(GOG) Firstly, many apologies for the lack of reports from the 8th round onwards. At this point things were hotting up and you get totally consumed by the tournament to an obsessional level. Every waking and often sleeping moment is thinking of the next game.
The results are all out now and the Irish ladies played incredibly well by beating their seeding by 11 places. The target was 10 places at the start so we got an extra one bonus. Also achieving two titles for Monika and Karina. The very pleasing point was finishing ahead of both Wales and Scotland who both had stronger teams and in the case of the Welsh a very fine coach in Thomas Rendle. Sadly for Thomas he lost our pre-tournament wager of 10 Turkish Lire which he sportingly paid out at the closing ceremony, congratulating the fine chess the Irish played.
The men's team unfortunately were wracked with illness most of the tournament which can only be put down to the hotel food. A lot of people staying at the Holiday Inn suffered the same fate with the worst being a South African lady having to be taken to hospital and put on a drip for some time. Why the kitchens were not closed down is beyond me. I had to complain on one occasion where I found some chicken, which were it any more raw, Id have to chase it round the restaurant. This was mixed in with the cooked chicken which is a disaster that we didnt have to wait to happen. The place should be renamed the Hospital Inn. Luckily the directions to casualty are on the back of the menu.
Thankfully none of the girls were taken ill as I believe illness was banned on day one along with the Colle.
One of the highlights for me was Karina's 5th round game against Omaima Awad of Yemen where in a totally drawn game and with Karina sitting on a draw offer from her opponent she lashed out with 46. Rb5 and won the game a few moves later. Its this sort of gutsy play you need to bring to the Olympiad as it is the greatest chess tournament on the planet so digging deep and giving a bit extra is absolutely vital.
Another moment was finding that Monika was on the wrong setting so once switched to the "WIN" setting she scored an amazing 7/7 which is quite something on board 1.
The Irish party which seems to be becoming a regular feature now on the second rest day was going to be twinned with Turkey and was advertised as a Turkish Irish night which should have been a fun evening but was cancelled due to the sad loss of 25 Turkish Soldiers in an accident at their barracks. Many people still turned out to Choppers Point (the venue) for a few drinks as it was still the cheapest place for miles.
The next Olympiads are now Tromso, Norway, 2014 and Baku, Azerbaijan, 2016 and if this Olympiad is anything to go by and with a number of great female players waiting in the wings I can only see Irish Womens chess going one way.
Round 11, Sep 9
(Eds) The Irish Open team finished a slightly disappointing 87th out of 150 on 10 match points (out of 22) while the Women did well, also with 10 points, finishing 80th out of 127. This is the best performance by the Women since Moscow 1994 and their 7th best all-time Olympiad result.
Monica Gedvilaite (on the left in the picture) gained the title of Women FIDE Master for her fantastic score of 7/9 (winning her last 7 games in a row). Karina Kruk (on the right) gained the title of Women Candidate Master for her score of 5/9. Full-res picture. Alex Lopez missed a GM norm by a ½ point.
Ryan explained the reason for his default in the last round in an email sent after he got back home: "I woke up very ill on Friday morning. I had to play the game against Wales that day because I only got round to telling the team captain at 9.50, when the deadline for registration of the teams was 9 on the dot, meaning that I couldn't be rested in favour of someone else. I didn't move from my hotel room on either Saturday or Sunday as my illness had become worse. The reason I had to be listed in the last round was because Alex needed to play a 2380+ player and win in order to make a GM norm, meaning Sam would have to rest to allow Alex to play B1 against the Dominican Republic's only player above 2380."
Apologies but GOG and JOC, both of whom were in Istanbul, stopped reporting after R7. GOG sent the Wrap Up section above a few days after the end of the tournament.
Round 7, Sep 4
(GOG) Netherlands Antilles was the reward for the ladies in round seven who scored a great 3½½ victory. Karina scored first blood, bullying her opponent into submission in very short time and yours truly was looking forward to getting out of the playing hall before 20:00. Alas this wasnt to be. Hannah was next home followed by Monica who, with dogged determination converted a drawn position into a victory. In form Sarah Jane won the exchange for a pawn but the game resulted in a complicated ending which seemed unclear and accepted the draw offer from her opponent. Weve yet to go through this game and look at the final position.
The team dynamics have changed somewhat in the second half when title chasing becomes a realistic pursuit. We have 3 girls looking for the WFM title and all have real chances to get this. Monika who has now gained the WCM title criteria both in score and rating is now chasing the WFM title needing just 2 points from 3 games. Sarah-Jane who already has the WCM title requires 3.5 out of 4 for the WFM title and Karina needs to win 3 out of 3. This has made them all very hungry for points which Im confident will soon be racking up in quick succession.
Kevin O'Connell sent in this picture (right, full-res) of a party poster he saw in Istanbul.
Round 6, Sep 3
(GOG) Round 6 saw the ladies take on Lebanon and the open team, IBCA. It turned out to be a tougher than expected encounter for both teams with the open team managing only one draw and the ladies a solitary win (with a nice finish).
Round 5, Sep 1
(JOC) Against Israel the men were outrated by 250 points on every board but managed a very creditable score of 1½-2½.
Vice-world champion (I hate that term, but FIDE have been using it for a number of years) GM Boris Gelfand decided to visit the Blue Mosque, no doubt with Daire acting as tour guide. So, Sam played Emil Sutovsky. Sutovsky is known for his opera singing and his very sharp tactical play. However, Sam was the first with tactical tricks and offered a pawn on move 13 with his 13.Qg3. Black declined, but there was a lovely variation that could have happened if it had been accepted: After 13.Qg3 if Ng5xe4 then 14.Qg4 Nf6? 15.Qg6! Rf8 16.Nf5 Ne8 (to defend against mate on g7) 17.Nxh6+ Kh8 18. Nxf7+ Rxf7 19.Qxf7 winning. It looked to your scribe, that Sam was always struggling, and I can't tell if he could have held the ending if he had played 39.Kg1 instead of 39.Kf1.Former chairman, David McAlister looked at the position a bit longer than I did, and came up with the following improvements. If 13...Nxe4 14.Qg6! and if 14...Nf6 then 15. Nf5 wins without requiring Black to cooperate. If instead, 14...Ng5 then 15. Nf5 Bf8 16. Nxh6+ Kh8 17. Nxf7+ Nxf7 18. Bxf7 winning. He also pointed out the at the end of my variation, instead of the prosaic 19.Qxf7, the refinement 19.Qh5+ mates after 19...Kg8 20.Qxf7+ Kh8 21.Qg8 mate. David is, of course, correct.
On board 2, Alex Lopez was black against 2640 former World Junior champion Maxim Rodshtein. Rodshtein sacced a pawn in the early middle game, but he clearly overestimated his compensation. Alex then stabilized the position and using his Bd4, he forced weaknesses on the black squares. After that he forced a past pawn on the queen side, which if it was taken, white would have lost his bishop to a pin on the back rank. Best played game so far by an Irish player.
On board 3, Ryan blundered in time trouble, giving away a draw. Very sad.
On board 4, Gavin got a fine position against Boris Avrukh, author of some excellent books on the English opening. I thought that Gavin's pieces were a bit uncoordinated, and along with less time for his opponent that his GM opponent would beat him. But Gavin held on for a well earned draw.
The women (pictured right, full-res) were playing Yemen, and on paper they were favourites. Sadly, the match ended in a hard-fought 2-2 draw.
On board 1, Monika, as black, offered a Marshall gambit type pawn which was declined by her opponent. After that, she got lovely passed pawns on the queenside, then won a pawn and the opponent gave up the fight by swapping off all the pieces, leaving Monika 2 pawns up in a B vs N ending.
On board 2, Hannah played a nice Queen's gambit declined. She missed a great chance on move 11 with Nb5 to win the c or a pawns. She seemed to drift a bit, and dropped the d-pawn. That wouldn't be fatal, however, allowing her bishop to get pinned on the e-file was.
On board 3, Gearoidin played the black side of an exchange French. She ended up in a BvN ending, but here I think she played a bit too passively, and gave her opponent too much space. Her poor knight had nothing to do. This could have been prevented if she had played the temporary pawn sac 37...f5. This would have hindered white's bishop and given her a square for her knight on e4. Even after allowing her opponent to play f4-f5, I think K+P endings would have been drawn, but instead she kept playing passively, and was slowly ground down.
Finally, on board 4, Karina allowed her Nf3 to be taken, doubling her f-pawns. To make matters worse, she dropped a pawn too. However after that she managed to win the pawn back and go into a slightly worse R+P ending. Gary has obviously been showing our women his Masonic (not Paul or the funny handshakes brigade) endgame tricks, as Karina was able to swap rooks into a winning K+P endgame. Nice comeback.
Sunday is a day of rest, well earned. On Monday the men play the IBCA team, and the women play the Lebanon.
Round 4, Aug 31
(GOG) Today saw the Irish ladies score their first win of the tournament. They comprehensively outplayed their African opponents from Angola scoring a 4-0 victory. It was a rather strange match as we expected their board one to be a lot stronger, whereas the rest of their team gave a stubborn resistance. Monika (pictured right) won very easily using only 12 minutes on her clock and by contrast board 3 took 5 hours, 20 minutes to conclude for Gearoidin.
Monika now has a TPR of 2117 which, we roughly calculated over dinner, gives her a live rating of 2001 giving her the WCM title. I'll be getting someone with a big calculator who looks official to check this so watch this space.
First wins also came from Karina and Sarah Jane, who again played a great game by coming back from a pawn down after the opening to win it back with interest. Karina played a trappy game baiting her opponent with the odd pawn to achieve a material superiority and finally the full point.
Morale now is at a new high after this first victory and we are all eager to commence battle tomorrow with Yemen and are very confident of further success.
The Open team also had a good match with Venezuela winning 3-1 giving the Irish a total for the day of 7-1 which is the best day of tournament so far. Wins came from Gavin, Ryan and Alex whilst Sam went down to the highly rated GM Eduardo Iturrizaga (2627). The open team take on Israel tomorrow on board 12 with a Collins v Gelfand match expected.
Daire is now fed up of visiting the Blue Mosque with the rested players of the ladies team as each one wants to visit Istanbul for a bit of sightseeing and with Daire being rested he is now the unofficial tour guide.
Food here is great and plentiful and the price is right FREE! Unlike the beer which is 9 Euros a pint in our hotel and 18 Euros a pint in the English hotel. Needless to say no one is drinking here. This is a bit of a shame as Olympiads give you a chance to wind down and relax with chess friends the world over. The social scene I think is important for these events but with such prohibitive prices each team is buying locally and drinking in their rooms. Except us as we are working and prepping hard in to the night and writing these infernal reports.
Bermuda party tomorrow so don't expect anything and then it's a well earned day of rest for everyone.
Round 3, Aug 30
(GOG) The Irish Open team today played an Algerian team who, having rested their strongest player, duly received a good spanking from the spirited Irishmen.
The North Africans were taken apart in quick order by firstly Sam Collins on board one with a neat tactical trick. This was then followed by Gavin Wall's debut win in an Olympiad, having not won a game in Majorca eight years ago. Alex Lopez, who outplayed his opponent from an inferior position, scored the third victory. After his momentous game of the previous round Ryan scored the fourth win making it 100% for the Irish.
The women's team again fared less well, succumbing to a lower rated South Korean Team 2½1½. Hannah was the first to make a draw and get the Irish girls off the starting blocks. This was followed shortly by Sarah Jane, who, in a winning position, unfortunately again lost on time. A new clock management system is being implemented to ensure Sarah Jane gets the results she clearly deserves. Superstar Monika brought home the first win for the Irish ladies after two very unlucky losses against higher rated opposition. Gearoidin was the last to finish today after a gritty battle on board three resulted in another sad loss for the Olympiad veteran of the team.
Later in the evening we met the English team at their hotel. They are in good spirits after three wins. Gawain, after three draws as black, is hoping to improve on his performance once he gets a chance to have white.
We're also pleased to report, as we know you were concerned, that the remainder of the Bermudan team have been released from custody after more than 24 hours. They can now take part with more than two players. This was due to visa problems at Ataturk Airport. So the traditional Bermudan party can now take place.
Tomorrow the girls take on a weaker Angolan side who are here now after missing the first three rounds, whilst the boys take on Venezuela.
Text, comments and ideas - Gary OGrady.
Commas, punctuation and proper grammar supplied by Gavin Wall.
No pronouns were harmed in the making of this report.
Gavin really is a grammar arse and does my head in.
Note from chairman: Gavin is clearly not doing his Grammar Garda job properly. I had to add a full stop to the end of the second paragraph.
Round 2, Aug 29
(GOG) Today saw a great battle for Ryan who made a draw with the black pieces against Super GM Rauf Mamedov rated at 2634. He missed a couple of sure fire wins in the later stages I'm well informed which is a shame as a win would have made a great coup for the team. I watched the game which was made even more tense by Mamedov waiting until his clock was almost out before moving after many hours chess. Its Fischer timing here with 30 seconds added for each move played. The rest of the Open team faired less favourably with the Azeris gaining the other 3 points.
At the other end of the hall at the same time Karina Kruk was fighting hard for a draw against Irena Karsokaite of IBCA only to be rewarded with a loss in the endgame. This was the last game to finish in the entire hall which shows just what a fighting spirit she has.
Gearoidin's [PGN:game:30551] went just according to prep which started with Herbert Scarry and added to over here over the course of about 6 hours with contributions from myself, IM Sam Collins, IM Gavin Wall, GM Simon Williams and of course lots and lots of games in Chessbase. The prep lasted only until she accidently dropped a rook! Up to that point she was clearly doing great.
Monika and Hannah both fought well but succumbed in the end to their much higher rated opponents leaving the ladies team yet to make a mark on the tournament. Its been two very tough days for them and I'm sure the first wins will be coming in tomorrow. Were all now keenly waiting for the draw to appear.
Its day 2 of the 40th Chess Olympiad in Istanbul and the good news is that Ireland are placed ahead of the likes of Russia, England, Germany, Spain and many other great chess nations. It was Ireland's Open team 4-0 crushing of poor Sierre Leone which propelled them up the table. This great achievement came without a piece being moved even though both teams turned up for the game. Why? Quite simply Sierre Leone didn't have the required little green plastic cards which players are given. At the tournament each person is given an id card to hang round their neck and additionally players on the day are given little green plastic "player" cards to slip inside their ids. It's the captains responsibility to give these to the chosen team. Sadly the unfortunate captain of the SLE team left them at the hotel which was a drive of at least 20 mins away thereby defaulting the team due to the zero tolerance rule on match start time. No default time here.
The ladies (pictured right, full-res) on the other hand had a terrific tussle with Vietnam resulting in a very hard fought 4-0 win for the Asian ladies. About an hour in to the game their captain came up to me and said looking quite confused "Your team is very good!". He clearly had just looked at the ratings and written them off as a walkover. Although they got the result it was certainly no walkover. Sarah-Jane missed a strong continuation on move 10 in her game on board 4. Her opponent is a very strong WIM of 2200+ strength who has beaten players such as Kosteniuk, Houska amongst others.
Today Ireland take on 3rd seed Azerbaijan in the open section whilst the ladies take on IBCA which is the International Braille Chess Association. Their team this year is made up of a Russian on board 1, 2 Poles and 2 from Lithuania. Their top board beat Germany's WGM Elizabeth Paetz yesterday so Monica will have her work cut out.
Round 1, Aug 28
(JOC) Round 1 was an easy one for the men, who played against Sierra Leone. The men won 4-0, and unfortunately, there was no live transmission. The women had a tough draw against Vietnam, who have made big strides in chess in recent years. These games were broadcast live. Sarah Jane got an ok position, but according to the clock, had used too much time getting there. Monika was the last to finish, and sadly all our women lost.