I’m in Prague for the World Senior Teams, my first such foray for some years. With 400+ old codgers from many countries gathered in close proximity FIDE have been criticised for taking on the Corona risk and not cancelling. The threat of the virus caused some crucial England withdrawals before the tournament started on Friday 6th March. We originally had three squads (of five players but four-board matches) in the Over-65 section and I was comfortably nestled at Board 4 in England 2. However, of the proposed England 1 team of Nunn, Povah, Stebbings, Snape and G.H.James, all but Stebbings withdrew for ‘specific medical conditions relating to the Corona virus’. I now find myself on ‘Board 5’ for England 1 thus coming in on Board 4 as each player takes his turn for a rest day. The team is now Stebbings, Page, Stokes, Bowmer, Habershon and I am the weakest by over 100 Elo points. We still have an England 2 captained by Brian Valentine, but no England 3.
There are 51 teams in the O-65 and 55 teams in the O-50 where England have a strong first team: Hebden, Arkell, McDonald, Flear, now reinforced at a late stage by Plaskett replacing Speelman who withdrew. Also in the O-50 are England 2 and England Women headed by Sheila Jackson who had to play Yusupov in Round 1. Among the other famous old GM names here are Andersson, Vaisser, Balashov, Knaak, Sveshnikov, Rashkovsky, Hort, Kaidanov, Shabalov, Ftacnik, Benjamin, Yermolinsky.
I sat out Round 1 and my team drew all 4 games against a Czech regional team we should have beaten. In Round 2 today we lost 1.5-2.5 against Switzerland. I drew but had my chance to win and make it 2-2 (See game). Disappointing for me and the team but I was glad not to lose first time out. There are 9 rounds, finishing on Saturday 14th March.