25th World Senior Chess Championship

by ChessBase
12/18/2015 – The 25th World Senior Chess Championships in Acqui Terme, Italy, was an amazing event. The four groups drew more than three hundred participants, including over 100 titled players, among them 18 GMs and 34 IMs. Georgian chess legend GM Nona Gaprindashvili won the Women’s 65+ section with 7.0/9, GM Predrag Nikolic the Open 50+ with 9.5/11. Report from a Jamaican perspective by Ian Wilkinson.

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25th World Senior Chess Championship in Acqui Terme, Italy

A Jamaican perspective by Ian Wilkinson

The official dates of the event were November 9 (when players were due to arrive) and November 22 (when players were scheduled to depart). The actual playing dates were between November 10 (first round) and 21 (final round) with November 16 being a rest day.

The following persons emerged champions in the four sections – Russian WGM Galina Strutinskaia (6.0/9 on tie-breaks in the Women’s 50+ section), Georgian chess legend GM Nona Gaprindashvili (7.0/9 in the Women’s 65+ section), Bosnia-Herzegovina’s GM Predrag Nikolic (9.5/11 in the Open 50+) and France’s GM Vladimir Okhotnik (9.5/11 in the Open 65+).

It was a joy to see hundreds of players, male and female, of “advanced years” looking forward to the games with a combination of anticipation, eagerness and anxiety! Many of the battles were fierce as in numerous instances “Father Time” seemed to have had no adverse effect on the bellicose spirit of these chess gladiators.

Not to be outdone, the desire for the fight was palpable in the eyes of many of the female players. Although not boasting the huge numbers as their male counterparts, the women displayed wonderful fighting spirit in their quest for the spoils at the end of the rainbow!

Jamaica participated in this event for the very first time sending two representatives: CM Robert Wheeler, Jamaica’s first official Seniors Champion (65 + years old category) and Ian Wilkinson, Jamaica’s first official Veterans Champion (50+ years old category). After several planes covering thousands of miles and a bus ride (one hour from Genoa to Acqui Terme) the men from the “land of wood and water”, that had given Bob Marley and Usain Bolt to the world, had made history.

The legendary Georgian GM Nona Gaprindashvili (74 yo!) on her tablet
at Genoa’s airport while waiting for the transportation to Acqui Terme

CM Robert Wheeler, representing Jamaica in the 65 + Open section, arriving in Genoa

The participants arrived on buses coming from various places

The banner tells the players et al that they are in the right place!

The official tournament banner stands proudly at the entrance of the playing venue

The participants were greeted and registered by the chief organizer
IO Cristina Pernici Rigo and her able associate Vittorio Italo Ginevrini

Opening ceremony

The opening ceremony was an informal affair on the evening of November 9. The players were officially greeted by Mirko Pizzorni (a Councillor for the Tourism and Sports Department) representing the Acqui Terme City Council. After the formalities the liquor flowed abundantly and many present used the opportunity to indulge, while others gently urged discretion, reminding the more exuberant drinkers that “the games start tomorrow”. It appeared to me that those imbibing were using the occasion for “preparation”!

Mirko Pizzorni, of the Acqui Terme City Council, (2nd left) welcoming players et al. Others in the picture
(L-R) - Michele Cordara, a translator, arbiter Gerhard Bertagnolli and organizer Cristina Pernici Rigo.

Jamaica’s two representatives – CM Robert Wheeler and Ian Wilkinson at the opening ceremony

View of the playing venue – the Convention Centre

Beautiful chess art adorns the venue

Medical personnel, Giuseppe and Monica, also had “una ambulanza” ready for any “emergenza”

Chief arbiter Austrian IA Werner Stubenvoll starts the first round on November 10

Members of the media were present

Bosnia-Herzegovina’s GM Predrag Nikolic (R) about to put Italy’s Marcello Astengo
to the sword in round one of the 50 + Open section

In round one Bob Wheeler, Jamaica, (L) was held to a draw by Italy’s Luigi Catalano,
rated 400 points lower, after 95 moves and 5 ½ hours of play!

Your author before a fighting 40-move round two draw with black (Nimzo-Indian Defence) against...

... against the higher rated Italian Marcello Astengo in the 50+ Open section

Lithuania’s GM Eduardas Rozentalis – finished unbeaten (9/11) in second place in the 50 + Open section

Top board in the 65+ Open section in round three: Kazakhstan-born French
GM Anatoly Vaisser (R), a previous winner, vs French IM Nicolas Giffard (1-0)

Top board in the 50+ Open section, with GM Predrag Nikolic (R) playing Argentine IM Ernesto Julia (1-0)

Finland’s Raine Heikkila dsplays a a bear on his chest before his second round game against Bob Wheeler. This did not help as he went down after a python-like positional squeeze. Brazilian Dr. Hamilton Do Prado (L) enjoys the ursine imitation.

Sweden’s Peter Korning took advantage of my error on move 19 in round 3 in a closed Ruy Lopez,
uncorked an exchange sacrifice on f3 and reaped the full point after 50 moves.

GM Nona Gaprindashvili (the former Women’s World Champion, first female to become a “male” grandmaster and previous Women’s Seniors winner) is contemplative before the start of round 4 in the 65+ Women’s section.

Legendary Russian GM Evgeni Vasiukov and previous winner
placed fourth on tie-breaks with 8/11 in the 65+ Open section

Georgian GM Giorgi Bagaturov before the start of round four in the
50+ Open section. He finished 6th on tie-breaks with 7.5/11.

Another Russian stalwart GM Yuri Balashov ended in 7th in the
65+ Open section (7.5/11). “I mean business… no more Mr. Nice Guy”!

Russian GM Nikolai Pushkov in the 65+ Open section. He finished
eighth with 7.5/11. “I know…I know… I will kill him with my smile!”

GM Viktor D. Kupreichik of Belarus in the 65+ Open section finished 3rd on tie-breaks (8/11)

Israeli IM Nathan Birnboim in the 65+ Open section

Sharing a joke from the back in the 1960s??
“Remember when we hid from our wives to go and play chess?”

Your author (L) before an epic round four clash against Italian FM Federico Cirabisi that
lasted five hours plus and 70 moves. I won the thrilling Sicilian Smith-Morra encounter.

The last game to end after roughly 5½ hours (ca. 8:30 pm) in round four on Friday, November 13. An upset victory for Switzerland’s Manfred Gosch (L) against Monaco’s GM Algimantas Butnorius (1-0). Butnorius recovered to end on 8/11, the same number of points as bronze medallist GM Kupreichik.

On Saturday November 14 before the start of Round 5 players, officials and spectators stood to observe a minute’s silence for the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris. The atmosphere was sombre and a bit tense.

In a crucial round six clash the second-seed GM Rozentalis (5.0 points) wielded the white pieces against the favourite GM Nikolic (4½) in the 50+ Open section, but the expected pyrotechnics did not happen as the game was drawn without any fight. This meant that Rozentalis went into the rest day leading the event with 5.5/6 ahead of several players who were on 5/6 – USA’s GM Alexander Ivanov, Nikolic, Slovenian GM Georg Mohr, Bagaturov and England’s GM Keith Arkell.

In the 65+ Open section in round six the games on the top three boards (GM Anatoly Vaisser-GM Vladimir Okhotnik, GM Yuri Balashov – GM Viktor Kupreichik and FM Werner Clemens – GM Evgeni Vasiukov) were all drawn. This meant that going into the rest day GM Okhotnik (5.5/6) was ahead of the following persons who were on 5/6: Vaisser, Kupreichik, Argentine FM Anibal Aparicio, Russian IM Vladimir Karasev, Belgian IM Jan Rooze and Israeli IM Boris Maryasin.

In the Women’s 50+ section round 5 was played the day before the rest day. On the top two boards Russian WFM Tatiana Bogumil defeated Georgian WIM Tsiala Kasoshvili while Georgian WIM Nino Melashvili beat WGM Strutinskaia. Heading into the rest day Bogumil had a comfortable lead (a perfect 5/5!) ahead of Kasoshvili, Melashvili and German WFM Petra Schulz, each on 3.5/5.

In the Women’s 65+ section after round 5 things looked very interesting with GM Gaprindashvili, Russian WGM Valentina Kozlovskaya and Georgian WGM Tamir Khmiadashvili all sharing the lead on 4/5 going into the rest day.

All photos by Ian G. Wilkinson, President of the Jamaica Chess Federation. He was a member of FIDE’s Ethics Commission 2006-2014.

Final standings

Open +50:
1. GM Predrag Nikolic (BIH) 9,5
2. GM Eduardas Rozentalis (LTU) 9
3. GM Georg Mohr (SLO) 8,5

Open +65:
1. GM Vladimir Okhotnik (FRA) 9,5
2. GM Anatoly Vaisser (FRA) 8,5
3. GM Viktor D. Kupreichik (BLR) 8

Women +50:
1. WGM Galina Strutinskaia (RUS) 6
2. WGM Marina Makropoulou (GRE) 6
3. WFM Petra Schulz (GER) 6

Women +65:
1. GM Nona Gaprindashvili (GEO) 7
2. WGM Tamar Khmiadashvili (GEO) 6,5
3. WIM Ludmila A Tsifanskaya (ISR) 6

Next World Senior Championship will be organized in November 2016 in Marianske Lazne, Czech Republic and in 2017 again in Italy with the same organizers.


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