European Senior Championships conclude in Rhodes

by Thorsten Cmiel
4/19/2019 – The 2019 edition of the European Senior Championships for men and women over 50 and over 65 was played between the 6th and the 14th of April. The organizers decided to reschedule the event earlier than initially announced, which complicated some of the logistics. Elena Fatalibekova, Tatiana Grabuzova, Jens Kristiansen and Zurab Sturua took home gold medals. The Amateur Championships for players U-1700, U-2000 and U-2300 took place concurrently. | Photo: Official site

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A strong middlegame

If we were to describe the Rhodes chess festival in terms of a chess game, we would have to say that it was not all that successful in the opening, it had a very strong middlegame and it finished with a miserable endgame.

The Senior Championships were originally scheduled for May, but they ended up taking place at the start of the spring in Rhodes — not in Crete, as planned. These decisions led to unfortunate consequences both for the organizers and the participants, especially due to the fact that flights to holiday resorts in the off-season tend to be less flexible and more expensive. In the end, less than two thousand players took part in all seven tournaments combined. Also, the organizers did not manage to create a web page in time (the one set up only had information provided by the European Chess Union) and it took longer than usual to get the Chess-Results pages up and running.

Nonetheless, during the tournament things worked out just fine. The transportation was arranged to perfection; at first, the chess players had the whole hotel for themselves; a good quality internet connection worked almost at all times; and the quality-price relation was more than satisfactory, as the cost per night with full board, including the registration fee, was less than 100 euros. Finally, the food buffet was so good that even some German participants praised the dessert!


Cloudy. Still beautiful. | Photo: Official site

A big downfall was seen at the closing ceremony, though. It pretty much consisted in reading the names of the winners and playing hymns — the Bulgarian participants played under the ECU flag, and even then they played a thematic melody. The trophies awarded — like in pretty much any other chess tournament — were, in my opinion, the ugliest ones from the local provider. The gala lacked a good atmosphere in general.

The biggest letdown, however, was the fact that many of the winners had left before the ceremony, as they had booked flights right after the end of last round — particularly some of the favourites from Georgia. Curiously, some of the players and the arbiters did not know there would be absentees and looked dumbfounded on stage, despite the fact that the organizers helped those leaving early with their arrangements. Not to mention that the ceremony kicked off an hour later than scheduled.

European Senior Championships 2019

The closing ceremony | Photo: Official site

Anyway, many of the participants considered the closing ceremony to be unworthy. Too bad that this assessment marred the overall impression of the tournament as a whole.

The winners

A film crew was in Greece to shoot a documentary about Georgian legend Nona Gaprindashvili. The former women's world champion clearly had trouble keeping up with the tournament and, after two big defeats in the first rounds, she only managed to score 5½/9 points to finish in fourth place. In the end, the Women's 65+ category was won by Russian WGM Elena Fatalibekova, who got 7 points and finished a full point ahead of WGM Tamar Khmiadashvili from Georgia and WIM Tamara Sorokina, also from Russia.  

Fatalibekova took down Nona in round four:


Nona Gaprindashvili

The 65+ women in action, with Nona facing Irina Kabanova | Photo: Official site

Final standings - Women's 65+

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Fatalibekova Elena 7,0 0,0
2 Khmiadashvili Tamar 6,0 1,0
3 Sorokina Tamara 6,0 0,0
4 Gaprindashvili Nona 5,5 1,0
5 Burchardt Brigitte 5,5 0,0
6 Titorenko Natalia I 4,0 1,0
7 Sinchurina Tatiana 4,0 0,0
8 Kabanova Irina 3,5 0,0
9 Ristoja Aulikki 1,5 0,0
10 Podlovna Stella 1,0 0,0

The Open 65+ category also had a clear winner in Danish GM Jens Kristiansen, who scored 8 points after wrapping up the event with four straight wins. Russian GM Yuri Balashov arrived as the first seed and finished in sole second place, while Israeli IM Nathan Birnboim took home the bronze medal thanks to his better tie-break score in comparison to that of Dr. Evgueni Chevelevitch, who, like Birnboim, accumulated 6½ points. 

Kristiansen needed no more than 18 moves to defeat Philip Giulian in round two:


European Senior Championships 2019

No age limits in chess... | Photo: Official site

Final standings - Open 65+ (top 15)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Kristiansen Jens 8,0 0,0
2 Balashov Yuri S 7,0 0,0
3 Birnboim Nathan 6,5 0,5
4 Chevelevitch Evgueni Dr. 6,5 0,5
5 Kalegin Evgenij 6,0 0,0
6 Stebbings Anthony J 6,0 0,0
7 Gruzmann Boris 6,0 0,0
8 Glatt Gabor 6,0 0,0
9 Kolbak Jens 5,5 0,0
10 Petersen Peter Birk 5,5 0,0
11 Bogdanov Valentin 5,5 0,0
12 Giulian Philip M 5,5 0,0
13 Frick Christoph 5,5 0,0
14 Vinke Dietmar 5,5 0,0
15 Renman Nils-Gustaf 5,5 0,0

...66 players

Due to a lack of participants, the Women's 50+ section was merged with the Open 50+ category. Among the women, Russian GM Tatiana Grabuzova and Greek WGM Marina Makropoulou tied on 5½/9, but Grabuzova had the better tie-break score and took home the gold medal.

First seed in the Open 50+ section was Zurab Sturua, and he managed to leave Greece victorious after tallying 7½ points and out-scoring GM Milos Pavlovic on tie-breaks. Latvian untitled player Sergei Terentiev gained 33 rating points after getting 6½ points, thus securing sole third place. The eventual winner got a key victory in round eight, when he took down English GM Keith Arkell:


European Senior Championships 2019

Kevin Winter and Glynis Grant from the 50+ section | Photo: Official site

Final standings - Open 50+ (top 15)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Sturua Zurab 7,5 0,5
2 Pavlovic Milos 7,5 0,5
3 Terentiev Sergei 6,5 0,0
4 Danielsen Henrik 6,0 0,5
5 Arkell Keith C 6,0 0,5
6 Bruno Fabio 5,5 0,0
7 Chapman Terry P D 5,5 0,0
8 Grabuzova Tatiana 5,5 0,0
9 Van den Bersselaar Jeroen 5,5 0,0
10 Welling Gerard 5,5 0,0
11 Gavrish Leonid 5,5 0,0
12 Lewis Andrew P 5,5 0,0
13 Schnelzer Reinhold Dr. 5,5 0,0
14 Druckenthaner Andreas 5,5 0,0
15 Makropoulou Marina 5,5 0,0

...50 players

Amateur Championships

A total of 85 players registered to play in the U-1700, U-2000 and U-2300 amateur championships, which were played concurrently at the Greek Dodecanese island. The biggest field was seen at the U-1700 category, which was eventually won by Russian Kseniya Meremyanina. Emre Demirbas from Turkey was the first seed and ended up atop the standings in the U-2000 section, while Dutch Dennis Brouwer got the gold medal in the U-2300 category, which turned out to be a ten-player single round robin. 

Final standings: U-1700, U-2000, U-2300.

European Amateur Championships 2019

The amateur section | Photo: Official site


Thorsten Cmiel is FIDE Master, lives in Cologne and Milano and works as a freelance finance journalist.


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