The Match of the Generations

5/11/2004 – Jonathan Pein, member of the Wood Green Chess Club in London, is five years old. His club comrade Philip Gelman is 102 – the only serious chess player in the UK older than the chess federation. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the British Chess Federation the two played a match against each other. Guess who won...

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Chess Challenge at High Noon

The British Chess Federation was founded 7 May 1904. To celebrate their 100th birthday, a challenge match was held on Friday 7 May at the ‘Orange Tree’ a country pub in north London midway between the residences of the two players; 102 year-old Philip Gelman of Wood Green Chess Club and five-year-old Jonathan Pein, son of IM Malcolm Pein, himself also a member of Wood Green Club.

This match was almost certainly the first contest in the UK between two players, one 20 times as old as the other but did not quite match the game played earlier this year at the Hrokurinn Chess Festival in Iceland between a five-year-old and a 103 year old.

Before the game Philip, the only serious chess player in the UK older than the federation said, “I am looking forward to an exciting match and fully intend to win.” Jonathan said, “I think he will win, he has had more time to practice” (note, child has his father’s wit).

The contest was part of ‘The Match of the Generations’ between players under 20 and those 20 or over. This will take place all over England. It is hoped there will be 50,000 games played by the end of November.

President of the British Chess Federation, Gerry Walsh, said today, “The match will demonstrate the attraction of chess for players of all ages. It highlights the many benefits of playing chess. I wish both players the best of luck, but have a sneaking hope the more mature player will win.”

And so it proved: Age triumphed over youth quite convincingly after Jonathan tried to play the attacking line of the Two Knights Defence with 4.Ng5 after the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 when of course it only really works after 3…Nf6. He has been promised a copy of ChessBase 10 for his seventh birthday, Matthias Wüllenweber has promised to start work on it immediately. Philip went on to finish the game in twenty nine moves with some crisp tactics.

The victor is in remarkably good shape for a man of his years and attends Wood Green Chess Club every Thursday evening. Last year he drew with former British Chess Champion IM Paul Littlewood in a simultaneous display.

IM Malcolm Pein, pictures by Philippa Pein


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