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For more than 30 years, England’s leading players were Nigel Short and Michael Adams. The Lancastrian and the Cornishman both got close to the heights of global chess as world title finalists.
But now Short is aged 54 and Adams 47, in a sport where it is normal for those in their forties to be past their peaks. Powers of calculation and memory for complex openings decline, as does the ability to maintain concentration for several hours.
Short slipped out of the world top 100 a couple of years ago, while recently Adams has dropped below the elite 2700 rating level for almost the first time in two decades.
The current highest ranked English players Gawain Jones, 31, and David Howell, 28, are both competing this week at the Saint Louis Summer Classic for a $40,000 prize fund.
A few rating points behind them is Luke McShane, 35, the world team championship gold medallist who combines careers as a chess pro and a financial trader. McShane has not played in a top individual tournament outside England since Moscow 2012 where he was only a wildcard yet was close to winning.
His inclusion this week at Netanya in Israel’s strongest tournament for many years seems significant. Saint Louis (7pm BST start) and Netanya (2pm BST start) can be followed free and live online at chessbomb.com and chess24.com/en.
How many checkmates in one move can you find for White? This strange puzzle with many promoted pawns was composed by Leonid Kubbel as a test of chess visual skills.
Click here for solution
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