Slovenia hosting European Team Chess Championship

Čatež ob Savi – The European Team Chess Championship 2021 will be held between 11 and 22 November at the Terme Čatež spa near Brežice in eastern Slovenia in what will be the biggest chess event in the country since 2002. Slovenia will field the strongest team ever, spearheaded by international master Laura Unuk and grandmaster Luka Lenič.

The event is organized by the Chess Federation of Slovenia under the auspices of the European Chess Union.

The Čatež spa, which is the largest such resort in Slovenia, will welcome more than 500 chess players as part of 70 teams from 38 countries.

Current World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway will miss out on the competition, same as his biggest rival, Russia’s Ian Nepomniachtchi, as the pair will face each other in a match to determine the best in the world only two days after the European championship.

However, all other top European chess players in the world will be present, including Unuk, who is the first Slovenian female player to be awarded the title of international master.

Slovenia has its eye on getting among the top ten in the championship. It will be represented by two teams in both the women’s and men’s competitions.

The grand opening will take place at Brežice Castle with parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič addressing the event.

The tournament will be the biggest chess event in Slovenia since the country hosted the 35th Chess Olympiad in lakeside resort Bled in 2002.

The championship was supposed to be held last year, but was pushed back due to Covid-19. The organisers have said that the event’s participants, referees and other staff will be in a social bubble for the time of the competition to prevent any outbreaks.

There will be no spectators, however the matches will be livestreamed. All those present at the matches in-person, including reporters, will have to comply with the Covid pass mandate as well as get regularly tested.

“Next year, there will be the European Individual Chess Championship held in Terme Olimia. Two such major championships in such a short time also mean a great honour for Slovenia.

“After the Bled Olympiad, we’re putting Slovenia on the global chess map again, and we’re also looking forward to a big promotion of chess and the country at large,” said Darja Kapš, vice president of the Chess Federation of Slovenia.