Chess

Old grandmasters never die, they just play against women - or so it seems from the "Foxtrot" Veterans v Women match at the Park Lane Hilton. Sneak into the Press Room when the games are over and you will see Vassily Smyslov (aged 75) and Mark Taimanov (70) still patiently discussing the finer points of strategy, exactly as they did when laying down the foundations for modern chess half a century ago.

Then there is Boris Spassky, looking just as calm and commanding as when he won the world championship in 1969, except that his hair has now turned to silver.

In terms of ratings, the men outrank their opponents, yet in the games they are struggling to establish any supremacy. (They led by a single point after five rounds.) The reason is simple: they have nothing left to prove. At the end of their magnificent careers, these great players are still concerned not to lose their games, but winning may demand too great an effort.

For the women, however, this is an annual test of their progress. If women want to prove they can challenge for the world championship, they must first learn to defeat the ex-champions and pass the examinations set by Spassky and Smyslov.

Play begins 2.30pm, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Entry free.

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