England Wins Double Gold in World Senior Championships

The World Senior Chess Championship 2023 took place in Terrasini, Italy, with a championship for players age 50+, 65+, and a combined women’s section with prizes both for players 50+ and 65+. At the time of writing, no official photos for the event are available. 

It was a “double gold” performance for England, with GMs Michael Adams and John Nunn winning the 50+ and 65+ sections, respectively, each with scores of 8½/11, and each on tiebreaks ahead of one co-champion (Serbian GM Suat Atalik and Slovakian GM Lubomir Ftacnik, respectively).


Image Caption
courtesy FIDE


Despite taking the gold on tiebreaks, it was actually Atalik who was leading by a half-point entering the final round. He managed only a draw, though, allowing Adams to “win on demand” and leapfrog the leader:



The leaderboard in the 65+ Open was even more tense before the final round: six players trailed Argentian GM Daniel H. Campora by only half-a-point. This meant that, if Ftacnik could take out Campora (or hold him to a draw), then as many as three other players could join the leader on 8½/11. This looked likely, as Campora had at least a draw within his grasp for most of the game, until…



From here, boards three and four ended peacefully, but Nunn had already joined his countryman in producing a fantastic example of “must-win” chess. Like Adams, Nunn also boasted higher tiebreaks.



Spanish GM Monica Calzetta Ruiz won the Women’s section outright with a score of 8½/11, and Russian WGM Galina Strutinskaia was the top finisher age 65+, also finishing clear second overall, with 8/11.


After losing to 1866 rated Latvian player Polina Ni in the first round, Calzetta Ruiz roared back with four straight wins to reignite her title chances. Here’s the upset from board three in the first round:





But a sixth-round loss to Strutinskaia put a damper on things:


Or, at least, it would have if Calzetta Ruiz did not go on another four-game streak. As evidenced by her refusal to take a peaceful result against Strutinskaia, this is a player who is set on winning at any cost. Indeed, her only draw in the event was in round 11, by which point a draw was guaranteed to clinch outright first (as Strutinskaia’s game had already finished in a draw). When a player wins eight games in a single event, the losses of course “feel” more newsworthy, but it’s only fair to share at least one of her wins. Here’s the author’s favorite: a slow build-up on the kingside.



A total of 12 Americans participated in the event, with five in the 50+ Open and seven in the 65+ Open. No American women participated, although the U.S. Senior Women’s Championship was run concurrently.

The highest finishing American was GM Maxim Dlugy, with a 7½/11 score in the 50+ Open good enough for a tie for fifth place. Dlugy essayed a number of compelling — not to mention entertaining — wins in the middle of the tournament before ending on three consecutive draws. Despite not losing a game, a few other players just managed to win a couple more than he did.




IM William Paschall also had a nice result in Terrasini, going 7/11 in the 50+ Open and notching a win against Slovenian GM Georg Mohr in the process.



The biggest success ratings-wise was Michael Gilbert in the 65+ Open. A 1905-rated player finishing on a “plus score” with 6/11 is impressive enough, but Gilbert was not paired the first two rounds (and given zero points in each round). So he actually ended up going 6/9 to earn a 2054 performance rating and net 32 points.

Full results available here.