Two national chess teams representing countries in the Caspian basin have claimed the top two spots at the European Team Chess Championship, held in the Greek Mediterranean city of Crete, on Monday.
Azerbaijan came in first place while Russia was right behind, according to the final rankings made available after nine rounds of the game were played. Although both teams racked up a total of 14 points, Azerbaijani chess masters outpaced the Russian brains, thanks to rules governing how ties are broken. The Azerbaijani team had scored a critical win over Russia in the eighth round, boosting Azerbaijan’s overall standing in the tournament and relegating Russia to second place at best even if it won its game against Germany in the ninth round.
The Ukrainian team took the bronze medal.
“We played in the championship with teams such as Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, Armenia, and Spain [and] in matches with the strongest teams [of Europe],” Azerbaijani national team head and international grandmaster Shahriyar Mammadyarov told the press service of the Sports and Youth Ministry of Azerbaijan, according to SportBox.az.
“In the chess world, they say becoming a European champion is even more difficult than winning the Olympics. This is due to the fact that strong teams often play with each other,” Mammdyarov added.
Azerbaijan’s four-man team included grandmasters Shahriyar Mammadyarov, Teymur Rajabov, Rauf Mammadov and Arkadiy Naydich. Rauf Mammadov shone in the tournament, having the best personal result and winning seven games out of the nine he played.
Monday’s victory in Greece was the third European Team Chess Championship win for Azerbaijan. The western Caspian region’s brain gamers also topped the tournament standings previously in 2009 and 2013.
“I am glad that we won the European Championship for the third time. This is an incredible result,” Mammadyarov said.
The Russian women’s team took gold for their division, while Georgian women took silver and Ukrainians took bronze.
The 2017 European Team Chess Championship gathered 39 national chess teams from around Europe from October 28 to November 6 to compete for the continent’s supreme chess playing title. The tournament was played on a daily basis over nine rounds, according to the Swiss system.