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M-I-C-K-E-Y at the Staunton Memorial 2008

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Come along and sing a song and join the jamboree! It's all about Mickey so far at this year's Staunton Memorial in London. The top seed is already a full point ahead with an impressive 4.5/5 score. van Wely is a point behind and they still have their individual game to come. Semi-legends Nigel Short and Jan Timman are on three points with as-yet-non-legend Jan Smeets. Ivan Sokolov seems out of sorts so far and is on -1.

I'm all for giving veteran players invitations to elite events. Despite sagging Elos and faces, the elder crowd still have much to offer at the board even if the competitive strain usually doesn't allow them to compete for the top spots anymore. That said, the participation of UK chess legend Bob Wade in this year's event can be considered bizarre. I don't doubt Wade's gumption in the least, indeed I commend it. But the 87-year-old is giving up 300-500 rating points in each game and that isn't what top-level chess is about. I understand it's a special invitation because Wade knew Howard Staunton personally, but still. I suppose the bright side is that if he goes 0/11 at least it won't have affected the standings. Life is too short to worry about such things in an event like this, and the organizers can do as they like. GM Ray Keene, one of the organizers, protests too much on the topic here. Age is a red herring; it's about rating. Having a 2167 player in an event otherwise averaging over 2550 isn't a blow against ageism -- i.e. a precedent that others will follow. Watching him go 0/11 certainly won't be. Anyway, I'll be rooting for him to nip someone for a draw.


Isn't *semi*-legends, with regard to Short and Timman, kind of harsh? It may just be personal ribbing since Mig must know those guys, but still.

I mean, no one ever called Tarrasch semi, or Nelson half.

Presumably you were making a joke (a weak one, sorry), but for the benefit of literalists out there I would like to point out that Staunton died 134 years ago. So that would be 47 years before Bob Wade was born.

Of course it was a joke, doh. I liked it.

Didn't Tsheshovsky do pretty well in the Russian championships some years ago? I recall he had a draw against Kasparov before going on to lose.

I went to the Ray Keene link and found he said that some top U.K. juniors WERE invited before Wade, who the organizers turned to as an alternative (call it desperation if you wish) after the juniors turned down their invites. That's a point worth noting, I think.

well, tsheshovsky qualified for that russian superfinal, and he wasnt not even 100 points lower than the average. and theres a big difference between kaspy x 2500 and 2500 x 2200... the 2500 is a GM, no matter how world champion and best player kaspy is...
its like mig said, not about the age, but about the ELO.

I liked the Staunton joke too, although it's probably in poor taste given that he goes on to argue the ageism point. Ageism is so laughable (at least to we Americans who transfer so much money from young to old that retired people are the most powerful lobby in the country) that it doesn't need answering.

Anyway, this isn't "top level" chess. Inviting Bob Wade to Linares would be frownworthy. Inviting him to be the clearly weakest player at a regional event is amusing and appropriate. The gap in rating between Cherniev (the second weakest player) and Wade is smaller than the gap between Cherniev and Adams, after all.

Too bad Wade is such a fighter. If he just traded everything and played repetition lines he might gain some serious rating points.

jaideepblue, more than that; he was either objectively winning or at least very close to.

"As predicted Garry Kasparov did indeed burn his bridges in search of a win today. He had a lost position at one stage, but still managed to take the point against Vitaly Tseshkovsky. Both players visited the press center to enlighten the spectators about their first encounter since 1981. It could be called a comedy of errors by an unfavorable observer, but it is easier to evaluate such wild complications with the computer running in the background.


GK: I saw 28.Qg6!! before playing 27...h6, but nevertheless decided to allow it. First of all, it is a hard move to find at the board after 3 hours of tense play. Yes, I had 27...Re5 28.Qxh7+ Kf8 29.Rg3 Rxd5 30.Rxg7, and maybe White does not achieve anything, but it all looks too scary. 28.Qg6 with idea of 29.Rg3 forces me to reply with 28...e3 29.Rg3 Qe5 30.Bxf7+ Kh8 31.Rxe3 Qxe3 32.Bxe3 Rxe3, and this ending is probably winning for White."


I have no idea about the reason why some top UK juniors declined their invitations, but I guess you shouldn't be too surprised by this if you stage an event running at the same time as BOTH the World Junior Championship (where David Howell has been doing pretty well, by the way) and the national championship of your own country...

On the "age" affair, I fully agree with Mig, but this in no way lessens my respect for Wade (indeed a living legend whose contribution to British chess has been enormous) or for Ray Keene (which is below zero in any case).

I've been following this mass debate from every angle... some quick comments.

Chess fans moan too much. "Oh... no live games are available! We demand higher quality!" How much are they exactly paying for this higher quality? Nothing at all. They should be happy for what they get.

It's ironic that the scheduling is partly down to some of the organizers' dislike of the ECF, which is being run shabbily these days. So one of the strongest tournaments overlaps with the British Championship.

While all this is going on... Matthew Turner is sharing first at a tournament in ICELAND, (same time as BC), a young English junior nearly makes an IM norm there, and former ECF international director finishes mid table.

And at the same time... David Howell is beating many strong players in the world junior. Going to press he's the favourite with white in last round.

Just imagine what English chess could do if it was properly organized and finanically supported ;).

Unfortunately for Bob Wade, even if he has a good game, perhaps due to fatigue, he blunders by the fourth or fifth hours of play. I guess 1/11 is about the expected score, so 0/11 is not that unlikely. In fact I thought he would score 0/11 - as unlike just playing odd games against GMs in swiss weekend tournaments, he is THE one to beat here.

It is not Wade's fault for being too low rated to play in a GM-tournament, or for losing all of his games in the tournament. Rather it is the organisers' fault for including such a low-rated player in the tournament.

They may as well have had a "bye" in the tournament. But at least thanks to Wad...ahem, the organisers inviting him, there was always a decisive game...

It's never been unusual for organizers to invite one or more players for sentimental or historical reasons. Home-country players have always gotten a pass (even in Linares and Wijk, I think - though the rating difference in those cases far narrower than here, as Mig noted) - I recall similar instances as far back as the 1960s. In 1969 or thereabouts, near the end of his life, Al Horowitz was invited to (and did) play in the US closed championship, for reasons akin to Wade's invite here; as I recall, his performance was similar as well (although he wasn't shut out).

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 12, 2008 6:46 PM.

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