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Israel's men's chess team yesterday registered its finest achievement, finishing second out of 36 teams at the European Championship in Bulgaria to claim the silver medal.

In the ninth and final round, Israel scored a 2-2 draw with Slovenia to end the championship with 15 points, two less than gold medal winners Russia, which dropped its first point of the competition with a 2-2 draw against Belarus. Georgia beat Poland 2.5-1.5 to take the bronze.

Israel's final tally at the competition was seven wins, a draw and a defeat to Russia, 2.5-1.5. In the individual points tally, Israel finished level with the Russians on 22.5 points, but medals are awarded only for team standings.

Israel's previous best achievement was a fourth place finish at the 1993 European Championship and a fourth place finish at the 2000 Chess Olympics.

Grandmaster Emil Sutovsky led Israel with five points out of a possible seven in the third board - four wins, two ties and one defeat. Sutovsky received a gold medal for the best individual performance in the third board and also registered a quality performance of 2,765 points, the highest score in the competition.

In the first board Boris Gelfand scored 5.5 points out of a possible 9. Ilia Smirin scored 5 points out of a possible 8 in the second board. Boris Avrukh scored 4.5 points out of a possible 7 in the fourth board and substitute Michael Roiz scored five ties in five games.

Israel's women's team finished 21st out of 32 teams.