World Senior brings back legends

by Sagar Shah
11/13/2014 – One of the wonderful things about the World Seniors Championship is that it brings back former giants in chess back to what they did best: play chess. At the 24th edition held in Katerini, Greece, there were many such legends, and in this detailed illustrated report, you will find pictures, profiles, plus analysis by 15-year-old IM Akshat Chandra, ChessBase's youngest ever author.

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The official poster of the event

The 24th FIDE World Senior Championships took place at the Olympus Riviera of Katerini in Greece, with the participation of 163 players from 40 countries and a prize fund of €20.000 for the winners. The first round was on October 24, the final (eleventh) round is on November 4th.

In the past the World Seniors was held only for people above the age of 60. But this year it was held in two categories: 50+ and 65+. In the women’s section there were a little too few entries to make it into two categories. There was only one event but prizes were given to winners of both 50+ and 65+ categories.

Zurab Sturua (2524) from Georgia won the 50+ World Seniors with a score of 8.5/11. The
most notable thing about his performance is that he did not lose even a single game. He
went back home richer by €1750. (The first prize was €2000 but as Sturua and Arkell finished with the same points it was shared)

Sturua is a Georgian player who became a GM at the ripe age of 32 years. But he has some notable achievements to his credit. He has won the Georgian Championship five times and has represented his country six times in the Olympiad. He also won the masters section in Biel in 1991 and 1996. In the tournament his biggest competitor for the crown was without question GM John Nunn.

Apart from being a former Top Ten GM, John Nunn is a three-time world champion in problem
solving, a prolific author and also a PhD mathematician admitted into Oxford at the age of 15

John Nunn (2602) was the heavy favourite to win the title being the only 2600+ player in the tournament. However two losses in the tournament against Sturua and Sveshnikov ruined his chances for the gold, and he had to settle for bronze with a score of 8.0/11. For the eventual winner Sturua his win against Nunn in the sixth round was of extreme importance.

Annotations by IM Akshat Chandra

[Event "World Senior Championship S50 Katerini"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.10.29"] [Round "6"] [White "Sturua, Zurab"] [Black "Nunn, John"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D78"] [WhiteElo "2523"] [BlackElo "2602"] [Annotator "Akshat Chandra"] [PlyCount "39"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] {At this stage, British GM John Nunn was leading with 4.5/5, with Georgian GM Zurab Sturua (along with a couple others) were trailing him by half a point at 4/5. The two faced each other in a pivotal showdown in Round 6.} 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nf3 {Wisely avoiding the Kings Indian defence, which Nunn is known to be an expert in.} (3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 {The Kings Indian defence, which would play right into Nunn's hands.}) 3... Bg7 4. g3 {Sturua chooses 4.g3, a solid system for White. Nunn's response probably came as a suprise to him.} c6 $5 ({ An unexpected move from Nunn. He decides to make the position a Gruenfeld, instead of opting for his usual KID setup with} 4... O-O 5. Bg2 d6) 5. Bg2 d5 6. Qb3 $5 {A very interesting move, which seems harmless, but can pack a punch if Black doesn't react appropriately.} ({Sturua avoids the main line with} 6. O-O O-O 7. cxd5 cxd5 {and chooses a sideline instead.}) 6... O-O 7. O-O Qb6 { The main move, and in my opinion the best one as well. Black offers a Queen-trade, and clears the d8 square for his f8 Rook, should it need to defend the d5 pawn.} (7... dxc4 8. Qxc4 Bf5 {is the other option for Black, but in my opinion White just reaches a comfortable position after} 9. Nc3 Nbd7 {and White can choose several moves here, all which promise him a slight edge with no risk.}) 8. Nc3 (8. Qxb6 {is not advisable, as this would suit Black quite well.} axb6 {Black's pawn structure is somewhat weakened now, , but the a-file is now opened for his Rook. White also has to make a decision in the center now, deciding whether to capture on d5, or to develop a piece to protect it. Regardless, it's clear that Black has no problems here, and it's White who should think about equality.}) 8... Na6 $2 {A very bad move, after which things go sour for Black. The old saying " A knight on a rim is dim" applies here. Black will find it very hard to develop and coordinate his pieces now.} ({The simple and natural} 8... Rd8 {was best, making use of the fact that the Queen vacated this square on the previous move.}) 9. Qxb6 { Sturua immediately notices Black's mistake, and plays the correct continuation for White.} axb6 10. Na4 $1 {Forcing Black's f6 knight to take up a passive role on d7, from where it will also obstruct Black's c8 bishop.} Nd7 11. cxd5 cxd5 (11... Nb4 {is an adventurous, computer-like move which occured to me for a moment, but White has no reason to worry after} 12. dxc6 Rxa4 13. cxd7 Bxd7 14. Bg5 $1 $16 {White is a solid pawn up.}) 12. Bd2 {Simple, but strong. White develops his Bishop, prevents Black from activating his a6 knight with Nb4, and connects his Rooks which will make use of the open c-file.} e6 ({It's tough to evaluate 12...e6 . It doesn't do any harm for Black, but it doesn't do any good either. White can just continue onwards with his plan of bringing a Rook to c1. Perhaps Black needed to play} 12... Nab8 {forcing White to make a decision on whether to bring his Knight back, which would block the c-file and allow Black to consolidate a bit, or keep it on a4 by playing} 13. b3 {as seen in the game Aronian-Guseinov} ({or} 13. Nc3 Nf6 14. Rfc1 Nc6 15. Bf4 { White still has a nice risk-free edge here.}) 13... Nc6 14. e3 Rd8 {followed by e6-Bf8.} ({Guseinov played} 14... e5 $2 {but was swiftly punished after} 15. Nxe5 Ncxe5 16. dxe5 b5 17. Nc3 Bxe5 18. f4 Bg7 19. Nxd5 Bxa1 20. Rxa1 Rd8 21. Bb4 Kg7 22. Bc3+ Kf8 23. Nc7 Rb8 24. Rd1 b6 25. Bf6 Nxf6 26. Rxd8+ Ke7 27. Rh8 {1-0 (27) Aronian,L (2645)-Guseinov,G (2548) Tripoli 2004})) 13. Rfc1 $2 (13. Bf4 {was worth a thought, and is probably stronger. This move improves the Bishop, which has served it's purpose on d2, and also puts a dent in Black's consolidating plans. After Black plays the intended} Nab8 {to relocate the Knight to c6, White keeps a strong advantage after} 14. Nc3 Nc6 15. e3 ({or} 15. Nb5)) 13... b5 $2 {Another step in the wrong direction.} (13... Nab8 { Again, it is vital for Black to play this move. The relocation of the Knight to c6 is essential for Black's consolidation. Black will follow up with his plan of Nc6-Rd8-Bf8 as we've seen in an earlier variation.}) 14. Nc3 {Now White prepares to sink his c3 knight into the bare dune on b5. Black is in critical condition.} b4 15. Nb5 Nb6 {Threatening Nc4, but White parries that easily. Black is still unable to untangle his position.} ({Dare I say} 15... Ndb8 $1 {was Black's best move according to the position. Pretty amazing that for the last 3 moves (aside from 13...b5), Black's best idea is to retreat a Knight to b8. White is still much better after} 16. a4 $16 {the engine's move.} (16. Bf4 {was my humble suggestion :).})) 16. b3 Rd8 ({Another simple move, but one which continues Black's suffering. Black still can't play} 16... Bd7 { without losing a pawn, but this was probably his best shot anyway.} 17. Nc7 Nxc7 18. Rxc7 Bc6 19. Bxb4 Rfc8 20. Rxc8+ Rxc8 $16 {Black is of course fighting for a draw, but White also has a long, technical task ahead of him to try and convert the pawn-up position.}) 17. Ne5 (17. a4 $1 {was the best move in the position according to me, something which the computers confirm. White anchors the knight on b5, and creates a very stable and strong pawn structure on the Queen-side. The a-pawn is way more powerful and protected on a4, than it was on a2. Notice how Black's Queen-side pieces are just completely dominated.} bxa3 {is not possible because of} 18. Ba5 {and White picks up the b6 Knight due to the pin. Black can try and be wily with} Nc5 {but White still wins after} 19. Bxb6 Nxb3 20. Bxd8 Nxc1 21. Rxc1 a2 22. Ra1 Bd7 23. Nc3 Rxd8 24. Rxa2 $18 {White remains a piece up.}) 17... Bf8 {Nunn delves deeper into passivity to try and hold on to the b4 pawn.} ({He probably avoided} 17... Nd7 {because of} 18. Nd3 $16 {after which White the b4 pawn. But again, it's by no means lost for Black, and he definitely has chances to save a draw here.}) 18. Nd3 (18. a4 {was again the best move, although the move played in the game is perfectly acceptable.}) 18... Bd7 19. Nc7 Rac8 (19... Nxc7 {was the main alternative for Black.} 20. Rxc7 Bb5 21. Nxb4 Rd7 22. Rxd7 Nxd7 {The complex nature of the endgame might provide Black some drawing chances.}) 20. Bg5 ({ Nunn threw in the towel here. It may seem premature, White does win an exchange, and most likely the game. He just needs to displace a little accuracy.} 20. Bg5 Nb8 21. Bxd8 Rxd8 22. Nc5 Bc6 {after which White would have had to find the precise} 23. a4 $1 {in order to safely secure the escape of the c7 Knight. A relatively short game on the top board between the two leaders at the time.} bxa3) 1-0

GM Keith Arkell (2450) from England finished second with 8.5/11

Keith Arkell was the British Champion is the year 2008. In the tournament he had a pretty ordinary start with a score of 4.0/6. But then Arkell picked up the pace and scored four wins on the trot which included fine wins over Bischoff, Kalegin and Hebden. A draw in the final round secured him the silver medal. There was a very lucky moment for the English player in the tournament when he won a totally lost position against Evgenvy Sveshnikov in the tenth round.

Game commented by IM Akshat Chandra:

[Event "World Senior Championship S50"] [Site "Katerini"] [Date "2014.11.03"] [Round "10.1"] [White "Sveshnikov, Evgeny"] [Black "Arkell, Keith C"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B17"] [WhiteElo "2517"] [BlackElo "2450"] [Annotator "Akshat Chandra"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "6k1/1p5p/6nP/2q1p3/p1P2PQ1/P3N1PK/3r4/4R3 b - - 0 46"] [PlyCount "5"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] [WhiteClock "0:08:52"] [BlackClock "0:02:47"] 46... Qf8 {White has been winning for the last 10-20 moves or so, but legendary GM Sveshnikov (pioneer of the Sveshnikov defence, of course) has been unable to find the knockout blow. Here, he misses it yet again, and plays an inferior move instead.} 47. Qe6+ $6 {This throws away a major portion of the advantage.} (47. Nf5 {was the simplest and most straightforward. The threat is now Rxe5, which really cannot be paried unless Black plays} Kh8 { after which White has} 48. Qg5 $1 {with the simple idea of fxe5. Black is completely paralyzed.}) 47... Kh8 48. Ng4 $4 {A tragic blunder that dooms White.} (48. Nd5 {was required to maintain the near-decisive advantage according to the engines. After Black plays} Qxh6+ 49. Kg4 {and} Qg7 {White goes all in with the heart-stopping ... wait for it ...} 50. Kf5 $3 {Amazingly, Black has no way to take advantage of White's precariously, to say the least, placed King. The computer rattles off the following line:} Rg2 (50... Rc2 51. Qe8+ Qg8 52. Qxg8+ Kxg8 53. fxe5 Rxc4 54. Rd1 $18) 51. Qe8+ Nf8 52. Rxe5 Rxg3 53. Ke4 {An unbelievable sequence. No human would go for something like this, but I thought I'd share it since it was quite interesting.}) 48... Rd6 $1 { White's Queen is now trapped, and her majesty is lost, as is the game.} 0-1

The three winners of the 50+ category: A Georgian and two Englishmen

GM Mark Hebden (2540), who was the second seed, did not have such a great tournament
as he finished seventh with a score of 7.0/11

GM Klaus Bischoff (2504) who is a regular commentator for in German finished
sixth with a score of 7.0/11

Of great interest was the 65+ age category tournament. In this event you could really find true legends of our game fighting it out on the chess board. Here are a few examples of such venerable chess heroes.

GM Mihai Suba is one of the most famous grandmasters of Romania. His book "Dynamic Chess
" is a wonderful contribution to the chess literature. He finished third in the 1982 Las
Palmas Interzonal behind Ribli and Smyslov, just missing the qualification to the Candidates.
In this tournament he finished eleventh with 7.0/11.

81-year-old Evgeni Vasiukov is a true legend of the game. Look at the list of players he
has defeated in his career: Smyslov, Bronstein, Petrosian, Tal, Keres, Taimanov, Geller and
Polugaevsky! Do I need to say anything more! He finished 19th in the event with 6.5/11.

IM Herman Claudius Van Riemsdijk (left) tied for first with 8.0/11, though he did not have the
best tiebreak. This three-time Brazilian champion has the record for the most participations
in the national finals (30 times!), and played for Brazil in the Olympiads no fewer than 11 times!

The winner of the above 65 years event was the French GM Anatoly Vaisser with a score
of 8.0/11. This is his third win at the World Seniors, the previous ones being in 2010 and 2013.

The top winners of the above 65 category: Gold to Anatoly Vaisser (2531) from France, Silver
to Yuri Balashov (2429) from Russia and Bronze to Viktor Kupreichik (2405) of Belarus

In the women section there was a fear of inadequate participation. Hence, the organizers had made the following arrangement right from the start:

The number of women players above the age of 65 years turned out to be less than ten. There were only eight. Hence the two categories were merged and totally 25 players fought for the title of World Women Senior Champion.

In the end it was WIM Svetlana Mednikova of Russia who won the title
of 50+ women with a score of 8.5/11

Nona Gaprindashvili won the Women's Above 65 category and also
finished second in the overall tournament with a score of 8.0/11

The woman that you see in the picture above is a living chess legend. Born in 1941, Nona  became the Women’s World Champion at the age of 21 years by beating Elisabeth Bykova. She was the Women’s World Champion for 16 years from 1962-1978, defending her title successfully four times in that period. She finally lost her World title to Maia Chiburandize. Did you know: who was the first woman to achieve the grandmaster title? It was Nona Gaprindashvili. She has played in twelve Olympiads (eleven for Soviet Union and one for Georgia) winning 25 medals. Among them are eleven team gold medals and nine individual gold medals. In 1986 Dubai Olympiad, she played ten games and won all of them finishing with 10.0/10. Now that is truly mind-boggling! She was such a popular player that a company in Tbilisi, Georgia started manufacturing Gaprindashvili perfume bottles.

You can find more pictures of the great player by the superb photographer Fred Lucas in
this wonderful article previously published on ChessBase when she turned 65 years old

The winners of the 50+ category: WIM Svetlana Mednikova, WGM Yelena Ankudinova and WIM Nino Melashvili

The winners of 65+ category: GM Nona Gaprindashvili, WGM Elena Fatalibekova and WGM Tamar Khmiadashvili

Beautiful girls helped in the organization of the event. From left to right: Angelina Kontini, Xenia
Kalesi, Effie Andr, Dimitra Vatkali, Silver Cat and Aleksandra Dimitijevic.

Keith Arkell with Dimitra Vatkali

John Nunn is quite a popular figure!

As previously mentioned, John Nunn is an avid problem solver on the chess board. He found a nice study like solution in his game against Mark Hebden.

Annotations by IM Sagar Shah

[Event "World Senior 50+ 2014"] [Site "Katerini GRE"] [Date "2014.10.27"] [Round "4.1"] [White "Nunn, John"] [Black "Hebden, Mark"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C48"] [WhiteElo "2602"] [BlackElo "2540"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "8/8/4k3/6R1/2P3Pp/2P4P/4pP2/6K1 w - - 0 57"] [PlyCount "1"] [EventDate "2014.10.24"] [EventRounds "11"] [EventCountry "GRE"] {Is it time for John Nunn to resign? The English GM is a great problem solver. So this one was not too difficult for him.} 57. Re5+ $1 $18 (57. Re5+ Kxe5 58. f4+ Ke4 (58... Kxf4 59. Kf2 $18) 59. Kf2 Kd3 60. Ke1 $18) 1-0

This is a classic case of decoy and was also used in an old game by one of Lasker’s opponent named Rudolf Loman.

[Event "USA tour sim"] [Site "USA"] [Date "1903.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Lasker, Emanuel"] [Black "Loman, Rudolf Johannes"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C84"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "2r3k1/1p4pp/p1q3P1/1p1p4/5R2/8/2nR1QPP/6K1 w - - 0 32"] [PlyCount "20"] [EventDate "1903.??.??"] [EventRounds "1"] [EventCountry "USA"] {Does Rxc2 win for White?} 32. Rxc2 $1 Qxc2 33. Qxc2 Rxc2 34. Rf8+ $1 Kxf8 35. gxh7 Rc1+ 36. Kf2 Rc2+ 37. Kg3 (37. Ke3 Rc3+ (37... Ke7 38. h8=Q Rxg2 39. Qb8 { should not be too difficult to win.}) 38. Kd2 $18) 37... Rc3+ 38. Kg4 $2 {And now we see the same trick that was applied in Nunn-Hebden.} Rc4+ 39. Kg5 Rh4 $1 40. Kxh4 g5+ 41. Kxg5 Kg7 $19 {So the answer of does 32.Rxc2 win is yes it does win but only if White brought his king to the center. Not the way Lasker played it.} 0-1

An eleven round tournament would be quite tiring even foryoungsters, so it was natural that there was a rest day after six rounds. The players were taken for a tour of the beautiful city of Thessaloniki which is around 70 kilometres from Katerini where the tournament was being held. We leave you with four beautiful pictures from the second largest city of Greece.

The lovely and restful open space where one can stroll or just sit back and enjoy the day

On the shore is a ship from yesteryear. Well.... yesteryesteryear.

A group picture of those who opted for the tour

A special thanks to ChessBase's youngest author: the 15-year-old
IM Akshat Chandra for his analysis


The games were being broadcast live on the official web site and on the chess server If you are not a member you can download a free Playchess client there and get immediate access. You can also use ChessBase 12 or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs.

Sagar is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder and CEO of ChessBase India, the biggest chess news portal in the country. His YouTube channel has over a million subscribers, and to date close to a billion views. ChessBase India is the sole distributor of ChessBase products in India and seven adjoining countries, where the software is available at a 60% discount. compared to International prices.


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