Khanty Mansiysk Chess Olympiad

Pat Fitzsimons, Herbert Scarry

This article part of the series: Khanty Mansiysk 2010 - 1, 2, 3, 4

The Irish Men's captain is Pat Fitzsimons and this is his official report from the Olympiad. See also the unofficial report from Gary O'Grady. Games. Pictures.

Collins, Sam E.½1111½½0106½/10
Astaneh Lopez, Alex01011100½4½/9
Heidenfeld, Mark01111½0½½5½/9
Daly, Colm00110100½3½/9
Fitzsimons, David1½10½0½3½/7
Alfred, Emily00½1½½0103½/9
Shaughnessy, Elizabeth000½11002½/8
Hearne, Sarah-Jane001½10½115/9
O'Boyle, Una0½001010½3/9
Benson, Nicola000½1½1104/9

R1, Sep 21

The 39th chess olympiad is taking place in khanty mansiysk, siberia over the period 20th september to 4th October 2010.

The Irish Mens team is seeded 75th and were given a very daunting task in round 1 by being drawn against top seeds Russia (all players well over 2700). The Irish players acquited themselves very well and made their higher rated opponents work very hard for their wins on boards 2, 3 and 4. Alex Lopez made his debut for the Irish team with a game against Peter Svlider on board 2 so no chance to be eased in gently to the team!

The highlight of the round from an irish point of view was Sam Collins suberb draw with Alexander Grischuk the Russian board one on the day with a rating of no less than 2760! Sam defended superbly throughout a gruelling 5 hour encounter to achieve a highly merited draw which is the best ever result by an Irish player in a competitive game. Vladimir Kramnik, the top rated Russian player did not play in round 1 obviously running scared of the Irish!

Khanty Mansiysk Olympiad - Ireland (R to L: Alfred, Hearne, O'Boyle, Benson) against Montenegro in R1

The ladies team was drawn to play Montenegro and succumbed to a 4-0 loss after a spirited display against opponents with an average rating 900 points above the Irish team. Next up for the ladies team are Iceland while the mens team take on Papua New Guinea.

David Fitzsimons will be making his debut for Ireland in this match.

The ladies team are seeded 102 out of 120 teams so they will have ample opportunies to play very highly rated opponents. Hopefully they can rise to the. challenge and achieve some creditable results during the course of the tournament.

Incidentally the nonsense about the lack of preparedness of the hosts that filled the media and the chess blogoshere prior to the start of the Olympiad has proved to be just that - complete nonsense. The playing facilities, accommodation, food and transport are all superb and we have been well looked after by our ever attentive guide Dascha.

The only glitch occurred in Munich airport where Colm Daly's name was not on the charter flight list. After considerable tooing and froing with an over officious individual at the check in desk we managed to get Colm aboard the plane with the assistance of a luxair representative at the airport. A member of the FIDE executive from Belgium also encountered the same problem but managed to get aboard the plane as well!

R2, Sep 22

Khanty Mansiysk Olympiad - Ireland against Papua New Guinea in R2

Day 2 of the Chess Olympiad saw the Irish mens team drawn against Papua New Guinea (picture, right) with the ladies taking on Iceland.

The Papua New Guinea team was made up of players with playing strengths between around 2100 to about 2000. David Fitzsimons made his debut in the Olympiad on Board 4 with Colm taking a rest day. He celebrated his first game for the team with a win. All of the other games went in Ireland’s favour ensuring that the team recorded their first win of the campaign. Sam and Alex had reasonably comfortable early victories, while Mark’s game turned into a gruelling 5 hour session that went all the way to a knight and pawn ending.

The ladies team were again up against much more highly rated opponents (2200 plus on board 1 and 1700 – 1800 average on the other boards). Una O’Boyle succeeded in gaining the team’s first result with a superb draw against her opponent on board 3. Una found all the right continuations in an exceedingly complicated middle game struggle and held her nerve coming up to the time control where she accurately executed a series of critical piece exchanges which left her with two additional pawns in an opposite colour bishops ending. Although the overall result was a 3.5 – 0.5 loss to a strong Icelandic team, the result does not do justice to the quality of chess played by the Irish ladies with three games going right up to and beyond the first time control.

Unusally, both teams have been drawn against their New Zealand counterparts in round 3. The mens team’s opponents are all around 2300 – 2200 while the ladies team are rated at around 1700 on average, so some exciting struggles against the kiwis are in prospect. Games will start at 10.00 am Irish time and the teams progress can be followed on line.

Nicky Benson and Mark Heidenfeld are resting for round 3.

R3, Sep 23

Khanty Mansiysk Olympiad - Sarah-Jane Hearne on B3 for Ireland against New Zealand

(No report received today but on the right is a picture of Sarah-Jane against New Zealand. The ladies lost the match ½-3½. The men narrowly lost to the same country, so unfortunately it ended 6-2 for New Zealand. Ed.)

R4, Sep 24

After some disappointing results on day three both Irish teams had much improved performances in round 4.

The men's team of Sam, Alex, Mark and Colm gained a 4-0 win over Jamaica. Sam continued his good form with a clinical win over his opponent while Alex came out on top after a series of exchanges coming up to the time control in a complex double-edged position. Colm took command of his game at an early stage and eventually won a piece through getting an outside passed pawn to the 7th rank. Mark went into an end game with Knight and 4 pawns versus a bishop and 4 pawns. He exploited weaknesses in his opponent's pawn structure to win the end game with a textbook execution of solid endgame technique. Next up in round 5 is Hong Kong who are seeded below Ireland. Sam will be the player to rest.

The lady's team gained their first wins of the Olympiad in a 2-2 draw with South Korea with Emily and Sarah Jane winning on boards one and three while Elizabeth and Nicki lost their matches on the other boards. In round 5 the ladies will be playing against Aruna and will hope to build on their recent results.

R5, Sep 25

The Irish Men's team achieved their third 4-0 win of the tournament this afternoon against Hong Kong. The players had relatively comfortable games from the start on boards 1 to 3 with David's game being more challenging and lasting longer. The players went about their jobs in a thoroughly professional manner and did the business.

The womens team suffered a 1½/2½ loss to Aruba. The match should probably have ended 2-2 but still marked some success for the team as all five members are now on the scoreboard. Elizabeth Shaughnessy was first to finish with a draw, but Una O'Boyle played an overoptimistic tactic which left her a piece down. Sarah Jane Hearne and Nicky Benson both allowed advantageous positions to drift into draws. The match arbiter (each match has its own arbiter – impressive enough although at one well funded Olympiad each game had its own arbiter) was extremely friendly and turned out to be from Nizhny Novgorod, birthplace of Irish GM Alex Baburin. He regaled us with stories of what a scamp young Alex was (more later).

The players are exhausted by the intensity of the competition and the strain of representing their country in the glare of global media attention, but have had their spirits lifted by the arrival of Irish chess legends Eamon Keogh and Kevin O’Connell. KM is not the easiest place in the world to get to, so credit to them for coming to support the team and to assist our FIDE Delegate. Anthony Hearne in representing Irish interests at the various Commissions and General Assembly of the FIDE Congress, which runs alongside the Olympiad.

R6, Sep 27

Khanty Mansiysk Olympiad - Irish ladies face mammoth task (Nicola Benson in the \

The mens team of Sam Collins, Mark Heidenfeld, Colm Daly and David Fitzsimons took on Kyrgyzstan this afternoon. Things went badly from an Irish point of view with both David and Colm going awry early in their games to leave Ireland 2-0 down. But Mark Heidenfeld led the fight back with a superbly executed rook and pawn ending, leaving Sam Collins the task of restoring Irish pride. This he duly did after over five hours play, in an equally impressive rook and pawn ending. Next up in round 7 will be the UAE ranked just below the Irish team, but with a GM on board one.

The ladies had a more straightforward task, outpointing the men for the first time in the tournament. They repeated their 4-0 whitewash of the Seychelles team from the previous Olympiad in Dresden 2008. They are due to play Panama in round 7.

Both teams were refreshed by the first free day on Sunday, with most members going on a tour of local points of interest, such as an Archeopark filled with sculptures of giant mammoths (see picture featuring Nicola Benson), bears and Siberian Tigers, and a giant obelisk which serves as a tribute to the founders of the Ugra state. In the evening they attended a folk music recital in the Ugra Classic Concert and Theatre Centre. Tomorrow they are looking forward to a tenor and baritone recital in the same venue.

R7, Sep 28

The mens team were up against United Arab Emirates (UAE) who boasted GM Saleh Salem, rated 2501, on board one. The team of Sam, Alex, Mark and Colm achieved a professional 3-1 win with Alex and Colm winning with white and Sam and Mark drawing with black. The most interesting variations featured in the drawn games. Sam went three pawns up with potential mating threats, but the main variation featured a diabolical trap involving a temporary queen sacrifice which he did well not to fall into. Mark had two rooks against a queen and a raft of pawns, but threats of perpetual check and mate assured the draw.

Sam now has an unbeaten score of 5/6 while Mark stands on 4.5/6.

The womens team lost 3-1 to Panama. Emily and Nicky fought hard for a pair of draws, while Sarah-Jane and Una lost to stronger opponents.

Tomorrow the men face a strong Colombian team with the same line up as in round 7, while the women will meet Mozambique.

R8, 29 Sep

Round 8 saw the men's team return to the playing hall housing the top boards for the first time since the opening round game against Russia. Unfortunately, rubbing shoulders with the big boys again did not prove to be inspirational for the team who fell to a 3½–½ defeat against Colombia. Sam drew on board 1 with a perpetual check coming up to the first time control. Subsequent analysis indicated that a win for Sam was possible with correct play. On the other boards Alex made an uncharacteristic blunder in a rook, knight and pawns versus rook, bishop and pawns endgame, while Mark also went wrong under time pressure to enter a lost king and pawn ending. Colm spurned clear drawing chances striving for a win in a rook and opposite coloured bishop ending which eventually went against him. Subsequent analysis of all the games demonstrated that marginal inattention to minor details in the various positions resulted in the scoreline not reflecting the balance of play in the team's games.

Next up is a stong Danish team with Mark resting and David playing on Board 4 with Colm moving up to board 3. The match against Denmark is a crunch game for maintaining hope of potential norms for Sam and Alex, so plenty to play for!

The womens team started well with Elizabeth beating her Mozambique opponent on board 2 and Nicky securing a win on board 4. It seemed that Una would not add to the score as she went a knight down with the endgame approaching, but her opponent misplayed the endgame and Una was able to force through a passed pawn and win. That left Emily to fight for a draw from an unfavourable middlegame, which she duly did although her talented opponent Vilhete might have played on in the final position. This 3½–½ win propels them into a round 9 encounter with Chinese Taipei.

R9, Sep 30

After the disappointment of going down to Colombia in round 8 the men's team were hoping to bounce back against Denmark in round 9. With Mark resting, David came in on board 4 with Colm moving up to board 3. In the event the team had another disappointing day with David obtaining a very creditable draw following an extremely complex tactical battle in the middle game being the only player to avoid defeat. Alex dropped a piece during his game but the position was still so complicated that he could still have resisted with an accurate series of aggressive moves but missed the best continuation. Sam's fine unbeaten run ended with his first loss of the tournament on the white side of a Spanish Game.

Colm played into a "double edged" rook and pawn ending and following a slight miscalculation his rook was forced to a passive square blocking his opponent's passed b-pawn. The Danish board 3 exploited his advantage to take the full point. Next up is Mongolia, a team comprised mainly of titled players.

The womens team had an unfortunate day against Chinese Taipei, with only Sarah-Jane Hearne scoring half a point. Emily grabbed a poisoned pawn to leave her queen trapped (16…Qa3!) while Elizabeth played well until she failed to counter her opponent's g-file pressure. Una had a promising kingside attack but proceeded too exuberantly and her opponent took the material offered and won in a knight ending after five and a half hours of intense play, a record for the Irish squad.

Tomorrow the team face Honduras, who unfortunately only have three players, meaning a walkover for our board 4.

R10, Oct 1

Mongolia proved a tough test for the mens team as David lost a pawn early on and despite valiant resistance could not hold out. Mark had an easier time as (on Sam’s advice) he followed a recent game Bacrot-Adams from the 4NCL to equalise easily as Black in the Catalan while his opponent desperately wondered why it was not covered in his grandmaster repertoire book, eventually conceding the half point. Alex missed (in his own words) "at least 15 different wins" but that may be an exaggeration. That left Sam to salvage a result for the team, and indeed to salvage his own GM norm chances. This he did in a dramatic and perplexing game where neither player wanted a draw, winning one of the last games to finish in the round (we exclude the R&NvR endings) to leave the final result 2-2.

In the final round on Sunday the Irish team face Singapore. Sam will be playing against 2582 rated GM Zhang Zhong (formerly Chinese?) which is guaranteed because they only have four players, and we must work out will a draw be sufficient for him to gain his third and final GM norm. However he still has to achieve the minimum 2500 rating requirement. The games start earlier than heretofore, at 11am local time or 6am Irish time, good timing as most chess fans will just be coming home from the local at that hour.

The womens team had an easier time against Honduras, who have only three players in Khanty-Mansiysk. However Nicky Benson on board 4 seemed to be making heavy weather of things until the arbiter stepped in and stopped the clocks. But then Elizabeth misplayed an opposite-side castling game and White’s kingside pawn storm demolished her defences to leave the score level. To their credit, Emily and Sarah-Jane came through with vital wins, and Sarah-Jane’s mature win secures her the Womens Candidate Master title with a round to go.

On Sunday the team face Barbados, with Emily and Nicky needing to win to emulate Sarah-Jane’s title-winning exploits. But first there is the small matter of the Irish Party (threatening to become an Olympiad institution) and the last free day to negotiate.

R11, Oct 3

There was disappointment for both mens and womens teams as last round results went against them.

The men were up against a strong Singapore team. The main interest in the match was Sam’s quest for a minimum of a half point to secure his third and final GM norm. Given that his opponent Zhang Zhong was rated 2582 this was no easy task and so it proved. Sam opted to play a Spanish Game as he had against Denmark, his improvement being to hold back the pawn advance a2-a4. However Zhang Zhong was able to develop his pieces as he wished and then occupied the a-file himself. After a complex positional battle, Black emerged with a passed b-pawn which forced White to give up a piece and Black made no mistake.

Mark drew a rook and pawn ending, a pawn down at the end, and David drew a level rook and pawn ending. Colm drew a knight and pawn ending to leave the final score 2.5-1.5 in Singapore’s favour.

Emily and Nicky both needed a win to obtain a Womens Candidate Master title, but Nicky lost early on after overlooking a fatal skewer. Sarah Jane won a piece and soon the game to equalise the scores, and Una drew a c3-Sicilian. Emily played extremely well until a time trouble error on move 40 (made with seconds to spare) condemned her to a lost rook and pawn ending. However controversy followed as Emily’s opponent consulted her captain without the arbiter being present, then returned to the board and played the winning plan. The arbiter witnessed this incident and rushed over to hear what was being said, but she did not understand the exchange and took no action (such as a warning) against the player. Only after the game was it evident what had happened, when it was too late to take further action.

The men finished 88th overall, compared to their seeding of 75th, and the women finished 103rd overall, compared to their seeding of 108th. Highest scorers were Sam Collins with 6.5/10 and almost a GM norm, and Sarah-Jane Hearne with 5/9 and a WCM title. Compare previous Olympiads.

The Open tournament was won by Ukraine ahead of Russia 1 and Israel. England finished 24th, Scotland 83rd and Wales 122nd. There were 149 teams in total.

The Womens tournament was won by Russia 1 (with a round to spare) ahead of China and Georgia. England finished 21st, Scotland 65th and Wales 91st. There were 115 teams.

Created 2010-09-23 ◦ Last updated 2014-07-23 ◦ Editor MO

New Search
© 2004-2024 Irish Chess Union ● Contact UsPrivacy Policy