It was a round full of drama and excitement, with champions being undetermined until the very end. Although they both started as first seeds and heavy favourites, they seemed to be simply not getting there at all. But a final twist of fate sealed the outcome in favor of them anyway.
In the open section Globus won comfortably against Legacy Square Capital despite Karjakin having lost an endgame against Grachev after some careless play. With wins by Mamedyarov, Giri, Nepomniachtchi and Kramnik they simply rolled over their opponents.
But still all that wouldn’t be enough for Globus if Odlar Yurdu were to win their match. It was all up to Azeris but they failed neither to win nor to draw the match to leave it to tie-breaks. In fact they were close to a match draw, but a mistake in the endgame proved costly for Abasov:
Here Abasov played 42…Rf2?? sending the white king where he wants to go anyway and thus losing a very important tempo. Instead of this 42…c5 wouldn’t lose time and save the draw. An incredible blunder but in the heat of the battle such things happen.
After 43. Kg5 f6+ 44. Kg6 f5 45. Rh4 f4 46. Kf5 it was clear that white is winning and the rest was too easy for Sasikiran. A great result for AVE Novy Bor as their win put them on the same points with Odlar Yurdu and Alkaloid who won 4-2 against Csm Baia Mare thanks to two wins on last boards. Alkaloid got 2nd, AVE Novy Bor 3rd and Odlar Yurdu the 4th place on tie-breaks. Mednyi Vsadnik got the 5th place and LSG Leiden in what comes as a surprise the 6th after beating Besiktas.
Things were not less dramatic in the women section. Odlar Yurdu the second team just one point behind Batumi Chess Club Nona had an almost overly lucky day! Although they were lost on the first board and in a worse position on the third one they managed to make draws in both games, thus winning the match narrowly 2,5-1,5 thanks to Balajayeva’s win over Ozbay. This win put them a point ahead of Batumi Chess Club Nona who were struggling in their contest against the Romanian Cs Studentesc Medicina Timisoara. A terrible blunder by Nino Batsiashvili was almost making the Azeris champion:
The losing blunder comes actually not here but this was the position where Nino Batsiashvili miscalculated. She played 34.Nxd7?! where in fact 34. Nxc4 would have kept the advantage. 34…Bxh2+ 35.Kxh2 Nxd7 followed and now after completely natural move 36. bxc4?? suddenly 36…Rxa7 wins the rook because of Qb8 check the next move. Very unfortunate but kudos to Cosma for her awareness.,
This loss on 3rd board suddenly gave the match initiative to Romanian club. Although Khotenasvili won against Dragomirescu, Paehtz drew Dzagnidze and in the only remaining board Sandu had a much better position against Harika Dronavalli. However the closed nature of the position gave Harika some chances to continue to fight and Sandu couldn’t make much progress. After making a wrong 56th move which lost d4-pawn she wisely agreed to a draw as tables could be turned completely. A match draw is not too bad for Romanians after all, certainly better than losing.
After this exciting finish Batumi Chess Club Nona and Odlar Yurdu both had 11 points but on tiebreaks the Georgians got the first place. Azeris got the second and out of the two teams that share the third place Bossa Nova was declared to be third and Ugra Chess Club the fourth.
Congratulations to winners of both categories, first of all for giving us a chance to witness a tournament with such starts of the world elite and then of course for becoming European champions! All teams deserve in a way big thanks for making this event happen. The atmosphere, games, everything on and off the board were simply amazing. The participants showed a great example of friendship, competitiveness and sportsmanship.
We wish days full of chess and joy to everyone who followed us! Now it’s time for closing ceremony, celebrations and after-party!
Report by: FM Tarik Selbes Photos by: David Llada