In one of the closest team races of recent years, the young Azerbaijan team are celebrating their first international team title as they narrowly edged out defending champions and leaders Russia in the final round of the European Team Championship in Novi Sad, Serbia.
Russia, who had a shaky start, finished strongly and looked set for gold. In the penultimate round, they beat two-time Olympiad champions Armenia for a slender lead at the top on tiebreak from early pace-setters Azerbaijan going into the final round.
Both were tied on 13/16 match-points, but Russia led by just one individual game-point - so it was all going to be decided on whomever scored the biggest score in the final round. And indeed in a dramatic final round of twists and turns, Russia could only draw with Spain while Azerbaijan narrowly beat the Netherlands (due to Daniel Stellwagon somehow managing to lose a drawn rook ending to Vugar Gashimov) to take first place outright on 15-points. Silver went to Russia on 14-points; the bronze going to Ukraine on tie-break after they finished on tied with Armenia on 13-points.
So, congratulations to the jubilant young Azeri gold medal-winning team (pictured above) of GM Teimour Radjabov, GM Vugar Gashimov, GM Gadir Guseinov, GM Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and GM Rauf Mamedov.
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