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ECCC 2023: Carlsen, Anand, Rapport, and MVL sit out R1

Author: Maria Fragaki

In the opening round of the 2023 European Club Cup, the top teams in both sections effortlessly defeated lower-rated opponents. In the open section though, Magnus Carlsen, Vishy Anand, Richard Rapport, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave decided to sit out.

Photo by Niki Riga | ECCC 2023

General Information

Exciting chess battles and strategic brilliance are on display as the 2023 European Club Cup kicked off yesterday at a luxurious resort in Durrës, Albania, and will continue until October 7th. The open section witnessed 42 matches, while the women’s event featured 12 matches. Both tournaments follow the Swiss format, with six boards in the open category and four boards in the women’s event.

Top Teams

Team Superchess (Romania, Captain: Ivan Sokolov) has the highest rating average (2711) with Vishy Anand and Richard Rapport playing on top boards.

Team Novy Bor (Czech Republic, Captain: Petr Boleslav) holds second place on the rating board (2665), with Vincent Keymer and David Navara leading the team.

Next up is Team Asnieres – Le Grand Echiquier (France, Captain: Jean-Claude Moingt) with Maxime Vachier-Lagrave being on board 1.

Last but not least, the Offerspill Team (Norway, Captain: Victor Havik) has World No.1 Magnus Carlsen on board 1, followed by Aryan Tari, Eric Hansen, and young Indian prodigy Pranav V., but has a rating average at 2650.

No.1 team with a rating average at 2496 is Monte Carlo with Mariya Muzychuk, Anna Muzychuk, Sara Khadem, Elisabeth Paehtz, and Pia Cramling forming a super-team!

Next are the Superchess, Garuda Ajka BSK, and SP Gaz Ukraine teams with GMs Irina Bulmaga, Bella Khotenashvili, and Natalia Zhukova leading the charge on board 1.

Round 1

The ceremonial first move in the starting round of the Women’s European Chess Club Cup 2023 was made by the ECU President Zurab Azmaiparasvhili on behalf of Johanna Bjorg Johannsdottir (Team Taflfelag Gardabaejar, Iceland), who was playing against Antoaneta Stefanova (Teuta, Albania.

The results of Round 1 came with no surprises, as the highest seeds beat the much lower-rated opposition, despite the absence of the “big names”, Magnus Carlsen, Vishy Anand, Richard Rapport, Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, in the open section.

With a 6:0 score, the rating favourite Superchess (Romania) defeated Rishon Lezion (Israel). The same score was in the matches between the title-defender Novy Bor (Czech Republic) and Zuid-Limburg (Netherlands), Asnieres – Le Grand Echiquier (France) and Slough Sharks (England). Team Offerspill Sjakklubb (Norway) beat Bloemendaalse SV (Netherlands) by 5,5-0.5 as board 1, 17 year-old Raunak Sadhwani made a draw against Jasel Lopez.

In women’s tournament, top-seeded Monte Carlo (Monaco) won their match against Offerspill Chess Club (Norway) by 4-0. Superchess (Romania), and Garuda Ajka BSK (Hungary) beat ASD Pedone Isolano (Italy), and Rishon Lezion (Israel) respectively by 3,5-0.5, and fourth seed SP Gaz Ukraine beat GSK Kumanovo (North Macedonia) by 4-0.


GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda is the World Chess Armageddon Champion

Author: Maria Fragaki

The Polish GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda is the first winner of the World Chess Armageddon Championship Series in Berlin! Duda’s victory is a testament to his exceptional skills, and he secures not only the prestigious title but also a substantial prize of €88,000.

Wesley So – Nodirbek Abdusattorov

In Game 1, we witnessed the French Defense in a highly tactical system. Wesley successfully seized control of the center, expanding his influence to the queenside. What truly adds excitement to the Armageddon format is the rapid evolution of the game, with players having to make critical decisions in under 30 seconds. Nodirbek overlooked a devastating tactical blow, resulting in the loss of a bishop and ultimately the game, while Wesley demonstrated remarkable composure to secure the victory!

Once again, Nodirbek opted for the Jobava London System, a choice he previously employed against GM Humpy Koneru in the Armageddon. The pivotal question loomed: could White, represented by Nodirbek, mastermind an efficient assault on the opponent’s king? Despite securing an exchange, Nodirbek found himself in a race against the clock, with less than 10 seconds remaining. Wesley, however, engineered a lethal passed pawn to secure his second victory in this thrilling encounter.

Nodirbek Abdusattorov, the talented young Uzbek Grandmaster, concluded his journey in the World Chess Armageddon by securing the third-place position. His impressive performance earned him a total prize of €28,000, and in his own words he looks forward to next year’s Armageddon!

Jan-Krzysztof Duda

The World Chess Armageddon Grand Finale culminated in an epic showdown of chess titans. In Game 1, Duda, playing as White, opened with the Ruy Lopez. Displaying boldness and strategy, Duda executed the move 20.h4! following GM Simon Williams’ suggestion, aiming to seize the initiative with a king’s attack.

Regrettably, Wesley So was unable to locate the optimal defence and had to resign just moments before being checkmated.

Game 2 featured Wesley So as White, opting for a positional and strategic approach. Following a queen exchange, Wesley found himself dealing with an isolated pawn that required vigilant defence. As time dwindled for both players, the position escalated in complexity, with each having less than 10 seconds on the clock. Unfortunately for Wesley, he blundered a pawn, leading to his immediate resignation and a 2-0 loss in the match.


1st place: Jan-Krzysztof Duda – €88,000 in total
2nd place: Wesley So – €58,000 in total
3rd place: Nodirbek Abdusattorov – €28,000 in total

Rewatch the finals

Duda, So, and Abdusattorov move to the Armageddon final

Author: Maria Fragaki

The semifinals of the World Chess Armageddon have concluded, with Jan-Krzysztof Duda emerging as the victor in the winners’ bracket, Wesley So securing his place from the losers’ bracket, and Richard Rapport going home. Tomorrow, Wesley So and Nodirbek Abdusattorov will battle for a chance to challenge Duda for the coveted €80,000 first prize!

Photo by Max Avdeev

Wesley So vs Richard Rapport

Game 1 of the thrilling matchup between Wesley So (White) and Richard Rapport (Black) commenced with the Caro-Kann Defense. There was a humorous moment when GM Simon Williams quipped that “Richard has already blundered!”. Nevertheless, Rapport demonstrated exceptional preparation, securing a pawn advantage and placing the pressure on Wesley, who was racing against the clock.

Recognizing the need for a dynamic response, the American GM opted for a bishop sacrifice, obtaining two pawns and initiating a king’s attack. As the position evolved into two pieces and a rook against a queen for Black, the tension mounted. In the end, time pressure led Rapport to blunder a bishop, forcing him to resign instantly.

Game 2 unfolded as a positional battle, with white having the advantage of two bishops in an open position. This setup instilled confidence in Rapport as he sought to mount a comeback. With both players navigating the game with less than 30 seconds on their clocks, Wesley initiated a tactical sequence that ultimately lured Richard into a critical blunder. This impressive manoeuvre secured Wesley the victory with a commanding 2-0 score.

Jan-Krzysztof Duda vs Nodirbek Abdusattorov

In game 1, Abdusattorov opted for the Accelerated Sicilian as his opening choice against Duda. Despite typically being a calmer player, Nodirbek found himself succumbing to the pressure of the ticking clock, resulting in blundering a central pawn that ultimately led to his defeat in the first game against Duda.

In game 2, Duda chose the Petrov’s Defense, one of the most solid replies against 1.e4, while Nodirbek opted for the crafty move 4.h3. Throughout the match, Duda displayed his experience and composure in critical positions, accurately calculating tactics even with limited time on his clock. This expertise allowed him to convincingly win game 2 and secure victory in the match against Nodirbek.

Day 7 FINALS pairings, 19:00 CEST

Wesley So – Nodirbek Abdusattorov
Jan-Krzysztof Duda – winner of the first match


Find all you need to know about the Armageddon Grand Finale, here.

Watch the games on a chessboard, here.

Rewatch the semifinals

Wesley So and Richard Rapport move to the Armageddon semifinals

Author: Maria Fragaki

Day 5 of the World Chess Armageddon witnessed intense battles, culminating in Wesley So and Richard Rapport advancing to the Armageddon semifinals. Unfortunately, this meant bidding farewell to Humpy Koneru and Gukesh, both of whom exited the competition. Tomorrow at 19:00 CEST, the winners will face off for three coveted spots in the Grand Finale, promising another thrilling showdown.

Photo by Max Avdeev / World Chess

Humpy Koneru vs Wesley So

Game 1 kicked off with the Queens Gambit and both players maintaining a pulse rate exceeding 140, setting the stage for an intense battle. Humpy’s ability to perform exceptionally well with less than 20 seconds on the clock, a situation she frequently found herself in during this game, was remarkable. However, as GM Simon Williams pointed out, the question remained, “How long can she do it?”

India’s top-ranked female player found it challenging to hold her position, ultimately blundering a pawn and defending what appeared to be a completely lost game. Wesley capitalized on this advantage and secured the first point of the match.

Facing a must-win situation, Humpy attempted to introduce complexities into the game, but Wesley adeptly maintained a balanced position, ultimately transitioning to an endgame featuring queens and opposite-colored bishops. Humpy’s decision to retain the queens on the board in pursuit of greater winning prospects, however, did not yield the desired outcome. Instead, this strategy backfired, leading to her defeat as a result of a devastating king’s attack by Wesley.

Richard Rapport vs Gukesh

The highly anticipated match of the day between Rapport and Gukesh certainly lived up to expectations in terms of technical prowess and chess excellence. The battle, characterized by opposite-colored bishops, typically favors the player who can initiate a successful king’s attack. In this case, it was Gukesh who seemed to hold the upper hand. India’s top-ranked player continued to press for a marginal advantage, but as the game progressed into a frantic time scramble, he gradually lost control of the position, resulting in his defeat.

In Game 2, Gukesh found himself in a do-or-die situation. Rapport opted for a more restrained approach, steering the game towards a knights versus bishops endgame—a highly intricate scenario with both players operating under the 30-second mark. Gukesh, with the knights in his arsenal, chose a tactical path, but unfortunately, it didn’t yield the desired results. He ultimately lost the game, resulting in his elimination from the competition.

Day 6 SEMIFINALS pairings, 19:00 CEST

Jan-Krzysztof Duda – Nodirbek Abdusattorov
Wesley So – Richard Rapport


Find all you need to know about the Armageddon Grand Finale, here.

Watch the games on a chessboard, here.

Rewatch Day 5 broadcast

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