Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The 40th Chess Olympiad Starts

Yesterday, the first round of the 40th Chess Olympiad in Istanbul took place. There were the usual glitches in transmission, which meant that I didn't get to see any of the games live before I had to sleep. The live site is full of clerical errors, but taking that aside, it seems pretty good coverage. There's a good photo gallery, video coverage from chessTV (who covered the Anand-Gelfand World Championship match), and a great live games display (though the pgn download seems a bit dodgy at the moment....actually, I take that back, the pgn has just downloaded!). To be honest, I'm pretty happy with the coverage so far. It isn't perfect, but it's definitely better than before!

Anyway, the Australian teams started well. The men's team got off to a winning start with a 3-1 victory over Namibia while the Women beat Malta 4-0.  For me the most pleasing thing about these matches were the team compositions as both teams rested their top player. This meant that the men's team had young IM Moulton Ly on board 1, while the women had young WIM Emma Guo on top board. It is a huge responsibility being board 1 for your country (not that I would know about that, but I'm guessing) so I applaud the team captain's, Manual Weeks and Ian Rogers for throwing these youngsters in at the deep end. Apparently, Moulton was in trouble in his game but came through which will do wonders for his confidence.

My country of birth, England were a little unlucky with their first round opponents. Andorra are a team with 1 strong player and a bunch of not so strong player. GM de la Riva on top board may just find himself with a few easy games later in the tournament as the rest of the Andorra team try to help him score some points. Likewise, in round 2 the top pairing sees a potentially awkward pairing for Ukraine who face Qatar with 2 2500+ GM's on the top 2 boards. While this shouldn't really put any problems for the mighty Ukraine team, it is still tough to beat GM's to order. And if all games went to seeding we wouldn't have had the upsets which make the Olympiad so great...such as Russia's Tomashevsky (2730) being held to a draw by William Puntier (2312) of the Dominican Republic. Of course, this wasn't the only upset, but it is always good to see the favourites humbled.

Anyway, congratulations to the Australian teams and good luck today. The men have a tough fight against Norway (who are without Magnus Carlsen, but still pretty solid), while the women have a huge battle against one of the tournament favourites India. And good luck tot he under 16 teams who start their campaigns today. Here are the Australian games from round 1.

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