World Senior Chess Championships 2023

The World Senior Chess Championships were held in Terrasini, which is a small, pretty town near Palermo in Sicily, from October 24th until November 5th.  As is now traditional in Senior’s chess, there were two age groups, 50+ and 65+, with Open and Women’s sections in each case. The English delegation was relatively small with just two players in the 50+, Petra Nunn, who preferred to play in the Open section, rather than the Women’s section and top seed Mickey Adams. The 65+ section had a larger English contingent of eight players with the leading names being top seed John Nunn, John Pigott, Terry Chapman, Tony Stebbings and myself.  Travel to Sicily proved much easier than the difficult time most of us experienced when travelling to North Macedonia for the World Senior Team Championships in September and everyone turned up on time with no major problems to report.

However, despite the weather being fantastic and the hotel beautifully located on the coast with wonderful sea views, the tournament didn’t get off to the best start, as the players found a number of matters to challenge them. The first issue of note, was that the Chief Arbiter wanted to enforce a ‘no draws in under 30 moves rule’ and this troubled quite a lot of the players who saw no reason for this restriction. Bearing in mind that we were all seniors, and this was an 11-round event, it was quite likely that some players, would welcome the occasional short draw and an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful weather and the local facilities. This issue therefore became a major topic of discussion at the ‘Technical meeting’ before the first round and fortunately after some pressure from the players, the Arbiters checked with FIDE and this requirement was dropped.  Further niggling matters arose during the event, such as only having a 15-minute default time rather than the more customary 30-minutes, which led to a number of totally avoidable and unhelpful defaults.  I won’t trouble you with outlining the various other concerns but suffice it to say that the view amongst quite a few of us, was that the event could’ve and should’ve been run much better than it was.

Fortunately, however things were running much better over the board.  Mickey made a strong start in the 50+ scoring 4.5 from his first 5 games but then he faced six GMs in a row and drew with the first four of them, before finishing very well with two wins to end on 8.5 from 11 (undefeated) and to edge out Serbian GM Suat Atalik on tie-break, after he too finished with 8.5.

Petra Nunn (a member of the Women’s team who recently won the Women’s World Senior Team Championship), finished with 4.5 in the Open 50+ section, which was more or less according to her seeding, but she spoilt a number of very promising games, some of which were against some strong players, so she was rather disappointed with her performance.

The 65+ section saw three English players getting off to good starts. John Nunn scored 5/5 and looked to be playing well, whereas Tony Stebbings also made a good start with 4/5, only losing to John in round 4 but he struggled in the second half of the tournament to end on 6/11.  Terry Chapman was also having another good tournament and made a most impressive start with 6/7.

John Nunn had three tricky GMs to play in rounds 6-8 and he drew with French GM Nikolay Legky before losing in round 7 to Argentinian GM Daniel Campora, after slipping up in a winning position and then he drew with German GM Rainer Knaak in round 8. So at this stage on 6/8, John began to question his chances but we all agreed that it was a case of taking it one game at a time and seeing what happened.

Meanwhile Terry Chapman drew with the tournament leader Argentinian GM Daniel Campora in round 8 to reach 6.5/8, the same score he made in World Senior Team Championship in North Macedonia.  Sadly however, he lost a very disappointing game in round 9 against GM Rainer Knaak after Terry had an overwhelming position and a win would have seen him become joint leader on 7.5/9.  He bounced back the next day to have the better of the draw against John Nunn but finished with an unfortunate loss to end on 7/11.

John Nunn’s last three games were quite eventful and he managed to muster 2.5 from 3 to finish with 8.5 from 11, thus enabling him to edge ahead of Slovakian GM Lubomir Ftacnik on tiebreak and retain the 65+ World Senior title he won last year. 

Final standings      
50+ (91 competitors)      
1st Michael Adams   8.5 Bucholz Tiebreak 3  77
2nd Suat Atalik   8.5 Bucholz Tiebreak 3  76.5
3rd Maxim Novik   8  
67th Petra Nunn     4.5
65+ (155 competitors)      
1st John Nunn   8.5 Bucholz Tiebreak 2  70.5
2nd Lubomir Ftacnik   8.5 Bucholz Tiebreak 2  69.5
3rd Nikolay Legky   8  
20th Terry Chapman   7  
24th John Pigott     7
45th Nigel Povah   6.5  
48th Tony Stebbings   6  
77th Brian Hewson   5.5  
92nd Mick Stokes   5  
120th Hassan Erdogan   4.5  

These two successes at the Seniors level are further evidence of England’s growing reputation as a leading nation at Seniors Chess, after our recent successes at both World and European Senior Team Chess Championships.