By Dusan Stojic.
Days 5 and 6 recap.
In round 5 of the Olympiad, the Australian team in the Open section defeated Albania 3:1 while our team in the Women’s section lost 0.5:3.5. In this “special”, I’ll recount the moments that made Round 5, the (in)famous Bermuda Party that followed and the Rest Day.
Our Open team (below) had just over 100 rating points on each board, making this an uneven, though not foregone, match-up.
GM Max Illingworth was the first to finish. He fell into a bad position after an English skirmish, and had to settle for a repetition after just 22 moves. GM Zong-Yuan Zhao had a brilliant win from a Benoni, after his opponent made some strategic errors. Queenslanders GM David Smerdon and GM-elect Moulthun Ly were the last to finish. David’s game fizzled out to a draw and Moulthun, once again, employed fine technique to squeeze out an endgame win.
The women’s team (below) were once again matched up with a tough opponent, Colombia. The girls didn’t recover from their loss against Poland, and unfortunately they weren’t at their best. Once again, the last to finish was Gladstone-based WIM Heather Richards. Heather was clearly worse for most of the game, and had a lost R+2P v R endgame. However, she kept setting her opponent difficulties to solve until finally, she earned the draw.
Twists of Fate
Ukraine, fresh from their victory over Russia, overcame the defending champions China 2.5-1.5. Netherlands also won 2.5-1.5, against Belarus.In the heavily-anticipated match-up Azerbaijan-India, India stunned the locals 3-1. GMs Pantela Harikrishna and Vidit Santosh Gujrathi both won the games relatively quickly. Susan Polgar conducted an interview (photo below) immediately after their games, and you can watch it here
New Zealand (below) were dealt a heavy blow, going down 1.5-2.5 to lower-rated Nicaragua. A typical feature of the Olympiads is the swift change of fortune: just 24 hours prior, the Kiwis nearly toppled the strong Danish team.
The Muzychuk sisters won their games, and gave Ukraine a 3-1 victory over Serbia, as well as the lead in the Women’s section. They were joined by Russia, who won comfortably 3.5-0.5 against Kazakhstan.
The Azeri girls continued their inspired charge, triumphing over Germany 3-1. Vietnam surprised some, holding India to 2-2.
Further down the Women’s draw, the British derby between Scotland and Wales ended in a tie, while New Zealand won the Oceanic battle against Fiji 4-0.
Above – Former Sydney junior talent, Raymond Song on board 1 for Chinese Taipei.
The Bermuda Party
Later that night was the fabled Bermuda Party, where traditionally GMs and all players of the Olympiad congregate to let their hair down before the rest day. The event was made famous by the “Gormallygate” of the 2006 Olympiad in Turin, where fists were thrown over Australia’s WIM Arianne Caoili.
There were three halls: club, chill out and jazz, each with live music. I spent most of the night hanging out with the Aussies in the “Chill Out” section, as it was more quiet than the loud doof-doof house music and a bit more lively than the Jazz.
There were grandmasters’ dance-offs, with a lot of drinking. At one point, four half-naked dancers were hoisted up the bar tables and performed a fire-breathing routine. A treat for some of the stressed chess masters.
Some of us didn’t actually stay too long, and the party went on well into the morning of the rest day. All of the Aussies made it back safely.
And there it is, the holy grail of my Olympiad experience, a selfie with Magnus! I can go back to Australia with a sense of achievement. (See my desperate hunt in Day 0
and Day 1
Day of Rest
The rest day was mostly just that for the Aussies, after a tiring five rounds and the Bermuda Party. Some of the contingent went for a walk to the Old Town, others to the Boulevard.
We had a team outing for dinner at a Russian restaurant, where we were grateful to have Anton as the interpreter.
In Round 6 of the Olympiad, the Open team won 2.5-1.5 against Brazil, their first win against a higher-ranked opponent. The Women’s team bounced back from a couple of tough losses and defeated Trinidad and Tobago 3-1.
Back to Crystal Hall
After a nice rest day, following the Bermuda Party, it was time to get back into the usual swing of things. From this point on, there are six rounds, one per day, for the next six days. Day 7 followed a familiar pattern, revolving around buffets and game prep, before hopping onto the police-escorted bus.
WIM Heather Richards won a quick game in the Pirc. Have a look at the attack starting from 12.Nxe5. And work out why can’t Black take 12…Qxe5.
The girls were off to a good start, and WIM Alexandra Jule and WIM Emma Guo also won their games convincingly. WIM Biljana Dekic fell into a slightly inferior endgame (R+N v R+B) and eventually her opponent managed to win.
3-1 is the closest result so far for our Women’s team. and so far we’ve had these scores: 4-0, 0-4, 4-0, 0-4, 0.5-3.5, 3-1. In the games to follow, we can anticipate some closer matches as the field starts to level out.
GM David Smerdon had an interesting game against Brazil’s Board 1 from an unusual line of the Queen’s Gambit Accepted. Watching from the Press Room, I started to feel optimistic about David’s chances around move 24. By that stage, Anton was winning, Moulthun was losing and Zong-Yuan seemed better.
And David’s game was the last to finish, and proved decisive. We won the match 2.5-1.5. A huge result! The Open team has won 4 matches and lost 2.
At the top, India took a lead after defeating Netherlands with a win by GM Adhiban. USA slowed down Ukraine’s charge, with GM Fabiano Caruana winning against GM Pavel Eljanov. Russia and China have both won, as they desperately try to catch up.
In the Women’s, we’ve had draws in the top four match-ups: Ukraine-Russia, Romania-China, Kazakhstan-Hungary, Georgia-Azerbaijan.
Winding Down and Winding Around
The Aussies went out for some cocktails at the Hilton’s rooftop bar, which features 360-views of the city. Below you can see the Aussie boys with some locals, and a selfie with world #2 Fabiano Caruana of USA.
Australia is up against Poland in the Open. It’s a very tough match-up, in which we go in with nothing to lose.
In the Women’s, we’re up against New Zealand. This is surely the most important match-up this Olympiad. Bragging rights are at stake.