Speelman's Agony #80

by Jonathan Speelman
7/23/2018 – Jonathan looks at his own agony / ecstasy pair of games from the recent World Senior Team Championship near Dresden. In two weeks he'll be back to looking at reader submissions — and Jon can always use more material from readers. If your games are selected for the Agony column, not only will you get free detailed commentary of your games by one of chess’s great authors and instructors, and former world no. 4 player, but you also win a free three-month ChessBase Premium Account!

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Senior league travails

The (relative) Agony and Ecstacy this week are my own from the World Senior Team Championships in Radebeul near Dresden which took place from July 7th to 15th.

Following the withdrawal of Nigel Short and later John Nunn, my team England I were seeded 4th behind the USA and the two best of the many German teams: Germany I with Philipp Schlosser on top board and the Lasker Chess Foundation with Alexander Graf and Artur Yusupov on the top two boards.

Somewhat to our surprise we defeated the USA early on but we drew with Lasker after I managed an unlikely escape against Graf and after leading going into the final round, were defeated 1½ : 2½ by Germany I The outcome was that the USA were first ahead of England and Lasker with us second on tie-break.

England vs USA

A good start in Dresden, beating the top-seeded USA squad, but 2nd in the end | Photo: Alex Yermolinsky

Losing the final match was a bit sad but certainly not Agonising and the nearest we got to this unfortunate state was actually away from the chess board on the journey back.

This was supposed to be the relatively straightforward Dresden to Frankfurt to London but waking up on the Monday morning we discovered that the initial flight had been cancelled overnight “for technical reasons” and we'd helpfully been rebooked on a flight just before 7am the next morning.

John Emms and I went to the airport anyway and after lengthy discussions and a certain amount of dialectic, it was agreed that we'd be rebooked on a later flight from Frankfurt and take a train there. Then another option was suggested: to go south to Las Palmas and then back to London and to avoid the faff of changing trains with luggage we went for that.

Stewart Reuben and Sheila Jackson had arrived at the airport after us and also (apparently) took this option but after we arrived in Las Palmas and checked, it turned out that they weren't on the passenger list for the London flight.

Since we'd been booked by Lufthansa to travel by Eurowings to Las Palmas and then British Airways to London there was immense scope for the various apparatchiki we approached to deny all responsibility. We started with Iberia BA's handlers at the airport and were then sent supposedly to Lufthansa which turned out to be Eurowings. We then sought the Lufthansa office and after a tragi-comedy lasting more than an hour going up and down in lifts between the two levels (Arrivals and Departures) and searching to the furthest ends of both finally located the Lufthansa office (which handled other airlines too and went by some other name).

There a wonderful woman — Paloma I believe — sorted us out over the next half hour or so.

In the rush at Dresden, Reuben and Jackson hadn't actually been issued with any paperwork for the Las Palmas to London leg and it turned out that they had indeed been booked on a London flight but one only a short while after we arrived in Las Palmas and so, what with reclaiming our luggage and checking in again, totally unrealistic.

The excellent Paloma tried one BA number and then another and we were finally all able to fly back to London together though by the time I got home — and some of them would have taken longer — it was already later than 11 pm on London and so past midnight in Germany.

Leaving this minor Agony aside, we move on to the chess board and a couple of my games starting with the save against Graf which was certainly awful for him. 


Click or tap the second game in the game list below the board to switch

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Jonathan Speelman, born in 1956, studied mathematics but became a professional chess player in 1977. He was a member of the English Olympic team from 1980–2006 and three times British Champion. He played twice in Candidates Tournaments, reaching the semi-final in 1989. He twice seconded a World Championship challenger: Nigel Short and then Viswanathan Anand against Garry Kasparov in London 1993 and New York 1995.


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