Jaime Santos on board 4.

Alexei Shirov tied the score for Spain, after getting his first win of the event by beating Viktor Erdos on top board.


The fun began with 21.Nd5, which was played by the Spaniard after a 20-minute reflection. Erdos had a tough task ahead, as he realized that his best alternative was to enter a tactical skirmish against one of the best dynamic players in the world.

The Hungarian correctly grabbed the loose bishop with 21...Qxc4, which allowed the intended 22.Nxf6+ gxf6 23.Qh5


Both players missed a few chances in the ensuing struggle, and eventually reached an endgame with rook and six pawns against rook, knight and three pawns. Shirov’s passers on the kingside ended up giving him the full point.


Erdos resigned in this position. It is Black to move here, but there is no way to prevent 47.g7+ Rxg7 48.fxg7+ Kxg7 49.h8Q+

All available games - Round 5


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Standings after round 5

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 Russia 8
2 Azerbaijan 8
3 Ukraine 8
4 Hungary 8
5 Armenia 8
6 Netherlands 8
7 Spain 7
8 Romania 7
9 Georgia 6
10 France 6
11 Poland 6
12 Serbia 6
13 Turkey 6
14 Greece 6
15 Czech Republic 6

...39 teams

Russia (barely) beat Italy in women’s section

The Italian women’s team was paired up against Russia in round 5 after beating higher-rated Ukraine and Armenia in consecutive rounds. The Italians were outrated by at least 140 Elo points on all boards, but only lost by a 2½-1½ score after inflicting the defending champions’ first individual loss of the event — Olga Zimina defeated Valentina Gunina on board 2.

Kateryna Lagno, Marina Brunello

A fist bump or a handshake? — Kateryna Lagno and Marina Brunello

For a second day in a row, the Russians were not far from losing their perfect score but managed to prevail in the end. They now have a 2-point lead over Georgia and Greece. While Georgia beat Armenia in a tough match, Greece surprisingly defeated the third-seeded French team — the Greek arrived in Slovenia as the 18th seeds.

Greece and France drew on boards 1, 3 and 4, with Anastasia Avramidou scoring the deciding victory with the black pieces on second board. The Greek could have won by a larger margin, though, had Haritomeni Markantonaki found a fine tactical shot against Natacha Benmesbah in a complex middlegame.


Black went for 24...a4 here, missing the chance to play the winning 24...Bb4 — after 25.axb4, the doubled rooks on the c-file are activated decisively with 25...Rxc2, and White will need to give up too much material to prevent mate. 

All available games - Round 5


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Standings after round 5

Rk. Team  TB1 
1 Russia 10
2 Georgia 8
3 Greece 8
4 Poland 7
5 Azerbaijan 7
6 Italy 7
7 Ukraine 7
8 Armenia 6
9 Hungary 6
10 Lithuania 6
11 Slovakia 6
12 Germany 6
13 France 5
14 Netherlands 5
15 Romania 5

...31 teams


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.


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