England began the European Team Championship in Pula, Croatia, in a manner very familiar from last year's Chess Olympics: Matthew Sadler won while the rest of the team drew. Playing against a solid Estonian team, it was by no means a bad result. With Russia missing most of their top players - they have Bareyev on top board - England find themselves in the unusual position of top seeds in the event in which they are hoping for a good result to earn a place in next year's World Team Championships.

In the second round, wins for Sadler and Speelman gave England a 3-1 victory over Sweden, but the team fell back when they lost 11/2-21/2 to Belarus in round three. The final score, however, should have been the other way round, for Nigel Short lost on time in a winning position, having apparently become confused by the new digital chess clocks being used in this event.

After three rounds, Croatia are the surprising leaders with 91/2 points, followed by Belarus 81/2, Israel, Russia, Georgia and Armenia 71/2 and England in a group of six on 7. Sadler, with three out of three, has scored all but one of the English team's wins so far.

The English women also started well with 2-0 wins against Slovenia and Bosnia, but they lost 0-2 to Georgia in round three. Here is Matthew Sadler's first-round win, a comfortable endgame victory after accepting a pawn in the opening and hanging onto it.

White: Rytshagov

Black: Sadler

1 e4 c5 21 fxe5 Qe6

2 c3 Nf6 22 c4 Qxe5

3 e5 Nd5 23 Qxe5 fxe5

4 d4 cxd4 24 Rfe1 Nd7

5 Nf3 Nc6 25 Nf3 Nc5

6 Bc4 Nb6 26 Re3 Rfb8

7 Bb3 d5 27 Nd2 Rb7

8 exd6 Qxd6 28 Rxe5 Nxb3

9 0-0 Be6 29 Nxb3 Rxb3

10 Na3 dxc3 30 Re7 a5

11 Qe1 Bxb3 31 h3 Rb4

12 Nb5 Qb8 32 Rd1 Rxc4

13 axb3 e5 33 Rdd7 Rh4

14 Nbd4 f6 34 Rc7 a4

15 bxc3 Qc8 35 Rxc6 a3

16 Nxc6 bxc6 36 Rec7 Rha4

17 Nh4 g6 37 Rc1 a2

18 f4 Bc5+ 38 Ra1 Rb4

19 Be3 Bxe3+ 39 Rcc1 Rb2

20 Qxe3 0-0 White resigns