It's turn around day for my interests in chess. I have been following the exploits of the Australian teams at the World Youth Olympiad in China for the past week or so. Today was the last round, and Australia 1 had a slight chance of picking up a medal if they won their match, and other results went their way. The only issue was that they had to overcome top seed Russia. The Australians gave it a very good shot, but in the end the Russian team, featuring a squad rated averagely above 2400, proved just strong enough winning the match by the closest of margins, 2.5-1.5. However, this left the Aussies in a disappointing 10th place (=9th). The event was dominated by India who started as the number 2 seeds, but in the end proved the only unbeatable team in the tournament. Second were Russia, and equal third were Turkey and Hungary.
Australia fielded 2 teams and the second team started from a middle ranking. Unfortunately this put them in the line of the host nation's mass of teams. China fielded over 40 teams, and some of the international countries had little chance to play anyone other than Chinese teams. Australia 2 were one of these. Despite this, the team did pretty well finishing in a bunch in the mid 30's out of a total of 72 teams. Reading the reports of team coach Ian Rogers on the chesschat forum, I couldn't help but feel his exasperation at this situation with the huge number of Chinese teams. Ian is a respected journalist, and not scared to speak his mind, so I will be keeping my ears open for his analysis of the tournament.
Individually, there was quite some success for the young Australians. Ari Dale secured an individual Silver medal on board 4 for the 1st team scoring an excellent 6.5/9. Bobby Cheng managed the same score on board 1 for the 1st team, a tremendous performance and finishing 5th best board 1! Yi Liu scored 5/8 on board 5 (finishing 5th), Anton Smirnov, playing well above his age bracket scored 4/8 on board 2 (11th), and Justin Tan 2/6 on board 3 (9th). The second team also had great performances, the highlights being Jack Puccini's 6.5/8 (15th) on board 3 and Zach Loh's 5.5/9 on board 2 (23rd).
And so my attentions immediately shifts from China to England, where the 100th British Chess Championships start today. Actually, there have already been some warm up events such as a 14 board simul given by GM Nick Pert, and an hour long bullet match between GM Keith Arkell and IM Gary Lane. I don't know what the final score was here, but I do know that Keith is an unbelievably strong fast player. There are some events that take place in the mornings and these will also have started, but the main opening ceremony is set for about 2 hours time, and the main championship will start about 30 minutes after that. For followers here in Australia, the games are starting about 11.30 pm. Shame for me, as I would have liked to have followed the events live. Never mind, I'll just catch up on the action the next day.
Now you'd think that a tournament without Michael Adams (leading in Dortmund so GB can hardly complain about his absence), Nigel Short, Luke McShane and Matthew Sadler could be considered a let down, but really this is looking like a pretty good championships. A grand total of 13 GM's have entered out of a field of over 100. I'm glad to say there are a few names I remember, but it is also heartening to see many new players reaching this level. While I would wish everyone good luck, it is with the proviso that we all like to see a good upset once in a while!
Now that's a lot of writing with no chess. So, I noticed that Aussie GM David Smerdon is playing the Politiken Cup in Denmark that started a couple of days ago and has started with 3/3. The tournament has some other interesting characters, notably legends of the board, Lajos Portisch and Jan Timman. Now they might not be as great now as they once were, but I'd love to be sat in the same tournament as them! Timman finished his game yesterday pretty quickly! His opponent somewhat imploded at the end!