You talking to me? Top-class chess returns to England

by ChessBase
7/21/2007 – The first international tournament ever was held in London in 1851, but nowadays Britain organises few international chess events. That will all change in August, as London plays host to its strongest international event for 20 years, the Staunton Memorial. Two weeks later, the city of Liverpool will hold a summit match between Great Britain and China. ChessBase will have full coverage.

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Top-class chess returns to England

Despite having initiated the tradition of international chess tournaments in 1851, England hosts deplorably few such events nowadays. However, the normal gloomy picture will be changed for the better in August and September, as two top-class events take place in quick succession.

Fifth Annual Staunton Memorial

The revival starts with  the fifth Staunton Memorial tournament, taking place in London from 7-18 August. The brainchild of GM Ray Keene, this twelve-player all-play-all event will be the strongest international tournament held in the British Isles for at least 20 years.

"You talking to me?" The formidable Howard Staunton

Organised by The Staunton Society, a body dedicated to preserving the name of one of England's greatest players, and with sponsorship from Dutch chess maecenas Jan Mol (formerly of Lost Boys tournament fame), the tournament line-up comprises six Dutchmen ( van Wely, Sokolov, Timman, L'Ami, Smeets and Werle), and six British players (Adams, Speelman, Wells, McNab, Jones and Jovanka Houska).

The chess pieces that bear the name of Staunton

The tournament will take place in Central London, in the prestigious surroundings of Simpsons-in-the-Strand. This is on the site of the famous Simpson's Divan, where many of the world's leading players used to congregate in the middle of the 19th century, and where Adolf Anderssen played his Immortal Game against Kieseritzky.

The way we were...

... and Simpsons-in-the-Strand today

At Simpsons, play takes place in an elegant Victorian drawing room, thickly-carpeted, beautifully furnished, with chandeliers on the ceiling and oil paintings adorning the walls - and not a basketball hoop in sight!

Click the picture for an animated 360o view

The tournament offers a unique combination of top-class 21st century chess, with the elegance and atmosphere of Victorian England. No sign here of players seated in a draughty sports hall, with trainers squeaking on the all-weather surface beneath their feet.


Michael Adams ENG 2724
Loek van Wely NED 2680
Ivan Sokolov NED 2666
Jan Timman NED 2560
Erwin L'Ami NED 2598
Jan Werle NED 2552
Jan Smeets NED 2538
Gawain Jones ENG 2526
Peter Wells ENG 2517
Jon Speelman ENG 2511
Colin McNab SCO 2416
Jovanka Houska ENG 2401

The Fifth Annual Staunton Memorial will be the strongest event to be held in London if not the UK since 1986.

Venue and dates:

The venue is Simpsons-in-the-Strand, with the opening round on August 7, one rest day, and the final round and prize giving on August 18. Play begins in the afternoons starting 14-00 hours.

UK v China in Liverpool

The second piece of good news comes from the north of England, specifically Liverpool. As part of the lead-up to its status of 2008 European City of Culture, the city plays host to a UK-China summit chess match, from 4-9 September. Teams of six male and two female players will compete in a Scheveningen-style match. The English team includes both Michael Adams and Nigel Short, the first time for almost 15 years that the two have competed together in an event on British soil.

The Chinese team includes top stars Wang Yue, Bu Xiangzhi  and Ni Hua, plus 13-year old schoolgirl sensation Hou Yifan.  Alongside the match, there will also be a nine-round International Open, with a prize fund in the region of £10,000–£12,000 (details to follow).

Age Rating   Age Rating
GM Michael Adams 34 2724   GM Bu Xiangzhi 22 2685
GM Nigel Short 42 2683   GM Wang Yue 20 2696
GM Jonathan Rowson 30 2599   GM Ni Hua 24 2681
GM Luke McShane 23 2592   GM Zhang Pengxiang 27 2649
GM Nick Pert 26 2536   GM Wang Hao 18 2619
GM Gawain Jones 18 2526   WGM Hou Yifan 13 2523
GM David Howell 16 2519   WGM Zhao Xue 22 2500
WGM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant 39 2419   WGM Shen Yang 18 2439
IM Jovanka Houska 27 2401        
Average age: 28, average rating: 2555
Average age: 21, average rating: 2600

Match Schedule

The event takes place from September 4th (first round) and ends on September 9th (6th round). Rounds 1-5 start at 3 p.m., round six at 9 a.m. The format of the match is a Scheveningen for the first six boards (each player meets all six opponents once); and similar for the women's boards (each to play both opponents three times). The rate of play is all moves in 2 hrs plus 30 seconds per move.

The venue: St. Georges Hall, Concert Room, Liverpool, UK

St George's Hall, Concert Room – click here for a virtual tour

Regular ChessBase correspondent FM Steve Giddins will be in attendance at both events, and will provide full coverage on ChessBase. So, starting from August 7, get out the port and cigars, settle down in your favourite armchair, and watch chess played in the sort of surroundings where it belongs!

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