International Master (1987); Grandmaster (1989); British Champion (1989, 2010 and 2011); Candidate (1993 (twice - for FIDE and PCA); 2007); FIDE vice-World Champion (2004-2005).
'Mickey' Adams is the top player in the United Kingdom and at the age of 41, is still a contender for the World Championship. He was born in Truro in Cornwall to Bill and Margaret Adams, started learning the game at age 6, and became the world’s youngest IM in the month before his 16th birthday. Gaining the Grandmaster title in 1989 aged 17, Adams went on to win four British titles, many tournaments, and to contest several world championship events. Along with Nigel Short, Adams has dominated UK chess in the last couple of decades and he is considered one of the UK’s strongest ever players.
<Age and Regional>: Adams’ first tournament appearance was in 1979, when having just turned 8, he won the Cornwall U10 championship. Just over a year later, in early 1981, he contested and won the Cornwall U18 (also the U9, U13 and U15) championship while still 9 years of age, the youngest person ever to win an U18 county championship. Two years later in January 1983, aged 11, he came =1st in the Cornish Championship. In 1982, aged 10, he won the British U11 championship, and was =1st in the British U12. In April 1985, Adams took =1st in the British U18 championship, while in April 1987, he won the British U21 championship, repeating the latter feat in April 1988. In April 1987, he won the West of England championship.
<National>: He first won the British Championship in 1989, the same year he gained his GM title. He won it again in 1997, then twice more: British Championship (2010) and British Championships (2011), the last in a tiebreaker against Short. He also placed 2nd in the English championship of 1991.
<World>: Adams’ first foray in the World Championship cycle came in May 1990 at the age of 18 when he placed =2nd behind Murray Chandler at the English Zonal. This result qualified him for the Manila Interzonal held a few months later where he scored 7/13, missing by one point the cut for the Candidates, which was subsequently won by his compatriot, Nigel Short. Three years later, in 1993, he made another attempt, this time winning the English Zonal that was staged in Dublin with 9/11, qualifying for the Biel Interzonal. This time he qualified for the FIDE Candidates by placing equal =2nd (alongside seven others) with 8.5/11, a half point behind the winner, Boris Gelfand. Drawn to play Gelfand in the first round of the Candidates Matches, Adams lost by 5-3 (+1 -3 =4) in the best-of-8 match when he conceded the 8th game. Concurrent with these FIDE events, the PCA ran a parallel world championship cycle in which Adams participated. He won the 1993 Groningen PCA Qualifying Tournament to qualify for PCA Candidates matches. There he met and defeated Sergei Tiviakov in a long and gruelling set of classical time control tiebreaker pairs 7.5-6.5, before losing to Viswanathan Anand 1.5-5.5 in the semi final.
In 1997, Adams was seeded directly into the FIDE knock-out tournament to decide who would play the FIDE champion Anatoly Karpov. He won short matches against Giorgi Giorgadze, Tiviakov, Peter Svidler, Loek van Wely and Short before losing in the finals to the blitz play prowess of Anand. This effort qualified him for the FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament (1999) held in Las Vegas, where he defeated Mikhail Kobalia, Zoltan Almasi, Alexey Dreev, and Vladimir Kramnik in the early rounds, but fell to Vladimir Akopian in the semi-final by 2.5-0.5 (-2 =1). His result in the 1999 event again seeded him into the next championship tournament, the FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament (2000), where he again made it to the semi-finals after defeating Thien Hai Dao, Alex Yermolinsky, Svidler, and Topalov, before again falling to Anand, this time by 1.5-2.5 (-1 =3). Seeded directly into the FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament (2001), Adams this time started in round 1 where he beat Gaetan Sarthou by 2-0. He subsequently defeated Kobalia in round 2, and Vadim Zvjaginsev in round 3, before losing to Svidler in the rapid play tiebreakers of round 4.
In 2004 he made it to the final, this time of the FIDE World Championship Knockout Tournament (2004), where he played and eliminated Hussien Asabri, Karen Asrian, Hichem Hamdouchi, Hikaru Nakamura, Akopian, and Teimour Radjabov from the event. In the final, he lost 3½-4½, after the tiebreaks, to Rustam Kasimdzhanov of Uzbekistan. He was then invited to FIDE World Championship Tournament (2005), but only placed 7th out of 8, scoring 5.5/14. Nevertheless his participation at San Luis qualified him to play in the 2007 Candidates Tournament that was engineered to unify the world title that had been split since 1993, but he was eliminated in the first round of matches by Alexey Shirov in the rapid play tiebreaker 2.5-0.5 after drawing the best-of-six Candidates Match: Shirov - Adams (2007) 3-3.
This loss prompted Adams to exercise his right to qualify by rating to play in the World Chess Cup (2007), where he played and defeated Igor Zugic, Mikhail Gurevich and Zhou Jianchao in the preliminary rounds before encountering and losing to 17-year old rising star, Magnus Carlsen. Adams withdrew from the 2008-09 Grand Prix cycle* (along with Carlsen and Levon Aronian) and did not compete in the 2009 World Cup, but qualified for the World Cup (2011) via his ratings. He defeated Philippines GM Mark Paragua in the first round but lost the second round rapid game tiebreaker to Danish GM Peter Heine Nielsen. In a one-off appearance in the 2012-13 Grand Prix series at the FIDE Grand Prix London (2012), he scored 5/11 (+1 -2 =8) and 55 GP points for placing =7th/8th place. He qualified by rating to compete in the World Cup (2013), where he defeated Wan Yunguo in the first round but lost to Ukrainian GM Yuriy Kryvoruchko in the second round rapid game tiebreaker.
Adams’ first major open tournament victory was the 1988 Commonwealth Chess Championship (known that year as the Lloyds Bank Tournament), where he placed =1st with Gary W Lane who was then a British player, and one of Adams’s early coaches. There followed:
• =1st in the King’s Head All-Play-All in London in September 1988 and at Thessalonika in November 1988;
• 1st at the 1989 Paris Open, the Parkhall All-Play-All in Preston 1989, and the Harringay All-Play-All 1989 in London where he qualified for his GM title;
• =1st at the Lloyds Bank Tournament 1990 and at Groningen 1990;
• =1st first at the Terrassa Tournament 1991 in Spain;
• 1st at the 1992 Tilburg Interpolis Knockout tournament;
• 1st in the Villeneuve Open in France in 1993, and the Burgas Tournament in Bulgaria in 1993;
• =1st at the 1994 Donner Memorial in Amsterdam;
• 1st at the Kilkenny Masters in 1996 and 1997;
• =2nd in 1997 in the Aarhus Tournament in Denmark;
• 1st at the Frankfurt Masters in 2000;
• 1st at the Redbus knockout tournament in 2000 and 2001;
• 2nd at Enghien-les-Bains (2003) in France.
His 2nd place behind Ivan Sokolov at the Howard Staunton Memorial (2006) foreshadowed further success in this event, as he won the Staunton Memorial (2007) and the Howard Staunton Memorial (2008). Other good results include:
• 1st at the Ruy Lopez Chess Festival (2008);
• =3rd at the Canadian Open (2009);
• 2nd at the 2009 Ruy Lopez Memorial;
• =2nd at the 2010 Chicago Open; and
• 1st at the Gibraltar (2010) and the 2011 LA Metropolitan Chess International.
• =1st at the 39th World Open (2011) in Philadelphia, losing the tiebreaker to Gata Kamsky
• =3rd at the Tradewise Gibraltar (2012),
• =5th, a half point behind the leaders, at the Tradewise Gibraltar (2013);
• =4th at the category 20 Alekhine Memorial (2013);
• 1st at the Bunratty Masters (2012);
• outright 2nd with 9 points (+2 -1 =3 under the "soccer scoring" system) at the Bilbao Masters (2013), a point behind the winner Levon Aronian (+2 =4); and
• =2nd in the Unive Crown Group (2013).
Adams was a regular participant at Wijk aan Zee between 1991 and 2009. His first time at Wijk ann Zee was also his first participation in one of the ‘super-tournaments’. In 1991, he was invited to play at the category 14 Hoogovens tournament at Wijk aan Zee. There he performed well to place =2nd alongside Alexander Chernin, half a point behind the winner, John Nunn. Subsequently, his best efforts at Wijk aan Zee include =3rd at Game Collection: Wijk aan Zee Hoogovens 1998 alongside Shirov and behind Kramnik and Anand, =3rd alongside Alexander Morozevich and behind Evgeny Bareev and Alexander Grischuk at Game Collection: Wijk aan Zee Corus 2002, =2nd at Wijk aan Zee Corus (2004) alongside Peter Leko and half a point behind Anand, =4th at Corus Chess Tournament (2005), and =3rd at Corus Wijk aan Zee (2006) alongside Vassily Ivanchuk and behind Topalov and Anand.
Adams also participated in Dortmund from time to time between 1992 and 2006. His best results were 1994 (2nd), 1998 (=1st), 1999 (=3rd) and 2006 (=2nd, half point behind Svidler). His best results at Linares were =3rd in 1997 and 2002.
He was =1st at the 1995 Dos Hermanas Tournament alongside Kamsky and Karpov. However, his most notable tournament victory was at the category 19 Dos Hermanas (1999), finishing clearly ahead of Vladimir Kramnik, Anand, Svidler, Karpov, Topalov, and Judit Polgar. Another splendid result was his =2nd (also 2nd on tiebreak) behind Kasparov at the category 18 Sarajevo (2000).
His leader board results in super tournaments in recent years were =3rd at the London Chess Classic (2009), =3rd (4th on tiebreak) at the powerful London Chess Classic (2012), =3rd at the category 19 GRENKE Chess Classic (2013) and =4th with 4.5/9, a point behind the leaders, in the closely-fought Alekhine Memorial (2013).
Adams' best result so far, was his outright win with 7/9 (+5 =4) and a TPR of 2923 at the category 19 Dortmund (2013), half a point clear of 10-time Dortmund winner Kramnik; he and Kramnik dominated this event to the extent that only Arkadij Naiditsch and Peter Leko of the other eight contestants finished with an even result (4.5/9).
Rapid and Blitz tournaments:
Adams was an enthusiastic rapid and blitz player in the 1990s, and was ranked number 1 on FIDE’s Rapid List in January and July 2001. His best results during this time were:
• His England team winning the International Team Quickplay at Cannes in 1992;
• 1st at the Swift Rapid in Brussels 1992;
• 1st at the Quickplay Tournament, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, in 1994;
• 2nd at the 1994 Cap d'Adge Tournament;
• 1st at the Open & Rapid in Ischia in Italy in 1995;
• 1st at the PCA Quickplay in London in 1995;
• 1st at the Leeds Quickplay in 1995 and 1996;
• 1st at the Mind Sports Rapid in London in 1997; and
• 1st at the 2001 Mainz Rapid Open;
• semi-finalist at the Corsica Masters International Rapid (2005);
• semi-finalist in the London Chess Classic (Knockout) (2013); and
• =1st at the London Chess Classic 2014 Elite Player Blitz
Apart from the mini-matches that characterised each round of the FIDE world championship challenge tournament of 1997, the subsequent world championship knockout tournaments from 1999 until 2004, and the World Cup tournaments from 2005 onwards, Adams played a number of matches during his career, the most famous of which was the Adams - Hydra Match (2005), when he lost five games and drew one in the six-game match. Before then, he’d played a number of matches including:
• 1994: 2-2 draw vs Simen Agdestein in Oslo (1);
• 1997: 4.5-1.5 win against Ivan Morovic-Fernandez in Santiago de Chile (2);
• 1998: London Match vs. Jonathan Rowson which he won by 5-1 (3);
• 1999 match drawn 5-5 vs. Yasser Seirawan, played at Mermaid Beach in Bermuda (4);
• 2000: return match against Seirawan at Hamilton in Bermuda, won 6-3 by Adams; and
• 2005: rapid Leko & Adams (2005) match in Miskolc in Hungary, drawn 4-4.
Apart from his Candidates match against Shirov in 2007, Adams does not seem to have played another match.
National Team Events:
Since he was a teenager, Adams has been one of the stalwarts of the English team at the Olympiads and at the European Team Championship, and to a lesser extent at the World Team Championship.
<Olympiad>: Adams has represented England at every Olympiad since 1990 inclusive, playing board 1 since 1998. He picked up a team bronze in 1990 (although the team came =3rd in 1994 and 1996), an individual bronze for board 1 in 36th Olympiad (2004) and an individual silver for board 1 at the Chess Olympiad (2014).
<World Team Championship>: Adams represented England at the World Teams championship of 1989, and playing as first reserve, won individual bronze and helped his team to a bronze medal. He also won individual bronze playing board two at the only other World Teams Championship in which he participated in 1997, although on this occasion his team came fourth in the event.
<European Team Championship>: He first played in the ETC in 1989, and again in 1992, 1997, 2001, European Team Chess Championships (2007), 17th European Team Championship (2009), European Team Championship (2011), and European Team Championship (2013) winning team bronze in 1993, team bronze in 1997, and two individual golds, an individual silver and 3 individual bronzes over the course of these events, the most recent being individual gold on board 1 in 2011.
Clubs and Leagues:
<European Club Cup>: Adams has been a fixture in the European Club Cup (ECC) since 1993, playing 1993, from 1995-1998, 2000, 2002-2004, 2007-2012, and 2014. During that time he won six team gold medals, one team bronze medal, one individual gold medal and one individual silver medal. His overall game results in the ECC are a total of 86 games at 61.6%, resulting from +31 =44 -11.
He was recruited by the French team, Clichy Échecs 92, to play board 2 in 1993, but his inaugural experience in one of the strongest club competition in the world was inauspicious as he lost the only two games he played. He switched to ŠK Bosna Sarajevo in 1995, the Dutch team Panfox Breda in 1996 and the English Slough Chess Club in 1997 without making much of a mark in those years. However, his return to the Panfox Breda team in 1998 and 2000 saw the team winning gold and bronze respectively. In 2002 he played for ŠK Bosna Sarajevo, winning team gold, and also won team gold when he played for NAO Paris in 2003, 2004 and for the Spanish team CA Linex Magic Mérida (MMER) in 2007. He remained with the Magic in 2008, but then made a permanent move to OSG Baden-Baden in 2009 where he won an individual gold medal in his first year with that team.
<National Leagues/Club Championships>: Adams also played with the Spanish team Magic Mérida in the Spanish League, winning the championship in 2007 and 2009. Since the 1990s, he has also played in the Bundesliga, the French League/Top 16/Top 12, the Icelandic team championships, the Turkish League, the Dutch team championships, and the 4 Nations Chess League. He played top board for the winning team, Baden Baden, in the 2015 Bundesliga.
Rating and ranking:
Adams' highest ever rating was 2761 in September 2013 when he was ranked #12 in the world. His peaking ranking was #4 for the 9 months from 1 October 2000 until 30 June 2001 when his rating ranged between 2746 to 2754.
Adams lives in Taunton, Somerset with his wife, actress Tara MacGowran. He has one sibling, sister Janet, born 1970.
Sources and footnotes:
Adams’ official website: http://www.michaeladamschess.co.uk; Development of a Grandmaster by Bill and Michael Adams: [http://www.chessit.co.uk/temporary/...; * http://www.chessbase.com/newsdetail...; (1) search "adams-agdestein 1994"; (2) search "adams-morovic 1997"; (3) search "adams-rowson 1998"; (4) search "adams-seirawan 1999"
Live ratings: http://www.2700chess.com/
Last updated 13 April 2015