Thursday, 14 July 2022

Second Wave of GMs Invade Kenilworth - or at Least Get Close!

Last weekend's 4NCL tournament at Woodland Grange, on the outskirts of Leamington, saw more GMs in the Kenilworth vicinity, after the recent swarm who attended the English Championships at the Holiday Inn. (Which really is in Kenilworth.)

How many can you spot and identify in this picture?

Well, the correct answer is 3, and they are: Nigel Davies (extreme left); Danny Gormally (second from top on the left hand side of the table); and the man who can't stop winning money in Kenilworth (and its environs), Mark Hebden (standing, furthest away).

Joshua had the privilege of playing GM Hebden (a member of England's World 50+ Team Champions) in Round 1, and had the temerity/chutzpah to try the King's Gambit against him. A brave call given that my database has 49 games with Hebden on the White side of this opening, including a win against Lev Psakhis and a draw against Geller. Let's see, can anyone guess the result??

A very brave effort by Joshua, but at every turn, the tactics always favoured the GM. Strange, that, don't you think? If only there was someone in the club who had beaten GM Hebden. Now, wouldn't that be something!?

Friday, 1 July 2022

WSTCC 2022 - Rd 9 And Now England are World 50+ Champions As Well!

Seniors' World titles are obviously like London buses, because one day after the first (sorry, I can't count the Women's 50+ gold medal, when they were the only entrants) along comes a second, and this time its the big one, the Open 50+ Championship.

England 1 - World 50+ Champions (l-r) GMs Emms, Hebden, Adams, Short and Arkell

Needing only a 2-2 draw in the last round against 9th ranked Canada, there was an immediate boost when IM David Cummings, who started life as a Welshman, was not well enough to play Mickey Adams and England instantly led 1-0. Anyone who saw Mickey in action at this tournament knows that would have been the result of the game if he had turned up, anyway. Team captain John Emms took a draw on Board 4, leaving England tantalisingly close to the finishing line. I don't know who brought home the bacon first, but both Nigel Short and Mark Hebden won convincingly to secure a 3.5-0.5 match win, and the World team title. The USA also had an easy final round win to secure the silver, while Italy won the bronze after beating Georgia. 

England 2 had an excellent, albeit rather fortunate, 3-1 over Germany 1 to finish in a superb 6th place, while England Women finished 13th; England 3 17th and England 4 21st - in each case either matching or exceeding their seeding.

Wrapping up the final positions in the 65+ event, England 1 (with John Nunn rested) lost their final match 1.5-2.5 against top seeds Israel 1, who thereby managed to finish third, ahead of Germany 2 and France on game points. Germany 1 meanwhile took the silver medals, and my team, England 2, ended up in 13th place (having been seeded 12th) after seeing off Ireland 3.5-0.5 in Round 9. Guess who dropped the half point? Yes, it was me, bringing my score to +1 -1 = 6, and a TRP almost exactly in line with my rating. Why did I bother, I wonder?  At least I didn't catch covid!

England 1 - World 65+ Champions (l-r) Nunn, Stebbings, Povah, Snape, Littlewood

Latvia Women took the women's title after finishing 1 pt ahead of their only rivals, Germany. Somehow, in a field of only 20 teams, these two never played each other, which hardly seems correct.

Latvian Women - World 65+ Women's Champions. WGM Tamara Vilerte, who drew with me, at far left

Germany Women - World 65+ Women's Silver Medallists. WIM Annett Wagner-Michel, who lost to me, at far left, but can't bear to look

It was a really good event. A few more teams would have been useful, and some air conditioning and a pool wouldn't have gone amiss at the hotel, but you can't have everything I suppose, and it was a great experience to be part of 2 (alright 3 if we must) gold medal performances from England. The team/squad spirit was absolutely excellent and Nigel Povah did a brilliant job as the Manager, as well as managing to find time to play in a World Championship winning team. There were Board prizes galore for England players, with Mickey, Nigel, Mark, and Keith all getting golds for the 50+ team, and John and Paul doing the same in the 65+ event.

The final word goes to Nigel Short. Always leave them with a laugh!