The World Senior Chess Championship, played in four sections, is concluded in Bucharest. Impressive lineups and the prize fund increased by FIDE warranted a very close contest and unpredictable outcomes until the very last round.
The only exception was the highest-rated category Open 50+. In this tournament, the champion was essentially determined two rounds before the finish. A debutant of senior events Vadim Shishkin from Ukraine (he is just 50!) defeated his main competitors face to face and smoothly sailed in the last rounds. The Ukranian netted 9 out of 11 points without losses and won a clear first place. The champion owes his title to a winning streak (four victories in a row) he made in the middle of the tournament distance.
As part of this streak, Shishkin beat his main competitor of the same age Vladislav Nevednichy (Romania). As a result, the latter finished just a half-point behind the champion and tied for the second with one of the best chess players of Latin America Ivan Morovic Fernandez from Chile. The last year champion Karen Movsziszian (Armenia) came fourth. The rating-favorites Kiril Georgiev (North Macedonia), Darcy Lima (Brazil), Zurab Sturua (Georgia) and Alexander Shabalov (USA) scored 7.5 points each tied for 5th place along with nine other GMs – it is just another evidence of extremely fierce competition in this event.
The last round in the Open 65+ category could have been played in the USSR championship, say, 40 years ago. The leaders Anatoli Vaisser and Yuri Balashov split a point facing each other whereas an ambitious young competitor (their junior by two years!) Rafael Vaganian caught up with them and took the title thanks to better tiebreaks. These three excellent GMs representing Armenia (Vaganian), France (Vaisser) and Russia (Balashov) notched 8.5 points each. A large group of players headed by Carlos Garcia Palermo (Italy) and Evgeny Sveshnikov (Russia) finished a half-point behind.
The tenth round became the decisive one in the Women 50+ section. Elvira Berend took down Natalia Sirotkina with black pieces, whereas Tatiana Bogumil, who was leading for the most part of the event, suffered a defeat at the hands of Tatiana Grabuzova. By making a draw in the last round, the rating-favorite, playing under the banner of Luxemburg, secured a clear first place with с 8.5 out of 11 points. Tatiana Bogumil is second with 7.5 points; Galina Strutinskaia, Tatiana Grabuzova (both Russia) and Marina Makropoulou (Greece) tied for the third place.
Since by the end of the tournament Women 65+ all the favorites basically played each other, in the last rounds the front-runner, illustrious champion Nona Gaprindashvili (Georgia) had relatively easy opponents. Nona finished with three victories in a row and took the title scoring 8.5 out of 11 points. Two Russian players Elena Fatalibekova and Valentina Kozlovskaya tied for the second place.
FIDE congratulates all the winners! The next year World Senior Chess Championship will be held on the same dates (mid-November) in Assisi (Italy).
Photo: Mark Livshitz