Victorious comeback for Matthew Sadler

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Victorious comeback for Matthew SadlerHe didn't play an official tournament game for eleven years, but this weekend he returned to the arena in Haarlem, The Netherlands where he won a 6-round weekender: Matthew Sadler. The English grandmaster finished on 5/6, half a point ahead of GMs Kravtsiv and Maxim Turov and IM Chiel van Oosterom.

Matthew Sadler, for the first time in a classical chess tournament since 1999 | Photo © Peter Binkhorst

Perhaps inspired by Dutch GM Paul van der Sterren, who will return to the chess scene in September to play in the Dutch league for chess club Caissa (Amsterdam), this weekend another strong grandmaster made a comeback in The Netherlands. Former British Champion and Olympiad gold medalist Matthew Sadler (2617) played in the annual weekender in Haarlem and duly won the first classical tournament he played in eleven years.

Just how strong Sadler was, before he retired from tournament chess in 1999 to start a professional IT career in The Netherlands, becomes clear from the following facts (borrowed from Wikipedia). He won the British Championship in 1995 at the age of 21 and again in 1997 (jointly with Michael Adams). He represented England at the 1996 Olympiad in Yerevan, Armenia, scoring 10½/13 and winning a gold medal for the best score on board four. Two years later he scored 7½/12 in Elista.

Sadler made 7/9 on board four for England at the European Team Championship in Pula in 1997, the best individual score by the five-man English team. It helped in winning the gold medal in a major senior event for the first (and to date only) time in English chess history. Sadler also proved a good writer, winning the British Chess Federation's book of the year award for his 2000 book Queen's Gambit Declined.

Since 1999 Sadler only played in team competitions, but on May 5th this year he returned to the tournament scene. He participated in a rapid tournament in Wageningen, his first in eleven years, and finished clear first with 7/7, ahead of strong grandmasters Jan Timman, Friso Nijboer and Daniel Fridman.

This weekend in Haarlem, Sadler won with 5 out of 6. He beat Bart von Meijenfeldt (2191), IM Chiel van Oosterom (2381) and GM Martyn Kravtsiv, and then drew with GM Robin Swinkels (2485) and GM Erik van den Doel (2576). In the last round he beat GM Zhaoqin Peng (2388) to stay half a point ahead of Kravtsiv, Turov and Van Oosterom. We certainly hope Mr Sadler will play more tournaments, as his chess still looks fresh and original. (What about starting with 1...a6 and 2...h6 with Black against an IM, undoubtly to avoid theory, and winning in 22 moves? All of his games can be found below in the game viewer.)

NOVA Tournament (Haarlem) 2010 | Final Standings (top 20)
NOVA Tournament (Haarlem) 2010 | Final Standings (top 20)

Games of the top boards

Game viewer by ChessTempo


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