Yermo's Travels: World Team Championship 50+

by Alex Yermolinsky
7/9/2018 – GM ALEX YERMOLINSKY travels to Radebeul (near Dresden), Germany to take part in the 6th World Team Championship 50+ & 65+ from July 7th to the 15th. The American all-GM squad also features Alexander Shabalov (pictured), Joel Benjamin, Jaan Ehlvest and Sergey Kudrin, making it the highest rated team in the competition. High-expectations, but Yermolinsky will also take time out to keep ChessBase readers apprised of how things progress, with annotated games an photos. Now about that cowboy...

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Day two report

This is sort of a new entry into Yermo's travelogue, but this time it's a team tournament, and it takes me to Europe where the majority of my readers live and the rest must have visited. I guess I should dispense with my usual geographical and cultural references of the places I go to and proceed right on to the crux of the matter.

Playing hall

Lots of light, lots of air

While this one is the sixth edition of a World Senior Team Championship, the US team is just making its debut. The first I heard about such an event was about a year and a half ago, and I immediately thought it would be a great opportunity to get the old gang together. The funding, however, could not have been secured on a short notice, and we had to wait until 2018.

It had been 20+ years since my generation of American players represented our country in Olympiads and World Team Championships, and those experiences are among my most cherished memories as a chess player.

The US Team, whose core had consisted of approximately eight or nine players, had done exceptionally well, regularly competing for top places. We won a World Team Championship in 1993 and took the bronze in the 1996 Olympiad in Yerevan. There's a bit of a bitter taste left from our taking silver medals in 1997 World Team Championship and the 1998 Olympiad because both times we came tantalizingly close to winning the gold.

So, I made a round of phone calls and emails, trying to raise the dead. Most replied with enthusiasm, but some couldn't because life does have a nasty habit of getting in the way of chess (and fun).

Yasser Seirawan is so heavily involved in his work as a commentator for the Saint Louis Chess Club, that he forgot to play any tournaments in the last six years. The United States Chess Federation removed Yasser from its rating list, and therefore he wasn't invited. Far as may I be removed from chess politics, I still find this decision bizarre. Yasser is Yasser, no matter how rusty he might be. For us, senior citizens, it's all about past accomplishments, and “being alive” should be the only requirement.

Nick de Firmian is a newlywed, and he's building a house in Oakland, so he had to take a pass. Larry Christiansen has some family issues to attend to, Gregory Kaidanov teaches in chess camps non-stop during the summer, and I think Boris Gulko is also considered inactive by the USCF.

The invitations went down along the list far enough to reach my name, and I gladly accepted. It absolutely makes no difference to me what board I'm playing on — it's all about the team. Importantly, we want to make this trip a memorable experience.

team car

The 'company car'

Alex Shabalov and I met at the Frankfurt airport, picked up our team car, and drove to visit our friend Thomas Luther at his house in Erfurt. From there, our road took us to Prague to collect Jaan Ehlvest, and then back to Germany just in time to see Belgium eliminating Brazil from the World Cup.

The USA team line-up in Radebeul 2018 reads: Alexander Shabalov (Team Captain), Joel Benjamin, Ehlvest, Yermolinsky, Sergey Kudrin. We're ranked #1 by average rating, and viewed by many as hands-down favourites. Yet, there are some pretty strong teams out there, so we aren't taking anything for granted.

Joel Benjamin

Joel Benjamin

There are some familiar faces in the background of the photo above: Yuri Balashov and Rashkovsky from Russia 65+. We won't be meeting them this time.

Before the clocks started we had a very special visitor. For those who's read Karl May's adventure novels set in the American Wild West, it will be interesting to learn that the author had never visited the United States [Alex later learned he did visit. -Ed.].

Karl May character

We will visit your museum!

After a clean sweep of England 3 in the first round we ran into a bit of trouble on our black boards today against a totally unheralded team Schachfreunde Leipzig II (number 19 in the rankings).


Click or tap another game in the list to switch

The other two games provided the margin of victory.

Team spirit is an essential element. After the games we drove to Dresden to have a taste of German hospitality at the Ballhaus Watzke.

out to dinner

Kudrin and Benjamin


Yermo enjoys a beer

Don't you worry about our Estonian-American colleague, Jaan Ehlvest, even if you don't find him in the photos. He's in good spirits, enjoying his day off and taking up the duties of a photographer. Jaan will be ready to re-join the line-up when we play Austria in round 3.

Watch Round 3 live


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Yermo is enjoying his fifties. Lives in South Dakota, 600 miles way from the nearest grandmaster. Between his chess work online he plays snooker and spends time outdoors - happy as a clam.


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