The most popular players in Europe

by ChessBase
7/11/2003 – After the European Championships in Silivri, Turkey, we ran a poll asking our readers to study the games, results, tactical positions and pictures of the players and select their favourites. The response was overwhelming. After counting all the votes we present you with the winners. And with the many interesting, profound, funny and critical things people wrote in their entry forms. Here are the results.

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Who are your favourite players?

Popularity contest for the 4th European
Individual Chess Championships

During the European Championships in Silivri, Turkey, we published games, results, tactical positions, and pictures. Lots and lots of pictures, of the players at work and at play.

A week ago we asked you to revisit our reports and decide: who are your favourites amongst the 207 men and 115 women who did battle at the championships.

The response was overwhelming. As the emails kept pouring in, and our spam filters kept hoovering out the junk, we could detect a fair bit of enthusiasm for this chess popularity contest. Especially the comments attached to the votes were always interesting, sometimes profound, often funny and flippant. A few were quite critical of our style of chess publication. Both of these are given in red in the feedback section below (so you don't miss them).

After the close of the polls on July 7 we took all nominations and evaluated them semi-automatically, eliminating obvious attempts to stuff the vote (dozens of submissions with minor variations and bogus email addresses from the same sender). And so we can present the final count, with one clear winner and two neck-and-neck runners-up.

The winner is, not quite surprisingly, Kateryna Lahno of the Ukraine. This 13-year-old is one of the greatest talents in current-day women's chess, having completed her WGM norms at an even earlier age (12 years, four months and two days) than the legendary Judit Polgar. Her current rating of 2417 make her the strongest female player in the chess superpower Ukraine and number 28 in the world of women's chess. Kateryna was also the only female player to take part in the open (men's) tournament. After the tournament we asked her whether it had been difficult or unpleasant to play against male grandmasters. Her answer was that she loved it and couldn't wait to play against even stronger men!

In second place we have a male player, Vassily Ivanchuk, whose fighting spirit, humour, self-irony and affable nature won him many fans. Congratulations Chucky, this is what you beat:

WGM Regina Pokorna, 21, from Slovakia came in third. Vladislav Tkachiev, talking about beauty in chess, called her "a child-woman, an eternal girl". It's probably those incredible blue eyes, though you can never ignore her beautiful games and 2400+ rating.

Next in the popularity ranking was IM and WGM Antoaneta Stefanova of Bulgaria, 24 years old and at Elo 2550 number two (behind Judit Polgar) in the world's women's rankings. "Etti" won last year's European Championship in Varna with a performance of 2671. Obviously a player to watch carefully.

Number five on the list is 27-year-old Almira Skripchenko, IM, WGM, a very ambitious 2500+ player who hails from Moldova but now lives in Paris (she was married to France's top GM Joel Lautier). Almira has made a number of excellent multi-media reports for ChessBase Magazine, but is currently concentrating on improving her chess skills.

Final results

In the following list you will find the top 40 players in our popularity contest. "Rank" gives you the place of each player in the European Championship. The rankings are separate for men (darker colour in the list) and women. Remember, thoughm, that Kateryna Lahno's ranking applies to the men's tournament in which she participated.

Place  Rank  Title Name Rating FED Votes 
WGM Lahno Kateryna 2417 UKR
GM Ivanchuk Vassily 2704 UKR
WGM Pokorna Regina 2418 SVK
WGM Stefanova Antoaneta 2550 BUL
WGM Skripchenko Almira 2501 FRA
Sharevich Anna 2252 BLR
GM Azmaiparashvili Zurab 2678  GEO 
WGM Kosintseva Tatiana 2457 RUS
WIM Smokina Karolina 2269 MDA
GM Grischuk Alexander 2701 RUS
WGM Alexandrova Olga 2445 UKR
WGM  Cramling Pia 2470  SWE 
GM Georgiev Kiril 2647 MKD
WGM Zhukova Natalia 2448 UKR
WGM Cmilyte Viktorija 2430 LTU
WFM Motoc Alina 2358 ROM
GM Tkachiev Vladislav 2643 FRA
GM Beliavsky Alexander 2649 SLO
GM Mc Shane Luke 2592 ENG
GM Sakaev Konstantin 2664 RUS
WGM Polovnikova Ekaterina 2383 RUS
WGM Bosboom-Lanchava Tea  2329 NED
WGM Gaponenko Inna 2417 UKR
GM Malakhov Vladimir 2672 RUS
WGM Paehtz Elisabeth 2384 GER
GM Tiviakov Sergei 2623 NED
Papadopoulou Vera 2230 GRE
GM Graf Alexander 2630 GER
GM Nielsen Peter Heine 2625 DEN
WFM Topel Zehra 2092 TUR
WGM Khurtsidze Nino 2427 GEO
WGM Kosintseva Nadezhda 2417 RUS
WFM Nagel-Seirawan Yvette 2068 NED
WGM Kovalevskaya Ekaterina 2447 RUS
WGM Mamedjarova Zeinab 2298 AZE
GM Van Wely Loek 2675 NED
GM Sutovsky Emil 2652 ISR
WGM Galliamova Alisa 2489 RUS
WGM Gaprindashvili Nona 2318 GEO
GM Agrest Evgenij 2591 SWE

Reports on the European Championships


Dennis Vikman, Göteborg, Sweden
We are starved with chess victories in larger tournaments here in Sweden, so of course I was delighted to see the performance of phenomenal Pia Cramling. Agrest had a very nice start, however he failed to produce the same high quality of his game throughout the whole tournament. Ivanchuk is Ivanchuk, one of those few that truly understands chess. I am a bit biased since I am Swedish.. But I had to mention Ulf Andersson too, he is one of the strongest chess players ever from Sweden! Azmaiparashvili ( hard to spell.. ) just looks so intimidating... Imagine sitting on the opposite side of the board facing that giant.

Michael Stevenson, Christchurch, New Zealand
1. Smokina, 2. Bosboom-Lanchava, 3. Stefenova, 4. 18-year-old Vera Papadopoulou, 5. Regina Pokorna. My five favourite players are picked by beauty. But what beauty!!

Laurence Heywood, Sydney Australia
I am new to getting serious – or hilarious – with chess. Love your site. I enjoy the variety of articles you contrive to include. You give chess a human face, while I mostly play on the internet at Yahoo Games, vastly overpopulated by unfriendly blitz players looking for blood. I particularly relish the mischeivous sensationalism and outrageous journalistic license of the sub-editing. (Pre-emptive strikes and WMD! Chess playing World Championship boxers!) Yours is one of my favourite sites in any category.

Igor Freiberger, Porto Alegre, Brazil
Why does a person like me, who did not play any tournament during the last seven years and is "freezed" at 1900 rating visit a ches site every day? Why I always spend some time at although I rarely open my Fritz or ChessBase these days? It's amazing that a company as ChessBase dedicates its resources to produce a site that it's not just another e-commerce one but a place to enjoy the pleasure of all chess aspects. Of course, you can just do business in the usual way, but ChessBase chose to produce a kind of "home" to chess news and articles. Reports like this are delightful. It's not just about chess: the reports traces local culture, history and geography. And, besides this, there are the puzzles (I enjoy them very much, although I never find any solution!), news and, of course, the Mig clumn. He, John Henderson and Frederic Freidel are the best chess writers I know. Of course, this is not just ChessBase work as many reports are sent by contributors. But it's obvious the contributors make a true effort to delivery high-level articles to get in pair with the others already published on the site. So, this is just a message to let you know your work is very appreciated around the world, and specially by this early CB-addict. Thank you.

Lynn Heidebrecht, Portland, Oregon USA
I'm the webmaster for a scholastic organization called Chess Odyssey. I keep a "Chess News" page updated where I have regularly been adding links to your excellent chess news articles.

However, I am offended and very concerned about a photo you repeatedly posted recently that is not at all suitable for kids (of the naked behinds of dancers at the bottom of this page). First of all, how does this have ANYTHING to do with chess news? There have been an awful lot of pictures of chess-playing women in bikinis lately too, making it appear as though Chess Base's attitude is that the most notable contribution these women make to the chess world is to expose as much skin as possible...

Secondly, the picture I referred to above is obscenity and, of course, totally inappropriate for kids, who also are interested in chess news. I had to hunt for a different link from yours to give results of the European Championship because I couldn't use yours.

Would you please remove the photo from your web site and not print any more nudity? It's already difficult enough to avoid pornography on the Internet.

Lewis Brookens, Scotland
I must say that your news coverage is very impressive. I've put the news section in my favourites and check it every day! I was particuarly impressed with some of the female chess players at the European championships and was wondering if chessbase have any plans to sell posters of famous chessplayers. Not just females, but also ex world champions such as Fischer or Karpov etc.

Matt Morgan, Spotsylvania VA USA
I think women's chess does not receive as much attention and respect as it rightfully deserves, and as such I am heavily biased in favor of lady chess players.

My #1 is Nino Khurtsidze, simply because she looks like someone I know. Her past successes also show she has quite a bit of ability at the board and is not someone to take lightly.

My #2 is Elizabeth Pahtz. She is very young and is already making a name for herself, and I would not be surprised if she is the next Judit. I'd like to see her become a major contender in the overall world rankings, and she's on track to do just that.

My #3 is Viktorija Cmilyte. She was ranked 14 in the overall lineup and almost won the women's tournament, quite an accomplishment. The fact that she looks a lot like my niece is also in her favor.

My #4 is Zurab Azmaiparashvili, who won the men's tournament. I think what turned me towards this man was the picture of him getting a kiss from his wife – - even a tournament winner has a soft side, and this picture showed it.

My #5 is Yildiz Cavusoglu. When the original posting of her picture went up, her name wasn't known. This suggested that she was ranked very low and did not stand a good chance. That's all the more reason to cheer her on and hope she would do well. Alas, she didn't, but I suspect she'll be back. And I'll be cheering for her.

D. Ebrahim Al Mannai, Manama, Bahrain
1. GM Alexander Grischuk of Russia: modern-day Alekhine, future world champ (my prediction) and easily the coolest, hippest top-tenner out there (even without the Rastafarian hair-do).

2. GM Vassily Ivanchuk of the Ukraine: The pride and sorrow of modern chess. Although he was the tournament’s top seed and is currently ranked 13th on the ratings list, when I think of Ivanchuk, a sad sense of unfulfilled promise comes to me (along with the melancholy sounds of an imaginary violin). A chessboard poet with the soul of a true artist- a condition which has probably been the major factor preventing him from attaining the top spot in these hard-edged, money-minded, shark-infested chess waters of today’s world. In the tradition of Zuckertort, Rubinstein, Keres, and Korchnoi, Vassily Ivanchuk is history's latest incarnation of the ‘greatest player never to have become world champion’.

3. WGM Katerina Lahno of the Ukraine ; amazing – not only because she was born in 1990 and is today the top female player in the Ukraine, but also because she’s the only female player in the men’s section – Judit-style. An A for her achievements so far, and two A+’s for her courage!

4. WFM Yvette Nagel-Seirawan of the Netherlands: just about the sweetest lady one could meet; a good friend from my Seattle days- I wish all the best in Amsterdam for her and her husband (whatever his name is).

5. WGM Regina Pokorna of Slovakia: the prettiest smile in European Chess!

Gerard Smith, Dublin, Ireland
I choose Vassily Ivanchuk because he looks better in shorts than I do., Oleg Romanishin for not playing 3..Be7 in a French. Sevtlana Matveeva for the nicest smile. Svetlana Petrenko for the best limbo dance and, Pia for a great comeback to top form in winning the event.

Saran Maitreewech, Thailand
I love child prodigy. That's why I choose Kat Lahno for the number one.

Eric Chang, Irvine, USA
1. Azmaiparashvili. Well, my congratulations to the winner – of course. :) 2. Ivanchuck. Steely defender and world-class player, holds my great respect for his artistry and understanding of the game. 3. Grischuk. Combinations! Fire (though I suppose not as MUCH fire as Shirov) on the board! 4. McShane. As a beginning chess player near my 20s, I admire (as well as – let's be honest – envy) the talented GMs that are near my age. 5. Lahno. Good for chess, I wish her further success in the future.

Antonio Sumabon, Winnipeg, Canada
1. Antoaneta Stefanova, 2. Almira Skripchenko, 3. Inna Gaponenko, 4. Regina Pokorna, 5. Alina Motoc. Beauty and brains are a lethal combination! Do you have their e-mails by any chance???

Aydin Sray, Ankara, Turkey
1. Anna Sharevich, 2. Almira Skripchenko, 3. Sergei Tkachiev, 4. Antoaneta Stefanova, 5. Ekaterina Polovnikova. The female players were selected on the basis of beauty, attraction and sexual apperance. The male player GM V. Tkachiev was selected due to his best-model looking harmonious face and handsomness. I am a plastic surgeon (M.D., Assistant Prof.) thus I feel competent to make these judgement.

Vishal,Lama, New Delhi, India
1. Katerina Lahno, 2. Katerina Lahno, 3. Katerina Lahno, 4. Katerina Lahno, 5. Katerina Lahno. Do I need to explain further? [Such votes were only counted once]

Davit Chokoshvili, Tbilisi, Georgia
I chose Zurab Azmaiparashvili as a new european champion. He is Georgian like me and my father's good friend. Tatiana Kosintseva is one of the youngest and strongest lady in the world and she played in this championship very well! For Antuaneta this tournament wasn't sucesful but she is one of the most beautiful and very good chessplayer so I chose her. I think Kateryna needs no comments, she is 13, WGM and with elo <2400! and her result here must count as sucess. Luke McShane is a very nice guy and such a strong chessplayer!He qualified in world championship and got rating <2600. Well done Luke!

Riyath Mallahi, Buffalo, NY
Each of the players have provided much to the chess world. Though I admire each of them, GM Ivanchuk will always be on the top of my list. His inspiring and brave play has helped me to see more attack and tactical flair in my games. Zurab had a fine tourney, and congratulations to him.

Waqas Iqbal, Carleton University, Toronto, Canada
I picked the particular players above the many other worthy competitors for a few reasons. At the top of the list, Mr. Azmaiparashvili must be congratulated and given all due regard for his fine performance. In a field with players less than half his age, he triumphed proving that and old dog can learn new tricks. Perhaps as notable as this success among an incredibly strong field is that at the same time Mr. Azmaiparashvili is positive and above all respected abassador for chess. His involvement in the administration aspect of the chess world todays also speaks volumes of this man's elite character. Mrs. Lautier and Ms. Paehtz were picked because in the continually evolving field of women's chess, one can be popular for two reasons. Excellent play or excellent looks. These two extraordinary women were amply blessed with both, equally capable of producing beauty on the board, in addition to their beauty at first glance. Alexander Grishchuk is on my personal favourite list because he is perhaps the hope of my generation. Alex is born the same year as myself and as an aspiring chess player myself, he is the kind of individual I can most easily relate to. Of course there is also Ruslan, but I think he has become much too distracted (thought not without reason) by the political aspect of chess and has lost his youthful pith and vigor. Alex, although an amazing chess player, still remembers that he is a kid! And always looks as if he is having the time of his life in competitions. Lastly, Mr. Ivanchuk rounds out the list as I honestly believe this gentleman is the most talented of them all ... were it not for his nerves. On his worst day Mr. Ivanchuk is an elite level 2700 Super GM. On his best days, he is very much the best. Alas, for this poor yorrick, his best days are too far apart. Nevertheless, the recognition for this fine gentleman and chess juggernaut is most rightly deserved. These players are most worthy of all praise and recognition.

Paulo Sunao Shintate Jr, Sao Paulo, Brazil
I have chosen Katerina Lahno as the number one, due to his age : a very young talent. In the second place, Viktorija Cmilyte, who almost won the Championship, loosing only to a more experienced chessplayer in the last round. In the third place, Elisabeth Pähtz, who has already played a match against Kasparov. She certainly will be the Woman Chess Championess in the near future. In the fourth place, Tatiana Kosintseva, another young talent that was one of the sensations of the 2002 Women's Olympiad and has won the "LII Russian Woman Chess Championship", with 16 years old. And in fith post, Regina Pokorna is certainly one of the most promising woman chessplayers. Regina was European female Under 20 Champion in 1999 winning with the convincing score of 10/13. She led Slovakia to victory in the European Team Championship in Spain 2001 and also played top board in the Slovakian women’s team at the Bled Olympiad in 2002.

Dennis Cesar Caluban, Kuwait
The photos of the young ladies speak for themselves. :-)

Pablo Sierra, Valladolid, Spain
Tatiana Kosintseva is my 1st pick as she has been improving a lot in these past years and I think she´ll win a strong tournament in the future as she did in the Russian Chess Championship. Vladimir Malakhov is also a curious chess player as he isnt a professional player, I think he´s still devoting much of his time to his studies at Moscow but when he plays he shows he´s a really strong player (also in blitz!). Loek van Wely is also a nice player and I´ve always followed his career; Vladislav Tkachiev is the funnier player of the bunch of players that played in Silivri, looks like he´s always happy and having fun. Finally my 5th vote goes to Vassily Ivanchuk, he´s a strange guy (but that isnt new for all of us) but looks like he also likes to have fun

Irina Sosnikova, Kramatorsk, Ukraine
Successful Game of the little girl (Katerina Lahno) with skilled GM has very much impressed!

Rogelio Ojeda, Puebla, Mexico
I was so impressed when I discovered that these young & (so) pretty girls are such strong players, all of them are just deadly tacticians and brilliant strategists! My favourite on and off the board! Katerina Lahno is so sweet and such an innovative player at the board! Regina Pokorna it's SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL playing or not! But in the end the the way these ladies show their mastery at the board it's what caughts your attention!

Carlos Adan, Madrid, Spain
Guess how many years are left before Kateryna Lahno becomes higher rated than Judith Polgar... In less than four years we will have a World Champion (e.g. Kasparov) beaten by her.

Richard Price, Mobile, USA
There are two young women, Anna Sharevich and Regina Pokorna on my list, but, they should be on any mans' list! Congradulations to Zurab Azmaiparashvili's fine performance! And seeing Vassily Ivanchuk dance and Sergei Tiviakov jump, were just so funny!

Kamen Popov, Sofia Bulgaria
Almira Skripchenko – - she is beautiful!

Kevin Paine, Dundee, Scotland
1. Regina Pokorna, 2. Olga Alexandrovna, 3. Anna Sharevich, 4. Ekaterina Polovnikova, 5. Karolina Smokina. Just don't let my fiancee see this entry form.

Mark Howitt, Huddersfield
1. Luke McShane, 2. Stuart Conquest, 3. Pokorna, 4. Sharevich, 5. Motoc. I took a highly analytical approach to my selection. The first two were chosen on their chess abilities, heroically representing England in Turkey. For the final three, whose games I sadly do not know, I simply glanced at the 'players at play' photoshoot and chose the three most attractive ladies.

Niculochkina Olga, Ukraine, Kramatorsk
Many skeptically responded concerning performance thirteen-year Katerina Lahno, but she it made the present furor playing on equal with man's GM. Cmilyte Viktorija has very much added in game for the last and began one of the strongest women chess players.

Bjarne Andersen, Assens, Denmark
Peer Heine is my favourite player in Denmark and also in this tournament. Graf, Ivanchuk and McShane, who play a good tournament. Davor Palo the danich youngstar who very soon will get a GM titel i think. All the matches he play were against GM players, and he got 6½ pts out of 13. Well done Palo!

Oigres, Macedo, Londrina, Brazil
Tatiana Kosintseva is beautiful, charm, young and... the hightest performance between the beauties of the championship. Regina Pokorna is the most beautiful, but Tatiana is the first one in my list. Alisa Gallianova is a good player and her silks in the head are so fashion. Elisabeth Pähtz is always with a modern hair cut plays very well. Vera Papadopoulou has the beauty and the Greek's spice.

Anders Bengtsson, Göteborg, Sweden
As Bareev said, there are three players in hte world who know how to play chess, plus possibly Ivanchuk. High praise indeed. Cramling is one of the first female grandmasters, and still going strong! And she's from the same country as I am. Azmaiparashvili won it all. Kosintseva: so young and so close to win already. She has a great future in chess for sure. Grishukis the coolest of the all!

Victor Ashagbley, Tema, Ghana
My favourite players played very well at the board and also really had fun! Chess is not all about playing.

Andrei, Toronto, Canada
Great reports, games, pictures!! chessbase is my favorite web! all the last news are on time, very easy do read and understand, all the games with good analyses, always great pictures and much more ! thx for making this wonderful web !! thx again and all the best, your regular reader (master level player)

Luis Smith, Levelland, USA
The Kosintseva girls deserve a whole lot of credit. Both of their play was simply outstanding. Especially the younger of the two, Tatiana whom I was watching since the beginning of the tournament. To see the title (WFM) beside a girls (or boys mind you) name who was only 17 years old is simply outstanding. I hope she goes on to prove that not only that women can play chess, but they can also become super-GM and maybe even become (Unified) World Chess Champion!

Emil Chua, Caloocan, Philippines
karolina smokina is so pretty! though ivanchuk didnt win the tournament i think he just didnt have luck on his side. azmaiparashvili deserves to win because he led the tournament most of the way. lahno scalps some gm's and had a decent score, plus the fact that she's so brave to join the mens section rather than the women. as for tiviakov, he looks funny in those pictures!

Mrdeza, Calgary, Canada
I liked Tkachiev because of the interesting personality, and Georgiev and Kozul becaue they're the best players from my families native countries of Croatia and Macedonia. I choose Alexandrova and Pokorna because they're some of the cutest chess ladies around, and are of the younger group coming up.

Miguel Angel Castillo Delgado, Cuernavaca, México
I think that this players have a lot of potential and a great future (and present) in chess. Kosintseva and Grischuk will soon become world champions. Lahno an Cmilyte will become better players than Judith Polgar. Ivanchuk will continue having great victories, and will defeat his nerves in order to reach the top 5.

T.S. Randall, Angels Camp, USA
If I were die upon my shield at the board, I'd prefer to lose to a lovely smile behind the brains... It would be enchanting to meet the lady who captured Yasser; An opportunity to meet such "household names" as Nona and Alexander (my token mail on the list) could not be missed. How wonderful to see chess among females continue to flourish. Perhaps there is hope for my daughter?!

Dragomirescu, Calin, Timisoara, Romania
First of all, thanks a lot for your great site and for the possibility to tell our opinions. Now some reasons for my choice: 1. Pia was my favourite player in the past, and I was sorry not to see her in big competitions in the last years. Now she's back again, and I wish her all the best in the World Championship. I like the most her game with Marie Sebag, reminds me of Capablanca's games. 2. Corina Peptan is the "chess pride" of my home city Timisoara. Me and my wife had the pleasure to play with her in a closed tournament here, my wife met her also in the Romanian team competition. Corina is not only a very strong grandmaster, but also a very kind and fair person. 3. Alexander Grischuk use to play great attacking chess, and that's the reason why I like him a lot. He was not in his best form here, but I expect to see him very high in the coming years. 4. Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu is the best romanian player and no one can forget his great performance in the World Championship in 1999. He had great results this year, his rating will be 2666 in the new list. I think he is our only player who can join the top 10 in the near future. 5. Viorel Iordachescu is a great talent from Moldavia, his native language is also romanian. I was very much impressed by his victory in the last game against Gurevich, with so many draws around. It's always a pleasure to see someone playing and winning when a draw would be enough to qualify.

Vassilis Andronis, Koropi, Greece
Kotronias : (very interesting ideas at the openings) Azmaiparashvili : (very solid and dangerous) Smirin : (interesting ideas at the middlegame) Vaganian : (the best in transform the middlegame to endgame) Krasenkow : (interesting attacking ideas)

Wallace Hannum, Emeryville, CA
I think both Zurab and Glek are both interesting players to follow and come up with wonderful ideas. Since I play the King's Indian, I am very grateful to Glek in particular. Zurab gets top billing because, the victor gets the spoils. Grischuk is SO talented, Ftacnik is like a chess friend since he has annotated more games than I'll probably ever PLAY, and I've always thought Gurevich was exciting to follow. His game (as black) against Ivanovic in 1989, is one of my alltime favorite games. He dominates that game with creativity and active play. That is my top 5 and my various reasons. Though I'd probably most want to meet Regina Pokorna, for very different reasons. If you get a chance, tell her she can come visit the US and San Francisco anytime and stay for free! Whew....

Igor Schukin, Kiev, Ukraine
Kosintseva is just an exceptional player. I believe she has a bright future. However with some help of luck our Katya Lahno has the same chances to make history. Both of them are young and strong enough to keep other players in danger, so I hope girls will reach big success soon.

Merle Kolvir, Paris France
1. Katerina Lahno, 2. Marie Sebag, 3. Kosintseva Tatiana, 4. Cmilyte Viktorija, 5. Zehra Topel. They are young and talented and they fought like tigresses. You will not find quick draws in their games unlike in some men's games that I will not cite to avoid embarassing. As for Zehra Topel, ok she did not win that many games but, well, she does have a more charming smile that Zurab doesn't she?

Nigel Fleming, New York
I have noted with dismay the tendency of your site (which in many other respects is truly excellent) to display an immature attitude towards the fact that women chess players are, shock-horror, actually women (in the sense that they can be attractive, sexual, or whatever).

This in itself is not wrong (althought there are lots of arguments that this is completely irrelevant). What is really embarrasing is the way it is handled. I don't know how to put this without it being insulting to whoever is wring this stuff ... sorry in advance. But it has the feel of being written by a chess nerd who has never "done it" or even had much contact with women, writing for other, male, chess nerds who will respond to a schoolboy-level presentation of some slightly risque material.

If you are trying to "humanize" the presentation of chess players and make young women more comfortable with playing chess, this isn't the way to do it. In my experience, women are not very attracted to the idea of nerdy-types salivating over them. Can we not have some stuff about what it takes in practice to balance the double-act of growing up, going to school, etc. with the commitement of the necessary time and passion to become a great chessplayer. Or about loads of other actually interesting topics, maybe even presented in a way that young people (and in particualr young women, if that is where you are aiming) will find interesting?

Mehul Gohil, Nairobi, Kenya
I think my five choices are beautiful women, sexy and inteeligent. They more then deserve to be my favourite chess players! They can checkmate me anytime, anyplace, anywhere!

Rakesh Rai, Mumbai, India
It was difficult to nail down the top five. I had two ladies who were sureties. And, I went for the two cute babies from Ukraine, and one male candidate to finish the list.

Jairo Carrillo, Carolina, Puerto Rico
Hi from Puerto Rico! What can i say, first of all Alina and Tatiana ayy caramba! And for the boys i find intresting Andrei Volokotin he is 17 and he looks older than me! I am 19.

Ben Hummel, Groningen, Nederland
1. Katherina Lahno, for competing only in men's tournaments and showing some rather mature chess already. 2. Antoaneta Stefanova, for smoking like a chimney, being sponsored by a whisky brand, fighting like a devil if must be and still possessing the charm of a butterfly. 3. Loek van Wely, who plays chess to win! 4. Vassily Ivanchuk, just one of the greatest players ever..a sleeping giant..don't wake him up if you're his opponent! 5. Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu, for always trying to play a vivid and interesting game of tactical chess

Saulo Silva, São Paulo, Brazil
Vassily Ivancuk is definetely a revelation these last days. It´s good to see he is getting over his nerves and becoming a great man, not only a great chessplayer. Vladimir Malakhov is going to be famous soon. I can see that. Lahno has also a great future. And Pia is my hero even before Polgar came into the chess scene. As for Cmylite I admire her for being a recent mother and already be on the road of fighting chess.

Bunmi Olape, Lagos, Nigeria
My selection is based on their beauty which is a plus for the publicity of the game of chess as far has am concerned ordinarily chess is not a popular sport and this will definitely create awareness and invariably the popularity of the game.

Vladimir Servulia, Donetsk, Ukraine
It was very interesting to watch game Katerina Lahno in European Individual Chess Championships. Besides that she was unique the girl in tournament, she was also the most young participant of tournament. The result has surpassed all expectations. Victories Katerina in last two parties above GM Nedev and GM Guliev have especially impressed.

M.F.J. Anink, Delft, Holland
Although the best men, by far, play stronger chess than the best woman (Judith Polgar excluded), I do think the presence of woman is extremely important, if it is only for the decoration of a sport, not very flashy of its nature. When a game is played between two strong male chessplayers we all tend to look at the players for three seconds, to see who are playing, and then we start studying the position at the board. When a game is played between two strong (or maybe not so strong;)) female chess-players we, the observers, tend to do the opposite. How could our beloved chess survive when it would be an all-men sport? Do we need the top 10 male chess players? Yes, we do. Do we need numbers 150 to 250? I sincerely doubt that..but we do need those female players! Maybe without them chess could survive, but I would lose the last of its glance. Therefore, an all-woman top five, as a thanks for just being there, and keeping our sport alive!

Andres del Valle, Mexico city, Mexico
I have found interesting the excellent coverage of the tournament. Despite the fact of having had an interesting men's tournament, I decided to chose my favorites frome the women's section because it is not usual to find a full coverage of women's tournaments like the one Chessbase did. In addition this, I would remark with my choices that it is normal to find excelence in chess among female chess players.

Neil Sullivan, Montreal, Canada
1. Kateryna Lahno, 2. Nino Khurtsidze, 3. Regina Pokorna, 4. Antoaneta Stefanova, 5. Anna Dergatschova-Daus. I did not pick any males. With all due respect, the pictures of the men failed to inspire me. My first pick, Miss Lahno, was made for her great chess potential. Picks 2 through 4 were made for, to me at least, the obvious male reasons. I chose Anna Dergatschova-Daus since she reminds me of my beloved wife. Unfortunately, my wife has no interest for the game at all. She did, however, enjoy the shots showing chess players as "real people".

Aldo Cosi, Santos, Brazil
First, ChessBase is the very best site for the chesslover and its main product Fritz, a sort of big boy toy, like a 700 HorsePower Ferrari! I have some questions about the chessgirls: 1. Antoaneta Stefanova: is she so interesting as she looks and plays? 2. Natalia Zhukova: is she really always so worried? 3. Anna Sharevich: is she legally blonde? 4. Sophie Milliet: was she really adopted by Boris Spassky? 5. Tatiana Stepovaia: is she from Leningrad or Siberia? Finally, the chessbase coverage of European Championship was superb! Congratulations!

Willem de Beurs, Petten, Nederland
I have seen Antoaneta Stefenova and Almira Skripchenko in Wijk aan Zee and I am absolutely fascinated by the combination of feminine beauty and very strong chess. Regarding Kiril Georgiev, when he was walking around he was so strong concentrated that he could walk throug the wall without feeling it!

Tobias Nordquist, Sandviken, Sweden
1. Olga Alexandrova, 2. Evgenij Agrest, 3. Christin Andersson, 4. Ulf Andersson, 5. Pia Cramling. Jag vet inget om Olga men hon är helt klart vackrast. Evgenij gjorde ett bra resultat och hans partier kryper sig så sakteliga under skinnet. Christins pjäsbortsättning i ett drag var för mig turneringens största känslomässiga upplevelse – jag skrek. Uffe kommer med av sentimentala skäl. Javisstja Pia vann ju hela skiten. A Try In English: I dont know anything about Olga but she is the most beautifull. Evgenijs did a nice result and his games are slowly entering my mind. Christins lost of a piece in one move was the tournaments bigest emotional fluctuation – I was screaming load. Ulf is one favourit because of sentamentional reasons. Have I forgett someone? ... Hmm, well of course Pia won the whole shit.

Markus Bindig, Reinsdorf, Germany
Katerina Lahno is young and dynamic, that's why I selected her. Karolina Smokina is the probably best-looking player on the photos. I wonder why you've not mentioned her age. Stanislav Savchenko looks like a neighbour of mine. Irina Slavina looks really funny. And Igor Glek is a fellow German ;)

Richard John Paine, Melbourne, Australia
For 20 minutes I have sat, trying to find the perfect words to describe my choice for favourite player. In all this time I have not come any closer to hitting a key, for how do you describe the epitome of perfection that is Tatiana Kosinseva? Tatiana was without doubt, the unsung hero of the European championships, and it is for this reason that it is about time somebody kicked up a fuss about her. If we are to call Pia Cramling the European Queen, Tatiana must be the Princess. She has stunning looks, and most importantly, an extremely impressive intellect. Her games are an inspiration to me, and I’m sure we all admire her courage and determination over the board. To prove that I am not hyperbolising, I cite her 10th round game in the recent European Championships against world woman’s no.3 Alisa Galliamova. With a sensational queen sacrifice Tatiana had her opponent eating humble pie after only 19 moves. And to her I bend my knee.

Joel DeWyer, Baltimore, Maryland
Ms. Pokorna is easily one of the most attractive female chess players I've ever seen and is ranked 23 on the women's list – not too shabby either for a 21 year old. Kudos to Azmaiparashvili for playing escaping his usual conservative style and playing some rather adventurous games in the tournament.

Alex Pehas, Darien, Illinois, USA
These girls are wonderful examples of the ultimate chess combination: beauty and brains! The game has advanced in more than just theory!

Joeffrey Betita, Philippines
Almira Skripchenko, Antoaneta Stefenova, Olga Alexandrova, Regina Pokorna and Anna Sharevich should join a beauty pageant, they all beautiful. Just my two cents of advice...

Fernando Broca Jiménez, Mexico City, Mexico
Chucky is one of the true geniuses of the game, nowadays and in history, and don´t forget he can be funny too, his pic of beach beauty and measures of 39-39-39 are just hillarious. Katerina Lahno maybe is a legend in the making, or maybe just a comet that dazzles us, only time will tell, but what we can assure is that she will be one of the beauties of the game. Sergei Tiviakov was for long time considered World Champion material, but his strenght ceased it's growing, anyway, he is always a fine person to see, and in his games we can still see that sparkle of desire in search for the perfection. Tatiana Kosintseva is a beautiful lady, and you'd love to have a blitz-a-thon, no matter she kept kicking you over and over, just for the pleasure of getting lost in those deep blue eyes of her. Zurab Azmaiparashwat???? He is the Champ now, and if this man is as hard to beat as to pronounce or spell his last name, i wouldn´t like to face him anytime soon.

Tim McGrew, Kalamazoo, MI
Lahno ranks first because she had the grit to play in the open section – -and did quite well. Azmai ranks second because great chess really does matter. Pia Cramling had a well-deserved victory – - congrats, Pia! Tatiana is a rapidly rising star – - keep an eye on her. Viktorija – - ditto.

Mario C. Gomez, Fresno California USA
I enjoyed the coverage of the chess matches as well as all the commentary on the different views from all Media. I thought this was one of the most insightful and well put/organized chess tournament. It was so enjoyable to look at the results each day. I wish other tournaments had the genius to cover an event so dear to my heart and soul as this tournament did.

Steve Stepak, Cambridge, MA USA
There is no doubt that the "darling" of the entire European Ch tournament was Katerina Lahno. Why? you ask! Because she is so young and so sweet. Yet she played chess like a lion, facing all those big burley GMs in the men's! section. How much courage she had. Especially to bounce back from the loses she suffered. She did not get discouraged. She played hard in all her game. She scored 6.5/13 and increased her rating by 22 points and got an IM norm. She worked very hard and succeeded! Bravo!!! Katerina!!!

David Mendes, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
I decided to pay tribute to the female players. First because they are getting better every day. Second, because there still is lots of prejudice agains them in chess world. Ms Skripchenko is my number 1 because she plays strong chess and is a menace even to top GMs, and because she is so pretty and charming. Her only flaw is being married with a French player (but those things can change ;). I vote for Lahno because she is such a phenomena, a great hope for chess in upcoming years. Pia Cramiling, of course, because she is the Champion of Europe now.

Thomas, Moniz, Indianapolis, IN USA
Lahno because of her youthfull fighting spirit (she refused a draw from the old lion, Korchnoi and fought on!) and ambitious drive to be the best female player in the world, if not the best player period. She is still young and has many years ahead of her to become a stellar player.

Ivanchuk because of that certain enigmatic cloud that hangs over and follows him... At times solid and brilliant and other times a frayed and unwound ball of nervous energy. 'Chucky', as he is sometimes refered to by friend and OTB rival, Vishy Anand, also has a lighter and goofy side to him that at times catches you off guard (the dancing Chucky!). He is magnetic and compelling and most intriguing, this odd and oftentimes brilliant man.

Anibal Lopez Lenci, Lima, Perù
¿porque no hay fotos de natalia pogonina si es la mas linda? ademàs tiene partidas como capablanca. anna muzychuk tiene un talento enorme, sino miren la partida contra jovanka houska, ¡parece que alli hubiera jugado shirov!

Michael Bagalman, New York, NY USA
Thanks for posting pictures of players; it is great to be able to put a face to the name (or gamescore)!

Stefan Fischl, Vienna, Austria
Tatiana Kosintseva because she is both more talented and prettier than Kosteniuk, and she beat the three top seeds. Vassily Ivanchuk because if his great chess skills weren't enough to vote for him, his dancing skills certainly would be! Antoaneta Stefanova because as the women's world number two she would deserve much more attention. Kateryna Lahno because it's amazing that a 13year old girl is not just the only female participant in the men's section, but also beats several experienced GMs. Eva Moser is of course a patrioic choice, but being the greatest chess talent in the country of the first world champion isn't so bad (and her new hair colour is also nice).

Aybar Karacay, Ankara, Turkey
Azmaiparashvili played a very bad move against Malakhov. You may call it "fingerfehler" or "blunder", anyway it loses immediately. After taking back and making a new move for himself and even further forced move for Malakhov(!), in front of spectators and arbiters, while Malakhov is sitting opposite to him and the game is live on the internet, Azmaiparashvili asks: "May I?..." Malakhov lets him to continue. In the end Azmaiparashvili wins. After the game is over and the notations are signed, he puts his hand to Malakhov's shoulder and says "We can make it draw if you'd like..."

I don't know Malakhov's reply exactly but it seems that he could't accept this late but kind(!) offer.

Azmaiparashvili is my favorite player. He tries everything to win. He wins over the board or he wins by unexpected psychological maneouvres, if not he wins in the analysis at least. He deserves to be the favorite player of ECh and to have USD 32000 prize money. Malakhov may have lost some more prize money, but this experience is much valuable of course.

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