History of the chess in Europe is rather long. However, the competition which would bring all the best European chess players is quite new in comparison with some other sports and games. As the most prominent and most significant chess competition in Europe, it is necessary to focus on the European Individual Chess Championship. This is a tournament organized and led by of the European Chess Union which represents the independent chess association in this part of the world. Since 2000 this championship is held once a year with major chess players from all European countries. In addition to determining and announcing the European chess champions in both male and female categories, the European Individual Chess Championship also provides a certain number of players who are going to compete in the FIDE World Cup as well as the knock-out phase of Women’s World Championship.
Every year, the competition is held in different countries separately for men and for women. It was necessary to mention that the first European Individual Chess Championship for men in 2000 was held in Saint-Vincent, Italy. The European Individual Women’s Chess Championship, on the other hand, took place in Batumi, Georgia. After these first competitions, many countries hosted the tournament for both male and female chess players. Among these host countries were Turkey, Russia, Israel, Germany, Macedonia, France, Poland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro and even Kosovo.
There are countries which held the tournament for several years such as Turkey which was the host for two European Individual Chess Championships and three European Individual Women’s Chess Championships, or Georgia with one European Individual Chess Championship and three European Individual Women’s Chess Championships including the first one in 2000.
In 2017 the European Individual Men´s Chess Championship will take place in Minsk, Belarus, while European Individual Women´s Chess Championship will be organized in Riga, Latvia.
History of the Tournaments in Europe
As it was previously mentioned, this tournament was an important for European chess players, especially since they did not have any since 1942, which was already scandalous by its nature. Some sources claim that this first and original European competition was called European Championship or Europameisterschaft. This championship took place in Munich, in September 1942. Since it was organized and lead by Ehrhardt Post, who was the Chief Executive of Nazi Grossdeutscher Schachbund, many players were excluded based on their country of origin, religious or political views. Therefore, players from countries such as the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and Poland were not allowed to participate, and the same case was with Jewish players as well. As a result, this championship represented the Nazi propaganda for that reason it was never officially recognized as a tournament which would confirm the best European chess player.
Mode of Play
It is necessary to point out that the European Individual Chess Championship is a tournament with a Swiss system, which further means that it has a non-eliminating format in both male and female categories. Nevertheless, the number of rounds may vary. Also, it is important to know that only the first tournament in female category held in 2000 was a knock-out tournament. As it is the case with most of the chess competitions, the male category also allows women to participate and compete against their male colleagues equally. On the other hand, men are not allowed to take part in a championship for women.
2002 was a year when Judit Polgár, who is one of the greatest female chess players nearly won the bronze medal in the men’s competition, which was not recorded in this short history of the European chess competition. However, Polgár did not give up and, nine years later, she won the bronze medal in the male category in France. The most interesting fact is that, although she was the top-rated female player for more than 20 years and had the highest FIDE rating in history among women, Polgár never participated in Women’s World Chess Championship (WWCC) or any other women’s title.
Unfortunately, there are many issues and controversies which are involved in this tournament from its very beginning.
The first thing that bothers everyone who is somehow included with this Championship is the accommodation. From the first tournament the proper accommodation for players, accompanying persons and journalists was questionable. There were issues such as the room rates higher for the tournament participants than for other guests. This may appear as an insignificant detail, but this event triggered establishing the Association of Chess Professionals or ACP. The standards and conditions of the hotels during those first years was a great disappointment for everyone.
The other problem that the players encountered on the European Championship in 2001 was the FIDE World Championship cycle. This cycle introduced the use of new, faster FIDE time control which eventually resulted in the increase of stress for most of the contestants since they were always battling with time. This was the reason for an extreme drop in the game quality.
Finally, the format change of the World Championship Tournaments in 1999 made the participants of this tournament uncertain if these qualifications for the World Championship will worth anything. The event from 2002 European Championships offered five qualifying spots for the 2003 World Championship which never took place.