Making History: Bulgarian Chess Players Became European Champions

Sports | November 21, 2023, Tuesday // 07:59|  views

At the European Championships in Budva, Antoaneta Stefanova, Nurgyul Salimova, Victoria Radeva, Gergana Peycheva and Beloslava Krasteva achieved the greatest success in the history of the women's national team, finishing with 16 match points after seven wins, two draws and no one loss and they were one point ahead of second place Azerbaijan.

In the last ninth round, the Bulgarian women achieved a memorable victory with 2.5:1.5 points against the No. 1 seed in the scheme and vice-champion from the last Chess Olympiad team of Georgia.

Victories for Bulgaria were achieved by Antoaneta Stefanova on the first board and Gergana Peycheva on the third, with Peycheva's success securing the title and coming from a position in which the Bulgarian was very close to losing.

The match between the Bulgarians and the Georgians started with a very quick draw on the second board. Already on the 18th move, Nino Batsiashvili and Nurgyul Salimova made a triple repeat, which automatically brought a draw in the game.

About two and a half hours later, the two teams traded one win each within a few minutes. First on the first board, former world champion Antoaneta Stefanova prevailed over Bella Khotenashvili in 31 moves. Stefanova had an advantage in the debut and methodically managed to develop it. She was given an extra bishop in the endgame and that led to Khotenashvili surrendering just minutes later.

On the fourth board, however, Salome Melia leveled the score at 1.5:1.5 with a victory with the white pieces over Beloslava Krasteva. The Georgian managed to surprise Krasteva in the Sicilian Defense version with the four horses and despite the Bulgarian's attempts to draw the game, she was not successful and Melia won after 36 moves.

Thus, the outcome of the match between Bulgaria and Georgia had to be decided between Gergana Peycheva and Lela Javakhishvili, who were playing at the third table.

The two played a Nimzowitsch variant in New Indian defense and from the opening the board position was even, but also very complicated. On move 30, Javakhishvili managed to win a pawn, giving her a slight advantage. Six moves later, Peycheva restored material equality on the board, but the initiative remained with the Georgian playing with the black pieces.

The party continued to be very exciting, and Peycheva seemed to lose. However, the Bulgarian showed exceptional intransigence and in the end not only leveled the game, but also managed to get the victory after nearly 6 hours of play, forcing Javakhashvili to surrender on the 83rd move.

Before winning the title, which comes on Bulgaria's return to the European Championship after a 10-year hiatus, the biggest team successes in women's chess came from the 1970s and 1980s. In 1984, at the Chess Olympiad - the most important forum in this sport, Bulgaria, consisting of Margarita Voiska, Rumyana Gocheva, Pavlina Chilingirova and Stefka Savova, won the silver medals. Ten years earlier, at the Olympics in Medellin, Colombia, the Bulgarian team - Tatyana Lemachko, Antonina Georgieva and Venka Asenova, won bronze medals.

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Tags: European, Bulgarian, chess, women


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