Five For Five in Prague

Team USA is in clear first place at the 2020 World Senior Team Championship after five rounds. The team of GMs Alex Shabalov, Gregory Kaidanov, Joel Benjamin, Igor Novikov, and Alex Yermolinsky is a perfect 5/5 after Tuesday’s victory over “Czech Republic 1.”

England 1 vs USA 1 (photo Jagr)

“USA 1” downed the “England 1” team on Monday, with team captain Shabalov and Yermolinsky both winning their individual games to lead the team to victory.

[pgn] [Event "50+ World Senior Team Championship"] [Date "2020.03.09"] [Round "4.1"] [White "Arkell, Keith C"] [Black "Shabalov, Alexander"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A88"] [WhiteElo "2447"] [BlackElo "2524"] [PlyCount "100"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [WhiteTeam "England"] [BlackTeam "United States"] [WhiteTeamCountry "ENG"] [BlackTeamCountry "USA"] 1. Nf3 f5 2. d4 Nf6 3. g3 g6 4. c4 Bg7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. Nc3 d6 7. O-O c6 8. Re1 Na6 9. e4 Nxe4 10. Nxe4 fxe4 11. Rxe4 Bf5 12. Re1 e5 13. dxe5 dxe5 14. Qxd8 Raxd8 15. Bg5 Rde8 16. Be3 Nb4 17. Bc5 Nc2 18. Bxf8 Rxf8 19. Rad1 e4 20. Ng5 Nxe1 21. Rxe1 Bxb2 22. Bxe4 Bc3 23. Rd1 Bg4 24. f3 Bc8 25. Kg2 Bf6 26. h4 Kg7 27. Bc2 Rd8 28. Rxd8 Bxd8 29. Ne4 b5 30. cxb5 cxb5 31. Bb3 Bb6 32. g4 Bb7 33. g5 Bc6 34. Nf6 a5 35. Bd5 Bxd5 36. Nxd5 Ba7 37. Kh3 b4 38. Kg4 Bc5 39. Nf4 Kf7 40. Nd3 Bd6 41. Nb2 Ke6 42. h5 Be5 43. Nc4 a4 44. hxg6 hxg6 45. f4 Bd4 46. f5+ gxf5+ 47. Kf4 b3 48. axb3 axb3 49. g6 b2 50. Nd2 Kf6 0-1 [/pgn]
[pgn] [Event "50+ World Senior Team Championship"] [Date "2020.03.09"] [Round "4.4"] [White "Yermolinsky, Alex"] [Black "Plaskett, H James"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A17"] [WhiteElo "2487"] [BlackElo "2401"] [PlyCount "99"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [WhiteTeam "United States"] [BlackTeam "England"] [WhiteTeamCountry "USA"] [BlackTeamCountry "ENG"] 1. Nf3 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 b6 4. g3 Bb7 5. Bg2 Bb4 6. d3 O-O 7. e4 d5 8. e5 Nfd7 9. cxd5 Bxd5 10. O-O Bxc3 11. bxc3 c5 12. d4 Nc6 13. Ng5 Bxg2 14. Kxg2 Ndb8 15. Qf3 cxd4 16. cxd4 h6 17. Ne4 Qxd4 18. Ba3 Nxe5 19. Nf6+ gxf6 20. Qxa8 Re8 21. Rad1 Qa4 22. Bd6 Na6 23. Rd4 Qc6+ 24. Qxc6 Nxc6 25. Rg4+ Kh7 26. Rc1 Na5 27. Rc3 f5 28. Rh4 e5 29. Ra4 Re6 30. Bb4 Nxb4 31. Rxb4 Kg6 32. Rc7 Kf6 33. Rh4 Kg6 34. Ra4 e4 35. Rxa7 Nc6 36. Rb7 Ne5 37. Rb4 Re8 38. R4xb6+ Kg7 39. Rb5 f4 40. gxf4 Nd3 41. Rf5 Rf8 42. h4 Kg6 43. Rbb5 f6 44. h5+ Kf7 45. Rb6 Ke7 46. Kf1 Ra8 47. Rfxf6 Rxa2 48. Rbe6+ Kd7 49. Rxe4 Rxf2+ 50. Kg1 1-0 [/pgn]
After the round Joel Benjamin sent this note from Prague:

So far so good, as we passed our first major test with a 3-1 win over England.  I arrived early, prepared to shake hands with my old friend Mark Hebden... but he didn’t want any part of my apparently virus infested mitts.  Turnabout is fair play. Igor smartly blocked Glenn Flear with black, in what was probably the toughest matchup for us.  I was disappointed when Hebden found some nice tricks to draw from an unpleasant position, but the Alex bookends got the job done, Shaba taking down Keith Arkell while Yermo defeated Jim Plaskett (a late replacement for their coronavirus bailout, Jon Speelman).  So we have improved our score against England twice since our only match loss to date in 2018. We were sitting around the dinner table discussing our strategy for our upcoming match against the Lasker club, a powerful returning team from 2018 (where we were able to shock them 3.5-.5!).  We found those plans to be premature, when Lubo Ftacnik sat down at the next table and blew our minds.  He had actually won a horrible endgame when Alexander Graf forgot about the clock and ran out of time.  That halved the match, meaning we will take on the only other 4-0 team, Czech1.

Here's Ftacnik’s lucky win from a most unpleasant position.

[pgn] [Event "50+ World Senior Team Championship"] [Date "2020.03.09"] [Round "4.1"] [White "Graf, Alexander"] [Black "Ftacnik, Lubomir"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "A48"] [WhiteElo "2575"] [BlackElo "2513"] [PlyCount "100"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [WhiteTeam "Germany"] [BlackTeam "Slovakia"] [WhiteTeamCountry "GER"] [BlackTeamCountry "SVK"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. c3 Bg7 4. Bg5 b6 5. Nbd2 Bb7 6. e3 O-O 7. Bd3 c5 8. O-O d6 9. h3 Nc6 10. a3 h6 11. Bh4 cxd4 12. exd4 e5 13. Re1 exd4 14. cxd4 Re8 15. Rxe8+ Qxe8 16. Nc4 Qd7 17. Bg3 Nh5 18. Bh2 Bf8 19. d5 Nb8 20. Nfd2 Bxd5 21. Ne4 Nc6 22. Nexd6 Nf6 23. Nb5 Rd8 24. Bf1 Bc5 25. b4 Bf8 26. Ne3 Be6 27. Qf3 Be7 28. Rd1 Qc8 29. Rc1 Nd4 30. Nxd4 Qxc1 31. Nc6 Kf8 32. Nxd8 Bxd8 33. Qa8 Ke8 34. Qxa7 Ne4 35. Qa4+ Bd7 36. Qc2 Qxc2 37. Nxc2 Bh4 38. g3 Bf6 39. g4 Nd2 40. Be2 Ba4 41. Ne3 Bd4 42. Bf4 Nb1 43. Nc4 g5 44. Bc1 Bd7 45. Bd3 Nc3 46. Bd2 Nd5 47. Nd6+ Ke7 48. Nf5+ Bxf5 49. Bxf5 Kd6 50. a4 Ke5 0-1 [/pgn]

USA 1 vs Czech 1 (photo Jagr)

Team USA took care of business in Tuesday’s round, defeating the dangerous Czech team by a score of 2.5-1.5. With Shabalov taking the round off in accordance with his strict rotation policy, it was up to Gregory Kaidanov to man the top board. His win over GM Zbynek Hracek was the deciding factor in the match.

[pgn] [Event "50+ World Senior Team Championship"] [Date "2020.03.10"] [Round "5.1"] [White "Kaidanov, Gregory"] [Black "Hracek, Zbynek"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A30"] [WhiteElo "2546"] [BlackElo "2572"] [PlyCount "123"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [WhiteTeam "United States"] [BlackTeam "Czech Republic"] [WhiteTeamCountry "USA"] [BlackTeamCountry "CZE"] 1. Nf3 c5 2. c4 Nf6 3. g3 b6 4. Bg2 Bb7 5. O-O e6 6. Nc3 Be7 7. Re1 d5 8. cxd5 Nxd5 9. e4 Nb4 10. d4 cxd4 11. Nxd4 N8c6 12. Nxc6 Nxc6 13. Bf4 O-O 14. e5 Na5 15. Bxb7 Nxb7 16. Qg4 Kh8 17. Red1 Qe8 18. Qe2 Qc6 19. Nb5 Rfd8 20. Rxd8+ Bxd8 21. Rc1 Qd5 22. Rd1 Qc6 23. Nd4 Qd7 24. Qf3 Qd5 25. Qxd5 exd5 26. Nb5 Kg8 27. Rxd5 a6 28. Nd6 Nxd6 29. Rxd6 Kf8 30. Be3 b5 31. f4 Ke8 32. Kf1 h5 33. Ke2 g6 34. h3 Be7 35. Rb6 Bd8 36. Rc6 Be7 37. Bb6 Kd7 38. Rc7+ Ke6 39. Ke3 a5 40. Ke4 f5+ 41. Ke3 h4 42. gxh4 Rh8 43. Rc6+ Kd5 44. Rxg6 Rxh4 45. Rg3 a4 46. Kf3 Bb4 47. Bd8 Rh8 48. Bf6 Rc8 49. h4 Rc1 50. Rg2 Rf1+ 51. Rf2 Rg1 52. Re2 Be1 53. Re3 Ke6 54. h5 Bb4 55. h6 Rh1 56. Bg7 Rh3+ 57. Ke2 Rh4 58. Rd3 Be7 59. Rd1 b4 60. b3 a3 61. Kf3 Kf7 62. Rd7 1-0 [/pgn]
Before the round news broke from Prague that the Czech government was instituting social distancing policies to try and "flatten the curve" of coronavirus transmission. With chess fans wondering what this might mean for the World Senior Teams, the latest word is that the tournament goes on.

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Benjamin references all of this in his poignant post-round missive sent Tuesday night:

The American team sits around the dinner table and contemplates how much our schedules will change this year, as there isn’t any event on the calendar we can truly be sure will take place.  There are voices on the Internet that castigate FIDE and/or the organizers for not cancelling this tournament.  Indeed, a tournament for seniors would seem a prime candidate, as the coronavirus preys on older people, while leaving children and teenagers unharmed (yet schools and universities are being cancelled right and left).  It is certainly true that the Czech Republic was complacent.  They had their first three cases diagnosed days before the event, in time to influence Christiansen’s decision to withdraw, but not influence tournament or FIDE officials. People in the tournament still seem pretty calm, but the country is not.  We are up to 40 cases in the Czech Republic. Today the 50+ section was split in two to comply with new government regulations eliminating meetings of 100 or more people.  El Capitan had the day off, but he was not rewarded for having the energy to go sightseeing in the Old Town.  Museums and other large establishments were closed down nationwide today. And the chess games went on.  It was a great day for the USA as we defeated Czech1 2.5-1.5.  All four boards were pressing for wins but only Greg on board one overcame his opponent’s resistance.  It should be noted that the Czech top gun Zbynek Hracek was born September 9th, 1970, which make him 49.  Any player turning 50 some time this year is eligible. The next five matches were all tied, meaning we gained ground on almost all potential rivals.  We are two match points (a loss, or two tied matches) ahead of the field.  Tomorrow we get the strong Lasker team from Germany; if that goes well we will start sniffing the gold. The hotel matches the somber state of mind delivered by coronavirus.  My room is grossly overheated, ants are getting in the bathroom, and twice today I arrived home to find the electricity was off.  But hanging out with my teammates is always a highlight, and playing on Team USA makes me feel alive like nothing else.

Wednesday features the key matchup between Team USA and the German club team “Lasker Schachstiftung GK,” which features GM Alexander Graf on board one and former World Championship Candidate GM Artur Yusupov on board two. Play starts at 3pm Prague time, and 10am EST. Live coverage is available at chess24,, and most of the leading relay sites.

USA Too in Round 2 (photo Jagr)

Meanwhile, “USA Too” is among the nine teams with 3.5 match points, a point and a half behind the leaders. IM Leonid Sokolin is having an excellent event with 4.5/5 on board one after five rounds of play. In Tuesday’s play he suffered the first blemish on his record, a hard-fought draw against WGM Galina Strutinskaya from the Russian Women.

[pgn] [Event "50+ World Senior Team Championship"] [Date "2020.03.10"] [Round "5.1"] [White "Sokolin, Leonid"] [Black "Strutinskaia, Galina"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B30"] [WhiteElo "2496"] [BlackElo "2214"] [PlyCount "146"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [WhiteTeam "United States"] [BlackTeam "Russia"] [WhiteTeamCountry "USA"] [BlackTeamCountry "RUS"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 e6 4. O-O Nge7 5. d4 cxd4 6. Nxd4 Qb6 7. Nxc6 Nxc6 8. Nc3 Bb4 9. a4 O-O 10. Bf4 a6 11. Be2 Qd4 12. Bd3 Qf6 13. Bg3 d6 14. Ne2 Bc5 15. c3 e5 16. b4 Bb6 17. Kh1 g5 18. Qd2 Be6 19. Rab1 Ne7 20. a5 Bc7 21. c4 b6 22. axb6 Bxb6 23. Qc3 Nc6 24. f4 gxf4 25. Bxf4 Qg7 26. Bg3 Rfc8 27. Qd2 Bd8 28. Bf2 Bg5 29. Be3 Bxe3 30. Qxe3 Nd4 31. Rbc1 Rab8 32. c5 Rxb4 33. cxd6 Rd8 34. Rb1 a5 35. Qc1 Rxd6 36. Qc5 Rxb1 37. Rxb1 Rd8 38. Qxa5 Qg5 39. Ng3 Rc8 40. Qe1 h5 41. Nf1 Rd8 42. Ne3 Kh7 43. Bc4 Nc2 44. Nxc2 Bxc4 45. Ne3 Be6 46. Qe2 Ra8 47. Nd5 Rd8 48. Rf1 Kg7 49. Nc7 Bc8 50. Qc4 Qe7 51. Qc6 Be6 52. Qc3 Ba2 53. h3 h4 54. Qc2 Rc8 55. Qxa2 Rxc7 56. Qd2 Rc6 57. Rf5 Rg6 58. Qc3 Rg5 59. Rf3 Rg6 60. Kh2 Rg5 61. Qd2 Kg6 62. Qf2 Rh5 63. Qb6+ Kg7 64. Qe3 Qg5 65. Qc3 Qg6 66. g4 hxg3+ 67. Rxg3 Rg5 68. h4 Rxg3 69. Qxg3 f6 70. Kh3 Qxg3+ 71. Kxg3 f5 72. exf5 Kf6 73. Kg4 e4 1/2-1/2 [/pgn]
USA Too meets SK Slavoj Litomerice, a Czech club team, in round six on Wednesday.

USA 4 Brothers (photo Jagr)

With three match wins and two losses, the 23rd ranked USA 4 Brothers are in 23rd place (on tiebreaks) after five rounds. Top board FM Krishan Jhunjhnuwala’s third round win over Oslo Schakselskap’s Frederik Dahl featured a rather striking material imbalance out of the opening.

[pgn] [Event "50+ World Senior Team Championship"] [Date "2020.03.08"] [Round "3.1"] [White "Jhunjhnuwala, Krishan"] [Black "Dahl, Fredrik A"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B07"] [WhiteElo "2341"] [PlyCount "53"] [EventDate "2020.??.??"] [WhiteTeam "USA 4 BROTHERS"] [BlackTeam "OSLO SCHAKSELSKAP"] [WhiteTeamCountry "USA"] [BlackTeamCountry "NOR"] 1. e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Nc3 g6 4. Bc4 Bg7 5. Qe2 Nc6 6. e5 Nxd4 7. exf6 Nxe2 8. fxg7 Rg8 9. Ngxe2 Rxg7 10. Bh6 Rg8 11. O-O-O Be6 12. Bxe6 fxe6 13. f4 c5 14. Rhe1 Qa5 15. Ng3 Kd7 16. Nge4 Rge8 17. Kb1 Rac8 18. Ng5 b5 19. Nxe6 b4 20. Nd5 c4 21. Ng7 b3 22. axb3 cxb3 23. cxb3 Qc5 24. Rd2 Rb8 25. Nxe8 Rxe8 26. Bg5 a5 27. Bxe7 1-0 [/pgn]
USA 4 Brothers is paired with Austria on Wednesday.

Quick Links: World Senior Teams website Pairings and Results Live Games 50+ Live Games 65+


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

be safe my friends

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Are there any automatic titles and automatic title norms available if the tournament continues on to completion?

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Couldn't Arkell against Shabalov played b7 and forced S to take on b7, then take on c5 and get back in time to sac Knight for last pawn? Draw?

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

oops, its Black to apologies,...

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

USA Too withdrew after 6 rounds due to travel restrictions by US government. Then, Czech government lowered maximum event size from 100 to 30, and the whole tournament was canceled after 7 rounds. Team USA played 4 quick draws against Iceland in round 7 to catch planes; kept their clear 1st place. USA Too beat SK Slavoj Litomerice in round 6, not without a little scare, since the computer says Sokolin and Dolgitser both had losing positions when their games were agreed drawn. Team USA 4 Brothers withdrew after 5 rounds; I don't know why, but I heard family emergency. In 65+ section, Russia managed to lose to Germany 1 in round 5, but by end of round 7 they were tied for first with France.

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