Olympiad 2014

Matches in the 41st Chess Olympiad began on Saturday 2 August. Follow the action live on https://chess24.com/en/olympiad2014/live


Results summary

Open results in chronological order: 4-0 loss to England; 3.5-0.5 win against Tanzania; 0.5-3.5 loss to the United Arab Emirates;  3-1 loss to Bolivia;  3.5-0.5 win against Aruba; 1-3 loss to Albania; 3.5-0.5 win against Brunei; 2.5 - 1.5 win against South Korea; 1.5-2.5 loss to Tunisia; 3-1 win against Cameroon; 1.5-2.5 loss to Ireland Final standing: 105


Women's results in chronological order: 4-0 win against Sudan; 4-0 loss to Indonesia;  2.5-1.5 win against Egypt; 4-0 loss to the USA; 3.5 - 0.5 win against The Dominican Republic; 3 - 1 loss to Uzbekistan; 3-1 win against Luxembourg;  2-2 draw with Moldova; 4-0 loss to Lithuania; 3.5-0.5 win against Finland; 3-1 loss to England Final standing: 69


Tom Brown's game of the day

Non-playing captain of the open team, Tom Brown, offers his thoughts via a YouTube Video lasting about 10 minutes. 

 He has selected the following games (click on the link to open the video):

Round 1: Tim Kett vs Nigel Short

Round 2: Nassuji Nurdin vs David Jameson

Round 3: Jane Richmond vs Mona Khaled

Round 4: Jonny Cueto vs David Sands

Round 5: Jose Pesqueria vs Francis Rayner

Round 6: Dritan Mehmeti vs Tim Kett

Rounds 7 & 8: Round up of all games

Round 9: Amdouni Zoubaier vs Richard Jones

Round 10: John Agbor vs Tim Kett

Round 11: Richard Jones vs Alexander Baburin


Report on the Women's matches

by Ed Wang

Unlike Istanbul in 2012, (and perhaps a reflection of the relatively limited number of flights from the UK), the majority of the team (Jane, Liv, Lynda, Alyssa and coach/captain Carl) arrived in Tromso on the same flight mid-evening of the 31st July. The only member missing was Suzy, who would arrive later in the tournament in the evening of day 2. This was not a strategy to confuse the opposition (even if it happened to do so), but just that Suzy couldn’t make it any earlier.


The most surprising thing to get used to was the fact it was still broad daylight at 11 pm (and actually even at 2 am), so even though we arrived too late for the organized dinner and had to find a restaurant serving after 10 pm, it felt like it was late afternoon. Fortunately, the curtains were good in the hotel rooms, so getting to sleep did not prove to be a problem. Writing this during the first rest day (ie. day 6), the food has been excellent all week, especially if one likes salmon in various forms from baked, to smoked or cured, while the waffle machine at breakfast has been really popular. For the more adventurous, there has been whale on the menu!


The playing hall was only 5 minutes walk and in general, Tromso feels very relaxed and safe. The only negatives have been expense (yes, Norway really is as expensive as they say – every dish at the local Indian restaurant costs £25!! - luckily full board has been provided to the players), the toilets in the playing hall (I won’t go into details but things got better after the first day) and the long period between lunch ending (~1 pm) and dinner starting (7:30 pm). The latter combined with the shorter time controls left quite a few players feeling very hungry by early evening, though it did give lots of opportunity to go through games.


But what about the chess?



Unusually for the Olympiad, the Welsh Women’s Team’s seeding meant they were at the bottom of the top half of the draw (rather than the normal top of the bottom half). One place lower and we would have received a bye; 2 places and a match against the no 1 seeds China beckoned. Instead, Wales were paired against the 134th seeds, Sudan. For those following the live games, confusion reigned as the organizers firstly put Wales on the wrong colour, then switching the players round on the table without changing their names on the live boards (so the results that came through were on the opposite colour in reverse board order!). As it happened, Alyssa’s opponent (not Jane) dropped a piece on move 12, while Liv and Lynda played opposite colours of the same Sicilian Dragon opening for the first 4 moves making it difficult even for those who knew their openings to differentiate between them. Luckily, this was all sorted out afterwards and the Welsh team started with wins on all boards.





The victory in round 1 meant a tough pairing was likely and so it proved, with Wales being drawn against Indonesia, the 23rd seeds. The Indonesian players were early 20s or younger, consisted of 2 WGMs, 1 WIM and 2 WFMs and outgraded the Welsh women by over 300 ELO points on every board. Jane played a Ruy Lopez modern Steinitz and competed well with her 2400 opponent before being outplayed late in the game. Liv met a French Tarrasch but was caught in a strong kingside attack. Lynda played a Sicilian Dragon but was met with Bc4 on move 3. The game eventually led to a rook and 2 minor piece endgame in which she came off worse. Alyssa played the fianchetto variation against the King’s Indian and gave herself a +1.5 lead by move 25 but opened up the kingside too early, losing the advantage. With time running short and a pawn down, she misplayed an opposite coloured bishop endgame and succumbed.





Round 3 saw Suzy arrive and so Alyssa was given a rest day. While Alyssa and I walked the 2 miles to the cable car for stunning views over Tromso, Jane, Liv, Suzy & Lynda played their first closely matched opponents, Egypt, seeded 59th. Lynda played a Leningrad Dutch before launching simultaneous attacks on both wings to generate a decisive advantage. Suzy started with a London system but with both sides choosing not to castle. This led to attacking play from both players, but Suzy eventually came off worse. Liv’s first outing as black was a Petrov Nimzovitch. The game was evenly matched throughout eventually leading to a drawn rook and pawn endgame. It was up to Jane, whose opponent chose the Cozio defence variation of the Ruy Lopez. Getting control of the d file, Jane won c and e pawns and saw her advantage home – a closely contested win for Wales and a great first 3 rounds for the Women’s team.


WALES 2.5 – EGYPT 1.5



The victory in round 3 meant an even tougher pairing (and probably one of the highest ranked teams any Welsh team has ever had to face at Olympiads) – the 7th seeds, USA, boasting a GM, IM and 3 WGMs in their team. Alyssa was the first to succumb, making an error with too early an e5 push in a QGD that lost the centre. Liv played a closed Catalan but conceded the 7th rank to her opponent’s rooks as the game opened up. Suzy chose a Torre but was undone by a marauding queen. Jane played an inspired push French on white and had developed a +2 lead by move 15 against her illustrious GM opponent Irina Krush. This even received coverage on the internet Olympiad channel with comments by Micky Adams. However, Jane couldn’t quite capitalize on her advantage, eventually being outplayed in a queen and rook middle game.





Another rest day for Alyssa – this time we just lazed around watching the Olympiad games and the final day of the Glorney Gilbert Cup. Congratulations to England on a clean sweep, but they got a really good run for their money, especially from the Welsh girls in the Gilbert who were all aged 12 or under! At the Olympiad, Wales were playing the 90th seeds, the Dominican Republic. Liv finished first, opening with a c3 Sicilian and inducing a resignation when a knight combination won her opponent’s queen. Lynda played a French Chigorin – her opponent played solidly throughout gradually swapping off pieces into a drawn queen and pawn endgame. Suzy played black in an exchange Grunfeld. When the queen’s came off, Suzy played an inspired e pawn sacrifice for greater activity that eventually won the exchange and the game. Jane played against the Bishop’s Opening Berlin. After some probing, her opponent let Jane’s knights in on f4 that led to the winning of a rook.






The first rest day arrived, but so had hangovers after the Bermuda party (only over 18s allowed so Alyssa and I didn’t attend that!) and bad weather. There had been thunderstorms the night before and more were forecast for the afternoon. Tim took charge and organized us, so that most of both Welsh teams went to the cable car immediately after lunch. I was too lazy to walk the 2 miles again and took the bus J. The timing was perfect as the rain only came mid-afternoon after the Welsh contingent had returned, but it caught a few of the England team out! Refreshed from the clear air and panoramic views, everyone was keen to re-engage on the chess front.



Round 6 saw the Welsh Women’s team paired against Uzbekistan. These opponents, seeded 46th, were not so far ahead of us that it felt like it would be a totally uphill struggle, so Carl chose the strongest top 4 boards against them. I took Alyssa on a 9 mile sea kayaking trek in misty rain along Nordfjord. My mistake was taking a double kayak – Alyssa found it much more entertaining testing the effect of  drag (ie. hands in the water) on kayaks rather than paddling herself! The guide also runs dog-sleds, so we took the opportunity to play with 64 huskies while the team fought against the Uzbeks over 64 squares. Today, Suzy finished first, playing a Queen’s pawn game and opting to attack on the kingside after opening up the g file. Her opponent, however, found strong counterplay eventually securing a winning attack down the f file. Lynda’s opponent chose to play an anti-Sicilian with 2. d3. Lynda’s response was also an attacking one, castling queenside and opening the g file, but her opponent’s queenside attack proved faster. Both Jane and Liv, playing a closed Sicilian and QGD Lasker respectively, gained an advantage in the middle game through controlled queenside play, but their opponents managed to swap off pieces into drawn endgames. Half the Women’s team decided to commiserate with Richard Jones and have an unhealthy meal at the most northerly and probably most expensive Burger King in the world!





The loss in round 6 meant a slightly easier pairing against the well-matched 70th seeds, Luxembourg. Alyssa was brought back into the team in place of Lynda following 2 rest days on either side of the official rest day. Carl’s conversation with the Luxembourg coach showed how fickle a game chess is. At the time, they agreed that it looked like Wales were comfortably leading on all boards, but after another 20 minutes, Jane had drawn and Alyssa was losing with the other 2 boards undecided, but this wasn’t the whole story or the final twist. Playing a push French on black, Jane had outplayed her WIM opponent, who swindled a draw with a rook sacrifice that let her queen in for a perpetual. Alyssa had controlled her game throughout, steadily advancing and developing a passed central pawn. However, she misjudged the effectiveness of an f pawn advance that led to masses of counterplay. With both players in time trouble, Alyssa went on a last ditch attack that her opponent defended inaccurately, allowing Alyssa to sacrifice her queen for a win. Fortunately for Carl’s stress levels, Liv’s position was never down following a Four Knight’s Scotch opening on white, after which she won a pawn and then outplayed her opponent in a rook and pawn endgame. Suzy also was a pawn up after a push French, but settled for a draw in a difficult rook and opposite coloured bishop endgame.





The seesawing nature of Olympiads continued, with a pairing against the 44th seeded Moldovans. Carl opted for a full strength team, which allowed Alyssa and I to visit the central lake in Tromso, followed by a pizza lunch and watching the chess unfold in the afternoon. As predicted by the seedings, the match was closely fought. Suzy opened with a closed English, but was caught by a rapid push down the f file. Lynda faced c4 with a Leningrad Dutch and outplayed her opponent for much of the match with some outstanding attacking chess, but her opponent found some last resort, bishop sacking counterplay at the death to take the game. This left Jane and Liv to fight it out for Wales against WIM and IM opposition. Jane chose another push French before squeezing play out of her opponent on the queenside and forcing a mate on the kingside. This time, Liv played the Four Knights on black. Having opened up the f file, she developed a decisive attack with doubled rooks and queen to force the win.





The draw in round 8 meant we had interrupted the seesawing, instead giving us consecutive highly seeded opposition. Searching for recent games, it was very apparent that the whole Lithuanian team (seeded 36th) played a LOT of highly competitive chess and in the end, this probably made the difference at the critical moments when decisions had to be made under time pressure. Alyssa was drafted back into the team and played her first Caro Kann of the tournament. Having found the right moves to equalize in a variation that forewent castling, her own attack left weaknesses that her opponent exploited and as the time control approached, she could not find the best defenses. Jane played a Sicilian Rossolimo that led to a complex double rook, bishop and 8 pawn middle game. Her opponent eventually broke through playing an exchange sack for a decisive advantage. Liv faced a Bishop’s opening, launching an encouraging kingside attack that exchanged 2 pieces for a rook and pawn. However, her opponent’s remaining bishop pair proved too strong as the game progressed. Suzy opened for a second time with an English. She was equal for ~40 moves before her opponent established a positional advantage that allowed a kingside attack that won an exchange.





The loss meant easier opposition for the penultimate round, the closely matched (seeded 76th) but likely very confident Finland, who were coming off 5 unbeaten rounds (4 wins and a draw). Lynda came back into the team for Alyssa as Wales pushed for as high a score as possible. This turned out to be a mammoth match with all the games exceeding 4 hours. Lynda’s game was the first to finish though it was edgy throughout, as a French King’s Indian led to both queens under threat of being trapped. Lynda succeeded in swapping her opponent’s queen for a rook and a bishop, but then had to play cautiously against very active minor pieces. The queen eventually made the difference when her mobility won an additional knight. Liv played a Reti King’s Indian that swapped down into a minor piece endgame. Liv’s pair of bishops won a pawn but she agreed a draw to seal a win for the team. Liv had been keeping an eye on Suzy’s game, which although it lasted longer, had been won for some time. Suzy had opened with a French that then transposed into a closed Sicilian Dragon. A queenside attack had then left her opponent in a rook and minor piece endgame with no activity and nowhere for her pieces to go – a great display of controlled chess. Jane finished last having played black in an exchange French. She won her game by sheer determination. Having chased Jane’s king from a kingside castled position to the queenside, her opponent made an unsound rook sacrifice (probably just out of pure frustration!), giving Jane the advantage and the game.





While there had been plans to have a picnic by the lake, these were scuppered by a second round of bad weather. This was particularly unlucky considering it had been sunny for nearly every of the last 5 days! Instead, Jane went to watch Magic in the Moonlight (which unfortunately was not that magical), while the rest of the team went to the local swimming pool. Piggy in the middle was a bit unfair when Liv was the piggy (you’ll understand why if you know the height of the different team members ;-). Liv and Suzy also had their Olympiad swim off: a race of 2 lengths for Liv versus 1 for Suzy. Liv won – she really is that fast a swimmer! The rest of the day was spent contemplating our final round pairing….



The final day and a final contest against the old enemy! Unfortunately, England were seeded 28 places above Wales in 39th place and therefore outgraded us by some way. Jane chose to play a Black Knights Tango and came out of the opening equal against Jovanka, but lost an exchange in the middle game. Liv opted for the 2 Knights variation of the Caro Kann and threw her kingside pawns forward, but this left her queenside exposed, eventually succumbing to strong attacking play on that flank. Suzy decided on a Queen’s Indian Capablanca against Akshaya. Sacrificing her a pawn, Suzy didn’t manage to obtain as much counterplay as was desired and the game swapped into a drawn rook and pawn endgame. Lynda played the exchange variation of the Ruy Lopez on white, bringing off the queens early. In response, Ann-Marie sacrificed a knight for 2 pawns but also didn’t obtain the desired counterplay, swapping into a bishop, rook and 3 pawns versus rook and 4 pawns endgame. However, with the match already lost, a draw was agreed.




The loss of the match was put starkly into perspective by the death of two Olympiad participants, one who had a seizure in the playing hall, the other who passed away in a hotel room. Our condolences and deepest sympathies to both of their families.



The Welsh Women finished on 11 points with 5 wins and 1 draw, 1 point higher than 2 years ago in Istanbul. The team were positioned 69th, 2 places below their seeding at the beginning of the tournament. In general terms, this was a fantastic effort as the pairings were considerably harder than in Istanbul and gave the opportunity to play 6 teams seeded in the top 50 including a top 10 side in the form of the USA. All the team members played highly competitive chess and there was amazing team spirit with lots of fun and banter. Huge thanks to all the women in the team for being so supportive towards Alyssa and for making it a tremendously enjoyable fortnight. Many thanks also to Carl for his contribution as coach and team captain – apart from all the mornings spent coaching, he has remained good-humoured throughout even when burning the candle at both ends! Finally, while there were many highlights, I would like to draw particular attention to Jane’s superb performance and congratulate her on the WIM norm that she has been deservedly awarded. On that note, I’ll sign off from a very enjoyable fortnight in Tromso.