A difficult selection for me for today’s match against 134th rated Honduras, as our colour sequence has been changed again, and their board one is rated 300 points below the rest of his team (the team actually appear to be in reverse order of strength). In the end I have rested Alan, not for yesterday’s blunder, but because we now have to win our last 2 matches to get us up to 50%, and the in-form players Richard and Ioan (either of whom I might have rested) will both have to keep going today.
For today’s match we are on table 55, so seemingly below our seeded position of 98 (I haven’t got the pairings to hand so not sure how many other teams are on the same match score as us and how many have a better game points total). We really do have to finish above our seeding for the trip to have been classed as a success.
The Ladies are playing England, rather a tough pairing as I would imagine they will be going all out against Wales. As we talked about it over breakfast, this was clearly also proving to be a difficult selection decision for Susan.
Fajardo David Ponce
Jones Richard S
0 - 1
Hernandez Juan C
0 - 1
? - ?
Blackburn Jonathan Lb
1 - 0
A very strange match, in which their players at some points seemed to be much better than their ratings, and at other times worse (!). Games in the order they finished:
Jon (W) transposed to a Panov-Botvinnik c5 line, but W was forced to play Kf1, which later didn’t help his cause. Jon sacrificed a piece for considerable play, got 2 pawns for it and was still forcing matters, but alas just couldn’t finish his opponent off, and in a lost position allowed his rooks to be forked by B’s bishop.
Tim (B)’s opponent played a QP stonewall, where Tim was annoyed with himself for losing about 3 tempi in the opening (N back to f6 rather than d6). B got his bishop trapped on h8, and was literally playing a piece down.
A peculiar incident later happened when I was getting drinks for the players, in that their captain through the arbiter offered a package on boards 1 & 3 i.e. 2 draws. Strange timing as Richard was just starting to get on top, but Tim was hopelessly lost. Fortunately it is something I had talked to the team about before the start of the Olympiad and said that under no circumstances would we agree to any package (if indeed it is legal under the tighter rules for this Olympiad). Richard was also running short of time when this happened, and even though the offer might have seemed to favour us, the players correctly declined, the games were going to take their natural course.
Then bizarrely, not many moves later, Tim’s opponent offered a draw, which was accepted. W is still in effect a piece up because of the trapped bishop on h8, none of us could understand why W didn’t realise he was winning.
Richard’s (B) lowly rated opponent rattled off a lot of opening moves and built up a promising position. Richard won a pawn but W kept pressing on and at one point Richard seemed to only just holding it together, as he surprisingly ran short of time. Then after the package mentioned above, Richard just pushed his opponent back and W started playing more like his sub-1700 rating as he allowed a couple of simple tactics.
Ioan (W) in a Closed Ruy where he played d5, got an aggressive setup, with B defending along the 2nd rank. Ioan was always in control with pressure down the e-file and more space, and I felt it was just a matter of time before he broke through. When W threatened to put his unopposed bishop on the long diagonal to B’s king, it was all over. A nicely controlled game.
So, we just scraped home, another win in the last round will give us 50%.
Blackburn Suzie G
1 - 0
1 - 0
? - ?
Van Kemenade Julie
1 - 0
England was always going to be another hard match for the Ladies, and this proved to be the case, with Julie W achieving a very creditable draw.
Captain, Wales Men