The European Senior Team Championships (50+ and 65+) concluded last Friday in Dresden, Germany. Both events were won by the top seeded team but not without upsets in the 65+ tournament. England-1 conceded only one drawn match and lost no games to win the 50+ with a round to spare.
Their gold medal team consisted of GMs Mark Hebden, Keith Arkell, John Emms, and Glenn Flear with IM Chris Baker who played only in rounds 1 and 9.
The 65+ in previous years has usually been dominated by Russian teams but this year they were rightly not allowed to compete. In their absence, the favourites were the Lasker Schachstiftung (who had three grandmasters: Knaak, Meister and Kalinitschew) but they were held to a draw in round 2 and lost to Finland in round 4 which threw the tournament wide open.
Then Finland then lost twice and eventually no team in the section went through unbeaten.
Gradually the Lasker club fought their way to the top, winning a hard final round match against Sweden to end on 15 match points. Four teams ended on 13MP, with Finland (who lost twice) eventually having the best tie-break and the bronze medals went to Germany-3 ahead of Sweden and Switzerland.
The outstanding individual performance was by GM Mark Hebden with 6.5/8 on top board for England-1 (only sitting out the last round) but it should be noted that FM John Delaney of Ireland had the same score. However since Ireland met somewhat weaker opposition, his was only the fourth highest rating performance.
The whole congress was exceedingly well run, as we have to come expect from Dresden, although there was some confusion when the organisers changed their pairing program after three rounds. Consequently the link we originally provided for team lists and results ceased to work. As we were busy with playing and team captaincy duties, it was a couple of days before we could correct our website.
You can now see the final results for both championships on the chess-results website. This is the new link for the 50+ and from that page you can easily switch to the 65+ event and back again, and also see the results of the blitz tournament.
The games played on live boards can also be downloaded there. In each round the top six matches of each tournament were shown, and also all the matches played by the women's teams: three in the 50+ and one in the 65+. The all-female teams were German but a few other women played on different teams with men.
Unlike the team events of 2016 and 2018, played in the suburb of Radebeul, there was a very convenient central venue this time, the Congress Hall where the 2008 FIDE Olympiad was held. Most players were accommodated at the adjacent Hotel Maritim. It was only a short walk to restaurants, pleasant walks and the city's principal cultural and tourist attractions.
Many of the competitors had not been able to play international senior chess for three or four years and some were making comebacks after much longer periods.
Teams could represent countries, regions, clubs or just be loose associations of friends but all players on a team must be from the same FIDE federation. (An exception seems to have been made for Kosovo who had a Czech-registered player on board 4 in the 65+.) Unsurprisingly, the majority of teams were German.
After a few withdrawals before the start, there were 34 teams in the "junior seniors" event and 42 in the 65s. So there was no bye except in the final round of the 50+ where, for reasons we are unaware of, one of the women's teams were unable to play.
England sent six teams in total (three in each section) while Scotland had a 65+ team but Wales were not represented unfortunately. Ireland sent its largest ever contingent to a senior championships: three teams (13 players) accompanied by four wives and a son. We were rewarded by each team finishing above its seeding and most of the players will gain rating points.
We heard rumours that Germany may bid for the 2023 World Senior Team Championships, which remains unallocated, and believe this would be popular, whether the venue might be Dresden again or some other venue.
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