Chess

Silver and gold

16 July 2022

9:00 AM

16 July 2022

9:00 AM

The ‘English chess explosion’ that began in the 1970s produced a bumper crop of grandmasters, which meant that by the late 1980s, England was second only to the Soviet Union in international team events. Those days are behind us, but the march of time means that England is now a force to be reckoned with in senior team events.

The World Senior Team Championship took place last month in Acqui Terme, Italy. England’s over-50s team got a boost from the addition of Michael Adams, who reached that milestone last year. With Nigel Short, Mark Hebden, John Emms and Keith Arkell, they began the event as top seeds. In the fourth round, they saw off a serious challenge from the second seeded USA, with its team of emigrants from the former USSR. Here is a key moment from that match, which ended in a 2-2 draw. The a6-pawn is dangerous, but Gregory Kaidanov is counting on the defensive resource 60 a7? Nb5+. Adams finds an unexpected breakthrough on the other side.

Michael Adams-Gregory Kaidanov

World Senior Team Championship, June 2022


60 g4! The crosshatch of pawns ensures that White will emerge with a passed h-pawn. I remember that Adams was once on the receiving end of this unusual trick (Adams-Lutz, Wijk can Zee, 1995, won by Black). Nb5+ 61 Kd2 hxg4 No better was 61…gxh4 62 gxh5, as Black’s pawn can’t advance for fear of Nd3-f4+. 62 h5 Ke6 63 Nxc5+ Kf7 64 Ne4 Kg7 65 Kd3 Na7 66 Ng3 Nc8 67 Nf5+ Black resigns

England won all its other matches, and brought home the gold medals. England’s women’s team were also awarded gold for the best performance in the same section. In the over-65s, England began as second seeds behind Israel but stellar performances from John Nunn (6.5/7) and Paul Littlewood (5.5/8) helped them on their way to gold medals as well.

Apart from England, the only team fielding five grandmasters was Iceland, whose chess demographics were clearly shaped by the 1972 Fischer-Spassky world championship match in Reykjavik, and closely resemble England’s. In this game, Johann Hjartarson has just snaffled a pawn on a4, hoping to weather the storm on the kingside. For example, 29 Ng4? Qxc4 30 Qxh6+ Kg8 comes to nothing, but Short found a much stronger move.

Nigel Short-Johann Hjartarson

World Senior Team Championship, June 2022

29 Nf7! The knight is immune, as after 29…Kxf7 30 Ne5+ wins the queen on a4. g5 29…Qxc4 30 Qxc4 Kxf7 was worth a try. Black’s glutinous position won’t be trivial to break down. 30 Qxh6+ Kxf7 31 Ne5+ Kg8 32 Qxg5+ Kh7 33 Qh5+ Kg7 34 Rd3 Rg3+ is unstoppable so Black resigns

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