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The England Chess Team & Jack Wilshire

User Rating: / 10
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 14 October 2013
By GM Daniel Gormally, England, FIDE 2504

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It's good news that the England chess team for the European team championships, will be the strongest we've had for a while.

With Michael Adams, Nigel Short, Luke Mcshane, David Howell and Gawain Jones all taking part, it's the first time for a while, that there are no weak points in the team.

Incidentally the two times I played for England, once in the European championships in Gothenberg, which was a total success, and the other time (and likely to be the last I'm afraid) in Turin, which by contrast was a total disaster both from the playing and personal perspective, teams actually had six players (four boards and two reserves).

Two reserves was a bit excessive so quite rightly they scrapped that. There was just too much of a likelihood of one or two players sitting around for the two weeks of the chess Olympiad, kicking their heels. Now it's significantly harder for me to get in the team, as not only are the five players mentioned considerably stronger, but even in the unlikely event I was able to get my rating up to that level, I very much doubt I'd get in, given what happened in the past.

In any case hopefully this time the team will perform at a level beyond what we've seen in recent years. After all you have to go back to 1997, 16 years, to find the last time we won a team event. (Again the European championships, in Pula, Croatia.) You could argue that's poor form, but the reality is that stronger chess countries than England have also failed to win anything in that time period. That's because the standard is so high these days, there are so many good teams, that even the mighty Russia find it very difficult to get over the line in team events.

But if the England chess team are finding success difficult to come by, that's nothing compared to the England football team. It's been nearly half a century since we won the world cup in 1966. And you could argue we only won that because it was at home. This current England team is so poor that I can't really see us winning anything again, at least for the foreseeable future.

Jack Wilshere, one of the few players who might possibly earn the sobriquet "world class", opened up an interesting debate this week when he said that only English players should play for the England team.

What he meant, was that a policy to recruit young talent to play for England, like the current Manchester United sensation Januzaj, who isn't affiliated to any country in particular, would be one that he wouldn't welcome.

I have to say I agree with him. I'd basically lose interest in International football if it just became like the club version, with countries like England luring better players to their teams, with financial incentives.

You want to support English players, not some guy with a Polish name who you know is only playing for England because it's convenient for him to do so. Part of the appeal is the idea of watching people who you might feel will give their all, because they have a passion for their homeland. I can't see what passion Januzaj will have for England.

I must admit I didn't feel comfortable during the British chess championships, in Torquay this year. That's because there were plenty of players taking part who shouldn't have even been there. Call it sour grapes, but I lost to Daniel Fernandez, who is from Singapore. There was a Hungarian IM playing also, some guy I'd never even heard of before, whose only claim to take part was that he'd had residency in the U.K. for a few years.

Same with Kolbus. Nice guy, I'll have a drink with him down the pub, but he shouldn't have been playing. He's not British. I know he's lived in the Isle of Man for a number of years, but for me that's not a good enough reason to play.

The worst insult was a few years back when the Indian guys were able to play, and were actually paid by their government to do so, while English grandmasters weren't even given conditions. During this period two Indian players, Kunte and Ramesh, walked away with the £10,000 first prize. This is an example of what I mean when I say that the ECF, and formerly the BCF, don't care about English professional players.

Ten grand is a large part of a British chess players annual income, and even that is taken abroad. I recall there was a petition passed around at the time, asking for the banning of Indian players. The players that drew up the petition were accused of being racist. But look at it from another perspective- do India or any other country for that matter, allow foreign players to take part in their national championship? Of course not.

You certainly get the impression that if the likes of Fernandez and Kolbus were strong enough to actually challenge for the title itself, their participation would be blocked. That's why the rules need to be strengthened further and only people who are genuinely from the U.K., are able to play in the home championship.

Originally published in GM Danny Gormally's blog

Other posts by GM Danny Gormally:

Should the grandmaster title be scrapped?
ECF Book of the Year?
Is being a chess pro worth it - continued?
Is being a chess pro worth it?
An Elitist Game?
Does hard work in chess pay off?
World Cup Final preview
World Chess Cup Semi-Final preview
World Chess Cup Quarter-Final preview
World Chess Cup 1/8-final preview
Why are Russians so good at chess?
British Champs-2013
Ghent and now the British
I'll never be fat again!
Lessons learnt!
The sad case of Borislav Ivanov: Part II
Does Anyone Have a Cure for Anger Problems?
The Depth of Chess
Fundraising in chess
Nurturing a Chess Prodigy
The Sad Case of Borislav Ivanov
4NCL Impressions: no country for old men - Part II
4NCL Impressions: no country for old men
One move, one line - Part II
One move, one line
Candidates Final Review & Preview of Upcoming World Championship Match
Would Carlsen have beaten Capablanca?

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Comments (3)
1. Written by aTom on 05:21 15 2013 .
! . 2013 .
2. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 11:32 15 2013 .
Be factual
In the interests of factual accuracy, I'd like to point out that I am actually British. I was born in the Manchester area and hold a british passport. My fide affiliation is a result of having lived and played chess overseas, which is no crime. As for sour grapes, you can award yourself a moral draw.
3. Written by This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it on 17:02 15 2013 .
Bitter much?
By genuinely from U.K do you mean going through everybody's family tree to check if their grandparents or grand grandparents have sinned with some other race? That's an old tune that has already led to madness in the past. 
Everyone who has a british passport has the same rights as you do and is eligible to represent U.K as much as you are! Deal with it!

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