European Team Championship – Chess Championships in Europe

The European Team Championship, often abbreviated to ETC, is a chess tournament currently held every 2 years, open to chess players who fall into zones 1.1 to 1.9 – making it largely European but includes some non-European and non-E.U. members, for example Israel and some former Soviet Union countries. The European Team Championship is FIDE approved and officiated.

The European Team Championship first came into being in the 1950s. The International Chess Olympiad had already been running for over 2 decades but met only every 4 years. The chess world felt that there needed to be something to fill the time between Olympiads, whilst also providing a chess tournament specifically for European chess players. It was in the summer of 1957 that the first European Team Championship was held; a men's only chess tournament lasting for 7 days in Austria. It took the shape of a double round robin chess tournament and was won by Yugoslavia. In 1977, twenty years after the first European Team Championship, the chess tournament schedule was changed to be held on a two tournaments ever 5 year cycle. A further change came 15 years later, in 1992, when the men were joined by women; today the European Team Championship includes a chess tournament for men and a separate chess tournament for women.

Throughout the European Team Championship history it has undergone several changes in terms of its structure, mostly to facilitate the growing number of teams wishing to partake in the chess tournament. In its early days, only four places were available in the finals, however as demand increased so did the available positions. By the mid 1970s there were 24 preliminary places, from which 8 teams would make their way into the final spots of which there were 8. A further change that came at around the same time was a reduction in the number of boards played per match from ten to eight. In most recent years, as popularity has increased, and more nations have emerged, the European Team Championship has undergone a seamless metamorphosis into a large-scale, modern chess tournament.

Today the European Team Championship runs on the Swiss chess tournament system, on the International Chess Olympiad model, with 9 rounds. There is a men's chess tournament and a women's chess tournament run separately but both making up championship. It was only in 2003 that both the men's and women's events were scored according to total match points as opposed to game points which had been the situation up till then, revolutionizing the scoring system. The 2007 European Team Championship attracted 40 European chess teams in the men's competition, and 30 in the women's. Throughout the history of this prestigious chess tournament, the Europa Cup has been the single sought after prize, however today a more Olympiad style prizing system is used in which the top 3 teams are awarded medals, and particularly outstanding individuals may also receive a medal.

The next European Team Championship will be held in 2009, in Serbia.