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.Reuse content