7th Howard Staunton Memorial (Preview)
Staunton Memorial Preview
FM Steve Giddins - Monday 3rd August 2009
London honours its chess greats
Yes, it's that time of year again! London's premier chess event in recent years returns to action on Saturday 8 August, at its traditional home of Simpsons-in-the-Strand. The 2009 Staunton Memorial tournament continues its recent trend, by getting bigger and better every year. Sponsored once again by Dutch chess lover, Jan Mol, this year the event has been reformatted, and a second international tournament added alongside.
The main event is a Scheveningen-style match between England and Holland. Each side will have five of their top players, competing in a double-round event. The two sides are as follows:
|7th Staunton Memorial Scheveningen London (ENG), 8-17 viii 2009|
|GM||Michael Adams||2699||GM||Ivan Sokolov||2655|
|GM||Nigel Short||2684||GM||Loek Van Wely||2655|
|GM||McShane, Luke||2620||GM||Jan Smeets||2632|
|GM||David Howell||2614||GM||Erwin L'ami||2593|
|GM||Gawain Jones||2554||GM||Jan Werle||2575|
|UK||Elo Ave.||2634||NED||Elo Ave.||2622|
In recent years, England have been heavily worsted in the team event against the Dutch, but this year, the hosts are fielding their five strongest active players, and enjoy a small superiority in average FIDE ratings. Even so, with only 12 points separating the two teams' averages, an extremely close and hard-fought battle should be in store.
International chess tournaments in London are rather like the capital's buses - you wait for ages for one, then two come along at once. 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:
|7th Staunton Memorial International Challenge London
(ENG), 8-17 viii 2009 - cat. IX (2463)
Naturally, most eyes will be on the legendary Victor Korchnoi, now aged 78, who comes to the event as the reigning Swiss Champion. He won this title just a couple of weeks ago, and is believed to be the oldest player ever to win a national championship. Top seed on rating, however, is the vastly experienced Jan Timman, who showed fine form just last week, in the Dutch Open at Dieren. The top-rated English player is "Mr Entertainment", Simon Williams, whose play is always a rich source of creativity. He too is in fine form, having triumphed ahead of Korchnoi in the Open section of the aforementioned Swiss Championship. Indeed, he defeated Korchnoi in that event, in a sharp King's Indian Defence, so we can be sure that Korchnoi will be burning with ambitions of revenge!
Play in the tournament runs from Saturday 8 August until Monday 17 August inclusive, at Simpsons-in-the-Strand. Games start at 14.30 each day, with the exception of the final round, which starts at 12 noon (note that Saturday 15 August will be a rest day in the all-play-all group; there is no rest day in the Scheveningen event). Entry is free to spectators. In addition, in another new development for the tournament, the games will be broadcast live on the internet. Those wishing to follow the games in this fashion will need to register and pay a nominal fee, details of which can be found here. Furthermore, the tournament website will carry the traditional daily reports by yours truly, in which the highlights of each round's play will be analysed by a combination of myself, my silicon friends, and the carbon-based entity of Tournament Director, IGM Ray Keene. These reports will be available free of charge.
Bob Wade tribute
In addition to Howard Staunton, this year's tournament also honours another great figure in British chess. Bob Wade OBE, the doyen of British chess, died on November 29th 2008. His last tournament was the Howard Staunton Memorial 2008 and following the end of this year's tournament, a service will be held in his memory. This will be at Simpson's-in-the-Strand on Monday August 17th at 7-00pm. All are welcome both for the service and to spectate at the last round preceding it. Complimentary refreshments will be served afterwards and anybody wishing to stay on for the tournament's closing dinner can apply to the Staunton Society treasurer Clive Davey c/o firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets, which will cost £80-00 including wine, service and VAT. THERE ARE LIMITED SPACES FOR THE CLOSING DINNER WHICH WILL INCLUDE CHESS GREATS VICTOR KORCHNOI, JAN TIMMAN, NIGEL SHORT, MICHAEL ADAMS, DAVID HOWELL, LUKE MCSHANE, JON SPEELMAN, GAWAIN JONES ETC---SO PLS APPLY EARLY TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT.