Monday, August 4, 2014

Olympiad Coverage

Day 2 of the event and there were still a lot of mismatches. That didn't stop there being some amazing upsets, but they were few and far between. Most notably, Ivanchuk lost to the board 1 of Norway's second team, and the Ukraine who are seeded second in the event were held to a draw. The teams that I'm following seemed to put in good performances. England won their match comfortably against Singapore, while Australia kept defending champions Armenia to a 3-1 scoreline. Sensational results by David Smerdon who held world number 2 Aronian to a draw, and Max Illingworth who held Sergi Movsesian to a draw were outstanding efforts. In fact all the Australians put in good performances but were outrated by 200+ points per board.

Lower down the field, Hong Kong managed a 2-2 draw with Afghanistan and Bhutan scored a half point against a pretty solid Trinidad and Tobago side. Unfortunately, all the island teams from close to Australia went down 4-0. That is Palau, Solomon Islands, and Fiji. The pairings will start to bring sides closer to their own levels from the next round, though, so it will start to get more competitive across the matches. My own favourite result of the round came from the board 1 match between Seychelles and Romania. Seychelles had scored an excellent 4-0 first round win against the GM led Turkmenistan team. In reality, Turkmenistan had failed to show, and the Seychelles found themselves in unusual territory. However, their board 1, Peter Meier rated 2039 stepped up to the plate against Romania's top board, 2626 rated GM Constantin Lupulescu, and came away with a draw. In fact, the game had looked good for Meier earlier, and in the end Lupulescu forced a repetition to hold the game.

Lupulescu as black is faced with a number for threats around his king with Qxh4+ or Nf7+ with Qxg6+ to follow being the major threats. The Rumanian player bailed out with the perpetual 35..Nf1+ 36.Kh1 Ng3+ 37.Kh2 and Peter Meier came away with a draw against a player 600 points his senior!

In the meantime, perhaps the game of the round was the all GM Fried Liver battle between Shirov and Sulskis.
Now I seem to remember an article in New in Chess a few years ago suggesting 11..Qh4 as an attempt to improve black's play. Sulskis played the sensible looking 11..Kd6 getting out of the discovered check, but after 12.d4 he soon found his king facing a typical Shirov onslaught. To be honest, I'm not sure what black was thinking allowing the Fried Liver against one of the most creative attacking players of our times. Anyway, here's the game.

Finally, here's some other places to follow the Olympiad. The coverage is truly excellent with chess24 and TWIC providing superb coverage of games and news. Facebook and Twitter are full of photo's and news from people on the scene but I'm following the blogs of Kerry Stead, Shaun Press, and David Smerdon. Of course, these all have a typically Australian flavour to them, and I'll be looking for blogs from players and visitors from other countries too.

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