Euro Teams: Armenia catch leaders, Carlsen wins again

by Carlos Alberto Colodro
11/15/2023 – No more teams have perfect scores in either section of the European Team Championships. In the open tournament, Armenia joined Germany and Poland in the lead thanks to a 3-1 victory over Israel. In the women’s tournament, Germany joined Azerbaijan and France thanks to a 2½-1½ victory over Hungary. Meanwhile, Magnus Carlsen scored his third win of the event, as he helped Norway to grab 2 match points in their match against Finland. | Photo: Mark Livshitz

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Keymer misses big chance

Co-leaders Germany and Poland faced each other in round 4 of the European Team Championship. Games lasting 32 and 30 moves finished drawn on boards 2 and 3, respectively. On board 1, Germany’s Vincent Keymer had white against Radoslaw Wojtaszek, while on board 4, Poland’s Szymon Gumularz had white against Dmitrij Kollars.

Keymer had a queen for three minor pieces in an entertaining position which engines evaluated as clearly better for White.

Wojtaszek blocked the check along the d3-h7 diagonal with 29...Ne4, surely after having calculated a potential 30.f3, making use of the pin.

As it turns out, the f-pawn push was the best way to keep White’s advantage, since after 30.f3 Rc3 31.Qd1 Bc5+ it is safe to play 32.Kf1, and Black will have trouble coordinating his pieces.

Perhaps Keymer saw ghosts in his calculations or simply thought this was not the best way to make progress, as he played 30.Rd1 in the first diagrammed position, allowing 30...Rh5, conceding the initiative.

Only here did White go for 31.f3, but after 31...Bxh2+ 32.Kf1 Bc6, Black continues to be the one calling the shots by threatening to gain the queen with ...Bc6-b5.

Keymer was forced to play 33.Rb1, and then Wojtaszek got to play the good-looking 33...Rf5, both pinning the f3-pawn and unpinning his own knight!

A couple more tactical manoeuvres by the Polish ace prompted his opponent to simplify into an equal rook endgame, which led to a 48-move draw.

On board 4, it was Gumularz who got winning chances — albeit in a tricky endgame — but that game also ended in a draw. With draws on all four boards, the two teams that entered the round as co-leaders lost their perfect scores, allowing Armenia to catch them in first place.

European Team Chess Championship 2023

Germany versus Poland | Photo: Mark Livshitz

Armenia defeated Israel with wins on the top two boards, where Haik Martirosyan beat Maxim Rodshtein and Hrant Melkumyan defeated Ori Kobo. Melkumyan, who also won in round 2, made the most of a mistake by Kobo in a rook ending with 2 pawns versus 1.

White could have kept his drawing chances with 69.Kg3 here, preventing Black from playing 69...Kf5 due to 70.Rf1+, and White will either grab the pawn on f7 or greatly improve his rook by playing Rf1-f6. In this line, it is likely that Melkumyan would have played some other move with his rook, continuing to shuffle his pieces while looking for a way to break through.

However, Kobo instead faltered with 69.Kf3, giving way to 69...Kf5 70.Ra5 Re5 71.Ra7 Kg6, and the g5-pawn will fall.

Melkumyan captured the pawn on the next move and went on to collect a 90-move victory.

European Team Chess Championship 2023

Armenia versus Israel | Photo: Mark Livshitz

Seven teams stand a match point behind the three co-leaders, including Croatia, Greece and Italy, three teams that obtained upset wins on Tuesday!

Most notably, Croatia defeated the top seeds from Azerbaijan, with wins for Ivan Saric and Marin Bosiocic compensating for Ante Brkic’s loss to Shakhriyar Mamedyarov on board 2. Meanwhile, Greece beat Spain and Italy got the better of France.

As for Norway, which came from losing twice in a row against lower-rated opponents, they bounced back with a 3½-½ win over Finland. Magnus Carlsen grabbed his third victory of the event, as he defeated Toivo Keinanen with the black pieces.

IM Robert Ris analyses Magnus Carlsen’s third win in Budva

Standings after round 4

Rk. SNo Team Games   +    =    -   TB1   TB2   TB3   TB4   TB5 
1 Germany 7
2 Armenia 7
3 Poland 7
4 Serbia 6
5 Netherlands 6
6 Croatia 6
7 Romania 6
8 England 6
9 Italy 6
10 Greece 6
11 Israel 5
12 Czech Republic 5
13 Hungary 5
14 Slovakia 5
15 Azerbaijan 4

...38 teams

All games - Round 4

Replay games from all rounds at

Women’s: Germany among co-leaders

Much like in the open, the women’s championship saw the two teams that had won their first three matches drawing their direct encounter in round 4, allowing a third squad to join them in shared first place.

In this case, co-leaders France and Azerbaijan each grabbed one match point. Gunay Mammadzada (Azerbaijan) and Mitra Hijazipour (France) obtained individual victories, and draws were seen on the remaining two boards.

Like Keymer in the open, French representative Pauline Guichard missed a chance to give her team overall victory. While Keymer’s missed winning line was not obvious, though, Guichard’s mistake was rather difficult to understand.

Despite having a queen and a pawn for a rook, White needs to be careful not to fall for a knight fork or a sudden mating attack. Here, for example, some calculation is needed to realize that 67.Kg4 or 67.Kh4 are effective ways to deal with Black’s immediate threats while keeping the advantage.

However, after spending a bit over 30 seconds considering how to proceed, Guichard went for 67.Qe6, simply giving up her knight to 67...Kxf3.

The ensuing position is drawn, as the rook and knight are ready to capture the c-pawn and successfully deal with any tricks put forth by her opponent. The draw was signed on move 85.

European Team Chess Championship 2023

France versus Azerbaijan | Photo: Mark Livshitz

Germany and Hungary entered the round sharing third place a match point behind the leaders. Naturally, they were paired up against each other. Wins by Elisabeth Paehtz and an in-form Josefine Heinemann gave the Germans overall victory — thus, they are now sharing first place with 7/8 points.

In round 5, Azerbaijan will face Germany, while France will play Armenia, who obtained a convincing 3½-½ victory over Switzerland on Tuesday.

European Team Chess Championship 2023

Germany versus Hungary | Photo: Mark Livshitz

Standings after round 4

Rk. SNo Team Games   +    =    -   TB1   TB2   TB3   TB4   TB5 
1 France 7
2 Azerbaijan 7
3 Germany 7
4 Serbia 6
5 Bulgaria 6
6 Armenia 6
7 Netherlands 5
8 Hungary 5
9 Georgia 5
10 Ukraine 5
11 Greece 5
12 Slovenia 5
13 Estonia 5
14 Switzerland 4
15 Poland 4

...32 teams

All games - Round 4

Replay games from all rounds at


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.