Senior World Championships in Bucharest

by Thorsten Cmiel
11/21/2019 – The 2019 Senior World Championships are taking place in Bucharest from November 12th to the 23rd. Parallel events for players over 50 and over 65, both in open and women's categories, are in full swing. After eight rounds, all four events have sole leaders, with Ukrainian grandmaster Vadim Shishkin heading the field at the 50+ Open. | Photos: Thorsten Cmiel and Tea Patatishvili

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Chess and bridge in Romania's capital

"Beat them while they are young" is the credo of Simon Williams, when he refers to dealing with prodigious talents in chess. This principle could be supplemented by an addendum: "...or if you catch them vulnerable again in old age".

The arrival in Bucharest worked out well and was properly organized. A bus drove the participants through the city and the diplomatic quarter until reaching the hotel, located on the northern outskirts. In fact, the venue is lacking in attractive sights and there is little chance to walk around and find nice destinations, a flaw pointed out by some of the participants. If you want something besides the charm of the hotel, you have to drive to the historical city centre, which is about six kilometres away, near the voluminous parliament. There is where some impressive buildings, Orthodox churches, restaurants and pubs are located.

Some magnificent buildings in the old town

To call Bucharest "the Paris of the East", as the city is usually depicted by tour guides, is an exaggeration.

The food in the hotel is generally praised by the participants, but it is a bit boring for a 14-day period. The absence of spoons and saucers at breakfast takes some getting used to, especially at a four-star hotel. Since you automatically booked full board in the hotel by registering to participate, daring to visit the distant city centre provokes some reticence. These are precisely the compromises that did not appeal to all participants in Bled in 2018. Not every player is as resolute as Terry Chapman though, who left the tournament before half time.

Two unpleasant incidents were seen so far. A participant from Scotland suffered a stroke at breakfast — he was taken care of quickly and is now in a hospital near the hotel. Another player fell while taking a walk and bruised badly, but fortunately he is still playing. As a rule, falls in Bucharest are different, at least chess-wise.

Favourites stumble

In Bucharest, four new Senior World Champions in two age groups will be crowned. The tournament started with a few considerable surprises. In the 50+ women's section, the two rating favourites lost their round one games. Defending champion Elvira Berend from Luxembourg and German IM Zoya Schleining lost on opening day.

Elvira Behrend won the blitz tournament organized during the rest day

In the 50+ Open, several top grandmasters — Shabalov, Lima and Dvoirys — gave up points against weaker players. In round two, reigning European Champion Zurab Sturua lost against Davaki Prasad. The same phenomenon was seen in the 65+ Open, where defending champion Vlastimil Jansa lost his opening encounter. Only Nona Gaprindashvili started with all guns blazing, winning her first four games.

Nona Gaprindashvili

Let us take a look at the games mentioned above, with some of the strongest players rating-wise losing the thread against weaker opposition:


But chess players were not the only ones suffering upsets in Bucharest. In the RIN Grand, the same hotel that serves as a venue for the events, bridge players competed at the European Champions' Cup from November 14th to the 16th. The favourites from Monaco and Italy suffered setbacks, allowing the Dutch squad "Onstein" to take first place, followed by the "English Champions", who got the silver. More information about the European Champions' Cup can be found here.

What usually happens in the chess world is that in the end the favourites tend to prevail anyway. So, besides the accidents suffered by some of the strongest players in the field, there were also surprising turnarounds and missed opportunities. The most surprising of these certainly was the victory of Zurab Sturua (2540) over Tufan Uzuner (1870), in which the Georgian lost his queen early in the game, but did not give up...


After eight rounds, both open sections have sole leaders on 7 out of 8 points. Ukrainian GM Vadim Shishkin and Italian GM Carlos Garcia Palermo are atop the standings in the 50+ and 65+ categories respectively. Among the women, Tatiana Bogumil from Russia (6½ points) and Brigitte Burchardt from Germany (6) are leading the 50+ and 65+ sections. 

During the rest day, a blitz tournament was organized. Elvira Berend chose not to participate in the women's section and ended up taking first place in the 50+ section. In the 65+ category, a certain Magnus finished first — not Carlsen but Wahlbom, an untitled player from Sweden. Nina Sirotkina won the women's event.

Standings after Round 8 - 50+ Open (top 15)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Shishkin Vadim 7,0 0,0
2 Nevednichy Vladislav 6,5 0,0
3 Marin Mihail 6,0 0,0
4 Morovic Fernandez Ivan 6,0 0,0
5 Georgiev Kiril 6,0 0,0
6 Young Angelo 6,0 0,0
7 Managadze Nikoloz 6,0 0,0
8 Pavlovic Milos 6,0 0,0
9 Lima Darcy 6,0 0,0
10 Yermolinsky Alex 6,0 0,0
11 Minasian Artashes 6,0 0,0
12 Soffer Ram 5,5 0,0
13 Bagaturov Giorgi 5,5 0,0
14 Sturua Zurab 5,5 0,0
15 Godena Michele 5,5 0,0

...138 players

Standings after Round 8 - 65+ Open (top 15)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Garcia Palermo Carlos 7,0 0,0
2 Fernandez Garcia Jose Luis 6,5 0,0
3 Sveshnikov Evgeny 6,5 0,0
4 Balashov Yuri S 6,5 0,0
5 Van Riemsdijk Herman C. 6,5 0,0
6 Vaganian Rafael A 6,0 0,0
7 Povah Nigel E 6,0 0,0
8 Vaisser Anatoli 6,0 0,0
9 Maryasin Boris 6,0 0,0
10 Jansa Vlastimil 6,0 0,0
11 Mochalov Evgeny V 6,0 0,0
12 Shevelev Arkady 6,0 0,0
13 Kalegin Evgenij 5,5 0,0
14 Giffard Nicolas 5,5 0,0
15 Okhotnik Vladimir 5,5 0,0

...192 players

Standings after Round 8 - 50+ Women (top 15)

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Bogumil Tatiana 6,5 0,0
2 Berend Elvira 6,0 0,0
3 Strutinskaia Galina 5,5 0,0
4 Sirotkina Nina 5,5 0,0
5 Schleining Zoya 5,0 0,0
6 Makropoulou Marina 4,5 0,0
7 Grabuzova Tatiana 4,5 0,0
8 Baliuniene Margarita 4,5 0,0
9 Khropova Larisa 4,5 0,0
10 Wagner-Michel Annett 4,5 0,0
11 Ankudinova Yelena 4,0 0,0
12 Jicman Ligia-Letitia 4,0 0,0
13 Birkholz Olga 4,0 0,0
14 Kasoshvili Tsiala 4,0 0,0
15 Sheremetieva Marina 4,0 0,0

...21 players

Standings after Round 8 - 65+ Women

Rk. Name Pts.  TB1 
1 Burchardt Brigitte 6,0 0,0
2 Fatalibekova Elena 5,5 1,0
3 Gaprindashvili Nona 5,5 0,0
4 Kozlovskaya Valentina 5,0 0,0
5 Tsifanskaya Ludmila A 4,5 0,0
6 Titorenko Natalia I 4,5 0,0
7 Sorokina Tamara 4,5 0,0
8 Dotan Valeria 4,5 0,0
9 Bujinlkham Purevdorj 4,5 0,0
10 Pancu Aureliana-Eugenia 4,0 0,0
11 Serjmyadag Damdin 4,0 0,0
12 Abdikasova Panu 4,0 0,0
13 Hrivnakova Anna 3,0 1,0
14 Gandelman Ita 3,0 0,0
15 Hoose Hannelore 1,5 0,0

...more details

All available games - 50+ open section


Games available at 65+ Open | 50+ Women65+ Women

Translation from German and additional reporting: Carlos Colodro


Thorsten Cmiel is FIDE Master, lives in Cologne and Milano and works as a freelance finance journalist.


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