Three triumphs in a day for English chess

England’s performance in the Olympiad, with the highlight being the thrashing of defending champions China 3-1, was the best result in some years and we came close to winning a medal. The fortunes of English Chess on the International scene are beginning to improve and yesterday brought three achievements we can certainly celebrate!

Perhaps the most significant was the victory of Gawain Jones in the Challengers event at the Tata Steel tournament at Wijk aan Zee which qualifies him for the prestigious Masters event next year and the chance to face some of the world’s best in a round-robin format.

Gawain has been a strong GM for some years, was British Champion in 2012 and came 1st at the Dubai Open in 2016 ahead of a very strong field, but his progress from a good 2600+ GM to a place in the 2700+ elite seemed to have stalled somewhat. This result is certainly a break-through for him, places him on a career high 2676 and world number 65 on the Fide February list, and the 2700 barrier has suddenly become a realistic objective.

Meanwhile, at the Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival, Michael Adams finished round 6 sharing 1st with Nakamura and Anton on 5.5/6 and is getting close to re-joining the world top 10 for the first time in some years. His chances of winning the event were enhanced by the defeat of World number 2 and tournament favourite, Caruana, by Nigel Short. Short didn’t just win, he outplayed his opponent convincingly and, with talk of trying to get above 2700 again, he seems to have regained his old ambition. Malcolm Pein, ECF Director of International Chess commented …

“One of the finest days for English chess I can recall. Gawain’s performance is a career highlight with some sparkling games and gritty defensive efforts in what was a gruelling 13 round test. The ‘Old Firm’ showed they are still a force to reckoned with at Gibraltar, a tournament that takes place under the aegis of the ECF and in which I hope we will see more English GMs participating in future years.”

To follow the progress of Adams, Short and Howell, who is also doing well, go to http://www.gibraltarchesscongress.com/

— Mark Jordan Email: manager.publicity@englishchess.org.uk