Michael Adams has been a member of the world’s elite for twenty odd years. Like Anand, Gelfand, Ivanchuk, and others he is a player who has turned 40 but refuses to go away. These days he often has to face opponents half his age. In the recently concluded British Championship Adams scored a stunning 10.0/11 points to take his fifth title. Manuel Weeks shows us some of the highlights from the event with training questions for you to solve.

After recently having a catch-up brunch with GM Gawain Jones, where he mentioned some of his games played in the recent finished British Championships, I ended playing through various games and finding some striking moments. I thought it might be interesting to share the views of the event from the armchair of a spectator.

How does an online chess spectator feel about watching a live event? Usually he wants to be entertained, see a beautiful sacrificial game, hopefully some games where an opening he himself plays is explained. Others want to see their favourite player win or maybe a breakthrough performance by the next rising star. I watched the recent British Championships with a mixture of emotions mainly guided by personal relationships through the fact that I knew most of the main participants.

The top seed was Michael Adams who has been a member of the world’s elite for 20 odd years now and is now defending what I call the “old guys” corner. The players who have turned 40 but refuse to go away, they still play at the top level and they still want to win. Anand, Gelfand, Ivanchuk and recent new members Kramnik and Svidler plus many others still fight successfully at the top level. To call them “veterans” seems a little unfair, but there are so many superb players at such young ages that a player of forty odd years can easily be double the age of many of his opponents. For myself and many others we grew up with these players, watched them from when they were kids, saw them progress into world class GMs in an era where computers were not yet so strong. In those days they could play a complicated game without some online spectator criticizing their play, “Anand could have won easily with 32.Nxe6!, How did he miss that!” The silicon monsters who never get tired, who never miss a tactic, who can jump from different positions without skipping a heartbeat, are not the most understanding of analysts.

The field still had other strong GMs like David Howell (above) and Gawain Jones (below) who both still dream of achieving permanent 2700 status and are still young enough to believe it can still happen. Behind them were a varied group of experienced GMs who have proved many times that they can be tough opponents for any player. All were hoping to test themselves at the highest level since opportunities to play 2700+ players are still rare for mere mortal grandmasters.

Adams once expressed the view that he didn’t mind the uprising of chess playing programs, since they often pointed out interesting ideas. But databases were allowing weaker players to play the openings virtually perfectly and for someone who is happy to draw with Black to another super GM, to have to change suddenly to try to win is not so easy! To go from round robins to open events means having to adjust your mindset and many strong players have struggled with this. As everyone with an interest in chess in the British Isles will already know, Michael Adams not only won this year’s British Championship with the huge score of 10/11, but even gained 11 valuable ratings points in the bargain to take him to number 23 in the world on the live rating table with a healthy looking 2738. Only two draws, to GMs Peter Wells and David Howell, in eleven rounds – not bad for an “old guy”!

The Bournemouth Pavilion where the competition took place

There were various subplots in the event, but for Australians there was special attention paid to our fellow countryman IM Justin Tan who had come over to the UK for an extended study plus chess playing journey of discovery. What do you do when you live in an extremely isolated country but still wish to become a chess grandmaster? For most it is simply taking the option of as many visits as possible to various strong events and then heading back to Australia. But Justin Tan decided to base himself in Europe, play as many strong events as possible, get as much high level coaching as possible and begin his quest for the coveted GM title. For someone who was not one of the absolute stars of his generation he is now around 2500 and gained his second GM norm in the British title event after various adventures, like needing to win his ninth round, drawing, needing to win his tenth round, then drawing, then needing to win his eleventh round after dropping the first two rounds for a nine game norm. It is this sort of calculations that GM hopefuls have to keep doing and then there is the small matter of actually winning over the board! Justin only had one loss in the event, to the steamroller who was Adams, and was an unbreakable wall against the other British GMs with draws with Howell, Jones, Arkell, Gormally and a good win over the ageless Mark Hebden. A well-deserved second GM norm for Justin Tan who continue to impress in the UK.


Dec 08, 2017

London Classic 5: Fabiano Caruana broke the draw streak

Fabiano Caruana broke the draw streak in London and has now started a new streak of his own after beating Vishy Anand to claim a second win in a row. That puts him a full point clear of the field, since none of the other players has managed a single win so far. MVL’s attack suddenly ran out of steam against Levon Aronian, while Magnus Carlsen was frustrated by Wesley So in the longest game of the day. The players now have a rest day to rediscover their taste for blood!

See also:

  • Official website
  • All the games on chess24: London Chess Classic | British Knockout Championship | FIDE Open
  • Chess world converges on London
  • Carlsen and Kasparov in clash of the GOATs
  • London Classic R1: Kasparov loses bet against draws
  • London Classic R2: Dracarys!
  • London Classic R3: The Anish Giri Cup
  • London Classic R4: Caruana ends the curse
Dec 19, 2016

Wesley So has won the 2016 London Chess Classic

Wesley So has won the 2016 London Chess Classic and taken his Grand Chess Tour earnings to a whopping $295,000. All he needed to complete his triumph was a rock solid draw against Maxime Vachier-Lagrave since Fabiano Caruana got nothing against Anish Giri and in fact flirted with disaster. Hikaru Nakamura finished second in the Grand Chess Tour, 11.5 points and $150,000 behind Wesley. The day’s entertainment was provided by Veselin Topalov, whose sacrifice finally paid off against Levon Aronian.

The London Chess Classic has been a hugely enjoyable event but the final round was something of an anti-climax, saved only by Veselin Topalov’s never-say-die attitude!

Wesley So summed up that winning in London was his “best achievement ever”, but he pointed out himself that it had all happened in the second half of the year, since before then he’d been “going just around normal”. His fourth place in Paris and distant second to Carlsen in Leuven gave little hint of what was to follow, while on the July 2016 rating list he was ranked 11th in the world at 2770.

In hindsight a significant date was July 16th, when Wesley was crushed in 26 moves by Carlsen in the Bilbao Masters. He didn’t lose another classical game all year:

Bilbao Masters (Round 5 onwards): 6 games, +1
Sinquefield Cup: 9 games, +2
Olympiad: 10 games, +7
Isle of Man Open: 9 games, +4
London Chess Classic: 9 games, +3

Total: 43 games, +17
Such a run of form and dominance of a big series of events inevitably started talk about Wesley’s potential, with some high praise for the US no 2. You can watch all the interviews on the live coverage, including Vishy’s:


Nov 20, 2020

Caplin British Online Chess Championships

The Caplin British Online Championships will take place over two weeks from 18th December 2020 to 3rd January 2021 on the Chess.com platform. The event is being run by the English Chess Federation in collaboration with the Welsh, Scottish, Irish, Ulster, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man Chess Federations/Unions. The British Online will include separate Championships – Open, Women’s, Junior, Senior and Rating Limited. The format is based on one week of qualifier events followed by a week of finals for each Championship.

Each Championship will consist of a qualifier and finals stage with a number of separate events at four different time controls (Standard, Rapid, Blitz and Bullet) as shown in the table below. Players may take part in one or more championships for which they are eligible (e.g. Open, Women’s, Junior etc), and one or more events within their selected championship(s) (e.g. Standard, Rapid, Blitz etc), subject to the entry conditions and playing schedule.

All Standardplay events will be based on a game a day with 7 rounds of qualifiers and 7 rounds of finals each in Swiss format. Standardplay games will be based on direct challenge matches on Chess.com, started by an arbiter. Faster time controls (Rapidplay, Blitz and Bullet) will be run as platform Swiss tournaments. Further details can be found in the Tournament Summary and Schedule.

Entry will be via an online form, with Single Qualifier and All Events options as follows –

  • Single Championship Ticket – allows the player to take part in qualifiers for one championship, including one or more events at different time controls within that championship, subject to eligibility and playing schedule.
  • All Events Ticket  – allows the player to take part in any/all championships they are eligible for, including one or more events at different time controls across championships, subject to eligibility and playing schedule.

In order to participate in these Championships, all players must either –

  • Have a FIDE Nationality of ENG, IRL, SCO, WLS, GCI or JCI; or
  • Have been continuously resident in England, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man since 1st January, 2020; or
  • Be a British or Irish citizen.

All players must be members of their National Federation. English players should be members of the ECF at Supporter level or higher

Championship titles will be awarded separately for each event (e.g. British Online Open Standardplay Champion or British Online Open Rapid Champion etc.)  Further details of the prizes will be published shortly and will include trophies and/or medals for the top placed finalists in all Championship events.

Detailed competition regulations will be issued shortly, including details of arbiter arrangements. ECF Online Fair Play regulations will be in force at all times with tournament specific rules.

All games will be rated in the ECF Online Rating List.

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