Leonard Barden on Chess

England will field its strongest available team in the 150-nation chess Olympiad which opens at Baku, Azerbaijan, on 1 September. Michael Adams, the world No30, will play top board followed by David Howell, Nigel Short, Luke McShane and Gawain Jones. All five rank in or close to the world top 100 grandmasters and England’s seeding is likely to be around 10-15.

Russia and the United States will be the favourites, challenged by the 2014 medallists China, Hungary and India. It would take a medium miracle for England to win a medal. For that a team needs either several elite GMs ranked in the top 20-25 or a fast-improving teenage talent for whom the Olympiad sparks a career breakthrough. The England quintet have plenty of experience but only Howell and Jones are aged under 32.

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