Devon was well represented in the various England teams which took part in the 2017 version of the World Seniors Championships recently. Devon Match captain Brian Hewson (Tiverton ) and county secretary, Trefor Thynne (Newton Abbot) , were both members of the England 2 team which played in the 65+ section while Stephen Homer, also member of the Newton Abbot club, played top board for England 3 in the 50+ section. I should also include, of course, Paignton resident Keith Arkell who was in the strong England 1 team in the 50+ section.
As compared to the 2016 event in Dresden, Germany, the number of teams was much smaller. This is because in Germany there a always a large number of regional or even club teams alongside teams representing national federations whereas this year the majority were either full national teams or teams such as St Petersburg which were of equivalent strength. One effect of this was to make it harder for players of county strength (e.g. FIDE 1800-2050) to achieve a good score. This was certainly the experience of the Devon trio this year!
There were 22 teams in the 65+ section with three English teams, each of which had a squad of 5 which enables rotation of players. At the start England 1 were seeded 7th, England 2 14th and England 3 20th but after the nine rounds England 2 had finished 11th ahead of England 1 (15th) with England 3 17th. The highlight of the England 2 campaign was our victory (despite being heavily outgraded) over England 1 by 2 ˝ - 1 ˝. I drew with England seniors’ manager Stewart Reuben (2077) and Brian Hewson scored the decisive win over Michael Stokes (2223) We also had a convincing 4-0 win over England 3. Our other results were:
v Israel ˝ - 3 ˝
v Norway 1 1 ˝ - 2 ˝
v Sweden 5 1 ˝ - 2 ˝
v SK 2012 (Denmark) 2 ˝ - 1 ˝
v Sweden 3 2 – 2
v Sweden 4 2 ˝ - 1 ˝
v Germany ˝ - 3 ˝
So a final record of W4 D1 L4 was the best of the three England teams. Personally I managed 2 points out of 6 – my first and last round games were against players of master strength (2283 and 2179) but were interesting and tough battles. Brian did well to finish on 4/8 though the best performance by any England player was that of Ian Reynolds who scored an impressive unbeaten 6 /8 for England 2.
Unsurprisingly, the 65+ section was won easily by Russia whose team of Sveshnikov, Vasyukov, Balashov, Zhelnin, Pushkov (average rating 2439) did not drop a single game point. Second were France (2382) who fielded Vaisser, Sharif, Seret, Giffard, Letzelter and third Sweden (2278).
The 50+ section had four England teams: England 1 (seeded 1 with an average rating of 2551: Short, Nunn, Speelman, Arkell,Chapman); England 2 (seeded 7 2242); England 3 (seeded 19 1814) and a team from the Southern Counties Chess Union which was celebrating its 125th anniversary (seeded 22nd 1507). This latter team may have enjoyed itself but struggled over the board with two of its players only managing 1 out of 9). Stephen Homer had some really strong opposition on board 1 for England 3 but managed a fine win against Latvian Women’s Grandmaster Inguna Erneste 2168. He finished with 3 out of 9 but a TPR of 2044 against opponents with an average of 2169.
The 50+ section was another Russian triumph by a St Petersburg team which won every match and dropped just a single game point. Their team consisted of Khalifman, Ivanov, Ionov, Solozhenkin (average rating 2531). Second were Armenia (Vaganian, Minasian, Movsziszian, Galdunts, Kalantaryan 2488) and third, slightly disappointingly, England 1. Nigel Short had a magnificent individual result with 8/9.
England 2 finished 10th, England 3 20th with the SCCU team in 22nd and last place.
What were the highlights of the event for me? Firstly, the final prize-giving ceremony where my (Russian) wife belted out the national anthem not once but twice, bursting with pride at her compatriots’ triumph!
Secondly, and this was agreed by all the participants, the magnificent beach hotel complex which was the venue for the event: the Creta Maris Beach Hotel Resort with its numerous swimming pools, variety of wonderful restaurants, superb accommodation and proximity to the town of Hersonissos could not have been improved as a holiday venue. I believe that the event may return there in the future and certainly hope so.
For those interested in the possibility of representing their country it should be mentioned that any player can put his name forward to Stewart Reuben for inclusion in a team. The ECF will field as many teams as it can. It would be a tough chess experience for any player graded under 1800 though the 2018 event in Dresden (again) will certainly attract more local regional and club teams. It is a privilege to be representing one’s country in the same competition as some really famous chess names.
Anyone interested in seeing the full results should go to : www.wstcc-crete.com
Trefor Thynne June 2017