Euro Teams: Serbia and Bulgaria clinch gold medals

by André Schulz
11/21/2023 – The German team won 2½:1½ against Croatia in the final round, but it was not enough to win gold. Serbia had a slightly better tiebreak score after beating Greece. Bulgaria took the title in the women’s tournament, with Azerbaijan and France also reaching the podium. | Photo: European Chess Union

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The German team started the European Team Championship as the third seeds behind Azerbaijan and Romania and took the lead right from the start. Despite the occasional setback in the team, the German quintet of Vincent Keymer, Rasmus Svane, Matthias Bluebaum, Alexander Donchenko and Dmitrij Kollars put in a very cohesive team performance, remaining undefeated until the final round and controlling the field from the top of the table. However, one opponent could not be shaken off — the Serbian team with its newcomers Alexandr Predke and Alexey Sarana, who switched from the Russian Federation to the Serbian Federation.

In the final round, the two leading teams fought an indirect duel for gold and silver. Serbia, with a slightly better tiebreak score, played against Greece, while Germany faced Croatia. As the two leading teams already had a two-point lead, a draw in the final round was enough for them to win the silver medal. But, of course, both teams wanted more than silver.

In addition to national coach Jan Gustafsson, who had already helped Magnus Carlsen as an opening specialist, the German team was supported by Frederik Svane, who helped with the opening preparations.

European Team Chess Championship

Germany versus Croatia | Photo: Paul Meyer-Dunker

Dmitrij Kollars put the German team in the lead with a win against Marin Bosiocic. Kollars gained an advantage in the middlegame, then played a little imprecisely and caused an exciting finale.

Rasmus Svane drew his evenly-matched game against Ante Brkic. Germany were now 1½-½ in the lead. Alexander Donchenko and Sasa Martinovic had a drawn pawn ending on the board, but Vincent Keymer had an extra pawn against Ivan Saric in an endgame with rook and minor piece on both sides and tried to turn it into a win. But it was in vain.

In the end, Germany won 2½-1½ and now the result of the match between Serbia and Greece would decide the gold and silver medals.

European Team Championship 2023

Calculating tiebreak scores? | Photo: Paul Meyer-Dunker

Velimir Ivic had put the Serbians ahead on board four. Alexey Sarana and Aleksadr Indjic then also scored for Serbia. Evgenios Joannidis scored the point of honour for Greece. The final score was 3-1 for Serbia.

Serbia and Germany finished the tournament level on points with an outstanding 15 points each. In team tournaments of this kind, the Olympiad-Sonneborn-Berger scoring system is used as a tiebreaker — i.e. the board points scored in each match are multiplied by the number of match points scored by the opponent during the entire tournament and then added together. This sometimes leads to the curious result that you only know who has won when all the results of all the teams are available, because the games and results of all the teams against which the tied winners have played are included in the result.

European Team Chess Championship 2023

Greece versus Serbia | Photo: Mark Livshitz

In this case, the decision as to whether Serbia or Germany would win gold depended on the result of the match between Iceland and Turkey, and the game between Gudmundur Kjartansson (Iceland) and Cemil Can Ali Marandi (Turkey). As Kjartansson drew the final game and the match ended 2-2, Serbia became European champions. If Ali Marandi had won, Germany would have been European champion. The difference is one point in the final score.

No other sport has such a strange way to break a tie.

Bronze behind Serbia and Germany went to Armenia, who beat England in the final round.

Magnus Carlsen’s Norwegian team had started the tournament as eighth seeds, but were unable to confirm this placement over the course of the tournament. By the eighth round, the world number one had achieved five wins and three draws, which was pretty much in line with his rating expectations. His teammates, some of whom are still young, only managed this to a lesser extent. Carlsen did not play in the last match against the Czech Republic. Norway lost and finished in 13th place.

Final standings

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

...38 teams

All games - Round 9

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Women’s: Bulgaria, Azerbaijan and France on the podium

In the European Women’s Championship, the Bulgarian team had the best chance of winning the event with a one-point lead over Azerbaijan.

The German women’s team with Elisabeth Paehtz, Dilara Wagner, Josefine Heinemann, Hanna Marie Klek and Jana Schneider had also entered the race as third in the seeding list. After a draw and three wins, the German team suffered a defeat against Azerbaijan. In round seven there was another defeat against Poland, after which the German women more or less had to give up their medal hopes.

In the final round, the opponent was Switzerland, now with Alexandra Kosteniuk on the first board after a change of federation. Ghazal Hakimifard had put Switzerland in the lead with a win over Hanna Marie Klek, Elisabeth Paehtz equalised with a win against Alexandra Kosteniuk. Dinara Wagner and Jana Schneider drew their games, so the German team finished in 7th place after drawing the Swiss squad in the final round.

European Team Chess Championship 2023

The German women’s team | Photo: Paul Meyer-Dunker

Bulgaria won the match against Georgia and thus secured gold medals. Azerbaijan took silver ahead of France, which won bronze with the best tiebreak score ahead of Ukraine, Greece and Poland.

European Team Chess Championship 2023

The champions! | Photo: European Chess Union

Final standings

Rk. SNo Team Games   +    =    -   TB1   TB2   TB3   TB4   TB5 
1 Bulgaria 16
2 Azerbaijan 15
3 France 12
4 Ukraine 12
5 Greece 12
6 Poland 12
7 Germany 11
8 Serbia 11
9 Switzerland 11
10 Georgia 10
11 Armenia 10
12 Spain 10
13 England 10
14 Slovenia 9
15 Turkey 9

...32 teams

All games - Round 9

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André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.