Friday, September 7, 2012

Olympiad heating up

It's just my luck that on such a dramatic day at the Olympiad as yesterday, I should feel ill and not be able to follow any of the action. Saying that, with the time difference here in Australia, I'd have been in bed before all the main action really would have happened. While it's frustrating to have to go to bed half way through a game that you've become engrossed in, I suppose if I was still living in England, then I'd be working while the games were happening.

Australia at the Olympiad:

The Australian men's team have done us proud. Their starting position was 61, but they are currently in 47th place having had a string of good results. In round 8 they beat Ireland with nice wins from Solomon and Illingworth, while they drew with the team from Tajikistan in round 9, though this could have been an even better result had David Smerdon not lost on time in a good position. David's Facebook post says it all:

"Losing on time on move forty when your 2600+ opponent is about to resign...

Wine. Lots of wine." - D. Smerdon

The men should be pretty happy with the way things have gone though. Max Illingworth has been a star on board 4, while the rest of the team (except Alex Wohl who has been having a forgettable tournament and sounds as if he is feeling guilty about it to the team) have been playing respectably well. 

In my opinion, the women have had a tough time of it. They have had some tough pairings for their position, and have done well to stay around the 50th position in which they started. Tonight is another example where the women have a really tough draw against Argentina who are the second highest seeded team in that score group, while Australia are also in the top half of that score group according to seeding. Likewise they got a very tough draw against number 10 seeds Romania earlier in the tournament. Saying that, the women are doing ok, and have all had their moments.

The under 16's will be a little disappointed, though they shouldn't be. Our top team finished in 8th place from a starting rank of 5th. However, in the last round Australia lost to India by 2.5-1.5, while if they would have won 3-1 they would have gained the bronze medals, which shows how close the event was. Australia fielded 3 teams, the other 2 finishing 25th and 30th. It will have been great experience for these kids, and especially working with a Grandmaster coach like David Arutinian.

This amazing video from Chessvibes captures the drama at the end of the big match USA-Russia.

Of course, the main news of the Olympiad was Russia's loss to the American team. With the Russian's seemingly coasting they came up against a team that can be unpredictable. Obviously the USA are strong but they can sometimes disappoint and they can sometimes amaze. Yesterday they amazed, and all the talk on the social networks is of Nakamura's underpromotion. I've felt so ill today that I haven't actually checked it out yet! So USA pull level with Russia, and they are both joined by China and Armenia. The match up of USA-China is an intriguing one where I expect little compromise. These teams play to win, and if they lose it's usually because they push too hard! Meanwhile Russia drop down to play Argentina while Armenia face a resurgent Netherlands. Since Anish Giri arrived the Dutch have turned their Olympiad around and are on the verge on a great result. Giri-Aronian on board 1 is a mouth watering encounter!

In the women's tournament, China hold a 1 point lead from Russia, with a chasing pack a further point down. Having played many of their closest rivals already China face 22 seeds Kazakhstan, while the Russians have a much harder task against Armenia.

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