The World Senior Team Championships 50+ and 65+, which were held at Acqui Terme in Piedmont, north-west Italy, ended yesterday in victories for England in both championships.
Covid-related forfeits had some impact on the last few rounds. In the 65+ the virus led to England winning their round 8 match with Switzerland 3-1 without a move being made, but there were only a few defaults in less important round 9 matches. In the 50+ top match yesterday Canada forfeited first board to England's Mickey Adams but they would probably have lost that game anyway. The Hungarian player who defaulted round 8 did play the final round which seems somewhat surprising (and unfair to his opponent).
The organisers broadcast only 16 games live each day (the top two ma.tches in each section) and in a rather unsatisfactory manner It was disappointing that the tournaments were not made available on the usual major platforms like chess24.
Unfortunately there was an odd number of entries in the 50+ so in each round one of the lower-placed teams had a bye for which they scored 1 match point and two game points (the same as for a drawn match).
In the 50+ tournament, USA< who were the defending champions from 2019 and 2020 could only come second behind the very strong all-GM English team headed by Adams and Nigel Short, who were ably supported by Mark Hebden, John Emms (captain) and Keith Arkell. The organisers will be happy that the home team, Italy, finished third after winning their last round match against the team from Georgia.
There are round-by-round reports of the English performances at the English Chess Federation website which now includes a report on round 8. The players are travelling home today but by tomorrow they will probably have added a section covering round 9 and the final standings.
England had already won the 65+ championship with a round to spare after their only close rivals, Germany-1, lost in round 8 to Germany-2. The team was GM John Nunn (who scored 6.5/7), IM Paul Littlewood, FM Tony Stebbings, IM Nigel Povah (captain) and Ian Snape.
Nunn was the dominant player in this tournament, scoring 6.5/7 so far. If he decides to compete in the individual World Senior Championship in November, John must be a hot favourite. He would have been eligible two years ago but the event was not played in 2020 or 2021 because of the pandemic. We remember meeting John when he came up to study in Oxford as a 15-year-old undergraduate, the youngest since Cardinal Wolsey in the 16th century; it is shocking to realise he is now 67 years old.
With the championship already decided, Nunn did not play the last round and England ended up losing the match 1.5-2.5 to Israel-1, who thereby secured the bronze medal, despite having lost three matches earlier in the tournament. Germany-1 drew their last round match against a Danish team but that was sufficient for second place.
In the past, teams from Russia and St. Petersburg usually dominated the 65+ but this year they were not allowed to play. Even if they were in Italy, England-1 might be a match for them.
England also won the 50+ Women's title as there were no other all-female teams, but their 13th place out finished 13th out of 23 teams with 8 Match Points was a very respectable result. The players were WGM Sheila Jackson, WIM Ingrid Lauterbach (captain), WIM Natasha Regan, and WFM Petra Fink-Nunn. The 65+ Women's title went to Latvia ahead of Germany.
On the lighter side, a 50+ blitz tournament was held on 23 June, which was won by Michael Barron (Canada) with 6.5/7. Victor Plotkin (also Canada) was second with 6 points and England's Keith Arkell was third with 5 points.
STILL PLAYING SENIOR CHESS: Former women's world champion Nona Gaprindashvili played board 3 on the Georgian 50+ team, sponsored by a wine company, although she is in her Seventies and normally plays in the 65+ individual championships.
World Senior Team Championships 2020
World Senior Team Championships 2018
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