Monika Socko wins the European Women’s Chess Championship
GM Monika Socko won the 22nd European Women’s Chess Championship, held August 20-31, 2022 in Prague. The 44-year-old Polish grandmaster was the only player to score 8.5 over 11 rounds in a field of 123 players.
Socko, the seventh seed, finished half a point ahead of a group of five players who scored eight points. Silver and bronze went to two young players from Azerbaijan: IM Gunay Mammadzada and WGM Ulviyya Fataliyeva, respectively.
Despite a draw in the second round, Socko tied for first place after the fourth round and became the sole leader after the fifth round. She was briefly joined by Mammadzada on lap seven, but the Polish GM then regained the lead and held onto it until the very end, despite three draws.
A big match of the tournament was when Socko faced 2021 European Women’s GM Champion Elina Danielian the day before the rest day. The Armenian grandmaster slipped at the start of the intermediate match:
Socko’s most interesting match was played in the penultimate set against the player who would eventually win the silver medal. Mammadzada missed a huge chance to take the lead as she had a winning position for most of the match.
Black’s king made the whole trip from e8 to b5, but it was only after the troubled phase of time, where crazy things happened, that the monarch could feel safe there. .
In the final round, Socko accepted a draw after just eight strokes with IM Lilit Mkrtchian of Armenia, who could have caught her on 8.5 points with a win. Two more at 7.5 points faced each other, and again Mammadzada missed a chance there. She ended up having the best tiebreaker in Buchholz, so a win would have made her the champion. However, if anyone should have won the game, it was Black. By drawing, Polish IM Aleksandra Maltsevskaya helped her compatriot to the title:
A total of 123 players from 28 European federations took part, including 13 Ukrainian players. In addition, six Bulgarian players, including former GM Women’s World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova, participated under the ECU flag as the Bulgarian Chess Federation is still suspended from the European Chess Union due to poor management. Stefanova and others are currently trying to create a new chess federation in their country.
Final ranking (Top 20)
|2||5||I AM||Mammadzada, Gunay||2466||8||0||71||75.5||9.6|
|4||24||I AM||Mkrtchian, Lilit||2362||8||0||67||72||16.9|
|5||25||I AM||Maltsevskaya, Aleksandra||2360||8||0||65.5||70||19.9|
|6||13||I AM||Bulmaga, Irina||2403||8||0||56||59.5||-0.4|
|8||21||I AM||Sarkissian, Anna M.||2378||7.5||0||64||69||5.5|
|9||28||I AM||Brunello, Marina||2341||7.5||0||62.5||67||16.5|
|ten||12||I AM||Salimova, Nourgyul||2404||7.5||0||61.5||66.5||1.2|
|12||2||I AM||Javakhishvili, Lela||2476||7.5||0||60||64||-11.2|
|15||20||I AM||Mammadova, Gulnar||2380||seven||0||69||74.5||7.1|
|17||30||I AM||Gaponenko, Inna||2339||seven||0||66.5||70||8.8|
(Complete final ranking here.)
On the rest day there was a Women in Chess conference where, among others, Danielian, Lilli Hahn, IM Eva Repkova and IM Laura Unuk presented their chess life and experiences in the chess community. Conference topics included women in the role of coach or referee, how to attract girls to chess, and the scientific view of the gender gap in chess.