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Lucky 7 - Natalia Pogonina's European Chess Championship Stories (2003)

User Rating: / 0
Written by Natalia Pogonina   
Saturday, 20 June 2009


The European Championship is one of the most important annual chess events. Offering qualifying places for the World Cup, it attracts almost all the top players. To succeed one has to face tough competition and, quite often, survive in rigorous tie-breaks.

So far I have participated in 7 Women European Chess Championships (not to mention girls events), and would like to share my impressions of the tournaments with you.

Episode 1: Women European Chess Championship-2003, Turkey

My debut in the European Chess Championships happened in 2003. Turkey, a hotel at the seaside, men and women tournaments have been held at the same place for the first time in history. Positive atmosphere, a good mood, but the results were so-so. I have scored 1.5 points in the first 4 rounds (11 rounds total) and had to win virtually every game to qualify. I didn't quite manage to do that and finished with 6.5 out of 11. Suddenly I found out that I had somehow clinched the two last tie-break places and still had a chance to qualify. This unexpected present had given me new powers. I have successfully played at the tie-breaks: first I won an exciting match against WGMRegina Pokorna. The rapid games have quickly ended in a draw. I won the first blitz game, and in the second one my opponent blundered a queen! My chess coach (IM Pavel Lobach) was cheerful and expecting an easy win, but I blundered a queen in return(those tie-breaks are nervous!) and had to do my best to save the game. Luckily, that game ended in a draw. So I won the match and had to play with WGM Inna Gaponenko. Now I was less nervous for some reason and won both games, thus qualifying for the World Championship.

Pia Cramling in a decisive game against Tatiana Kosintzeva

Pia Cramling became the Women European Chess Champion that year, Victoria Cmilyte was 2nd, Tatiana Kosintzeva - 3rd.

The quality of my games during that period was inconsistent, so here's a nice ending from one of my games in that tournament:

Shukurova M. Pogonina N. 2003, 23. ...?

It's also worth mentioning that this very tournament led to the establishment of the Association of Chess Professionals. It was a reaction to the tournament rules that forced people to live strictly at the hotel offered by the organizers, while the prices there were very high.

I remember that it was prohibited to bring bewerages with you to the hotel (even juices and mineral water). The prices at the bars were sky-rocket, while the choice was very limited, so many chess players (among them well-known top grandmasters) could be spotted at the beach (where there was less control) trying to sneak a bottle to the hotel. That looked hilarious!

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1. Written by on 15:01 22 2009 .

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 30 June 2009 )
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