Adams and Timman lead at Staunton Memorial

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If the pieces are not remembering him enough, there's always the annual Staunton memorial of course. Adams and Timman had the best start in the 2008 event, and are leading with 2.5 out of 3.

Actually it's one of the most famous misconceptions, that today's universally used chess pieces were designed by Howard Staunton. It was Nathaniel Cook's design (combined with Staunton's fame and support) that made the pieces our number once choice that it still is today.

But of course Staunton himself clearly deserves a memorial! He's generally considered to have been the strongest player in the world from 1843 to 1851. Howard Staunton has been enormously important for the development of the game of chess in the United Kingdom, as a strong player, as an organizer (e.g. the famous London 1851 tournament, won by Adolf Anderssen) and as an author (e.g. his 1847 classic The Chess-Player's Handbook.)

This year's Staunton Memorial is the 6th edition. As always it's sponsored by Jan Mol, former business companion of Joop van Oosterom and, like Van Oosterom, a chess lover.

This explains the high number of Dutch participants - this year Ivan Sokolov, Jan Timman, Loek van Wely, Jan Werle, Jan Smeets and Erwin l'Ami are present (can you name the current Dutch champion?).

They even out-number the British participants, due to the presence of one Russian GM, Alexander Cherniaev. And, of course, there's the New Zealand-born, English-resident IM: Bob Wade. Young readers might have mumbled a "who??" there, and need some instant education.

Robert Graham Wade was born April 10, 1921 in Dunedin, New Zealand. That makes him 87 year old now, most probably the oldest chess player ever to play in such a strong tournament. In his long life he's been a player, writer, arbiter, coach, and promoter. He was New Zealand champion three times, British champion twice, and played in seven Chess Olympiads and one Interzonal tournament. Wade holds the titles of International Master and International Arbiter.

Besides Staunton and Wade, it's also worth mentioning the venue of the tournament, to continue the historical theme! It's being played at Simpson's-in-the-Strand, one of London's most historic landmark restaurants, originially opened in 1828 as a chess club and coffee house - The Grand Cigar Divan. Simpson's soon became known as the "home of chess", attracting among others Howard Staunton himself, but also Vincent Van Gogh, Charles Dickens, Sherlock Holmes, George Bernard Shaw, Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone.

Here's a selection of games and the current standings:



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