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World Senior Team Championships, Prague 2020 (updated report)

The USA and Russia respectively won the 50+ and 65+ tournaments in the 8th World Senior Team Championships, played from 6-12 March at Prague in the Czech Republic.

In the 65+, France finished second and a German team, Schachfreunde Leipzig, took third on tiebreak from Germany 1. As explained below, the runner-up placings in the 50+ were ruined by a late team withdrawal.

The championships were scheduled, as usual, to be played over nine rounds but had to be halted two days earlier because of the Covid19 coronavirus.

The Czech Government issued a decree to stop all sporting and cultural events with more than 30 participants, so the organisers had no choice but to award the prizes according to the standings at the end of round 7.

At least one team that had entered (Mongolia Women) decided not to travel because of the Covid19 pandemic, while some teams experienced withdrawal of players, either in advance or while the event was in progress. Several games were decided by default due to the withdrawal of players.

Worse, the later rounds three whole matches of the 65+ and four in the 50+ were defaulted whole teams decided to go home after the draw was made. The main beneficiary of this was the strong German team Lasker Schackstiftung GK took silver medals on game points tiebreak thanks to the unearned 4-0 victory. They had been due to play the USA second team.

Because of this the Czech team only took the bronze medals and Iceland finished fourth; they were only half a point and one point respectively behind the Lasker team. This was especially tough on the Icelanders because their final opponents were the USA first team and they held them to 2-2.

A report including some photographs can be seen at the European Chess Union website and at the official website of the organisers.

The full results (overall standings and round-by-round) can be seen on the chess-results website. The 65+ tournament was for players born in 1955 or earlier; the 50+ for players born in 1970 or earlier.

The tournaments were for teams of four, with an optional reserve, representing nations, clubs, regions, or in the case of the Jhunjhnuwalas from the USA (formerly Hong Kong) a team of four brothers.

We must hope that a proper championship festival can be held next year.

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