The Bulgarian women’s national team is European chess champion for the first time in history.
At the Old Continent Championships in Budva, Antoineta Stefanova, Nurgyul Salimova, Victoria Radeva, Gergana Peycheva and Beloslava Krasteva achieved the greatest success in the history of the women’s national team, finishing with 16 match points after seven wins, two draws and no one loss and they were one point ahead of second place Azerbaijan.
In the last ninth round, the Bulgarian women achieved a memorable victory with 2.5:1.5 points against the No. 1 seed in the scheme and vice-champion from the last Chess Olympiad team of Georgia.
Victories for Bulgaria were achieved by Antoineta Stefanova on the first board and Gergana Peycheva on the third, with Peycheva’s success securing the title and coming from a position in which the Bulgarian was very close to losing.
The match between the Bulgarians and the Georgians started with a very quick draw on the second board. Already on the 18th move, Nino Batiashvili and Nurgyul Salimova made a triple repeat, which automatically brought a draw in the game.
About two and a half hours later, the batting team exchanged one victory each within a few minutes. First on the first board, former world champion Antoaneta Stefanova prevailed over Bela Hotenashvili in 31 moves. Stefanova had an advantage in the debut and methodically managed to develop it. She was given an extra officer in the endgame and that led to Hotenashvili surrendering just minutes later.
On the fourth board, however, Salome Melia leveled the score at 1.5:1.5 with a victory with the white pieces over Beloslava Krasteva. The Georgian managed to surprise Krasteva in the Sicilian Defense version with the four horses and despite the Bulgarian’s attempts to level the game, they were not successful and Melia won after 36 moves.
Thus, the outcome of the match between Bulgaria and Georgia had to be decided between Gergana Peycheva and Lela Javakhishvili, who were playing at the third table.
The two played a Nimtsovich variant in New Indian defense and from the opening the board position was even, but also very complicated. On move 30, Javakhishvili managed to win a pawn, giving her a slight advantage. Six moves later, Peycheva restored material equality on the board, but the initiative remained with the Georgian playing with the black pieces.
The party continued to be very exciting, and Peycheva seemed to lose. However, the Bulgarian showed exceptional intransigence and in the end not only leveled the game, but also managed to get the victory after nearly 6 hours of play, forcing Javakhashvili to surrender on the 83rd move.