Reports | August 12, 2009 20:11

England-Holland still equal after four rounds Staunton Memorial

Staunton Memorial 09After four rounds of play over five boards, the two teams at this year's Staunton Memorial are still equal to each other: England vs Holland 10-10. Both won a match twice with a 3-2 score and with very fightful chess, which unfortunately cannot be followed online for free.

The 7th Staunton Memorial takes place August 8-17 at Simpsons-in-the-Strand, one of London's most renowned traditional English restaurants. Situated in one of the capital's famous streets, The Strand, it is part of the Savoy Buildings, which include possibly the world's most famous hostelry, the Savoy Hotel.
Simpsons-in-the-StrandIt also played an important role in the development of chess in the 19th century. Almost all of the top players of the 19th century played there at some stage: Wilhelm Steinitz, Paul Morphy, Emmanuel Lasker, Johannes Zukertort (who had a fatal stroke whilst playing there), and Siegbert Tarrasch to name but a few.

It was in Simpson's in 1851 that one of the world's great games, the famous "Immortal Game", was played between Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky. It also hosted the great tournaments of 1883 and 1899, and the first ever women's international in 1897. (Source: Wikipedia)

Back to 2009, when Simpsons hosts a Scheveningen-style match between England and Holland as its main event. Each side has five of their top players, competing in a double-round event. The two sides are as follows:

IGM Michael Adams 2699 IGM Ivan Sokolov 2655
IGM Nigel Short 2684 IGM Loek van Wely 2655
IGM Luke McShane 2620 IGM Jan Smeets 2632
IGM David Howell 2614 IGM Erwin L'Ami 2593
IGM Gawain Jones 2554 IGM Jan Werle 2575
Average rating 2634 Average rating 2622

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:

Name Rating
IGM Jan Timman 2569
IGM Victor Korchnoi 2561
IGM Simon Williams 2527
IGM Peter Wells 2498
IGM Nigel Davies 2493
IM Lawrence Trent 2471
IM Willy Hendricks 2444
IGM Alexander Cherniaev 2428
IM Eelke Wiersma 2403
Terry Chapman 2271
Average rating 2463

Rounds 1-4

On Saturday, August 8th the first round started, which was only a day after the British Championships finished. Luckily only one player arrived late for the round and he had a good reason. David Howell, the new champion, had to stay behind to attend Saturday morning's prize-giving. Opponent Jan Smeets sportingly agreed to delay the start of their game and so everything started smoothly, including the live transmission of the games, as we can read on the tournament website.

Well, for the organizers perhaps, but many chess fans awaited a big disappointment when it became clear that the live games could not be followed without paying for it!

To view the 7th Howard Staunton Memorial Chess Tournament Live Webcast you are required to subscribe to 2 See It Live. A simple 'ONE OFF' payment of £5.00 subscription fee is required which will provide you full access to the live webcast during the 7th Howard Staunton Memorial Chess Tournament.

A surprising move by the organizers, since chess fans have been used to watching games for free for a long time, and they're probably not willing to pay as long as there's no extra service, like online commentary or good-quality streaming video. Not surprisingly, it already led to a heated debate here at ChessVibes, which includes comments by no-one less than GM Raymond Keene, who is Tournament Director in London. He argues:

The debate about whether to pay for live coverage is a very interesting one and forms part of the larger debate about whether to pay for website content overall in any sphere of reporting or not. Ultimately I believe that charging will have to come in - I can think of a few areas where a service is provided which is offered for free. In that sense the Staunton Memorial is pioneering what I feel must be the future trend in chess and all forms of reporting. There is an interesting article about this question in Time Magazine current issue, and many others.
In a few years time thos who argued against charching - and we are charging around £ 5 per day [later corrected to £ 5 for the full tournament - PD] which works out at 50p per game each day - will be seen as the reactionaries fighting a losing battle. The free sites in the future will look miserable, amauteurish and badly constructed when compared to those for which the public will be prepared to pay. (...)

There are many interesting points made by Mr Keene here. First of all, the Staunton Memorial is of course far from pioneering - many organizers of chess events in the past have tried to make money with the broadcast of games (including Mr Keene himself, we believe). We vividly remember the Foidos project during last year's Anand-Kramnik Wch match.

The basic argument, though, seems to be that free equals bad quality, and in this respect ChessVibes needs to start worrying. The thousands and thousands (the number is growing rapidly) of websites that run on open source software all have to start worrying. Facebook, Google, all providing free service - they all need to start worrying, we presume...

CopyrightBesides, as far as we know the moves of a chess game are still in the public domain and cannot be copyrighted. As Arne pointed out, if someone in the audience posts the moves on a webpage from their cellphone in real time, there’s absolutely no way – legally and in principle – to prevent or forbid this, making a paid live transmission rather pointless in practice. We've had this discussion before on this site, and it's a pity that Chessbase decided not to fight the Bulgarian Chess Federation in court, earlier this year, when they weren't allowed to transmit the moves of the Kamsky-Topalov and later the M-Tel Masters.

10-10 after four rounds
It's about time that we start looking at the event itself, since the moves of the games are luckily provided by the organizers after the rounds have finished. And so we know that after four rounds, the score is exactly level: 10-10. Both matches won 3-2 twice, one time with the white pieces and one time with the black pieces. The drawing percentage is as low as 40% so far.

Nigel Short scored a nice victory against Werle in the first round, using one of his many "oldschool" 1.e4 weapons, this time 5.Nc3 in the Ruy Lopez. Also avoiding mainlines, as he's always done, Luke McShane had a bit of a rusty comeback to top level chess with a loss against Ivan Sokolov, who's playing for Bosnia again but is still Dutch enough for this event. Erwin L'Ami defeated Gawain Jones in the most spectacular game of the round.


Nigel Short: a world-class expert in non-Ruy Lopez 1.e4 systems

The next day England levelled the score (and so both teams had won their match 3-2 playing the black pieces!). Werle lost his second game, this time to Michael Adams who scores very well with his new love, the Tartakower variation of the QGD, which has always been a favourite of that other great English player sitting right next to him, Nigel Short. He also won after surviving a strong attack by Smeets that involved a long-term piece sac. Van Wely struck back for the Dutch team by beating Jones - it's still asking for trouble to try the KID against KingLoek (although Black was actually doing fine after the opening, using the rare move 7...Nh5).

Thanks to another 3-2 victory England then took a small lead on Monday. Short won his third game in a row in another 1.e4 speciality: the Two Knights. Sokolov seemed well prepared for the topical 8.Bd3 but in this game he couldn't prove that Black's activity provides enough compensation, and on move 30 a blunder quickly ended the game.

Adams lost to Smeets, with White in a... Petroff! The English GM tried to sharpen the position but was caught in an excellent piece of Dutch preparation starting with 14...Bb4 and 15...Bxg4! that eventually led to a winning ending.


Adams' sharp set-up boomeranged back on him as Smeets unleashed strong preparation

The victory was brought home by McShane, who defeated Van Wely by refuting the Dutchman's opening play with some sharp calculation.

Van Wely-Howell

McShane started his game quietly and then refuted Van Wely's 'refutation'

Yesterday the Dutch team levelled the score again. Smeets was well prepared for Jones' Dragon and introduced what appeared to be a strong novelty (16.Rc1) in the 9.0-0-0 d5 10.Kb1 Nxd4 11.e5 line. Black never seemed close to equalizing - best was probably 20...Qxd4 21.Qc3 Qd6 but 22.Be4 is still pretty annoying. Van Wely beat Howell in a very good game, recovering from his loss to McShane, who went on yesterday by beating Werle, who only collected half a point so far.

In the all-play-all group, Timman continues the good form he showed at the Open Dutch in Dieren as he's leading with 3.5/4. Living legend Viktor Kortchnoi is one 1.5; he lost to Cherniaev, then beat Trent, drew with Davies and then lost to Hendriks.


Hendriks vs Kortchnoi in round 4 of the all-play-all group

All photos © Barry Martin, more here

Staunton Memorial 2009 | All-play-all group | Round 4 Standings
Staunton 2009

Games (Scheveningen group on top, followed by all-play-all group)

Click on the pairings at the top of the board to reveal a drop down list of all the games.

Game viewer by ChessTempo



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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.


RAY KEENE's picture



Arne Moll's picture

Wow, Loek, what's up with the jacket? ;-)

Peter Doggers's picture

The thing is: it's not black & white, as in chess. As always, the truth is somewhere in the middle. Companies like Google and Facebook have proven that the advertisement business model can be profitable. Other companies have worked succesfully with the "freemium" model: give certain services for free, and ask for money for extra services. This is my main point: the live transmission should be the main reason to attract people to the website, and money can be earned by either adding an interesting service on top of that, or simply selling ads which can be put next to the live board transmission. It's nice that the earnings are used for a good cause, but for this it's quite possible that a donation button would be a more succesful try.

Arne Moll's picture

Castro, it's the 'not free equals quality' argument that worries me much more! :-)

As for the possibility of transmitting the moves through 1 person who has paid the 5 pounds: ChessVibes is not a live game viewing site, but I don't see why ICC or ChessBase shouldn't do it.

Jean-Michel's picture

Mr. Keene,

Would you be so kind as to let us know the number of people who elected to pay, once the tournament has concluded of course? It would certainly be an interesting addition to the debate on paying for live transmission of chess games.

Lars Grahn's picture

Re. an earlier post by Raymond Keene. No Ray, I’m nowhere implying that you were writing for The Times at that time (1983). Besides, that fact has absolutely nothing to do with my copyright case. I'm merely stating that in my experience you're a man without shame.

Arne Moll's picture

I don't see why paying should lead to better quality - after all, many expensive services are also rather poor. The connection is especially strange considering that the paid money doesn't go to the organizers or the players, but to UK Schools. Does the schooling program guarantee better quality for GM tournaments or something? Where's the link?

CAL|Daniel's picture

I wish GM Keene would learn not to type in caps.

5 pounds per day is $10 US dollars a day which after 10 rounds is $100 dollars... I can play in about 5 small local tournaments for the outrageous price of your entry. Or.,.. I can wait a few days until some cool site like chessvibes or others copy the games you are charging over. Which will a smart chess player do?!

WGIFM's picture

Why to condemn the organizers for asking money for the online transmission? Probably they have all the rights to do so. I remember buying printed reports of chess tournaments. Till today one can find in 2nd hand bookshops such broschures.

Take online streeming as a "new" media of reporting about the games. If they wish to bill it, why not? You may haul up the organizers for not adding any "premium" service to the ordinary transmission, but why should they add if they do not wish?
I can ask all my friends from tomorrow entering my garden to send 2 EURs on the bank account of the local fire-brigade. I wonder how many of them would still visit me in a week time.

Time will decide whether their business strategy works or not.
Let it be...

WGIFM's picture

ps. I wonder why this report about not paying 5 pounds appears on a Dutch site? :-)

Tom Vananderoye's picture

If the proceeds go to a good cause I can't see anything against this experiment. In essence it is not different of selling lottery-tickets for a good cause.

Giving free boards to schools is quite a good idea. Earlier this year I had a conversation with the youth coordinator of the Flemish chess assocation and he believed that the way forward was scholastic chess. Not only to recruit new players but to raise awareness in general. Convincing people to sponsor chess is a lot easier if they or their kids have played chess in school.

Castro's picture

If, indeed,

"if someone in the audience posts the moves on a webpage from their cellphone in real time, there’s absolutely no way – legally and in principle – to prevent or forbid this"

Then pls explain to me why to worry?? Just tell me which site have already paid 5 pounds, put there a person, and is already transmiting this tournament real time for free. ChessVibes? Don't think so...
Come on, I also want to watch it for free, but let's not oversimplify!
As for the rest, I agree that the argument "free equals bad quality" is obviously wrong.

Peter Doggers's picture

Totally agree, Tom, but you're not addressing the point that the way it's done, by suddenly dropping a free service, isn't satisfactory. You can only compare it to lottery-tickets in a world where the lottery-tickets used to be free of charge! Nothing wrong with charity, but don't start charging for the basics. The scores of a soccer or tennis match are also freely available; it wouldn't make sense to start a service like "pay for real-time Wimbledon scores updates, money goes to Taiwan reconstruction".

Tom Vananderoye's picture

We are used to have games broadcasted freely. And I think not many tournaments will follow this example. But I do not see anything wrong with it.

I do have a few bones to pick with the article though: first off all it might have been interesting to contact the organisers to hear their part of the story (officially). Secondly: you have misquoted GM Keene comentary from the other thread: he clearly stated 50p per day which comes down to 5p per game which becomes 5£ and 50p per game per day in the article... . That just sloppy.

Tom Vananderoye's picture

correction: Keene said that the 5£ one time charge comes down to 50p per day and 5p per game in his commentary.

Arne Moll's picture

On a different note, isn't it interesting that ChessBase doesn't seem to cover this tournament at all? Does it have anything to do with all these controversial issues?

Miles Coach's picture

First - unfortunate that Mr Keene chose to address the chess public here in caps - shouting. An obvious net faux pas, which some may take him to be out of touch with this environment, though perhaps unfairly.

Secondly, the lack of transmission may result in less punters attracted to the site - hence less publicity for sponsors. Indeed as in previous years, the internet coverage has been a little backward, though it is much improved this year.

Thirdly - yes, as noted already, in an environment where is everything is free, it may cause more than a few arched ayebrows, possibly even raise the odd hackle to see that payment is being requested.

Fourthy, perhaps unfortunate for the organisers that Mr Keene is the public face of this discussion as he does not have a particularly good reputation in the chess world due to certain alleged past financial irregularities.

Fifthly - free equals bad. Clearly nonsense, again revealing Mr Keene's lack of familiarity with the topic in question. He may learn a lot by looking at open source, e.g. Linux, Moodle to name just two. As it happens, their own website appears rather amateurish in a number of ways. For example - the basics: White text on black background a big no-no in web design. Hard on the eyes. Even for Star Wars scrolling fans.

Miles C

Tom Vananderoye's picture

well perhaps some chessjournalist can ask them that, should be interesting...

nick burrows's picture

"The scores of a soccer or tennis match are also freely available; it wouldn’t make sense to start a service like “pay for real-time Wimbledon scores updates, money goes to Taiwan reconstruction”.

I actually did laugh out loud at this!

Bert de Bruut's picture

Well, Peter, you're not only hosting a website-for-free, you are also giving free entrepreneurial advice! Take heed, Mr. Keene, it won't cost you a penny and might bring you a few more (or maybe quite a few more) customers!

Castro's picture

@Arne Moll

For some reason ICC and ChessBase (and all the rest) aren't broadcasting it real time. Sure, I'd love someone did, and maybe it should be ok to do it, but it's not as clear as Peter puts it. It's a discusion already taken, ok, including my total disagreement about comparing to transmiting scores of tennis, though I joint "nick burrows" in his lol :-)

@Tom Vananderoye

Sorry, but the question is about the obligation of paying to see the transmision, not about the simple paying. If you find ok to charge anyone if the money goes to school chess, why wouldn't you agree with charging when the money goes to the organizer's pockets? I think you put wrongly the question. Can or cannot the organization charge anyone to see the live broadcast (and therefore charge rights to any site wanting to perform such a broadcast themselves)?
That is the question.
The destination of the money, and it's merits, should not be mixed here (although it was originaly made by the organizer himself, understandably :-) ).

Thomas's picture

@Arne Moll (11:35am): In the meantime, Chessbase has a report on the Staunton Memorial. I think it is simple: With several events going on in parallel, they don't have _daily_ coverage for all of them - and their priority goes to the FIDE GP and the Zurich event.

ChessGirl's picture

In general, I still think that receiving money from live broadcasting could benefit chess economy, but after reading all comments:

1. I agree that not many people will pay 5 pounds to watch the live games if after the rounds they can get the same for free, at least some extra feature like video retransmission or something else should be included.

2. I think Peter Doggers's ideas are actually very good. Something like asking for donations instead of charging could be much more appealing to the public.

Michael X Tractor's picture

You guys are really great. For the past 3 years, there have been non-stop complaints about the Staunton not having live game coverage - "How can any serious tournament not even broadcast the games live?", etc. You all agreed that live coverage was a sine qua non. This year, they provide live coverage, and you all shout "Why should I pay to see this, there is no added value, I can just get the games for free a few hours later". In other words, now you all agree that live coverage is of little or no added value at all!

I don't really know why the organisers bother doing live coverage or even having a website. They should just enjoy their tournament privately and forget about you cretins. By going out of their way to publish the games for your entertainment, they are simply setting pearls before swine - or perhaps that should be "pearls before termites", to use Steve Giddins' terminology.

Peter Doggers's picture

Right. And there are so many organizers out there who would like to hold a chess tournament just to see a few games privately, and don't bother at all about the promotion of the royal game in general. They'd really want to spend their money on some strong players playing and spending time in a luxurious hotel, while nobody else notices, and no website or newspaper reports. That kind of money spending is probably limited to desperate millionaires who do anything to impress their bored wives.

We must all be grateful to have two patrons, Mr Mol and Mr Van Oosterom (who happen to have made their money running one and the same company), who are smarter than that and share a real love for the game. (I do wonder what Mr Mol thinks of the reasoning of Mr Giddins & Keene on the live transmission.)

nick burrows's picture

You are clearly somehow connected to the tournament Mr Tractor - why else the insults?
It sounds just like the Staunton organisers pre-tournament brainstorm...."Now how can we get these cretins to cough up £5 for an identical service everyone else provides free? Not sure if they'll go for it, it's like laying pearls before swine"

There's only 1 person sounding like a cretin here Mr farmyard vehicle.

Arne Moll's picture

Michael X Tractor's comment does raise an interesting question: why are chess tournaments held anyway? I don't think the answer is so simple. Nevertheless, so far I've only heard very bad arguments in favour of paid live coverage. Can't anyone really think of a good one?

ejh's picture

isn’t it interesting that ChessBase doesn’t seem to cover this tournament at all? Does it have anything to do with all these controversial issues?

To be fair I think they may have been expecting Steve Giddins to write their reports, and Mr Giddins has been ill.

Personally I don't mind much if they charge for transmission - I do mind if they act like jerks about it. However, I suspect that they will do themselves and chess more harm than good by charging, since the amount of money they will make is likely to be realtively small and the number of people who might access thsite for free potentially quite large.

I don't think it's quite the same as the Topalov-Kamsky business, where the question was not charging, but whether any site that wanted could transmit the games live. Now I can see why people want that, but the truth is that if you want live transmissions then you need sponsors to pay for it, and if you want sponsors to pay for it then it's probable that they're going to want exclusive rights.

Back to live coverage - for this tournament it doesn't matter so much, to be honest. It's when the world championships and Olympiads and super-tournaments happen that people want to see it live. I'd be interested to learn how many people have paid their fiver (or two pound fifty as it now apparently is). Perhaps we could have a sweeptake on the figure?

Michael X Tractor's picture

"That kind of money spending is probably limited to desperate millionaires who do anything to impress their bored wives". Peter Doggers

Oh dear, Peter - do I detect a green-eyed monster in the house? LOL

Castro's picture

I'm always amazed about why so many educated, non-insulting, unpretentious and respectful posts got so many problems time after time here, whereas others...
Some people seem to respect and treat normaly only when insulted or witnessing insults. "Let us give credit and answer this guy. He looks serious, by the amount of barbarity. And, above all, God forbid us correcting him in public!" seems the policy.
It's so bizarre that can only fall in the laughable category!
Congratulations to the educators, excelent examples!

Castro's picture

From the Chessbase report:

"The tournament website is carrying daily reports by Steve Giddins, who describes the highlights of each round's play. Steve is assisted by some silicon friends, and the carbon-based entity of Tournament Director, GM Ray Keene. These reports are available free of charge."

Some finesse! :-)

Rob Brown's picture

If English chess kids are desperately in need of plastic sets let me know and I will gladly purchase one on their behalf. In the meantime, charging for the live transmission of the Staunton Memorial games has simply prompted me to spend my net chess browsing time in Zurich, in the Acropolis tourney and in the exciting contest unfolding in Armenia. As for the goings on at the Staunton Memorial, I will simply wait a few days then replay the games as if they were being played in real time and remain convinced that Ray Keene and the other buck hustlers demean themselves by indulging in hucksterism.

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