The European Chess Club Cup 2017, one of the most prestigious events in the chess calendar and certainly the strongest competition on club level, will take place in Göynük/Antalya, from the 8th to the 14th of October. As in previous years, many of world’s best players will be competing in the 7 rounds event for the title of European club champion.
This year’s edition will see 36 clubs and 254 players in total competing in the open section. Starting from the last year’s champions, Alkaloid from Macedonia, one can see that they certainly don’t want to part up with their title as their super strong lineup led by Chinese stars Ding Liren and Yu Yangyi -averaging 2724 ELO- shows. But they are not the rating favourites and that with quite some margin! Globus from Russia has an even more impressive lineup averaging a massive 2772 ELO with an ex-World Champion, Vladimir Kramnik, on board one. Having a look just at their 5th and 6th boards is enough to get an idea about the enormous strength of Globus: Giri and Nepomniachtchi! Considering that Mamedyarov, Grischuk and Karjakin will also be playing for Globus, one can definitely say that the Russian club is the team to beat in Antalya.
Another club from Russia, Mednyi Vsadnik with Svidler, Fedoseev and Matlakov on first three boards has also an ELO average over 2700 and is certainly capable of beating any club in the field. Going down the list we see familiar names such as 2013 winners AVE Novy Bor from Czech Republic and Odlar Yurdu from Azerbaijan and they will certainly be looking forward to using their valuable tournament experience in addition to their strong squads. The third Russian club Legacy Square Capital, which finds itself on 4th place in the starting list, just between Novy Bor and Odlar Yurdu, has a very evenly matched lineup with solid names as well and looks very difficult to beat.
First seeded in the women section is Batumi Chess Club Nona from Georgia. Having won this cup already in 2014 and 2015 (replay the games) twice the Georgians are seeking a third title with their usual lineup consisting of Georgian national players such as Dzagnidze, Khotenashvili and Batsiashvili with the addition of Harika Dronavalli, the Indian number one for the top board. The champions of Russia, UGRA Chess Club, seem to be the main obstacle on their way to a third title: Girya, Pogonina, ex-World Champion Ushenina and Nechaeva will all be fighting to bring the cup to Russia. If they fail to do so then perhaps Legacy Square Capital can, the third seeds with an ELO average over 2400 and with a young and talented lineup led by Kashlinskaya. Odlar Yurdu from Azerbaijan, the club with the funkiest name of championship Bossa Nova from Belarus, Cs Studentesc Medicina Timisoara from Romania and the local team Anatolia all have many female stars in their squads as well and surely matches between these clubs will provide lots of excitement and surprises.
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– GM Susan Polgar