December recap – international

Paula Gitu competes with Europe‘s top women players in Monaco  +++  Martin Müller scores against masters in Croatia  +++

Two Europchess players used the month of December to escape the Brussels winter and play some chess at the coast of the Mediterranean.

On the weekend of 29 November to 1 December, Paula Gitu competed in the European Women Individual Rapid and Blitz Championships, held in Monaco. The event started with the 13-round Blitz tournament. Paula lost in the first round to GM Valentina Gunina, and then had a tournament with either quite strong or much lower-rated opponents. Scoring little against the stronger opponents, Paula finished with 5.5/13 on 65th rank (out of 86) and a performance of only 1819.

The following rapid tournament went much better for her. Also here, Paula opened her tournament with a prestigious encounter. She played nobody less than GM Maia Chiburdanidze (2475), the former 5-time women world champion – and got a draw! After losing to GM Marie Sebag (2452) in the second round, she again had to collect her points from lower-rated opponents, but beat also two players rated above 2250 in the second half of the tournament. All in all, 6.5/11 and a performance rating of 2108 were good for Rank 32 (out of 104) – a good result and a 34-point rating improvement.

Both the Blitz and the Rapid Championship were won by GM Alexandra Kosteniuk from Russia.


Martin Müller instead travelled to the Croatian city of Zadar, to participate in a strong open from 15 to 22 December. Alongside other well-known chess friends from Brussels (CREB’s Yves Duhayon, Pantin’s Pierre Robert, Brussels’ Philippe Lombart), Martin played in the B-tournament, which shows already of what high level the event was. He had some good results, like a draw against the experienced IM Rikard Medančić (2166) and a win against the top-seed FM Miro Bobanac (2254). However, two losses against strong, upcoming teenagers, still rated below 2000, somewhat spoiled his overall result. He finished 30th with 5/9 and a performance similar to his rating.

Yves Duhayon was the best Brussels-based player with 6.5 points. The A-tournament was won by GM Ante Brkić.

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