Editor: Dr Tim Harding
© Dr Tim Harding
10 December 2022
For more information about chess for over-50s, please see our Seniors calendar and our Seniors introduction page.
The final round was played on the afternoon of 26 November in the last major senior chess congress of 2022, the World Senior Individual Championships, in Assisi, Italy. This page is about the 65+ tournament and we have separate pages about the 50+ championship and an overview of the Congress which we just updated.
The last round games began at 2pm local time (1300 GMT) which was an hour earlier than previous rounds. We took a look in the top playing hall after 15-20 minutes and it appeared that (unlike the 50+) all the players on live boards were settling down for a long and grim struggle.
Since we were not playing in round 11, we updated a few times early in the games. Then we waited until the titles were decided as we did not wish to affect the outcomes in any way.
194 players started in the 65+ tournament, but some people have dropped out so only 83 games were scheduled for round 11. Several affect titles and prizes. The top four boards in this last round were:
Bd 1. GM J.L. Fernandez Garcia (Spain, 7.5 pts) v GM Jens Kristiansen (Denmark, 8.5 pts). Black defended a Rauzer Sicilian. Fernandez attacked fiercely and sacrificed a pawn on move 21 leading to a weakening of Black's king position and the pawn was eventually regained. Fernandez Garcia missed at least one win in the middle game, enabling Kristiansen to force off the queens to reach a bishop of opposite colour ending with e-pawn against connected passed queenside pawns, which theoretically was tenable. A draw would have meant Kristiansen taking the title from Nunn because of the head-to-head tieb reak rule but in practice the defence was not easy.
Black's plausible 43rd move ...e6-e5 (Kd7 or Kd6 was necessary), was a blunder with the tablebase now showing White could force a win. Would he find the winning line and could Nunn make progress on board two? The answer to both questions proved to be yes although the technical method Fernandez employed was not identical with the tablebase recommendation.
This meant that Fernandez and Kristiansen were level on 8.5 points while Nunn could join them with a draw or win the championship outright with a win. Other players still in action were also hoping to reach 8.5 points.
A possible 3-way head-to-head tiebreak (if Nunn only drew) would be level but this became academic when Legky and Renman also won their games to reach 8.5 because they had not all played each other. The possibilities going into the fifth hour of play were now either an outright win for Nunn or a 5-way tie on eight and a half points.
Bd 2. GM John Nunn (England, 8 pts) v IM Valentin Bogdanov (Ukraine, 7.5 pts) who met the Ruy Lopez with 3...g6. A long dour struggle was in progress while Nunn waited to see how the Dane on top board would fare. It reduced to an endgame of Queen and Knight versus Queen and Bishop where White's winning chances at first appeared slender.
While Fernandez was feeling his way to a win, Nunn began to outplay his opponent. White gradually proved the superiority of his knight against a bishop impeded by pawns on its own colour and infiltrated the position with his queen. A win still seemed a long way off when Kristiansen had to admit defeat but Nunn now had very strong motivation to find a win and at move 56 he seemed to have achieved a zugzwang. To online spectators it appeared that the live board had frozen, or perhaps that Black had lost on time, but Nunn told me that after long thought Bogdanov resigned.
So Nunn won to finish on 9 points, leaving a four-way tie for second to fifth places to be calculated later. At this point the women's title was not yet decided either (see below).
Bd 3. IM Nils-Gustaf Renman (Sweden, 7.5) v IM Nathan Birnboim (Israel, 7,5), and this game continued into the fifth hour of play with Renman pressing for a win.
Bd 4. IM Louis Roos (France, 7,5) v GM Nikolai Legky (France, 7.5). Legky eventually won, as we stated above.
No other players could catch Kristiansen even after he lost.
The big upset in the 65+ Open had come in round 8 when top seed Nunn (who previously had dropped only half a point) lost with Black to Kristiansen who was the 2012 Senior (60+) world champion. With one round to go, Kristiansen led by half a point after beating 2018 champion Vlastimil Jansa in round 10, when Nunn was held to a draw by Legky.
Nunn needed Spanish GM Jose Luis Fernandez Garcia to do him a big favour by beating Kristiansen. John is 67 years old but this was his first opportunity to compete for the title because these championships could not be held in 2020 or 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The final placings at the top, after the Buchholz tiebreak was applied, were as follows:
65+ World Champion: John Nunn (England) 9/11.
The runners-up on 8.5 points were placed as follows:
Silver medal: Jose Luis Fernandez Garcia (Spain).
Bronze medal: Nikolay Legky (France).
4th prize: Jens Kristiansen (Denmark).
5th prize: Nils-Gustaf Renman (Sweden).
Kristiansen's tiebreak suffered because of his "Swiss Gambit": he was defeated by an FM rated about 2050 in round 2 and his Buchholz scores would probably be inferior to his rivals. Jens took his last round setback philosophically, saying that during the tournament he had "received presents" from several opponents.
Renman only played two opponents who finished in the top ten - one of them was Nunn - but this was an excellent result to follow his victory in the European individual championship in July.
Former Women's World Champion GM Nona Gaprindashvili of Georgia was the overnight leader inthe race for the 65+ Women's title with 6.5 points but there were three women on 6 points so nothing was clear. The pairings affecting the destination of the female title were as follows:
Bd 12. IM Jean-Luc Roos (France) v GM Gaprindashvili (Georgia, 6,5 pts).
This was agreed drawn in 12 moves after about an hour. So Gaprindashvili finished on 7/11 and the question is whether any of the following women can win their games and match her score:
Bd 24. IM Chang Peng Kong (Singapore) v WFM Mira Kierzek (Germany, 6 pts). Eventually Kierzek lost but she had played well above her rating in this tournament, so congratualtions to her.
Bd 25. Paolo Tocco (Italy) v WGM Galina Strutinskaia (Russia, 6 pts). White attacked with a pawn sacrifice but Black won after about three hours play while the other two relevant games were still continuing. So at this point Gaprindashvili and Strutinskaia both had 7/11 while two other women could reach the same score.
Bd 27. WFM Larisa Khropova (Russia, 6 pts) v IM Timothy Taylor (USA). This game was still in progress when Kierzek resigned but it eventually ended in a draw.
Her draw was eventually enough for Gaprindashvili to win the title on Buchholz tiebreak as she had been playing on higher boards throughout. However she could have no idea how her three rivals are doing until she finished, because they were all in a different playing hall. Only the live boards 1-15 of the 65+ were in Hall 1.
On the face of it, the Russian women had the easier pairings. Eventually Gaprindashvili proved to be the women's champion on tiebreak and was 20th overall in the standings while Strutinskaia was 22nd and took the silver medal. Khropova won the bronze and the fourth women's prize was won by Ludmila Tsifanskaya (Israel) on 6 points, with a better tiebreak than Kierzek.
This is the first year when the women and men have played in the same tournament so that the leading contenders have not played each other (except for a draw in round 9 between the Russians). We expect to hear complaints about the arrangements this year and promises that it won't happen again.
There were also three prizes for the top players aged 75 or older who do not win a main prize. (This disqualified Gaprindashvili and the 2018 champion Vlastimil Jansa, who finished 8th). The third 75+ prize went to Clemens Werner (Germany), the second to David Shnaider (Israel) and the first to Valentin Bogdanov (Ukraine).
John Nunn v David Shnaider, World 65+ Championship, Assisi 17.11.2022
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Qb6 4. Nc3 e6 5. O-O Nge7 6. Re1 g6 7. Bxc6 Nxc6 8.
d4! cxd4 9. Nd5! exd5 10. exd5+ Ne7 11. Bf4 d6 12. Nd2!! Qa6 13. Ne4 Bg7 14. Nxd6+ Kf8
This leads to a beautiful finish but was perhaps not objectively best as Black should have tried 15...Bd7 in reply, though White still stands better.
15...f5? 16 Qg3! Bd7 17 Rxe7! Kxe7 18 Qg5+ Kf8 19 Re1 Be8 20 Qe7+ Kg8 21. Qe6+ Kf8 22. Qxe8+! 1-0.
Download the PGN for this game including some comments by the winner.
Jens Kristiansen v John Nunn, World 65+ Championship, Assisi 23.11.2022
1. 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. d4 g6 3. Bg5 Bg7 4. Nbd2 d5 5. e3 O-O 6. Bd3 c5 7. c3 Qb6 8. Qb3 Qe6!?
This was a prepared novelty and White's reply is not considered best by the computer.
9. c4 cxd4 10. Nxd4 Qg4 11. Bxf6 Qxg2?!
The first critical moment; Nunn thought 11...Bxf6 was only about equal so played a sharper continuation, overlooking that his queen would be trapped.
12. Bxg7 Qxh1+ 13. Ke2 Qxa1 14. Bxf8 Kxf8??
The losing move although this was far from easy to see. The computer indicates 14...e5 when Black is maybe a bit worse but has a playable game. Not only did this mistake cost the game, it might have cost the whole championship because a draw would have been a satisfactory result for Nunn. Fortunately, the way the last round turned out, Nunn found redemption.
15. Bb1! Bg4+ 16. f3 Bf5 17. Nxf5 gxf5 18. Qxb7 dxc4 19. Bxf5 Kg7 20. Nxc4 Qg1 21. Qxa8 Qxh2+ 22. Kd3 Na6 23. Qxa7 Nb4+ 24. Kc3 Qg1 1-0
A final update to these pages may be added next week after we return home.
Back to Seniors home page