The European Team Chess Championship 2015 is over and we have a new champion in both sections: Russia! Many congratulations to what is probably the greatest chess nation of all time on this historical double title! Coincidentally, the last time a country managed to win gold in both sections in the ETCC, was back in 2007 and it was none other than…Russia!
In the open section, Russia concluded their tournament with a last round 2-2 draw against Hungary, which secured the title for the Russians, as they could not be caught by any other team any longer. On board 2, France beat the Netherlands by the narrowest of margins, thanks to a win by Tkachiev over Tiviakov. On board 3, Armenia put an end to Georgia’s excellent run as they beat their neighbours 3-1, with victories by Aronian and Movsesian. That meant that three teams were now in the running for the silver and bronze medals with 13 points: France, Armenia and Hungary. In the end, the tiebreak favoured Armenia and Hungary, as they took second and third place respectively. Many congratulations to Russia, Armenia and Hungary!
In the women’s section, Russia didn’t leave the hint of a chance to their German opponents, as they cruised to a 3-1 victory, with wins by Goryachkina and Bodnaruk. On board 2, 19th seed Austria created the final upset of the tournament as they held top seed Georgia to a 2-2 draw. While Javakishvili opened the score for Georgia, the board 1 and 3 encounters Khotenashvili–Theissl Pokorna and Batsiashvili-Exler ended in draws, but on the bottom board Austria’s Kopinits managed to overcome Arabidze. Ukraine meanwhile dispatched the Netherlands with a convincing 3.5-0.5 victory, with only Anne Haast salvaging a draw for the Dutch team. This meant that in the end Russia took gold with a near-perfect 17 points, followed by Ukraine on 15 and Georgia on 14 points.
Many congratulations to Russia, Ukraine and Georgia!
The closing ceremony, which was held at Reykjavik’s magnificent concert hall Harpa, was hailed by many as the best they had ever attended. The prizes were distributed by Iceland’s Prime Minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, the President of the City Council, Soley Tomasdottir, and the President of the ECU, Zurab Azmaiparashvili. Tournament Director and President of the Icelandic Chess Federation, Gunnar Björnsson, thanked all the partners who made this special event possible: the ECU, the Icelandic Government, Reykjavik City and the City Council.
After speeches by the present dignitaries, the individual board prizes were distributed (the details of which you will find under this report). Besides their medals, each winner of an individual prize also received an invitation to next year’s Reykjavik Open. The three medal winners of both sections then received their trophies, before the closing ceremony was concluded with a fantastic musical performance by one of Iceland’s most famous bands- Hjaltalin (whose keyboard player happens to be the son of GM Jóhann Hjartarson, a member of the Iceland Legends at the ETCC).
To conclude this report, I would like to personally thank everyone who made this extraordinary event possible and I hope that many more great tournaments will be held in Iceland – the land of chess – in the future!