By Dusan Stojic.
In Round 7 of the Olympiad, the Australian Open team lost 3-1 to the stronger Polish side, while (more importantly!) our Women’s team crushed New Zealand 3.5-0.5.
Making GM Friends
Before I made my way to Crystal Hall, I had laundry-related issues to contend with, which meant I had to catch a taxi instead of the usual Olympiad bus. Which wasn’t a bad thing, as I ended up splitting a cab with GM Peter Heine Nielsen of Denmark and GM Viktorija Cmilyte of Lithuania.
Peter is here as captain of the Lithuanian Open team and Viktorija is Board 1 for the Lithuanian Women’s team. The (super-tall) couple had arrived on the rest day and are only here for the second half of the event. They were very nice to chat to.
Poland Too Strong
GM Max Illingworth and IM Anton Smirnov finished relatively early with draws, which left the top two boards, GM David Smerdon and GM Zong-Yuan Zhao. David seemed to be under pressure early, and fell into a bad endgame. Zong-Yuan had a promising position from a French Winawer, but went wrong and also found himself in a losing endgame. We went down 3-1.
15-year-old Anton Smirnov is doing very well so far in his GM-Norm hunt. He’s on 5/6 and his Performance Rating is 2704, well above the required 2550. (There are other technicalities, but I’m keeping it pretty simple.) This also puts him in fourth position on Board 4, just outside the “podium” (top 3 get medals). In any case, it’s still relatively early and we shouldn’t get carried away.
The Trans-Tasman Derby
The advantage our girls had over their Kiwi counterparts is depth. In Baku, New Zealand is lead by CM Helen Milliagan, a solid veteran, but the rest of their team is young and lacks experience. Our ladies won on boards 2-4 comfortably, and Board 1 was a draw. Click here for a quick interview by GM Susan Polgar.
India was the only team in the Open to win the first six games, but they were crushed 3.5-0.5 by USA, who are now in the lead with six wins and a draw. The most entertaining game was on board 4, where GM Sam Shankland’s king had a ridiculous position on d3 in the middlegame. GM Sethuraman S.P. missed many wins, including 33…Nxe3, and if 34.Kxe3, Bxf4+. In the end, Shankland managed to swap off some pieces and the king made 18 moves for the game.