European Open&Women’s Chess Club Cups 2023 kicked off in Durres, Albania

The 38th edition of the European Chess Club Cup and the 27th Women’s European Club Cup kicked off in Durres, Albania. The event boasting the record number of participants – 110 teams from 34 European federations – has started Saturday evening with an opening ceremony at Grand Blue Fafa Resport, the playing venue of the tournament.

Players, guests and officials were welcomed by the President of the European Chess Union Zurab Azmaparaishvili, the President of the Albanian Chess Federation and Chief Executive Officer of the European Chess Union Erald Dervishi, Honorary President of the Albanian Chess Federation Eduard Shalsi, and the President of the Albanian National Olympic Committee (KOKSH) Fidel Ylli.

Erald Dervishi greeted all the guests and expressed gratitude to ECU for giving the Albanian Chess Federation an opportunity to host this prestigious event. “We will do our best to organize it in the best possible way. I hope all of you will enjoy Albanian hospitality, culture, nature and cuisine!”

He was supported to Eduard Shalsi: “Who could ever imagine such an event in Albania years ago? We are very happy to have you here! I saw tears in the eyes of old Albanian chess players coming to this event. We are really happy to have such a large number of participants who have come here to play chess, but also to see our country.”

Fidel Ylli talked about the importance and prestige for the country to host such major chess tournament: “This event is very important for us, because sport is not just a competition. Sport is economy, sport is image, sport is everything for the country. I want to thank ECU for choosing Albania to host this event!”

Zurab Azmaparaishvili expressed his hope that participants of the European Chess Club Cup will enjoy their stay in Albania. “European Club Cup is growing up and reaching the new heights. Now we have 110 clubs playing and we could have even more! Great job was done by the Albanian Chess Federation. Every time I am visiting Albania, I am discovering country, its culture and nature, but I also see how chess develops. This is the country you want to return to.”

The battles over the board kicked off yesterday at 15:00 CEST with the first round. The ECU President Mr. Zurab Azmaiparashvili made the first ceremonial move in the top-board women’s match between Taflfelag Gardabaejar (Iceland) and Teuta (Albania) to open the Round 1.

Most of the top-seeds of the Open section scored convincing victories in the first round and some of the best rated players of the event skipped the starting round: Magnus Carlsen (Offerspill Sjakklubb), Richard Rapport (Superchess), Viswanathan Anand (Superchess), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (Asnieres – Le Grand Echiquier), Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Schachclub Viernheim 1934 e.V.).

The second round starts today at 15:00 CEST and brings interesting matches. The top-match pairings are:

  1. SK Rockaden (Sweden) vs Superchess (Romania)
  2. Offerspill Sjakklubb (Norway) vs Wood Green (England)
  3. Novy Bor (Czech Republic) vs SV Werder Bremen (Israel)
  4. Silla Chess Club (Spain) vs Anieres Le Grand Echiquier (France)
  5. KSK Rochade (Belgium) vs Schachclub Viernheim 1934 e.V. (Germany)

There were no surprises in the Women’s competition on the first day. All the favourites won their matches with significant edge and the Round 2 brings the following pairings on the top boards:

  1. Teuta (Albania) – Offerspill Chess Club (Norway)
  2. Monte Carlo (Monaco) – MSK Centar Asseco See (North Macedonia)
  3. Wood Green (England) – Superchess (Romania)
  4. Garuda Ajka BSK (Hungary) – Anieres Le Grand Echiquier (France)
  5. Gokturk Chess Sport Club (Turkey) – SP Gaz Ukraine (Ukraine)

All results, pairings & rankings can be found here.

Detailed information can be found on the official website of the event.

Photo gallery by Niki Riga can be found on the Facebook page of the event.

Live broadcast of games together with live commentaries by WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni and GM David Howell can be followed through the ECU YouTube channel.