I haven't been writing here for a while which was a bit of a surprise, because just before I stopped I had a sharp increase in viewers, about an extra 5000 a day from Russia. Anyway, I've given those new guys (and bots) time to go through my blog, so I'll start posting again now. And it is a great time to be posting. Spring is rapidly coming to Melbourne, the chess Olympiad is in full swing and I'm sat outside a cafe, with a long black and an almond croissant (not good for my chances of avoiding diabetes but what the hell, it looked too good!), with Donald Trump continuing to lag in the opinion polls.
I've got quite a bit of catching up to do, especially about chess. Since I last wrote, there has been a venue found for the World Championship in New York, and Wesley So won his first super elite event in St Louis. But the chess focus has all been on the Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan. My first thought goes out to the poor Armenian team who are not playing for political reasons, and while I can sympathise with Azerbaijan wanting to host, FIDE really should be responsible for finding a venue that everybody is at least capable of playing at. My second thought is that the coverage of the event is really very good this time round. Partnering with chess24 was a good move, and the live game feed has been excellent. As for the chess, I really only need to look at one game now.
In the 4th round, Australian GM David Smerdon drew with the current World Champion Magnus Carlsen! The Aussie teams have been doing ok up to now, but hopefully this result will give them the self belief to go to bigger and better things
David is white in the position above and he sees a chance to guarantee a draw against the World Champion. I wonder how many people would have taken this opportunity if they'd seen it? A definite draw against Magnus Carlsen! The game continued 21.Rg1 h6 22.Rxg5 hxg5 23,Bh7+ Kh8 24.Bd3+ with a perpetual check. A fantastic result for Australian chess and David Smerdon in particular.
Of course, we could be harsh on David. I wonder if he'd have taken that draw if he was playing me, for example! Knowing David's combative spirit, I'm sure against almost anyone else, and perhaps not in a team event when your result effects other people, he would certainly have tried for more. But in the circumstances, this was the absolute correct decision by David for himself and the team. I'm unbelievably happy for him, and it takes quite a bit in chess to move me much these days.
There is an interview with David here. (I'll admit, I haven't seen it yet, but will do so straight after posting this) And the best place for Aussies, and others for that matter, to follow the Olympiad is FM Dusan's Stojic's excellent blog about the event. Dusan, if you're reading this, you should be blogging all the time, your writing, and your points of interest are excellent! All the best to you and Alex in Baku!
I promise that I'll write more again now. Besides chess, I want to write more about coffee (the one I just had was good, but not excellent, though the almond croissant is among the best I've had in Melbourne), and I'll be writing about travel too, as I'm heading off to Singapore soon. And to my newly found Russian readers, I hope you enjoy my chess writings, my travel writings and my anti-Trump and anti-Brexit political views!