Valentina Gunina is the European Champion

by Albert Silver
7/18/2014 – Entering the final round of the European Individual Women's Chess Championship, Valentina Gunina was a shoo-in for the title, and after drawing her final opponent, Mariya Muzychuk, she lifted the gold. Her superb 9.0/11 was flawless, and well-deserved as she took the early lead and never wilted under the pressure of her increasing favoritism. Here is an interview with the winner.

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15th European Individual Women’s Chess Championship

This event, organised by the Bulgarian Chess Federation under the auspices of the European Chess Union, is being held in the Plovdiv Hall of the Novotel Hotel in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, from July 5 (day of arrival) until July 18 (day of departure) 2014. The tournament is open to all players from chess federations which are members of the European Chess Union (FIDE zones 1.1 to 1.10), regardless of title or rating. There is also no limit in the number of participants per federation. The European Individual Women’s Championship 2014 is a qualification event for the next World Cup, for which 14 players will qualify.

The competition

The championship is an eleven-round Swiss. The rate of play is 90 minutes for 40 moves plus 30 minutes for the rest of the game, with an increment of 30 seconds per move, starting from move one. Players may only agree to a draw after the 40th move has been made by Black. Players violating this rule will be forfeited. If a player is offered a draw before the 40th move she should call an arbiter. Her opponent shall be punished for distracting, according to the FIDE Laws of Chess. The zero–tolerance rule will be applied: players who are not seated at the board at the start of a round forfeit the game.

Round eleven

Lela Javakhishvili (left) defeated Deimante Daulyte and ended on 7.5/11

With the gold locked up, the real question was what would become of the silver and bronze medals. Four players were tied for second, and a draw would open the way for the platoon behind them.

On the first six boards, only one game ended in a decisive result simplifying the question somewhat. Tatiana Kosintseva struck hard at Natalia Zhukova's Alekhine Defense, and thus became the only player with 8.5/11. In third was Georgian Salome Melia with 8.0/11, just edging out Mariya Muzychuk, with the same score, but poorer tiebreak.

Nino Khurtsidze drew Lilit Mkrtchian in the last round and ended on 7.5/11, while Lilit was
forced to content herself with 7.0/11

Interview with Valentina Gunina

15th European champion, Valentina Gunina, gave an interview to International Arbiter Ruzhka Genova.

Ruzkha Genova - Congratulations! First, I want to congratulate you on your victory and your great tournament.

Valentina Gunina - Yes, I feel great.

RG - What were your expectations coming here, what were your goals?

VG - I did not think about results, I just wanted to play well. And before the championship I had a special training camp.

RG - Was this organized by the Federation or by you?

VG - Me, in the Moscow region. Otherwise during the event I spent about an hour getting ready for each opponent.

RG - You started with a draw, how did you feel? After all, in the first round of a Swiss you would have expected to win.

VG - Oh, she (WGM Ionescu Irina, ROU) defended very well. It was only when the tension increased that I started to worry.

Valentina Gunina (right) shakes hands before being crowned the 15th European champion

RG - What were the hardest moments?

VG - First, the game against GM Nana Dzagnidze from Georgia because I then became the sole leader. The ninth and tenth rounds were also very hard, but as a rule the tournament was simply very strong.

RG - Can you share something about your upcoming plans?

VG - A few days rest and then a camp to prepare for the Chess Olympiad. I hope to participate, even though the official website has announced the Russian Women's team will not be allowed to play. Still, I really hope we can participate since I do want to go to the Olympics.

RG - Anything else of interest to share?

VG - I loved it in Plovdiv, and this was my first time in Bulgaria. Well, winning the tournament is always very nice, but I really liked the organization. I liked how they separated the competitors zones and insured space around the athletes. The playing hall was very comfortable.

RG - I hope you can come here as a tourist. Here, in the oldest living city in Europe you will find there are so many things that can be seen. Thank you! I wish you success and good luck!

Photos by Boyan Botev

Final standings

Rk SNo Ti. Name FED Rtg Pts
1 4 GM Gunina Valentina RUS 2501 9.0
2 8 GM Kosintseva Tatiana RUS 2476 8.5
3 14 IM Melia Salome GEO 2454 8.0
4 2 IM Muzychuk Mariya UKR 2521 8.0
5 16 GM Zhukova Natalia UKR 2451 7.5
6 1 GM Dzagnidze Nana GEO 2541 7.5
7 22 IM Batsiashvili Nino GEO 2417 7.5
8 9 IM Javakhishvili Lela GEO 2474 7.5
9 7 GM Stefanova Antoaneta BUL 2488 7.5
10 28 IM Foisor Cristina-Adela ROU 2383 7.5
11 10 GM Socko Monika POL 2462 7.5
12 11 IM Khurtsidze Nino GEO 2460 7.5
13 19 WGM Kashlinskaya Alina RUS 2441 7.5
14 12 GM Danielian Elina ARM 2458 7.5
15 21 IM Bodnaruk Anastasia RUS 2429 7.5
16 18 IM Mkrtchian Lilit ARM 2446 7.0
17 13 IM Paehtz Elisabeth GER 2456 7.0
18 23 IM Arabidze Meri GEO 2406 7.0
19 26 IM Guramishvili Sopiko GEO 2402 7.0
20 6 GM Hoang Thanh Trang HUN 2490 6.5
21 33 WGM Szczepkowska-Horowska Karina POL 2369 6.5
22 75 WGM Mamedjarova Turkan AZE 2205 6.5
23 48 WGM Videnova Iva BUL 2315 6.5
24 20 WGM Goryachkina Aleksandra RUS 2434 6.5
25 36 IM Gvetadze Sofio GEO 2356 6.5
26 30 IM Gaponenko Inna UKR 2380 6.5
27 17 IM Skripchenko Almira FRA 2449 6.5
28 27 WGM Zawadzka Jolanta POL 2397 6.5

Click for complete standings


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Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications, and the content creator of the YouTube channel, Chess & Tech.


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