Here in England we seem to have some problems turning out our best players to represent our country.
Last year things got so bad I got picked to play for England at the European Championships in Bulgaria. That could be explained at least in part by a lack of sponsorship, but what about the current team in Calvia, Mallorca?
This time the team is being sponsored (by Deloitte), but some questions need to be asked:
1) Why is Nigel Short only playing a handful of games for England at the end of the event? Answer - he was playing at another tournament at Hoogeveen, which clashed for the first week. I don’t know exactly how this situation came about or who is to blame but being without a world-class player for the majority of the event is clearly not what you want if you desire success for the national team.
2) Why is Julian Hodgson not part of the team? Players with Julian’s talent do not come along often and something is very wrong with the whole set-up if it cannot be arranged so that it is in Julian’s interests for him to be playing.
3) One could ask similar questions about John Nunn and Matthew Sadler. While Sadler may have given up playing altogether, John Nunn certainly has not.
4) I'm all for learning on the job but was it wise to have a new and inexperienced team captain starting out at such a major event? The team captain has an important role in motivating the players and indeed selecting which four (out of five) will play on a given day.
The British Chess Federation tries its best but is clearly under funded.
Consequently it is weak and lacks the punch to make things happen and avoid problems such as those outlined above. On a wider front, there are issues with the organisational structure in England as evidenced by the fact we have so few international events in England. There seem to be very few weekend organisers ‘graduating’ to the higher level of organising international opens. We have the talent and the juniors…but they wont thrive at the top level unless this changes. The 4NCL is a great success but it is not enough on its own.
Michael Adams has performed brilliantly on top board for England. With a full strength team we might have been right up there amongst the medals. That we are coming nowhere very special is absolutely not the fault of the guys battling it out on the lower boards, but of the organisational structure that allowed the situation to come about.
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