European Seniors

England teams brought home an Aladdin’s cave of medals from the European Senior Team Championship, which concluded in Slovenia last week. Their victory in the over-65 section was particularly convincing. The team of John Nunn (reigning world senior champion 65+), Tony Kosten, Peter Large, Chris Baker and Nigel Povah lost just two games out of 36,

Four Nations

The Four Nations Chess League (4NCL) enjoyed a captivating finale over the early May bank holiday. As the final round commenced, three teams remained in close contention to win the title, each with nine wins out of ten matches, and each entering their final match as strong favourite. That meant the league would likely be


Streaks are made to be broken. For many years, the German Bundesliga, the strongest national league in the world, has been dominated by the team from Baden-Baden. Their lineups include the likes of Viswanathan Anand and Richard Rapport as well as England Olympiad players Michael Adams and Nikita Vitiugov. Before this season, they had won

Chess on the telly

What is it like to play chess? Once in a while, I try to convey the atmosphere of a competitive chess tournament to someone who has never witnessed it. I liken it to sitting an exam, in that it lasts for hours and makes your brain hurt; at least everyone can relate to that. But

The Candidates

Dommaraju Gukesh triumphed in a thrilling final round at the Candidates Tournament in Toronto. The Indian talent, who is still just 17 years old, thereby qualifies to face Ding Liren in a match for the world championship. He is by far the youngest in history to reach this milestone: Kasparov was 20 years old; Carlsen

Candidates debate

The grace of a snowflake lies in its outward simplicity, which on closer inspection reveals a sublime complexity. Chess endgames beguile me in much the same spirit. The examples below both occurred at the Fide Women’s Candidates tournament, which is currently approaching its conclusion in Toronto. Just a few moves earlier, Anna Muzychuk had an

The event of the year

Every time I type out Candidates Tournament, I want to adorn it with an apostrophe, as with Parents’ Evening or Residents’ Association. Hear me out: Women’s Tournament sounds natural whereas Women Tournament sounds clumsy; the word is possessive rather than attributive. Be that as it may, the prevailing wind has swept the apostrophe away. Anyway,

Menchik Memorial

Vera Menchik was 38 when she was killed by a German V1 flying bomb that landed on her home in Clapham. Born in Moscow in 1906 to a Czech father and an English mother, she was in her teens when her family settled in England. Aged 21, she won the first women’s world championship, and

Game without end

It is just over a week since Elon Musk’s company Neuralink livestreamed an interview with Noland Arbaugh, who was paralysed from the shoulders down in a diving accident eight years ago. Following the implanting by Neuralink of a chip in his brain, he is now able to control a mouse cursor on the screen by


Chess, to state the obvious, is different from painting, or dance, or poetry. There is artistry in it, and yet the game stands apart. When we admire a sequence of moves, they only make sense viewed through the filter of an imagined adversarial contest. Sacrifices and combinations sparkle according to the obstacles that are overcome.

Dropping the golden apple

Find the best move! Once upon a time, I sincerely believed that was my overriding goal during a game of chess. Naive, but nowadays I know better. The truth is that dodging banana skins is more fruitful, so to speak, than the pursuit of golden apples. In part, this is a simple story about experience and

Two poisoned pawns

They say the best way to really know a subject is to write about it. I speculate it worked for the English grandmaster Danny Gormally, whose forthcoming book Tournament Battle Plan (Thinkers Publishing) perhaps inspired him to victory at the British Rapidplay Championships held in Peterborough earlier this month. It must be said that Gormally was

Cambridge International Open

In February the Cambridge International Open returned to the University Arms Hotel. In the penultimate round, the experienced Dutch grandmaster Sergei Tiviakov was half a point clear of a strong field, and looked to be coasting towards victory against his Danish opponent. Playing White in the position below, his bishop and two passed pawns outweigh Haubro’s extra

It’s a knockout

‘Chess is a sea in which a gnat may drink and an elephant may bathe.’ I’m fond of that adage, which speaks to the depth of the game in a way that numbers cannot. But how many possible games of chess are there? The mathematician Claude Shannon wrote a paper in 1949: ‘Progamming a Computer

Young contenders

Popular wisdom has it that the smartphone has shrivelled teenagers’ attention spans. But they are getting better at chess, and there is no doubt that technology is the main driver. Chess knowledge is more widely accessible than ever before, with any number of sparring partners, courses and coaches (like me!) available online. Chess engines, such

Fearless teens

A trio of teenagers dominated the Tata Steel Challengers event, which took place in Wijk aan Zee last month alongside the elite Masters event. Their fearless chess helped them get the better of many more experienced grandmasters. India’s Leon Luke Mendonca, 17, took first place with 9.5/13, and will receive an invitation to the Masters

Tata for now

Wei Yi had just won a riveting game in round 11 of the Tata Steel Masters event (see puzzle no. 786). His post-game interview ended with the question: ‘With two rounds to go, do you still have energy?’ ‘No,’ replied Wei, smiling. And yet China’s second strongest grandmaster (after the world champion Ding Liren), somehow

The Candidates line up

Lobbing brickbats at Fide, the International Chess Federation, is always in fashion. The organisation celebrates its centenary this year, but Russia’s top player Nepomniachtchi tweeted a bitter New Year greeting: ‘Let 2024 bring Fide everything that it lacks: transparency, integrity, clear rules, unified standards, wise judges, attentive organisers, recognisable sponsors!’ To that litany of gripes,

A new queen

Promoting a pawn is a moonshot on the chessboard. A new queen is a literal game-changer, so when a humble pawn becomes far advanced, it is worth moving heaven and earth to get it over the line. Ditching a rook or a bishop is a small price to pay for a coronation. One game from the World

Horsing around

In 2021, Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura caused a stir with their ‘Double Bongcloud’ opening, in an online game which began 1 e4 e5 2 Ke2 Ke7, soon agreed drawn. Their act of flippancy, clearly spontaneous, drew a mixed response of laughter and tutting, but that game was unofficial and had no competitive significance. Similarly, at the