27th FIDE World Senior Chess Championship

by Frederic Friedel
11/15/2017 – It's taking place in the north Italian town of Acqui Terme, a place where ancient Romans went to take sulphur baths. 282 players are gathered to play the open and women's Senior World Championship, in the +50 and +65 sections. GMs Granda Zuniga and Zurab Sturua lead in the +50 Open, with 5.0/7 each. On the sidelines there is an initiative to establish a new FIDE Seniors' Commission, to help address future policy, a range of existing issues.

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The 27th edition of the FIDE World Senior Chess Championship is being held in Acqui Terme, northern Italy.

Acqui Terme is famous for its Brachetto d'Acqui wine, and since ancient Roman times for its hot sulphur springs and baths. "You will come to Acqui Terme to play chess mainly," says the organisation, "but thanks to all the specials available for the participants, you will be able to enjoy the healthy curative waters of the spas."

The central fountain leading to the main central piazza of Acqui Terme | Photo: Helen Milligan

The old town tower (far centre) and thermal spring (to the right) | Photo: Helen Milligan

Remains of the old Roman viaduct | Photo: Helen Milligan

Male and female senior players from all over the world were invited to participate. All participants need to have reached the age of 50 and 65 by December 31st of the year of the tournament, which is played in four categories: age 50+ (Open and women) – and 65+ (Open and women). The Championship is an 11 round Swiss, with time controls of 90 minutes for 40 moves followed by 30 minutes for the rest of the game with an addition of 30 seconds per move starting from move 1. The title of “Grandmaster” will be conferred to the winner of the 27th FIDE World Senior Chess Championship 2017 (50+ and 65+).

After seven rounds of play, and with four rounds to go, in the open 50+ championship the top-rated GM Julio Granda Zuniga shared the lead with GM Zurab Sturua on 6.0/7. In the open 65+ championship, a much larger event, the early smoke has still not cleared. No less than ten players, including virtually all of the favourites, share the lead on 5.5/7.

Deep in thought: GMs Zurab Sturua and Julio Grand Zuniga | Photo: Helen Milligan

Second seed (with a 2480 rating) in the +65 Open: chess legend Evgeny Sveshnikov | Photo: Helen Milligan

Fischer confidante: Filippino GM Eugenio Torre | Photo: Helen Milligan

Down to the real business: defending 65+ champion GM Anatoly Vaisser | Photo: Helen Milligan

Both of the women's championships are over nine rounds. In the 50+ championship, WGM Elvira Berend leads alone on 5.5/6. In the 65+ championship, GM Nona Gaprindashvili and WGM Tamar Khmiadashvili are jointly ahead of the field on 5/6.

Nona Gaprindashvili, sixth women's world champion (1962–1978) and first female grandmaster | Photo: Helen Milligan

German WIM Ingrid Lauterbach | Photo: Helen Milligan

Full details about the event can be found at the official website, which includes links to games online and regularly updated results. The championships close on Sunday.

Photo Credits: all photos provided by Asian womens’ champion, Helen Milligan


Press release

Towards a new FIDE Commission for the Development of Seniors’ Chess?

Participation in international seniors’ chess has increasingly expanded since the first FIDE World Seniors Championship open to all players aged 60 years and above was won by Vassily Smyslov, back in 1991.

Since 2014, ‘young’ and ‘older’ seniors have been able enter separate events for 50+ and 65+ age groups, including two new world seniors’ team championships, held annually alongside several already long-established FIDE continental individual and team championships. This expansion in the seniors’ game has been good for chess and also increasingly self-financing due to the numbers involved. Seniors’ chess cries out for further development.

Whose views are important in this? FIDE’s, of course, but also those of organisers and players! Align everyone’s interest and win-win-win outcomes are a tangible prize. To date, the responsibility for the development of seniors’ chess has lain entirely within the FIDE Events Commission, on which Dirk Jordan, a front rank Dresden seniors’ chess organiser, is currently the official director of seniors’ international chess.

But many believe that the challenges facing the development of the seniors’ game have now outgrown the powers of the Events Commission alone and that there is scope for complementing its work, not least in the wider representation of the players’ voice. This view has been especially pronounced in western and central Europe among what might be loosely called ‘amateur’ players and taken up strongly by the directors of organised seniors’ chess in Russia in addition on the part (but not only) of top ‘grandmasters’.

Earlier in the year, IM Jan Rooze (Belgium) and Russian GMs Evgeny Vasyukov and Evgeny Sveshnikov, agreed to develop a proposal to form a new FIDE Seniors’ Commission. Recently ex-world champion, Anatoly Karpov, signalled that he would be prepared to act as its Honorary Chairman, a big convert. At a meeting led by Jan Rooze, with full Russian support, on the rest day at the current world seniors’ championship in Acqui Terme, Dirk Jordan, too, expressed his enthusiasm for the idea.

It was clear from the very lively debate at the well-attended meeting and even from the unexpectedly spontaneous applause that its announcement received at the start of the 5th round in the playing hall beforehand, that this change was welcome.

The main impetus is to take more account of the experiences of players, of all strengths, including men and women. Wherever possible the Commission will work to maintain and improve the conditions of the events, working with all relevant parties, including not just FIDE and the Events Commission, but bodies such as the Association of Chess Professionals and potential new organisers and sponsors.

Following Acqui Terme, Jan Rooze and the Russians will address a formal proposal to FIDE to establish the new Commission. Last year, Jan Rooze and a small group of western seniors attracted over 100 (Europe-wide) signatures in support of a letter to FIDE and the European Chess Union (ECU) that advocated the desirability of taking player feedback into account over a wide range of issues concerning seniors.

In an extended ChessBase News piece, Vlastimil Hort also addressed the narrower (but, of course, important) issue of ‘premium’ pricing in the range of hotels that players ‘must’ ordinarily book into to take part in such FIDE (and ECU) events in a letter, backed by a number of disgruntled German seniors, who declined to play because of this.

The new FIDE Commission will, we hope, work pragmatically and professionally to address such issues in an open way. After all, we ‘oldies’ have a great deal of ‘experience’ behind us, many outside (as well as inside) chess at senior levels in the private and public sectors.

Wisdom comes with age. Doesn’t it!? Wish us luck!



Editor-in-Chief of the ChessBase News Page. Studied Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of Hamburg and Oxford, graduating with a thesis on speech act theory and moral language. He started a university career but switched to science journalism, producing documentaries for German TV. In 1986 he co-founded ChessBase.
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A Alekhine A Alekhine 11/19/2017 02:16
As a 59-year-old US player, I welcome new developments in senior chess. Issues of cost and comfort are certainly relevant to senior players. For example, on several occasions the US Chess Federation has held the US Senior Championship on board a cruise ship. Obviously this type of venue is too expensive for most of the senior population and is therefore undesirable.

In the US, it is common in running events (road races, marathons, etc.) to award separate "masters" prizes, in recognition of the fact that older men and women can no longer run as fast as when they were younger. Chess is a mind game, but even in chess, the physical changes due to ageing tend to cause a decline in competitive playing strength--even though a player's judgment may remain strong. This means older players may be well-suited for writing books, creating instructional DVDs, and other teaching and coaching activities.

With respect, I differ from Michael Ciamarra, who comments that senior players should not have "to worry about falling into a 13-year-olds prepared tactical variation." Chess is a game for all ages, and I would not want to play only in age-segregated events. I fully intend to play most of my chess in "normal" events against players of all ages.

However, there may well be a place for "senior championships." And as I stated above, other senior-related issues such as cost and comfort may also be well worth considering.
MichaelCiamarra MichaelCiamarra 11/16/2017 10:12
As a ‘senior’ I read with great interest this report! Outstanding! Thank you for the post! We hope that the proposed FIDE Seniors Commission is convened with all due speed! Demographically the trends of a graying, aging population worldwide will also require new thinking when it comes to chess activities. ‘Senior’ chess tournaments with classical and rapid time controls will increase and grow exponentially over the next few years. The older chess ‘generation’ ( +50 and +65 years of age) absolutely needa a formal committee that can address authoritatively a variety of dynamics like those that GM Hort and others have expressed. Here in the United States, there is a movement to have state senior championships in addition to our national Senior Championship (won by GM Alex Yermolinsky). Expanding ‘senior’ chess events will attract sponsors and seniors will travel to play in events where they can confidently play their peers without having to worry about falling into a 13-year-olds prepared tactical variation. This is a bright future for senior chess and we are excited about the prospect of a FIDE Seniors Commission. Michael Ciamarra, USA.
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