Wednesday, 29 June 2022

WSTCC 2022 - Rds 7 & 8 - England 65+ are World Champions!

It was a very strange day yesterday in Acqui Terme, but at the end of it, the England 1 65+ team had established an unassailable lead and had become World Team Champions with a round to spare.  But first, I need to round up the unfinished business of Round 7, which I left after my very quick draw against Danish team Skvat. (Which Google translates for me as either jellyfish or wimp!) Regrettably no-one else could manage more than a draw, and as we didn't all manage that, the match was lost 2.5-1.5. Such is life.

But there was far better news in the upper echelons of each tournament. In the 65+ section, England 1 kept its 1 point lead over Germany with a narrow 2.5-1.5 win over Hungary. John Nunn - inevitably! - scored the decisive win, but it seemed for much of the round that Paul Littlewood and Nigel Povah would win as well, so the final score was actually a bit disappointing. Germany 1 beat Israel 1 by the same score in the other top match, so there was no change at the top of the leaderboard, with England staying 1 point ahead. Meanwhile, in the 50+ section, England 1 took advantage of a friendly pairing by beating Still Active NL 3.5-1.5, though Mickey Adams, who has looked unstoppable in recent rounds, was surprisingly held to a draw by the Dutch IM, Piet Peelen. USA scored a strong 3-1 win over Georgia (or Georgia Winery Khareba to give them their full name) but fell another half game point behind, so that at the end of the round, England's game point lead had gone up to 2.5.

And so to yesterday's penultimate round. My team had another disappointing day, only drawing 2-2 against Norway's Golden Oldies team, with yet another draw for me. Nothing more to say. But it was all action on the top boards - even where there was no action! Because Switzerland turned up to play England 1 in the 65+ section with just 1 player, the rest of the team having gone down with covid! Apparently in the Olympiad this would have meant a 4-0 win for England, but there was no such rule in place here, and the Swiss Board 1 wanted to play. But in the circumstances John Nunn didn't, so the match went to us by 3-1 without a single move being played. So all eyes were now on the Germany 1 v Germany 2 match, where the German strategy of splitting its strength virtually equally between the two teams came home to bite them in the proverbials, as GM Meister beat GM Knaak on top board to win the match for Germany 2. Which meant that England 1 now led the field by 3 match points and couldn't be caught. So today's final round match - in which they have at last been paired against top seeds Israel 1 - is irrelevant for us, though the Israeli's can win a bronze medal if results go their way.

And covid intervened, potentially decisively, in the 50+ section too, as Hungary defaulted on bottom board against USA in the top match. But despite this handicap the mighty Magyars rose to the challenge and secured a 2-2 draw. with Jozsef Horvath downing Gregory Kaidanov on Board 1, and in fact the Americans were grateful to share the points as another Horvath, Peter, came very close to winning against Igor Novikov on Board 3. And so it was the US which blinked first, as England took full advantage of this lapse with a 2.5-1.5 win over the strong Georgian team. Mickey Adams won with a strong kingside attack against GM Sturua on Board 1 and Keith Arkell beat the legend that is former Women's World Champion Nona Gaprindashvili on Board 4. Nigel Short's draw on Board 2 meant that John Emms loss against Bagaturov didn't matter too much. And at the end of the day England 1 was a clear match point ahead of the USA, with the added bonus of 3 game points advantage. By my reckoning, this means that a 2-2 draw against Canada today will mean another English gold medal. Nothing can go wrong now, surely???

My tournament ends with a match against Ireland. It would be nice to win another game and finish with a plus score, but my form here does not make that an especially likely scenario. Nevertheless, there should be plenty to celebrate at tonight's England reception and the prize giving. Two World titles already in the bag (Open 65+ and Women's 50+) and the very strong likelihood of the most prestigious of them all, the Open 50+, will be added to the haul. It's an early start tomorrow for my probably fraught return journey, so my final report will have to wait till Friday when I'm back home. Where I intend to stay for some time!!

Monday, 27 June 2022

WSTCC 2022 - Rds 6 & 7

What's that I hear you say? How can there already be a Round 7 report when the games only started 55 minutes ago? Quite easily, I respond, when you have the fighting spirit of a butterfly. I didn't instigate my 10 move draw (though to be strictly accurate, I only played 9 moves) against my Danish opponent, but I didn't have to think too long about accepting - 1) I was Black; 2) We had almost identical ratings; 3) The heatwave has returned; 4) I haven't been sleeping very well; and 5) as I already admitted, I have the fighting spirit of a butterfly. Of course, in an ideal world I should have played on (Black already +0.5), but as I'm sure we can all agree, this is anything but an ideal world!

I tried much harder yesterday against a higher rated German opponent from Bielefeld, but with the same outcome. I was clearly better but despite his lousy pawn structure and bad bishop, there were no entry points intro his position in the ending. And in fact all 4 games in this match were drawn, so it hasn't - so far - been a very exciting two days for England 2. Though my team mates may change that as the afternoon unfolds.

But there was certainly high excitement for the two England 1st teams. In the 65+ event, a crushing win for Paul Littlewood was followed by a very assured victory for John Nunn over IM Lederman (of Israel 2) which I interpreted as long overdue, albeit vicarious, revenge for my loss against him at the HE Atkins Open in Leicester in 1982! So 3-1 to England 1, who still have a clear 1 point lead ahead of Germany 1, and a pairing today against third place Hungary. Top seeds Israel 1, who somehow managed to lose 2 of their first 3 matches, have finally made it back to the higher boards, and have a crucial match against Germany 1 today.

In the 50+ event, it was once again a case of Mickey Adams to the rescue for England 1, as they edged past a strong Italy team (3 GMs) by 2.5-1.5. Nigel Short got into terrible difficulties against Michele Godena, and duly lost, but Mark Hebden levelled things up against GM garcia Palermo, with John Emms having already drawn. This left Mickey to try and win the match. He was a pawn up in a rook and pawn ending, but opinion was divided whether he could win. about ten moves later it was all over and Mickey had won the game and the match. I must say, he is rather good. I could probably learn a thing or two from him! These heroics earned him a kiss from Nigel Short at dinner, which I am not sure Mickey particularly enjoyed! USA also won by the same score against Iceland - who bizarrely rested their strongest player, so it was no change at the top of the leader board, with the two teams still tied on match points, but England 2 game points better off. Today England have what seems a very generous pairing against 10th seeds, Still Active NL, while USA lock horns with third seeds Georgia, who are two match points off the pace.

John Nunn (5.5/6) and Mickey Adams (4.5/5) have been in imperious form so far, and seem a class apart from anyone else in their respective tournaments. It's rather good having them in our teams!

Saturday, 25 June 2022

WSTCC 2022 - Rd 5

I bring news of great joy which will reverberate across the land, even to the furthest corners of Windy Arbour, Dalehouse Lane and Beehive Hill. I have now won a game at the World Old People's Team Championships! In the words of the Iron Lady, "Just rejoice at that news!"

And not just any old win, but against yet another titled player (there's more of them here than you can shake a stick at - and that's just in our hotel!), and two time East German Women's Champion, Annett Wagner-Michel. And - I kid you not - I played quite well. Not very well, of course, but I'll happily settle for quite well any time. Moreover, there was a crushing team victory as well, with England 2 scoring a 3.5-0.5 win over the German Women's team. Having now faced both the contenders for the Women's 65+ World title, my money is on the Latvians who currently hold a one point lead over the Germans.  It is to be hoped that they do get paired together, at some stage, though. And by the way, at this point we should celebrate the victory of the English team for becoming World Champions in the 50+ category ...... where they are the only participants. Where are the Mongolian Ladies when you need them, I wonder?

It was another good day for the top English teams. In the 50+ event Mickey and Mark won with Black to give us a 3-1 win over Hungary, and a critical success for John Nunn against GM Vaisser edged us home 2.5-1.5 against France in the 65+ tournament. Which means we lead in the 50+ event on game points from the USA, and by a clear point from Germany 1 in the 65+. Next up in Rd 6, its England v Italy in the 50+ and England v Israel 2 in the 65+, while my England 2 team face the German club team Rochade Bielefeld. Though I cannot divulge whether I will be playing in this match or not! 

The temperatures have actually cooled down a bit the last two days, and yesterday there was a storm/downpour of biblical proportions during play - a roof leak caused the England 1 v France match to be suspended. Clearly they have put the top matches at the wrong end of the hall, as we bunnies on the low boards were dry as a bone! All of which has reminded me - you lucky people - of this song!

Friday, 24 June 2022

WSTCC 2022 - Rds 3 & 4

Well, don't think I'm going to start off by apologising for missing a day or two. If you knew how much aggro I have to go through (hopeless hotel wi-fi) to post one of these reports, you'd realise that its actually a miracle there's been any posts from Acqui Terme at all.

Anyway, here's a brief summary of what happened in Rds 3 and 4. If I can remember that far back. My team finally won a game on Wednesday - 3-1 against A team from nearby Alessandria. Kevin Bowmer and Peter Wood won with the White pieces, and Stewart Reuben and I drew with Black. Though I should have lost, but my very pleasant opponent took a repetition in a completely winning position, after I over-pressed. lesson learnt? Probably not. Yesterday I was "rested" and went to Turin on the train for some sight-seeing. In my absence we lost 3.5-0.5 against a strong Switzerland team, who had all titled players, despite resting their top board. Today I am back in the fold, when we will play Germany Women.

Meanwhile the serious chess has been going on at the far end of the tournament hall from where we have been playing. And its pretty good news. England 1 are tied for the lead in both the 50+ and 65+ competitions. In the oldies section, England 1 followed a 2-2 draw against Germany 2 with a 3.5-0.5 win over Germany 1. (No, I can't figure that out either!) John Nunn wiped out GM Rainer Knaak yesterday, but we already know that he has a problem facing English opposition, so that could hardly come as a surprise. Today its England 1 v France as the only two teams on 7/8 go head to head - Nunn v Vaisser on top board. The top seeded Israeli's have lost 2 matches already.

In the 50+ tournament there have been some heavyweight match ups for England 1 in the last 2 rounds. First it was a 3-1 win over the all GM Icelandic team, with impressive wins for Mickey and Nigel on the top 2 boards, and yesterday there was a nail biting 2-2 draw against the USA. Mark Hebden lost against Novikov, but Mickey saved the day with a brilliant endgame win over Gregory Kaidanov. Well worth checking this out to see Mickey conjure up passed a and h pawns from nowhere in a knight ending. real chess artistry and mastery. Another tough match against Hungary today, but with Mickey and Nigel on the top 2 boards, I somehow think its the Magyars who will be the more nervous. And as Mickey said to me at breakfast yesterday, "Mind if I join you?" Sorry to so shamelessly name drop. Though I may still share my 5 second conversation with Nigel in a future post.

But enough about the chess - here's a few pictures from my visit to the Royal Palace in Turin yesterday to get the culture vultures amongst you (Bernard C and Roy!) excited!

A very strange paining of a future Savoy king as a child - with a very small person

Van Dyck's famous painting of the Children of Charles I

That Botticelli wasn't ashamed to rework his ideas, was he? Birth of Venus, anyone?!

OK, that'll do for today. Its the rest day tomorrow, so hopefully I will be able to provide another update. But as at least 2 players in the event have now tested positive for Covid, it may not be all good news.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

WSTCC 2022 - Rd 2

Another day, another GM for me! Well, OK, if you want to split hairs, today it was a WGM, but really - must we get bogged down in the details?  I was pressing - or at least I thought I was pressing - for most of the game, but at the crucial moment I overlooked a tempo winning move for my opponent which enabled her to set up a rock solid defence of my big attack against f7. So only a draw, and England 2 went down 2.5-1.5 against the Latvian Women's team. Not a good result. My opponent beat Nona Gaprindashvili a few years back, and has been rated as high as 2236, so her current rating of just 1978 scarcely does her justice. Two of the other boards were drawn, but Geoff James lost with Black on Board 2 which decided the match. Better news of England 1, who beat a German team 3.5-0.5, while top seeds Israel were going down to Hungary in the top match.

In the 50+ section, it was England 1 v England 2, and the match went the expected way, as both John  Emms and Nigel Short won, but Glenn Flear held Mickey Adams to a draw in an all GM battle on top board. When I left a few minutes ago, Mark Hebden was turning the screw against Chris Duncan with an extra pawn and a safer king, so I expect it will end up as 3.5-0.5 to the first team. No idea how any of the other top matches went, but England Women (already World Champions as the only female side in the event!) had a very big win over the Oslo club that played England 1 yesterday, and England 3 were in a titanic struggle against USA 5 Brothers (a misnomer this year as there are only 4 brothers present!). The match could go either way with 2 games left.

Oh well, nothing for it but to go and drown my sorrows with a few bottles of Moretti!

Monday, 20 June 2022

World Seniors Team Chess Championships 2022 - Round 1

 Or WSTCC 2022 as we will now call it!

Well, I have just hot footed it (literally - its way over 30 degrees here) from the blissfully air conditioned playing hall in Acqui Terme (Italy) to my definitely not air conditioned hotel room in order to break the news that ..... I lost. But as I was playing the great John Nunn (with the Black pieces too) this will surprise no-one. It was actually level, but difficult, out of the opening (good prep by me!) and then I gradually got outplayed, as he angled for an advantageous ending while I tried to avoid being mated on h7. I avoided the mate, but he got his ending advantage and that was all she wrote. Though in fact v England 2 went down only by 2.5-1.5 to England 1, as Geoff James drew against Paul Littlewood after sacking a piece, and Kevin Bowmer won a remarkable game with Black against Tony Stebbings. Tony had 3 pieces for a queen, plus a powerful passed c pawn, but Kevin played a terrific game to win after a massive kingside pawn storm. Ian Snape won the match for England 1 on bottom board, when Stewart Reuben lost on time in a lost looking position.

In the 50+ section, England 1 beat Oslo Schakselskap 4-0. There were quick wins for Messrs Hebden and Arkell with White, while Nigel Short won a long minor piece ending on Board 1 (Mickey Adams was rested today) and John Emms won after pointing all his pieces at the Norwegian players king.

The organisers are rather slow posting the results, so that's about all I have to offer by way of hard results. In due course, you can find out the details yourselves here (50+) and here (65+).

There are supposedly some live games each day (top two matches in each section) but I can't find them on Chess24. So instead you'll have to make do with a couple of snaps. Always assuming the very dodgy hotel wi-fi can cope with the heavy task of uploading them!

The Centro Congressi, Acqui Terme

Hopefully I'll post every day - but its so hot and enervating, and the technology is so iffy,  I can't guarantee anything!

The playing hall - no GMs visible in this picture!

Friday, 10 June 2022


At the recent "4 Trophies dinner" at The Gauntlet, it was great to welcome again our most long distance paid-up member, Bruce Holland, who had travelled up from deepest Herefordshire to join in the celebrations. Bruce, of course, was one of the original movers and shakers in getting the current incarnation of Kenilworth Chess Club up and running in 1975 - and 47 years on he still has a great affinity with the club, despite the miles that now separate him from the rest of us.

In my early years with the club, it was something of a ritual for Bruce to turn up on Thursday nights at The Royal Oak, and later The Gauntlet, at an hour when most people were thinking of leaving. His arrival, at 10.30 or later, was invariably accompanied by a general chorus of "Brooooce", albeit not with quite the same passion as Mr Springsteen's fans usually muster.

Now this is all well and good, as Bruce is a legend of KCC and thoroughly deserves a bit of website appreciation, but what really prompted this article was the fact that his return to Kenilworth was actually a rather remarkable coincidence. Because on two occasions he had recently been thrust centre stage of my imagination, by a couple of out of the blue happenings.

Firstly, there I was on holiday in Scotland, in search of my Celtic forefathers, when what do I see but Bruce's name - if not up in lights, then up in stone.

Dunfermline Abbey - the final resting place of Robert the Bruce

But something like that can obviously be easily explained. the next incident most certainly can't. Trundling up the M5 the other day, my wife and I stopped off at the decidedly upmarket Gloucester Services. Idly browsing the shop - and recoiling in horror at the prices - I was brought to a complete standstill by a wholly unbelievable sight. Which I now share with you!

Any further comment from me would be superfluous

You couldn't make it up if you tried! "The chances of anything coming from Mars" may well be "a million to one", but the odds on finding a display of these three tins must be several trillion to one. Proof, if any were still needed, that Bruce is no ordinary guy!

I'm not sure what Bruce's favourite Bruce song is, so I have chosen for him. How about a bit of Waiting on a Sunny Day, live in Hyde Park in 2009?in