European Teams Chess Championship, Crete.

I’m so glad to announce that both Gawain and I have been selected to play for England at the European Teams later this year. The tournament will be held late October until early November. You can check out the official regulations here.  It’s normally a very strong team event because, unlike the Chess Olympiad where you have some “weak” teams, most nations will be sending a professional team. It’ll be my second time playing for England after my debut at the 2014 Chess Olympiad in Tromsø (which went terribly for me) and it’ll also be my second time to Greece after playing on the beautiful island of Ikaros a few years ago.

In Ikaros during our daily walk to the chess venue.
In Ikaros during our daily walk to the chess venue.

Team events are a very different kind of tournament to play in because normally chess is such an individualistic game. In a tournament “you, yourself” face off against your opponent and do your best to beat them. In a team event, even though you are still playing a game these are match situations where you push harder than you normally would for the win (otherwise your team might lose the match) or where you accept the draw as you know it’ll win you the match. I guess many professional chess players are use to playing in leagues where of course you need to win games for your team or sometimes your job would be to “hold as Black”.

In Olympiads, there was (I don’t know if there still is) a weird rule where you can ask your captain whether you should offer a draw. I used to ask my poor captain all the time much to the amusement of the other players, even in positions where I’m completely winning and at which point my captain would firmly reply  “No!”. The captains aren’t meant to look at your position when you ask them but instead judge it based on what they had seen and how the team is doing.

Another very important aspect of a team event is that everyone gets along. Of course you might not be so chummy with the rest of your team mates during the year but it’s important to band together and have great team spirit during these events. I think a country that embodies this concept is the Armenian Open team, who have outperformed their seeding consistently at the Olympiads.

I’m also glad to write that I’ll be playing in the English Women’s Chess Championship next week before I jetset to NYC while Ga’s hard at work at the World Cup.