Gawain Jones and Luke McShane blossom as British chess changes guard
Leonard Barden
Thursday 23 December 2010 20.22 GMT

For the best part of two decades Michael Adams and Nigel Short have been the top dogs in UK chess. Short challenged Garry Kasparov for the classical world title in 1993 and Adams reached the Fide world title semi-final and final in 1997 and 2005.

But now Short is 45, Adams 39 and the old order is changing. Luke McShane’s impressive tied second result at the London Classic coincided with Short finishing in last place and put the 26-year-old former Goldman Sachs trader ahead of his rival in the international rankings.

Another significant, though less publicised, advance also took place at the Classic. The England No5, Gawain Jones, 23, was the best performer for the national team at the world Olympiad in October and was co-winner with Simon Williams at the London Classic Open, totalling an unbeaten 7.5/9 ahead of a flock of European grandmasters and masters.

Immediately after London Jones flew to Warsaw for the European Blitz championship where, as the only competing English GM, he scored 17.5/26, well above expectations and including wins over leading GMs from Ukraine, Germany and France.

Meanwhile David Howell, 20, the England No4 and youngest GM who had mixed results in 2010, has begun a philosophy course at Cardiff, at least temporarily rejecting a full-time chess career. So the target for Jones is to reach a 2600 rating, surpass Howell and challenge Short. However this turns out, the advance of the under-27 trio can only benefit English chess.


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