Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Winning Start at the Youth Olympiad

Congratulations to both Australian teams at the World Youth Under 16 Olympiad. The Australia A-team is pretty strong with 2 IM's, Bobby Cheng and Ari Dale in the team. They came through a tough first round game against an unknown (and probably under rated Chinese team) to win 3-1 with no losses. Australia is also fielding a second team, which is also quite strong, led by rapidly improving, and in form Michael Chan. Michael has benefited from being a member of the ultra strong Noble Park Chess Club in Melbourne where he regularly gets competition against 2200+ strength opposition. The b-team also won 3-1 and now both teams will be up among the top boards for round 2, with the b-team playing the top seeds, Russia, while the a-team have an ashes clash against England's b-team. The tournament is 10 rounds and decided by match points so the next couple of rounds should see a big sorting out before the top teams come into contact and the fight for the medals begins for real.

I haven't seen any games yet by the Aussies, but the b-team will be on the live boards later today against Russia. While a daunting task for the young Aussies, they should consider the match a test of their current strength and see just how close they are to the highly rated Russian team. Being a fringe country to a large extent, Australian ratings tend to be a little under value, and with juniors it is impossible to gauge their strength until they reach a level. Now the Australian b-team are on average 400+ FIDE rating points behind their Russia rivals, but I know that the young Australian players can all play considerably above their published ratings. On the other hand, the Australian A-team must avoid complacency against England-B as the same sort of issues are at play, though it is the Aussies who are considerably higher rated than their English opponents.

Good luck to all the Aussie players today, and hopefully we'll start to get some games published soon.

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