Jon Speelman's Agony Column #1

by ChessBase
5/11/2016 – In his first "Agony Column" Jon Speelman briefly remembers the times when Magnus Carlsen was still a kid and then presents two interesting games by Rudy Van Kamenade, who will soon turn 70. Van Kamenade played these games at the European Senior team Championship in Halkidiki 2016 where he played for Wales. Jon Speelman takes a look at the most instructive moments.

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ChessBase Agony Column #1 Wednesday May 11th 2016

When I launched this column a week ago, I had no idea whether the response to my appeal for games would be a trickle or a flood. I was delighted when I received a veritable tsunami of emails and games. Many thanks to readers for all your input and please keep it coming.

With a large and burgeoning database already there is bound to be a backlog. But if you play something amazing which you want considered for the next week then please try to get it to me by Friday. I'll be writing the columns just before or during the weekend and they will appear here on Wednesdays. 

One of my most interesting emails was a win against "Magnus Carlsen aged ten."  Unfortunately I had completely misunderstood that this was an app that purported to play like the world champion at that age. Having therefore removed it I'll still briefly mention that by the time I played the flesh and blood Magnus at the Politiken Cup in Copenhagen 2003 he was all of 12. I got some advantage but missed a tactic and was glad when we agreed a draw!

Jon Speelman v Magnus Carlsen Copenhagen 2003

After 34.Qxc5 Rd1+ 35.Kh2! White keeps an extra pawn. Somehow I already believed the future megastar and it ended:

34.Qe5? Qc6 35.Qe8+ Kg7 36.Qe5+ f6 37.Qc3 Draw Agreed.

On to business and two games by Rudy Van Kamenade a player who will be 70 in June and is married to Julie the current Welsh Ladies Champion. Fourteen years ago they moved to Wales and these two games are from the European Senior team Championship in Greece a few weeks ago  where Wales came close to winning the bronze medal.

He is currently rated just under 2000 so somewhere in the middle of players I want to showcase here, who might go up at the very top to somewhere in the 2200s

We start with "Agony" in round 5 on Saturday April 23rd





About the author

Jon was born in 1956 and became a professional player in 1977 after graduating from Worcester College Oxford where he read mathematics. He became an IM in 1977 a GM in 1980 and was a member of the English Olympic team from 1980-2006. Three times British Champion he played twice in the Candidates reaching the semi-final (of what was then a knockout series of matches) in 1989 when he lost 4.5 - 3.5 to Jan Timman. He's twice been a second at the world championship for Nigel Short and then Viswanathan Anand against Garry Kasparov in London 1993 and New York 1995. He's written for the Observer (weekly) since 1993 and The Independent since 1998. With its closure (going online, but without Jon on board) he's expanding online activity and is also now offering online tuition. He likes puzzles especially (cryptic) crosswords and killer sudokus. If you'd like to contact Jon, then please write to

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