England-Holland still equal after four rounds Staunton Memorial

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Staunton Memorial 09After four rounds of play over five boards, the two teams at this year's Staunton Memorial are still equal to each other: England vs Holland 10-10. Both won a match twice with a 3-2 score and with very fightful chess, which unfortunately cannot be followed online for free.

The 7th Staunton Memorial takes place August 8-17 at Simpsons-in-the-Strand, one of London's most renowned traditional English restaurants. Situated in one of the capital's famous streets, The Strand, it is part of the Savoy Buildings, which include possibly the world's most famous hostelry, the Savoy Hotel. Simpsons-in-the-StrandIt also played an important role in the development of chess in the 19th century. Almost all of the top players of the 19th century played there at some stage: Wilhelm Steinitz, Paul Morphy, Emmanuel Lasker, Johannes Zukertort (who had a fatal stroke whilst playing there), and Siegbert Tarrasch to name but a few.

It was in Simpson's in 1851 that one of the world's great games, the famous "Immortal Game", was played between Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky. It also hosted the great tournaments of 1883 and 1899, and the first ever women's international in 1897. (Source: Wikipedia)

Back to 2009, when Simpsons hosts a Scheveningen-style match between England and Holland as its main event. Each side has five of their top players, competing in a double-round event. The two sides are as follows:

IGM Michael Adams 2699 IGM Ivan Sokolov 2655
IGM Nigel Short 2684 IGM Loek van Wely 2655
IGM Luke McShane 2620 IGM Jan Smeets 2632
IGM David Howell 2614 IGM Erwin L'Ami 2593
IGM Gawain Jones 2554 IGM Jan Werle 2575
Average rating 2634 Average rating 2622

Alongside the Scheveningen event, the Staunton Memorial also sees a second, category 9 all-play-all tournament, the full line-up for which is as follows:

Name Rating
IGM Jan Timman 2569
IGM Victor Korchnoi 2561
IGM Simon Williams 2527
IGM Peter Wells 2498
IGM Nigel Davies 2493
IM Lawrence Trent 2471
IM Willy Hendricks 2444
IGM Alexander Cherniaev 2428
IM Eelke Wiersma 2403
Terry Chapman 2271
Average rating 2463

Rounds 1-4

On Saturday, August 8th the first round started, which was only a day after the British Championships finished. Luckily only one player arrived late for the round and he had a good reason. David Howell, the new champion, had to stay behind to attend Saturday morning's prize-giving. Opponent Jan Smeets sportingly agreed to delay the start of their game and so everything started smoothly, including the live transmission of the games, as we can read on the tournament website.

Well, for the organizers perhaps, but many chess fans awaited a big disappointment when it became clear that the live games could not be followed without paying for it!

To view the 7th Howard Staunton Memorial Chess Tournament Live Webcast you are required to subscribe to 2 See It Live. A simple 'ONE OFF' payment of £5.00 subscription fee is required which will provide you full access to the live webcast during the 7th Howard Staunton Memorial Chess Tournament.

A surprising move by the organizers, since chess fans have been used to watching games for free for a long time, and they're probably not willing to pay as long as there's no extra service, like online commentary or good-quality streaming video. Not surprisingly, it already led to a heated debate here at ChessVibes, which includes comments by no-one less than GM Raymond Keene, who is Tournament Director in London. He argues:

The debate about whether to pay for live coverage is a very interesting one and forms part of the larger debate about whether to pay for website content overall in any sphere of reporting or not. Ultimately I believe that charging will have to come in - I can think of a few areas where a service is provided which is offered for free. In that sense the Staunton Memorial is pioneering what I feel must be the future trend in chess and all forms of reporting. There is an interesting article about this question in Time Magazine current issue, and many others. In a few years time thos who argued against charching - and we are charging around £ 5 per day [later corrected to £ 5 for the full tournament - PD] which works out at 50p per game each day - will be seen as the reactionaries fighting a losing battle. The free sites in the future will look miserable, amauteurish and badly constructed when compared to those for which the public will be prepared to pay. (...)

There are many interesting points made by Mr Keene here. First of all, the Staunton Memorial is of course far from pioneering - many organizers of chess events in the past have tried to make money with the broadcast of games (including Mr Keene himself, we believe). We vividly remember the Foidos project during last year's Anand-Kramnik Wch match.

The basic argument, though, seems to be that free equals bad quality, and in this respect ChessVibes needs to start worrying. The thousands and thousands (the number is growing rapidly) of websites that run on open source software all have to start worrying. Facebook, Google, all providing free service - they all need to start worrying, we presume...

Copyright? CopyrightBesides, as far as we know the moves of a chess game are still in the public domain and cannot be copyrighted. As Arne pointed out, if someone in the audience posts the moves on a webpage from their cellphone in real time, there’s absolutely no way – legally and in principle – to prevent or forbid this, making a paid live transmission rather pointless in practice. We've had this discussion before on this site, and it's a pity that Chessbase decided not to fight the Bulgarian Chess Federation in court, earlier this year, when they weren't allowed to transmit the moves of the Kamsky-Topalov and later the M-Tel Masters.

10-10 after four rounds It's about time that we start looking at the event itself, since the moves of the games are luckily provided by the organizers after the rounds have finished. And so we know that after four rounds, the score is exactly level: 10-10. Both matches won 3-2 twice, one time with the white pieces and one time with the black pieces. The drawing percentage is as low as 40% so far.

Nigel Short scored a nice victory against Werle in the first round, using one of his many "oldschool" 1.e4 weapons, this time 5.Nc3 in the Ruy Lopez. Also avoiding mainlines, as he's always done, Luke McShane had a bit of a rusty comeback to top level chess with a loss against Ivan Sokolov, who's playing for Bosnia again but is still Dutch enough for this event. Erwin L'Ami defeated Gawain Jones in the most spectacular game of the round.


Nigel Short: a world-class expert in non-Ruy Lopez 1.e4 systems

The next day England levelled the score (and so both teams had won their match 3-2 playing the black pieces!). Werle lost his second game, this time to Michael Adams who scores very well with his new love, the Tartakower variation of the QGD, which has always been a favourite of that other great English player sitting right next to him, Nigel Short. He also won after surviving a strong attack by Smeets that involved a long-term piece sac. Van Wely struck back for the Dutch team by beating Jones - it's still asking for trouble to try the KID against KingLoek (although Black was actually doing fine after the opening, using the rare move 7...Nh5).

Thanks to another 3-2 victory England then took a small lead on Monday. Short won his third game in a row in another 1.e4 speciality: the Two Knights. Sokolov seemed well prepared for the topical 8.Bd3 but in this game he couldn't prove that Black's activity provides enough compensation, and on move 30 a blunder quickly ended the game.

Adams lost to Smeets, with White in a... Petroff! The English GM tried to sharpen the position but was caught in an excellent piece of Dutch preparation starting with 14...Bb4 and 15...Bxg4! that eventually led to a winning ending.


Adams' sharp set-up boomeranged back on him as Smeets unleashed strong preparation

The victory was brought home by McShane, who defeated Van Wely by refuting the Dutchman's opening play with some sharp calculation.

Van Wely-Howell

McShane started his game quietly and then refuted Van Wely's 'refutation'

Yesterday the Dutch team levelled the score again. Smeets was well prepared for Jones' Dragon and introduced what appeared to be a strong novelty (16.Rc1) in the 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Kb1 Nxd4 11.e5 line. Black never seemed close to equalizing - best was probably 20...Qxd4 21.Qc3 Qd6 but 22.Be4 is still pretty annoying. Van Wely beat Howell in a very good game, recovering from his loss to McShane, who went on yesterday by beating Werle, who only collected half a point so far.

In the all-play-all group, Timman continues the good form he showed at the Open Dutch in Dieren as he's leading with 3.5/4. Living legend Viktor Kortchnoi is one 1.5; he lost to Cherniaev, then beat Trent, drew with Davies and then lost to Hendriks.


Hendriks vs Kortchnoi in round 4 of the all-play-all group

All photos © Barry Martin, more here

Staunton Memorial 2009 | All-play-all group | Round 4 Standings Staunton 2009

Games (Scheveningen group on top, followed by all-play-all group)

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Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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