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 out of 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 an early draw in the second round, Socko was in a tie for first place after round four and emerged as the sole leader after round five. She was briefly joined by Mammadzada in round seven, but then the Polish GM took sole lead again and held on to it until the very end, despite finishing with three draws.
A big game for the tournament was the one where Socko faced 2021 European Women’s Champion GM Elina Danielian on the day before the rest day. The Armenian grandmaster slipped in the early middlegame:
Socko’s most interesting game was played in the penultimate round against the player who would end up taking the silver medal. Mammadzada missed a huge chance to take the lead as she had a winning position for most of the game.
Black’s king made quite the journey, from e8 to b5, but only after the time-trouble phase, where crazy things happened, could the monarch feel safe there.
In the final round, Socko agreed to a draw after just eight moves with IM Lilit Mkrtchian of Armenia, who could have caught her on 8.5 points with a win. Two others on 7.5 points played each other, and again Mammadzada missed a chance there. She ended up having the better Buchholz tiebreak, so a win would have made her champion. However, if anyone should have won the game, it was Black. By drawing, the Polish IM Aleksandra Maltsevskaya did help her compatriot to the title:
A total of 123 players from 28 European federations participated, including 13 players from Ukraine. Also, there were six players from Bulgaria, including former women’s world champion GM Antoaneta Stefanova, who participated under the ECU flag because the Bulgarian Chess Federation is still under suspension from the European Chess Union due to mismanagement. Stefanova and others are currently trying to set up a new chess federation in their country.
Final Standings (Top 20)
|8||21||IM||Sargsyan, Anna M.||2378||7.5||0||64||69||5.5|
(Full final standings 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 their experiences in the chess community. Topics at the conference included women in the role of coaches or arbiters, how to attract girls to chess, and the scientific view of the gender gap in chess.