Yesterday, the 18th September, I got a call from Stewart Reuben of the British Chess Federation, asking me if I wanted to play for England in the European Team Championships in Plovdiv starting on October 11th.
This came as a total shock. I've not been playing a great deal recently and my health is not so good. Also there are without doubt many stronger players than me in the country at present. Presumably the lack of a proper team sponsor means that the very top guys (Nigel Short and Michael Adams) are not being offered enough money to play, which is sad, since with a full strength team, England would have had a more realistic shot at winning the event. A number of other players above me in the rating list must also be unavailable for selection, which is surprising given that full expenses and a small fee was on offer.
The last time I played for the England team was in Reykjavik, 1990. I was rated a lot higher back then (over 2500 and just about squeezing into the world's top 100) and felt more worthy of my place than I do now. Still, if the aging Martin Bicknell could bowl well for the England cricket team, I don't see why I can't play a few good games of chess with a following wind.
So it's off to Plovdiv we go...
Men's Team (all grandmasters):
Jon Speelman 2589
Bogdan Lalic 2503
Glenn Flear 2527 captain
Peter Wells 2481
Jonathan Levitt 2423
Women's team (both woman grandmasters):
Harriet Hunt 2402
Jovanka Houska 2350
Post script 1 November 2003: I put in a solid performance with two wins, four draws and no losses.The men's team came in around half way up the competition, which was more or less what was expected.
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