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Half a century ago England became the No2 chess country behind the former Soviet Union. It was the era of Bobby Fischer v Boris Spassky at Reykjavik, still the most famous of all chess matches. The game’s popularity surged, and a gifted generation became experts and masters.
World team championships for over-50s and over-65s, in progress this week on the island of Rhodes, provide an opportunity for older players to evoke the 1970s boom.
England fields several teams, meaning that anyone of a 150 grade and up, moderate club standard, can expect to make a reasonable total. At the top end, experienced grandmasters lead the over-50s, and will be expected to do well following their silver medals behind United States gold in 2018.
There will be an exceptional opportunity in 2021. In that year the England No1 Michael Adams reaches age 50 and becomes eligible along with Nigel Short; while John Nunn and Jonathan Speelman, both Olympiad silver medallists, pass 65. It will be a sensible move for the English Chess Federation to prepare a major effort to achieve what would be a historic double, which could spark heightened interest among the many older chess players who take part in casual and social chess.
Michael Ernst v Keith Arkell, European over-50 senior championship, Crete 2019. Arkell, 58, won the European title in 2014 and was a close fifth in last week’s renewal. Can you find his unusual winner as Black (to play)?
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