With so much emphasis placed on junior chess throughout the world, the resurrection of an event for seniors is unique. At the 2013 FIDE Congress in Tallinn, Estonia, the World Senior Team Chess Championship found new life in fellow Baltic country Lithuania.
FIDE agreed to have the 2014 edition in the capital Vilnius from July 12-21, 2014, while the 2015 and 2016 editions will be in Dresden, Germany. The first event of this kind was held in 2004 on the Isle of Man in the British Isles, but it hasn't been organized since.
The tournament concluded on Monday by crowning two winning teams. In the 50+ division, host Lithuania went undefeated in its nine matches and held off England. In the 65+ division, Russia-St. Petersburg edged Russia for the gold.
The hosts called the event "the most prestigious international chess event in the history of Lithuania."
The setting was the Vilnius Town Hall (photo: Wikimedia Commons).
The top two finishers in the 50+ division were also ranked 1-2, and were a healthy measure above the remaining teams.
Notable was the third place finish overall by the Russian women's team (and thus the first place women's team). Four WGMs (and a single game played by their alternate) went +5=2-2 to take bronze on tiebreaks.
The players in action (photo courtesy Roger Scowen)
Other nations also had all-female teams, including Georgia (led by the first woman to become a full grandmaster, Nona Gaprindashvili), Latvia, and Lithuania. WGM Valentina Kozlovskaya, widow of GM Igor Bondarevksy and Women's Senior World Champion (in 1996!) led all players with 8 points (her seven wins and two draws gained her 42 rating points).
The 6th Women's World Champion, GM Nona Gaprindashvili (front left) playing top board for the Georgian Women's Team (photo courtesy Roger Scowen)
The Russian women were also the only team keeping the champions from a perfect score. Lithuania went +8=1-0 in matches, with the only blemish a draw to the Russian women in round three (despite Lithuania using two GMs and having a rating advantage on all four boards).
The winners were "led" by GM Eduardas Rozentalis, top-rated player in the event. He actually only played the final round (a win for him and the team).
GM Eduardas Rozentalis, the only 2600 in the event and still number one in Lithuania, only needed to play one round to win gold (photo: Wikimedia Commons).
Pivotal was round four, when Lithuania, down one match point, met still-perfect England. English GMs Keith Arkell and James Plaskett drew Lithuanian GMs Aloyzas Kveinys and Vidmantas Malisauskas, respectively, on the top two boards.
A draw on board four meant that the winner of board three would decide the match. Likely White just overlooked Black's 16th move.
The host's win switched the top of the tables and effectively ended the event. After round four, Lithunia won the matches in rounds 5-9 (all by at least 3-1) and thus could not be caught.
Here's the final crosstable.
In the 65+ division, Russia-St. Petersburg also went +8=1-0. The team's only mark against a perfect score was to Russia in the opening round, who they tied 2-2 in the round-robin event. The head-to-head match lacked all combat -- four draws were agreed upon; the longest was 15 moves.
Russia-St. Petersburg then went 8-0 to close out the tournament. The team played without an alternate and yet lost just one individual game out of 36.
Russia, despite using two GMs to Russia-St. Petersburg's zero, drew Austria 2-2 in round four, creating the one-match-point final margin between the two teams.
Here's Russia's second board, IM Vladimir Karasaev, who just turned 76, but is still reasonably active and rated 2367 FIDE!
Here's the final crosstable for the 65+ section.
The next edition will take place in Dresden from February 24-March 4, 2015. The World Senior Individual Championship will be October 25-November 6, 2014 in Greece.