Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Punch Drunk - Day 9 at the World Seniors' Team Championships

If it had been a boxing match the ref would have stepped in and stopped the contest a few days ago. Because its chess, though, we were all allowed to go on taking heavy punches to the head until finally, after 9 consecutive days of ferocious mental effort - at least for those of us playing in a team with no reserve - the World Seniors' Team Championships came to an end.

In my case, though, it was about 10 minutes too late, as I managed to lose a totally drawn rook and pawn ending against a very strong IM that would have clinched an excellent 2-2 draw for 50+ England 2 v Germany 2 and secured a final placing well above our 21st seeding. Instead we finished ….. 21st! It would also have got me a lifetime best ELO rating, but unfortunately my brain just went into complete meltdown after more than 5 hours of at times desperate defence. A great shame to finish on such a downer, but a +1 score over 9 gruelling rounds was still just about OK.

Andy sensibly took a relatively quick draw as his 65+ England 2 team finished 2-2 against Sachsen Anhalt, which nevertheless put them into 24th position against a seeding of 25th. Andy also finished at a quite respectable +1 for 9 rounds.

Meanwhile, Bernard was hard at work against a 1614 rated opponent called Adolf in the 50+ wooden spoon deciding match. Despite facing his weakest opponent of the entire tournament, brain fatigue had also clearly got to him as well, as he lost. Fortunately, though, his team mates made up for this calamity and secured a narrow 2.5-1.5 win that boosted England 4 to 60th - an impressive 4 places above their start ranking. However, it has to be admitted that these ELO ratings do seem to be rather accurate given how close each of our teams performed relative to their seeding.

England 1 get their silver medals in the 50+ section. From extreme left to right, GMs Arkell, Hebden, Plaskett, Emms and Speelman. To the right are the bronze medal winning Lasker Chess Foundation team. The great Arthur Yusupov is the one with the impressive beard. He is a "big unit" in all senses!
And that was also true at the top of the tournaments, where number 1 seeds USA (50+) and Russia (65+) both emerged victorious. USA came from behind in the last round to pip our brave England 1 boys, who went down 2.5-1.5 to Germany 1. England 1 were second (seeded 4th) for an excellent result.

The 65+ medal podium. Russia (back row) line up (l-r), GMs Pushkov, Sveshnikov, Rashkovsky, Balashov and IM Zhelnin
The England 1 65+ team finished with a 2-2 draw against St Petersburg to end in 5th position, one place higher than their seeding, but the stars of the show were Russia who won all 9 matches to leave the St Petersburg and Germany 2 teams well adrift in silver and bronze positions.

England 1 65+ team collect their 5th prize. Left to right, Roger Emerson, FM Steve Berry, FM Tony Stebbings, IM Robert Bellin and IM Nigel Povah.
Success of sorts for the 50+ England Women's team, as they picked up Bronze medals behind Russia and Germany - though there were only 5 teams eligible for the prizes!

The 50+ Ladies medal podium. Russia (Gold, back row); Germany 1 (Silver, left front) and England (Bronze, right front). The England team is (right to left) WGM Sheila Jackson, WFM Petra Nunn, WIM Ingrid Lauterbach and Helen Frostick.
Still, that was rather more than in the 65+ tournament, where there was only one women's team. So the new 65+ Ladies World Team Champions are …….. Mongolia!!

And so the KCC Radebeul adventure is over and, despite an at times frustrating journey back via Frankfurt, we are all safely home. For Andy and me today has largely consisted of doing virtually nothing, I imagine, but for poor old Bernard it was straight back into the vicious commercial jungle that is the Kenilworth accountancy world. Its a hard life being a capitalist. Still. another day, another dollar!

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