There are many reasons why 1989 Championship is a notable landmark in the ETCh history. First of all, for the first time in the 30 year old history of the Championship the preliminaries were abolished and every team was eligible to participate in the newly reformatted nine round Swiss Championship final. Then, there was a six year gap between the two consecutive Championships as the 1986 event did not finally come into being. Finally, this was last time when unbeatable Soviet team took part. The Haifa Championship definitely closed rather dull period of one team shows while the rest of Europe were struggling for what the Soviets courteously left for them.
28 teams arrived and only Holland and Denmark were absent as far as the strongest teams are concerned. The Soviet chess team were the first Soviets to have put leg on Israeli soil for more than 25 years melting to some extend the political ice in diplomatic relations between Tel Aviv and Moscow. Again chess helped to unite people which follows the "gens una sumus" idea. The best European players were missing from Haifa Championship. Team USSR, led by relatively undistinguished Salov, were missing Kasparov and Karpov (of course), then Yussupov, Yudasin and some other top players. Still, their average ELO was by over 50 points superior to West Germany, pre-tournament runners-up who sent their strongest eigth to Haifa. Then came rejuvenated Yugoslav team, Hungary with two Polgár sisters (but no Portisch, Sax, Adorján, Csom...) and England - but no Miles, Short, Speelman and Mestel. Sweden and Bulgaria closed the pool of teams with average ELO exceeding 2500. Czechoslovakia, many times ETCh contenders, suffered drainage of generation of players like Jansa, Lechtýnský, Přibyl, Smejkal and others.
USSR took off well beating Spain 4½-1½ while West Germany only drew to Austria. Yugoslavia smashed Finland 5½-½ and we bet nobody would dare to predict that the losers would end in overall fourth spot! Yugoslavia took over the lead after two rounds beating Greece and Romania moved into second surprisingly hooking Sweden 4-2. The Yugoslavs strengthened their lead after day three smashing Romania 4½-1½ while other top tables saw pack of 3-3 draws, including USSR-Greece match which was sort of sensation. On the next day six of seven matches from top tables ended in 3½-2½ results and teams to benefit from it were a.o. Yugoslavia, England, Hungary and USSR. On day five Yugoslavia won fifth consecutive match beating Bulgaria by the smallest possible margin while England beat Hungary and the Soviets made up for some of the lost ground hammering West Germany 4½-1½. Standings after 5 rounds: Yugoslavia 21½; USSR 19; England 18½.
Day six brought decisive turnover in the field of the gold chase. The Soviets, who did not show convincing form at all until that day, wiped out Yugoslavia 5-1 and move into safe win. England moved into second beating Bulgaria while Hungary lost badly to France. On the next day the Soviets produced another superb result hammering strong England 5-1 to extend the margin of their lead up to clear three points. Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia narrowly beat France and Greece respectively and were lying in second and third. Bulgaria moved up to 4th after 5-1 vs Sweden. Hungary sensationally lost to Finland. That England had depressive finish must have been obvious to anyone who saw them helplessly losing to Yugoslavia 4½-1½. Germany beat Greece by the same margin and suddenly found themselves in sole third, ahead of Romania who earned hard-fought win over Czechoslovakia. On the last day gutsy Bulgarians fought heroically to held The Soviet Union to a 3-3 draw but this proved too little as West Germany beat Yugoslavia 3½-2½ and won bronze medals threatened only by Finland who finished in fourth (one of biggest surprises ever seen at the ETCh) after excellent final spurt and last round's 5-1 win over Portugal. Bulgaria came 5th ahead of Romania. England's win over Austria was enough only for 8th. Hungary in 11th and Sweden in 14th were other major disappointments of Haifa Championship.
As far as individual results are concerned, Gurevich and Tukmakov achieved best results among Soviet players while Yugoslavia's no. 1 contributor was board 2 player GM Hulak who won double gold. West Germany took third because of having strong players at all boards and reserve IM Bischoff performed at sky-high 2652 level. Finland's 4th is a luck of a millennium but still Rantanen won individual medal and performed at 2580. Other notable players: Wojtkiewicz of Poland 7/9 (ELO performed 2690 and GM norm), Hodgson of England 6½/9, Donchev of Bulgaria 5½/8 (ELOp = 2647).