World Senior Team Championship 2016

by John Nunn
7/17/2016 – The World Senior Team Championship is a relatively recent addition to the chess calendar. Starting just three years ago, it has grown rapidly and the 2016 edition attracted over 500 players to Radebeul, a suburb of Dresden. A few years ago, FIDE changed the age limits for senior events from a single category of 60+ to two categories of 50+ and 65+. John Nunn, who played on board one for England (and got a silver medal for his 2600+ performance), describes the action, including a remarkable combination spotted by an 83-year-old.

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World Senior Team Championship, Radebeul 2016

By John Nunn

The World Senior Team Championship is a relatively recent addition to the chess calendar. Starting just three years ago, it has grown rapidly and the 2016 edition attracted over 500 players to Radebeul, a suburb of Dresden. Senior chess is nowhere more popular than in Germany, but it is developing in many other countries, including England. A few years ago, FIDE changed the age limits for senior events from a single category of 60+ to two categories of 50+ and 65+. At the time this was controversial, one of the main arguments against the change being that 50+ is not especially ‘senior’ in chess terms. However, it has proved a success and has widened interest in senior chess worldwide. Many players who took up the game in the immediate aftermath of the 1972 Fischer-Spassky match are now in their 50s and eligible to participate.

Senior chess holds many attractions, not least being the possibility to meet old friends. The environment, while still competitive, is perhaps less cut-throat than in a typical Open tournament. Speaking personally, I also appreciate the chance to avoid young players who have been reared on a concentrated diet of computer-generated opening analysis, enabling me to at least reach a playable position for the middlegame.

This event differs from the Olympiad in that teams do not necessarily have to represent countries. Although there were many national sides taking part in Radebeul, there were also teams representing cities and chess clubs. The only rule is that all the members of a team have to be registered to the same federation. This flexibility encourages greater participation and is to be applauded. Currently there are few women senior teams, so they take part in the open event, with the highest-placed team gaining the women’s title. Special mention must be made of the Mongolian women’s team. They may not have finished very high, but they fought hard and deserved their seven points. Given the difficulty even a leading chess country such as England has in fielding a women’s senior team, it’s impressive that they took part at all.

The Radisson Blu hotel provided a comfortable venue for the tournament and the playing conditions were excellent. The organisers are to be congratulated on arranging an enjoyable and well-run chess event and it is to be hoped that the World Senior Team Championship can take place in Radebeul again in the near future.

The parklike environment of the Radisson Blu hotel

Overall view of the playing hall

The pre-tournament top seeds in the 50+ section were the Icelandic team of Hjartarson, Helgi Olafsson, Petursson, Arnason and the veteran Fridrik Olafsson, who is still playing actively at the age of 81. This team is basically the same as the Iceland Olympiad team of the mid-1980s and the England-Iceland match brought back memories of similar clashes from three decades ago. England, Armenia and Germany were also expected to be in contention for the medals.

Armenia and Germany 1 both started the tournament well with five straight wins, with Germany 1 defeating England and Armenia doing the same to Iceland. A curious incident occurred in round 6. The leading scores were:

Armenia and Germany 1 10 match points
England 1 and Iceland 8 match points

With only two teams on 100%, it seemed inevitable that they would play in the next round, but the actual pairings were Armenia-England 1 and Germany 1-Iceland. At first this seems crazy, but a detailed look at the regulations shows that the pairings were correct. There are four variants of the Swiss pairing system which are officially recognised by FIDE, and the organisers at Radebeul were using the Dutch system. This system contains an absolute prohibition against a player (or team, in this case) having three consecutive games with the same colour (detailed rules may be found here). Now the pairings start to make sense. Armenia and Germany 1 both had black (on board 1) in rounds 4 and 5, so neither could have a third black in round 6, therefore they could not play each other.

One may argue whether this is a good idea for an individual event, but it really makes no sense for a team event. Playing black in three consecutive games is clearly a considerable disadvantage in an individual tournament, but in a team event it makes little difference as the team has two whites and two blacks in any case. It may be irritating for a particular board to have multiple colours, but this can happen in any case if a reserve player is used in some rounds but not others.

The problem here is that the pairing system makes no distinction between individual events and team events, but there are genuine differences and the pairing rules should reflect this. In particular, colour considerations should be given less weight. It’s possible to imagine that the same situation could arise in the last round, and then you could end up with two players both scoring 100% but not having to play each other due to the vagaries of the particular pairing system used. I feel this is something that FIDE should look at in more detail.

The England 1-Armenia match mentioned above ended in a draw, while Armenia and Germany 1 drew their match in round 7, leaving Germany 1 a point ahead going into the penultimate round. There Germany 1 were held to a draw by the team of Emanuel-Lasker-Gesellschaft, led by Yusupov and Graf. This left Armenia and Germany 1 level before the last round, and since both won their final matches they finished joint first on match points. The first tie-break was by game points, and this put Germany 1 ahead of Armenia. England 1 came in third, just one match point behind the two leaders. Curiously, England 1 would have won had the event been decided by game points rather than match points. To no-one’s surprise, the Russian women picked up the women’s prize.

The winning Germany 1 team, from left to right: Tischbierek, Volke, Bönsch , Gauglitz, Bischoff

England 1 finished third, from left to right: Nunn, Arkell, Speelman, Flear, Hebden

The winning Russian women’s team, from left to right: Mednikova, Kozlovskaya (the widow of Bondarevsky), Fatalibekova, Strutinskaia, Sazonova

The winners of the board prize on top board: Nunn (right, silver medal, 61) together with ‘youngsters’ Plaskett (left, bronze medal, 56) and Bönsch (centre, gold medal, 57)

In the 65+ section, the powerful Russian team, led by Sveshnikov, Vasiukov and Balashov, had an average rating more than a hundred points higher than any other team, and the results were in line with this. They simply flattened the opposition and won all nine matches, although a few were fairly close. The second place was taken by Saint Petersburg, which was also according to seeding.

The winning Russian 65+ team from left to right: Balashov (hidden by flag), Zhelnin, Pushkov, Vasiukov, Sveshnikov

Just like old times. Vaganian and I meet for the ninth time,
the overall score now being three wins each with three draws

I was happy with my performance in the event. These days I play only very infrequently, and apart from a few rapid games I had not touched a chess piece in over a year. Obviously, this can create some difficulties and my first round game was exciting in a not especially pleasant way, even though I won it in the end. However, after that things settled down and a computer check of the games showed that I played quite well for the rest of the event, eventually achieving a performance rating of 2610. When you are in your sixties, openings present a particular difficulty and I no longer have the time or inclination to study them intensively. It helps if I am able to reach a type of position I have had many times before, as in the following game, which I could have played 30 years ago.

[Event "England 1-Austria"] [Site "Radebeul"] [Date "2016.06.27"] [Round "?"] [White "Nunn, John D M"] [Black "Denk, Adolf"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B80"] [WhiteElo "2597"] [BlackElo "2256"] [Annotator "Nunn,John"] [PlyCount "85"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. f3 e6 7. Be3 {I was happy to see this position, thinking that although I have forgotten a lot of the openings I once knew so well, I could certainly still play an English Attack.} Qc7 {This has been played hundreds of times, but I regard it as slightly inaccurate. There may well be lines in which the queen is better placed on another square, so Black should play a more flexible move, such as 7...b5 or 7...Be7, first.} 8. Qd2 Nbd7 9. g4 {More accurate than 9 0-0-0, because now Black has no time for ...b5 and ...Nb6, followed by the retreat of the f6-knight to d7.} h6 {This slows White up by a tempo, because it now takes two moves (h4 and Rg1) to force through g5, but on the other hand more lines will be opened when the pawn does arrive.} 10. h4 Ne5 11. Rg1 {Black has only made half a point from the five games reaching this position in Mega Database 2016. It's a very small sample, but Houdini gives White a solid half-pawn plus here, backing up my feeling that White is definitely better.} g6 12. g5 hxg5 13. hxg5 Nfd7 (13... Nh5 {is also possible, but the knight has little future on this square.}) 14. O-O-O b5 {Black's play has been a little slow, but given a move or two he will be able reach a satisfactory position by ...Bb7 and ...Rc8, so I felt that I had to act quickly.} 15. f4 $1 {It's sometimes double-edged to play this as it weakens the e4-pawn, but here the initiative is a more important factor.} Nc4 16. Bxc4 ({I thought for some time about} 16. Ndxb5 {but after} axb5 17. Nxb5 Qc6 ({after the game, my opponent pointed out a second strong line for Black:} 17... Rxa2 18. Nxc7+ Kd8 19. Kb1 Rxb2+ 20. Kc1 Nxd2 21. Bxd2 Ra2 22. Kb1 Ra4 {with a favourable ending for Black}) 18. Qc3 Qxb5 19. Bxc4 Qc6 20. Qxh8 Qxc4 {Black stands very well.}) 16... Qxc4 17. b3 { It turns out that this is the first new move of the game. I prefer it to} (17. a3 b4 18. axb4 Qxb4 19. Nc6 Qc4 20. Qd4 Qxd4 21. Bxd4 Rh4 22. Rdf1 {which only gives White a very slight endgame advantage. Now Herbrechtsmeier-Ostl, Eppingen 1988 continued} Be7 $2 ({Black should play} 22... Nb8 23. Nxb8 Rxb8 24. Rh1 Rxh1 25. Rxh1 Bd7 {with just an edge for White}) 23. Rh1 Rg4 $2 24. Rh8+ Bf8 25. Na5 e5 26. fxe5 Rxg5 27. Nd5 {1-0}) 17... Qc7 18. f5 {The attack against e6 gives Black no time.} Ne5 (18... Nc5 {is well met by} 19. b4 Na4 20. Nxa4 bxa4 21. fxg6 fxg6 22. e5 $1 d5 (22... dxe5 23. Nf3 {threatening both 24 Qd3 and 24 Nxe5, is very strong}) 23. Rgf1 {with a very strong attack for White.}) 19. Rh1 Rxh1 20. Rxh1 gxf5 (20... b4 21. Nce2 exf5 22. exf5 Bxf5 23. Nxf5 gxf5 24. Kb1 Qb7 25. Ng3 {is also very good for White, since the numerous weaknesses in Black's position and his exposed king count for more than the extra pawn}) 21. exf5 Bb7 $2 (21... Qb7 22. Rh8 exf5 {was the best chance. After} 23. Bf4 b4 (23... Bd7 24. g6 $1 O-O-O 25. gxf7 {is also very good for White, since} Nxf7 {loses to} 26. Rh7) 24. Ndb5 $1 axb5 25. Nd5 Be6 26. Nf6+ Ke7 27. Bxe5 Qc6 28. Bd4 Rxa2 29. Qd3 {White has a huge attack for the two pawns, but the position is still very complicated}) 22. Rh8 $1 (22. Rh7 $2 Rc8 23. Kb2 exf5 {is totally unclear, but after the move played Black has no reasonable way to prevent a sacrifice on b5}) 22... exf5 (22... Qe7 23. g6 Qf6 24. Rg8 Kd7 25. Kb1 $1 {followed by} ({not the immediate} 25. Bg5 $2 {when Black can fight on by} Nd3+) 25... -- 26. Bg5 {is devastating}) 23. Ndxb5 { sacrifice on b5 in the Sicilian, just like the old days!} axb5 24. Nxb5 Qd7 25. Nxd6+ Ke7 26. Bc5 Ke6 27. Nxb7 Qxd2+ (27... Qxb7 28. Rxf8 {wins at once, so Black must exchange queens into an ending two pawns down.}) 28. Kxd2 Ng6 29. Rh7 $1 Rb8 {Black is unable to regain one of the lost pawns by} (29... Rxa2 { due to} 30. Bxf8 Nxf8 31. Nd8+ {so White keeps his extra material.}) 30. Bxf8 Rxb7 31. Bc5 {The best square, as the bishop stands ready to stop the f-pawn by controlling f2.} f4 32. a4 {The rest is just a matter of pushing pawns.} Kd5 33. b4 Ke4 34. a5 Rd7+ 35. Kc3 f3 36. a6 Nf4 37. a7 Nd5+ 38. Kc4 Rd8 39. Rxf7 Ne3+ 40. Bxe3 Kxe3 41. b5 f2 42. b6 Rd4+ 43. Kb3 {After} (43. Kb3 Rf4 44. Rxf4 Kxf4 45. a8=Q f1=Q {Black loses his queen to} 46. Qf8+) 1-0

If you play very infrequently, then there’s a greater danger of being surprised by an opening line which has only recently become popular. There’s no sure-fire solution to this problem, but making sure that you have a good general understanding of the opening helps. In the following game, my opponent went for a sideline which has only been played extensively in the last few years.

[Event "Post-SV Ulm-England 1"] [Site "Radebeul"] [Date "2016.07.04"] [Round "?"] [White "Fritz, Roland"] [Black "Nunn, John D M"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E63"] [WhiteElo "2324"] [BlackElo "2597"] [Annotator "Nunn,John"] [PlyCount "62"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] 1. Nf3 g6 2. d4 Nf6 3. c4 Bg7 4. g3 O-O 5. Bg2 d6 6. Nc3 Nc6 7. O-O Rb8 8. h3 a6 9. e4 b5 10. cxb5 axb5 11. Re1 {A surprise for me in this well-known theoretical position. After the game my opponent told me that it was recommended by Avrukh. A database check shows that there were isolated games with this move as far back as the 1960s, but it is only recently that it has been played with any frequency.} b4 {This seemed the most natural move, although Mark Hebden pointed that there is a case for} (11... e6 {so that a subsequent ...b4 will push the knight to a less active square.}) 12. Nd5 Nd7 ( 12... Nxd5 13. exd5 Na7 {leaves White with doubled isolated pawns in the centre of the board, but unfortunately} 14. Qa4 {leaves Black without a natural reply.} Rb6 {is probably best, but as this allows White to force a draw by} 15. Qxa7 Ra6 16. Qb8 Rb6 17. Qa7 {I decided on another continuation.}) 13. Bg5 h6 14. Be3 {This has been played most often, but it is possible that} ( 14. Rc1 $5 hxg5 15. Rxc6 {is a more critical continuation, based on the tactical point} Bb7 16. Nxb4) 14... e6 15. Nf4 {White's minor pieces are massed on the kingside and given time he might be able to generate threats there, so Black needs to create counterplay as quickly as possible.} Na5 { Aiming for queenside play. It is also reasonable to play in the centre by} ( 15... e5 16. dxe5 Ncxe5 17. Nxe5 Nxe5 {with a roughly equal position.}) 16. Rc1 b3 {Otherwise White might play b3 himself, which would leave the a5-knight out of play.} 17. Qd2 $6 {This gains a tempo by attacking the knight, but the queen is vulnerable to knight attacks on d2.} (17. axb3 Nxb3 18. Rc3 Na5 19. Qc2 {was better, when White has pressure along the c-file to compensate for the isolated b-pawn.}) 17... c5 {Black already has at least equality. A particular problem for White is the long-term vulnerability of the b2-pawn, since if this disappears Black will immediately gain a far-advanced passed pawn.} 18. a3 (18. dxc5 {is well met by either} Nxc5 {or} (18... bxa2)) 18... Ba6 {Taking aim at the c4-square.} ({The attempt to win a piece by} 18... cxd4 19. Nxd4 e5 $4 {fails to} 20. Nde6 {and White wins}) 19. e5 $6 {An attempt to mix things up which backfires.} (19. Bf1 Bxf1 20. Rxf1 (20. Kxf1 cxd4 21. Nxd4 Nc5 {is excellent for Black}) {is more solid, but even here I slightly prefer Black after} 20... Nf6 21. e5 Ne4 22. Qe2 c4 {since White's bishop is becoming bad.}) 19... dxe5 $1 {Cutting through the complications with a simple line which guarantees Black a clear advantage.} (19... Nc4 20. Rxc4 Bxc4 21. exd6 { is unclear, while}) (19... cxd4 $2 20. Nxd4 Nxe5 21. Ndxe6 fxe6 22. Nxe6 Nac4 23. Qd5 {is probably good for White.}) 20. dxe5 Nxe5 21. Nxe5 Bxe5 22. Rxc5 Nc4 {A multi-purpose move which removes the knight from attack, defends the bishop and attacks White's queen.} 23. Qe2 $2 {Now Black wins. The only chance was to continue} (23. Qxd8 Rfxd8 24. Bf1 {but Black is still much better after} Nxe3 25. Bxa6 Bd4 26. Rb5 Rxb5 27. Bxb5 Nc2 28. Rb1 Ba7 {with ... Rd2 to come.}) 23... Nxe3 24. Qxa6 Bxf4 (24... Bd4 25. Rc6 Nxg2 26. Kxg2 Bxb2 {is also very strong, but I didn't want to allow a possible sacrifice on e6.}) 25. gxf4 Qd4 $1 (25... Nxg2 26. Kxg2 Qd4 27. Rc3 Qxf4 28. Ree3 {is far less clear.}) 26. Re5 ({Now} 26. Rc3 {fails to} Nd1 27. Rf3 Nxb2) ({White could have set a trap by} 26. Rc7 Nxg2 27. Kxg2 Qxb2 28. Rxe6 Qb1 29. Rf6 {but then} Qe4+ $1 ({the trap is} 29... b2 $4 {which even loses after} 30. Qc4 $1) 30. f3 Qb1 {wins; for example,} 31. Rc1 (31. Qc4 Qb2+ {wins a rook}) 31... Qa2+ 32. Kg3 Kh8 {and the advance of the b-pawn cannot be prevented.}) 26... Nxg2 27. Kxg2 Qxb2 {White has no real counterplay and the passed pawn is quickly decisive.} 28. h4 (28. Rxe6 fxe6 29. Rxe6 {is most simply met by} Rf7) 28... h5 29. R1e3 Qc2 30. Rb5 b2 31. Reb3 Qxb3 0-1

An interesting ending arose in the game Bönsch-Hjartarson, which decided the crucial Germany 1-Iceland match.

[Event "Germany 1-Iceland"] [Site "Radebeul"] [Date "2016.07.01"] [Round "?"] [White "Boensch, Uwe"] [Black "Hjartarson, Johann"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "E88"] [WhiteElo "2545"] [BlackElo "2547"] [Annotator "Nunn,John"] [PlyCount "187"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f3 O-O 6. Be3 e5 7. d5 c6 8. Bd3 cxd5 9. cxd5 Nh5 10. Nge2 f5 11. exf5 gxf5 12. O-O Nd7 13. Rc1 Nc5 14. Bc2 a5 15. a3 Bd7 16. b4 axb4 17. axb4 Na6 18. Rb1 Qh4 19. Bf2 Qg5 20. Kh1 Kh8 21. Qd3 Rac8 22. Be3 Qh4 23. Bf2 Qf6 24. Qd2 Rg8 25. Ba4 Bh6 26. Qe1 Bxa4 27. Nxa4 Rc4 28. Qd1 Qg5 29. g3 Rxb4 30. Nac3 Qd2 31. Qxd2 Bxd2 32. Rxb4 Nxb4 33. Rb1 Nd3 34. Bg1 Ne1 35. f4 Bxc3 36. Nxc3 Nf3 37. fxe5 dxe5 38. Rxb7 Nxg1 39. Kxg1 f4 40. Ne4 fxg3 41. hxg3 Rg4 42. d6 Rxe4 43. d7 Rd4 44. Kg2 Nf6 45. Rb8+ Kg7 46. d8=Q Rxd8 47. Rxd8 {This ending is definitely drawn but Black cannot afford to take the defensive task lightly. In particular, if he loses the e-pawn then White is winning.} Kg6 48. Kf3 Kf5 49. Rf8 h5 50. Ke3 Kg5 51. Kd3 {At the moment, Black's pieces provide a barrier to the entry of the white king, so Bönsch tests out the idea of moving his king around via the queenside.} Kg6 52. Kc4 Kg5 53. Kd3 {The king cannot go any further since Black could draw by giving up the knight; for example,} (53. Kb5 Ne4 54. Rg8+ Kf5 55. Kc4 Nxg3 56. Rxg3 h4 57. Rg8 Kf4 58. Kd3 h3 59. Ke2 h2 60. Rh8 Kg3 61. Kf1 e4) 53... Kg6 54. Ke3 Kg5 55. Kf3 Kf5 56. Kg2 Kg5 57. Kh3 {White tries the alternative and more dangerous plan of playing his king to h4 and trying to put Black in zugzwang.} Kf5 58. Rf7 Kg6 59. Re7 Kf5 60. Kh4 e4 {This still draws, but it is a concession to advance the pawn to e4 as now the white king has access to d4 and f4.} ({Black could have made his life easier by refusing to touch the e-pawn.} 60... Ne4 61. Rf7+ (61. Rg7 Nf6) 61... Nf6 62. Ra7 Kg6 63. Ra1 Kf5 64. Ra5 Ne4 {and White is not making any progress}) 61. Kh3 Ng4 62. Kg2 Nf6 63. Rg7 Ng4 64. Kf1 Kf6 65. Rg8 Kf5 66. Ke2 Ne5 {It wasn't necessary to allow the white king to penetrate so easily.} (66... Kf6 {keeping control of e3, was simpler.}) 67. Ke3 Ng4+ 68. Kd4 e3 {White has made some progress and by now Black's position requires accurate defence. This move does not lose, but requires superhuman accuracy (at 30 seconds per move).} (68... Nf6 69. Rf8 Kg6 {was better, since White cannot play his king to e5. The problem with playing ...e3 is that it effectively immobilises the knight.}) 69. Rf8+ Kg5 70. Kd3 Kg6 $2 {Now the position is lost. The only drawing move is the surprising} (70... Nh6 $1 {since} 71. Kxe3 (71. Rh8 Nf5 72. Rg8+ Kf6 {also defends}) 71... h4 72. gxh4+ Kxh4 73. Kf4 Kh5 {is a standard drawing position. The key idea is to transfer the knight to f5, since from this square the knight not only defends the e3-pawn but also keeps white tied down to the defence of g3.}) 71. Ke2 $2 { Giving Black a second chance. The winning idea is to transfer the rook to the fifth rank; for example,} (71. Ra8 Kf6 72. Ra5 Kg6 73. Ke2 Kh6 74. Kf3 Kg6 75. Kf4 Kh6 76. Ra6+ Kg7 77. Kg5 Ne5 78. Re6 {and wins}) 71... Kg5 $2 (71... Nh6 { still draws.}) 72. Ra8 $2 {The right idea but the wrong execution. The only winning move was} (72. Rg8+ $1 {so that after} Kf5 73. Ra8 Nh6 74. Kxe3 { Black cannot swap pawns by ...h4}) 72... Kf5 $2 {The last drawing possibility was} (72... Nh6 $1 73. Kxe3 h4) 73. Ra5+ Kg6 74. Kf3 {White has hit on the correct plan.} Kh6 75. Kf4 Kg6 76. Ra6+ Kf7 77. Kf3 {This wastes time but does not endanger the win. White makes no progress over the next few moves but eventually hits on the right idea.} Kg7 78. Re6 Kf7 79. Re4 Kg6 80. Kf4 Kf6 81. Ra4 Kg6 82. Ra5 Kf6 83. Ra6+ Kf7 84. Rb6 $1 {This is the way to win. Black is now in zugzwang.} Ke7 (84... Kg7 {loses to} 85. Kg5) 85. Kf5 Kf7 {However Black plays, his king will be cut off one way or another. The alternative is} ( 85... Kd7 86. Re6 Kd8 87. Kf4 Kd7 88. Re4 Kd6 89. Kf3 Kd5 90. Re8 Kc4 91. Rd8 { followed by Ke2 and Rh8, winning the h-pawn.}) 86. Rb7+ Kf8 87. Kf4 {Now that the enemy king is stuck on the back rank, White can play Ke3 followed by Rb5, winning a pawn} e2 88. Rb1 Nf2 89. Kf3 Nd1 90. Rb8+ Kg7 91. Kxe2 Nc3+ 92. Kd3 Nd5 93. Ke4 Ne7 94. Rb6 1-0

The following is from Plaskett-Hebert. The game actually finished in a draw. However, at move 58 White has a difficult forced mate in nine.

[Event "England 2-Canada"] [Site "Radebeul"] [Date "2016.06.28"] [Round "?"] [White "Plaskett, H James"] [Black "Hebert, Jean"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C06"] [WhiteElo "2445"] [BlackElo "2370"] [Annotator "Nunn,John"] [PlyCount "139"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Nf6 4. Bd3 c5 5. e5 Nfd7 6. c3 Nc6 7. Ngf3 g6 8. h4 Be7 9. O-O O-O 10. Re1 Qb6 11. h5 cxd4 12. cxd4 Nxd4 13. Nxd4 Qxd4 14. Nb3 Qh4 15. Bh6 f5 16. Bxf8 Nxf8 17. Rc1 Bd8 18. hxg6 Nxg6 19. g3 Qg5 20. Nc5 b6 21. Nb3 Bd7 22. Nd4 Be7 23. Rc7 Bc5 24. Bxf5 exf5 25. Rxd7 f4 26. Qf3 Rf8 27. Qxd5+ Kh8 28. Rf7 fxg3 29. Rxf8+ Nxf8 30. Re4 gxf2+ 31. Kxf2 Ng6 32. Ke2 Qg2+ 33. Kd1 Qxb2 34. Nc2 Qb1+ 35. Kd2 a5 36. e6 Qb2 37. Qd8+ Kg7 38. e7 Nxe7 39. Rxe7+ Bxe7 40. Qxe7+ Kg6 41. Qe4+ Kg7 42. Qe7+ Kg6 43. Qe8+ Kg7 44. a4 Qf6 45. Ne3 h5 46. Kd3 h4 47. Ke4 h3 48. Nf5+ Kh7 49. Qh5+ Kg8 50. Qxh3 Qc6+ 51. Ke5 Qe8+ 52. Kf6 Qf8+ 53. Kg6 Qe8+ 54. Kf6 Qc6+ 55. Ke7 Qc7+ 56. Ke6 Qc6+ 57. Nd6 Qxa4 {[#]} 58. Qg2+ $6 ({White can mate in 9 by} 58. Qg3+ Kh7 (58... Kf8 59. Qf3+ Kg7 60. Qf6+ Kh7 61. Qf5+ Kg7 62. Qg5+ Kh7 63. Qh5+ Kg8 (63... Kg7 64. Nf5+ Kf8 65. Qh8#) 64. Qg6+) 59. Ke7 $1 Kh6 (59... -- 60. Kf8 Qd7 61. Qg8+ Kh6 62. Nf7+) (59... Qd4 60. Kf8 Qf6+ 61. Nf7) 60. Nf7+ Kh7 61. Qd3+ Kg7 62. Qc3+ Kh7 63. Qh8+ Kg6 64. Qf6+ Kh7 65. Qh6+ Kg8 66. Qh8#) 58... Kh7 59. Qh1+ $2 ({repeating the position by} 59. Qh3+ {59 Qh3+ would have won}) ({as, surprisingly, would the quiet move} 59. Qg3) 59... Kg6 60. Qg2+ Kh5 61. Nf5 Qc4+ 62. Kf6 Qc3+ 63. Kf7 Qc4+ 64. Ke7 Qc7+ 65. Ke6 Qc4+ 66. Ke5 Qc5+ 67. Kf6 Qc3+ 68. Ke6 Qc4+ 69. Kd7 Qb5+ 70. Ke6 1/2-1/2

Vasiukov-van Herck from the 65+ section shows that it’s still possible to spot a neat combination at the age of 83.

[Event "Russia 65+-Belgium 1"] [Site "Radebeul"] [Date "2016.07.01"] [Round "?"] [White "Vasiukov, Evgeni"] [Black "Van Herck, Marcel"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B20"] [WhiteElo "2403"] [BlackElo "2155"] [Annotator "Nunn,John"] [PlyCount "37"] [EventDate "2016.??.??"] 1. e4 c5 2. a3 g6 3. b4 Bg7 4. c3 b6 5. d4 d5 6. e5 Bf5 7. Nd2 cxd4 8. cxd4 h5 9. Bb2 Nh6 10. Qa4+ Bd7 11. Qb3 O-O 12. Ngf3 Bg4 13. h3 Bxf3 14. Nxf3 e6 15. Rc1 Nf5 16. g4 hxg4 17. hxg4 Ne7 {[%tqu "How did the 83-year-old Evgeni Vasiukov finish the game?","","",Ng5,"",10]} 18. Ng5 Qd7 19. Rh8+ $1 (19. Rh8+ Bxh8 (19... Kxh8 20. Qh3+ Kg8 21. Qh7#) 20. Qh3 {it's mate in two more moves.}) 1-0

Your author, John Nunn (61).

Myself taking a photo of an old friend, Artur Yusupov

In conclusion, I would like to thank my teammates for contributing to an enjoyable experience, the organisers for a job very well done and the English Chess Federation for providing the financial support which allowed a strong England team to participate.

All photographs by Karsten Wieland

Gambit Publications recently produced a thought-provoking book examining how to retain and even improve your playing strength with advancing years. The conventional wisdom is that greater experience should compensate for a loss of youthful energy, but with so many of the world elite currently in their twenties, chess is increasingly looking like a young man’s game. By making a number of case studies and interviewing players who have stayed strong into their forties, fifties and beyond, the authors show in detail how players can steer their games towards positions where their experience can shine through. Interviewees include:

GM John Nunn
GM Yasser Seirawan
GM Nigel Short
GM Judit Polgar
GM Keith Arkell
GM Pia Cramling
FM Terry Chapman
GM Jon Speelman
GM Sergei Tiviakov
WIM Ingrid Lauterbach

The section on Tiviakov is especially interesting, as it describes in detail how an experienced player can manage his opening repertoire so as confuse and outwit younger opponents.

Chess for Life can be purchased in print form from Amazon UK, Amazon US or Amazon Germany. There is also an Amazon Kindle electronic version shown on each of these pages. Finally, an app version is available for the Gambit Chess Studio reader, which allows you to play over all the moves on-screen. Just download the free app from the Google Play store or the Apple store. After that Chess for Life is available as an in-app purchase.


You can use ChessBase or any of our Fritz compatible chess programs to replay the games in PGN. You can also download our free Playchess client, which will in addition give you immediate access to the chess server

Dr John Nunn (born 1955) is an English grandmaster, author and problem-solver. He was among the world’s leading grandmasters for nearly twenty years, winning four gold medals in chess Olympiads, and is a much-acclaimed writer whose works have won ‘Book of the Year’ awards in several countries. In 2004, 2007 and 2010, Nunn was crowned World Chess Solving Champion. He continues to compete successfully in over-the-board and problem-solving events.


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