Imported Players Tip the Scales for Top Teams at European Club Cup
ByDYLAN LOEB McCLAINOct 19 — 8:59 AM
At the European Club Cup, the best players in the world have been hired by the top teams to bring home the championship.
The European Club Cup is an odd tournament in some ways. It brings together the top clubs in Europe – champions and top teams from their respective national leagues. While many or, in some cases, most of the players on the 50 clubs include local players from their nations, the top clubs are dominated by imports – hired guns paid for by deep-pocketed sponsors intent on winning the European championship.
The top team in this year’s championship, which is also the defending champion, is SOCAR from Azerbaijan. SOCAR, which is the acronym for the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic, includes four players from Azerbaijan – Shakhriyar Mamedyarov, Teimour Radjabov, Rauf Mamedov, and Eltaj Safarli — but that says more about the strength and depth of the country as a chess power. The top four players for SOCAR are all imports – Veselin Topalov of Bulgaria, No. 3 in the world; Anish Giri of the Netherlands, No. 5; Fabiano Caruana of the United States, No. 6; and Michael Adams of Britain, No. 17.
The No. 2-ranked team, Siberia, is Russian and it would seem that, with all of Russia’s native talent, there would be no need to have imported players. But, while two of its top three players are Russian — Vladimir Kramnik, No. 9, and Alexander Grischuk, No. 10 – four of its top six are non-Russians : Levon Aronian of Armenia, No. 7 ; Li Chao b of China, No. 15; Wang Yue, also of China, No. 29 ; and Anton Korobov of Ukraine, No. 47.
The No. 3-ranked Alkaloid team from the host country of Macedonia, repeats the same pattern. Only two of its players are from Macedonia. The other six include three Russians (Evgeny Tomashevsky, No. 14; Dmitry Jakovenko, No. 16; and Dmitry Andreikin, No. 31), two Ukrainians (Vassily Ivanchuk, No. 27; and Yury Kryvoruchko, No. 36) and a Chinese player (Yu Yangyi, No. No. 30).
There is so much imported talent that 25 of the top 30 players in the world are participating. The most notable absentees are the World Champion, Magnus Carlsen; Viswanathan Anand of India, No.4; Ding Liren of China, No. 8; and Wesley So of the United States, No. 12.
The first all-national team is SHSM Legacy Square, which is ranked No. 8. It is entirely Russian.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with the top clubs hiring so many top grandmasters. It is, after all, a club championship, not a national team championship. And it is good for chess, and certainly for professional chess players, that there are sponsors willing to pay to put together strong teams.
But it also means that the champions of the Club Cup can only realistically be one of the wealthiest teams. It shows that the key ingredient for success in the European Club Cup is — money.
FIDE and World Chess announces today that the 2018 World Chess Championship Match will take place in London in November 2018. The world’s most prestigious chess tournament is to be the climax of a season of high-profile activity to extend the sport’s appeal among global audiences – and make 2018 the Year of Chess in the UK.
After 9 days of intense chess battles at the last leg of the World Chess Grand Prix series 2017 in Palma de Mallorca, the two winners of the series were finally determined: Shakhriyar Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan, overall 340 points in the series) and Alexander Grischuk (Russia, 336,4 points). They qualified for the Candidates Tournament – the next part of the World Chess Championship cycle, which leads up to the Championship match.
The sole leader of the Palma de Mallorca Grand Prix Levon Aronian made a quick draw with Evgeny Tomashevsky today, inviting the group of rivals to join him at the top. But same as in the previous rounds all games on the top boards finished peacefully and not a single player came close to catching up with him.
After seven rounds Aronian is in the lead with 4,5 points. A group of 8 players is half a point behind, including Vachier-Lagrave. In order to qualify for the Candidates, the Frenchman needs to win at least one more game. Boris Gelfand defeated Alexander Riazantsev, Pavel Eljanov won against Jon Ludvig Hammer, while Teimour Rajabov outplayed Li Chao. After the victory the Azerbaijani Grandmaster still hopes to qualify, but in that case has to win both games.
Javier Ochoa, Honorary FIDE Vice President and President of the Spanish Chess Federation, made the first symbolic move to start the fourth round, which turned out to be the most exciting round of the tournament so far, with six decisive games out of nine.
In the Third Round of the FIDE Grand Prix in Palma de Mallorca games between the four leaders, Vachier-Lagrave-Aronian and Rajabov-Giri, finished in a draw. Peter Svidler joined the group of leaders by beating Jon-Ludvig Hammer in the third round.
The world’s best chess players and chess establishment came together in Bellver Castle to celebrate the opening of the final leg of the FIDE 2017 World Chess Grand Prix Palma de Mallorca – a prestigious qualifier for the World Chess Candidates Tournament.
Katerina Lagno, one of the strongest Russian women-grandmasters won the historic Moscow Blitz Tournament, beating her fellow Russian Olympic team members Alexandra Kosteniuk, Valentina Gunina and Olga Girya.
After a draw against Ian Nepomniachtchi, Teimur Rajabov won the tournament. One of the strongest players, Rajabov had not won a major tournament lately, but has shown phenomenal form in Geneva and managed to overpower some of top world’s players