Good View

36-th team competition of Greece took place in Kallithea (6-10 July). Kallithea in Greek means good (nice) view, and I can assure you that the name says the truth. Athos Palace complex, wonderful resort on Aegean Sea hosted the championship. In their free time all chess players could enjoy the nice and warm sea, excellent swimming pool, tennis courts, spring cinema, traditional taverns, the exceptional beauty of the place and well known hospitality. 20 teams took part in the event this year. For the first time in the past three years it was a Swiss event, played in seven rounds. In the previous years there were 16 teams taking part in the highest division-they were separated in 4 groups, and the top two were fighting for medals, while the last two teams of all the groups were playing to stay in the league. Last year the championship did not take place due to financial problems. Greek government did not supply the funds for the championship as they promised and the championship was cancelled. For the next year the idea is that there will be already 34 teams in highest division, and for the top ten the government will cover main part of the costs (about 70%).
On third and fourth of July the finals of the Greek cup were played. One of the attractions was the participation of Etienne Bacrot. But it was not his team that won the cup. After a hard fight, three drawn matches, and fourth decisive E.S. Thessaloniki (D. and A. Mastrovasilis, V. Iotov and D. Zakarian) triumphed with the cup.
Greek teams are played in a different manner than most of the team competitions I know. Each team consists of 5 men boards, one women board, two girls (under 16 and 18 years), and 4 boys (under 18, 16, 14 and 12 years respectively) boards. This gives an essence of the tournament, and most of the matches are decided by the children’s’ boards. The idea is simple and effective-those who wish to have a strong team should care about the development of their own chess school, and can not only count on hired professionals.
I have seen that the Turkish teams have adopted a system very close to the one in Greece, but it was introduced in practice by their neigbours some 7-8 years ago.
Each team has the right to use 2 foreign players. Usually the top male board competition is extremely strong. I remember that three years ago my average rating on first board was 2615. Among the top guns that took part in the event were Evgeny Postny (Israel), Baadur Jobava, Zurab Azmaiparashvili, Tamaz Gelashvili (Georgia), Pentala Harikrishna (India), Yuri Kryvoruchko and Evgenij Miroshnichenko (Ukraine), Suat Atalik (Turkey), Ivan Ivanisevic (Serbia), Bartolomiej Macieja (Poland) and the only one rated over 2700-Sergei Movsesian. All the best Greek players took part as well, including the current number one-Ioannis Papaioannou who recently qualified for the World cup from EICC in Plovdiv. “I am only an amateur player”, says for him modestly the Greek “I was very lucky in Plovdiv that some of my opponents sacrificed too many pieces against me. The World championship will be a great experience for me”. Papaioannou moved back to his home team Kavala from “Kidon”-Chania, the main rivals for the title. Some important changes were made in these teams Andrey Sokolov from Kavala was replaced by Pentala Harikrishna and Zurab Azmaiparashvili from “Kidon” by his compatriot Baadur Jobava. Unfortunately for them both new leaders were not in their best form. In addition Kavala owes GMs Kotronias, Skembris and Anna-Maria Botsari, while “Kidon” is more modest with GMs Banikas and Nikolaidis. These two teams are always in conflict for the title, and “Kidon” won in 2005, while Kavala took revenge in 2006. There is a third very strong team-E. S. Thessaloniki led by Miroshnichenko, GM brothers Athanasios and Dimitrios Mastrovasilis, and Valentin Iotov.
The championship appeared to be easy for “Kavala” who won first six matches to assure the title with a spare round to go. Surprisingly their advantage came from the children and women boards, and not from the top male boards as it was expected. Both Anna-Maria Botsari and Katerina Nemcova (Czech Republic) scored 6.5/7 points.
Silver went for the team of “Thessaloniki” that had hard time against my modest team of OFS “Kavalas” (the second team of Kavala), but finally drew the match, which was good enough for them. They had an exceptional good year-cup, and second place at the finals.
Third place is for “Kidon”Chania that lost both direct matches with two first teams.
German group was represented by IMs Sebastian Siebrecht, Thomas Hendrichs and Georgious Souleidis. The latter won the mini-gold medal on board four. They plan to play in some tournaments in Greece-Ikaria, then Paleohora (in Crete Island). On every strong open at the end of July is organizing the champion club from Kavala-so far there are 43 players with rating over 2500 subscribed for it. Some other nice tournaments to be recommended are “Acropolis open” in Athens and “Kalamaria” in Thessaloniki. Chess summer will be hot in GreeceJ
Zoi Iordanidou on female board under 16 was the only player to finish on 100% with seven wins.
Mini-tournament on board one was won by Evgeny Postny (6/7), who modestly declared that he only “used his opponents’ mistakes”. But maybe the secret for his success is another-“2661! If I had a girlfriend like his I would be over 2700!!”-exclaimed one of the Greek GMs. Well, judge for yourself.

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