Tromsø Olympiad 2014 - Scottish Women - Printable Version

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Tromsø Olympiad 2014 - Scottish Women - JonathanIMGrant - 02-08-2014

Dougie will post my reports to the front page. This thread to be used for any discussion on the Scottish Women's campaign.

Scotland's women (seeded 52) start their Olympiad campaign later today (Saturday) against Mozambique (119) in round 1. MOZ are relative newcomers to the Olympiad debuting in 2010 at 112th and finishing one better in Istanbul 2 years later. Full draw here <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""> ... =30&wi=821</a><!-- m -->

Our team of Keti, Elaine, Ali, Carey and Joy have all arrived safely and are settled in Hotel Viking a mere hop, skip and a jump from the venue. There are much fancier hotels but none closer and we received a friendly welcome. So good to try the fresh waffles they make each early evening after our long journey North. There is a massive entry of 136 in the women's section alone so every spare room in Tromsø is occupied by chess players, captains and delegates. Our two teams are in different locations but will eat in the same places.

Tromsø may only have a population of ~70k but has the infrastructure more commonly associated with somewhere far larger. It is the capital for the region, situated partially on an island. Arriving at the airport is spectacular. Snow capped mountains rise from the fjords and the runway is adjacent to a sound covered by Sandnessund Bridge. Reminiscent although smaller and no less impressive, in context, than the connection between Denmark and Sweden so familiar to viewers of BBC4's scandinavian crime noir "The Bridge".

If the televised Opening Ceremony is anything to go by this will be a fantastic Olympiad. Speeches and interviews were short, to the point and demonstrated a remarkable grasp of chess and what it means with an absence of tired cliches. Norway has embraced our sport in a huge way and Magnus is the catalyst. His "lone wolf" appearance on stage along with the Norwegian team displayed dark humour and steely determination along with his usual laid back joviality. Traditional singing from a Sami woman, a blockbuster number from "Chess the Musical" and local folk rock heroes Violet Road showed off the local culture. However the nice touch was to flash all nations's flags on the big screen and announce the countries in alphabetical order. As each appeared its nation's players would rise and make some noise - the Africans were just so much better than everyone else at celebrating their appearance on the world stage. And that's what this global event must be - a celebration.

Re: Tromsø Olympiad 2014 - Scottish Women - JonathanIMGrant - 03-08-2014

Bo. 52 Scotland (SCO) Rtg - 119 Mozambique (MOZ) Rtg 3½: ½
52.1 GM Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan 2394 - WIM Vilhete, Vania Fausto Da T. 1832 1 - 0
52.2 WFM Bamber, Elaine 2077 - Namaela, Malena Cidalia Rafael 0 1 - 0
52.3 Roy, Ali 1913 - Malenda, Ana 0 1 - 0
52.4 WFM Groves, Carey 2027 - Castro, Neusa Aridas De 1467 ½ - ½

Round 1 - not quite zero tolerance
The captain’s meeting revealed a few quirks to watch out for. The clocks have no move counter so the 30 minutes are only added after all time has elapsed on the clock. No help for time trouble addicts. FIDE’s preferred time control of 40 moves in 90 minutes then 30 minutes added with 30 second increments is more or less standard these days. Arbiters are to step in and declare a draw on five-fold repetition. Back at the hotel our team meeting discusses key points including deciding that players have a free choice on whether to accept or offer draws.

Arriving at the venue 25 minutes before the first round, it becomes clear that five airport-type security frames are insufficient to cope with hundreds of teams. Queues snake round the building on a bright clear day. Remarkably, despite the prospect of mass double defaults for lateness, the crowd is patient. Surely carnage would have broken out if this was, say, a cage fighting event. At 3pm hundreds of players are still nowhere near their board and start is delayed.

Eventually a five minute countdown delivered through an ear splitting PA and we’re off and running. The hall is a massive open plan space, in all 3D, roped into several sectors. Huge posters advertising the event, displaying the flags of the participating nations and an intense staring man, adorn the walls and are seen throughout the town. Tokens added to accreditation passes indicate who is in play and who is out to soak up the atmosphere. The majority of the women boards are in an annexe with a lower roof off to one side. Top half v bottom half pairings lead largely to mismatches with the odd moment of glory. Second seeds China are in the same area as Scotland and ruthlessly dispatch the IBCA.

Joy had a miserable afternoon. She followed progress on line and couldn't believe how badly the team was playing. It seemed only Keti would prevent the whitewash. Farcically although the moves were correct the organisers had inverted the order so board 1 was showing the board 4 players. Cue texts from family members to team telling them to develop their pieces tomorrow.

3...Bd6 against the Ruy Lopez has a poor reputation for good reason. By move 7 Ali’s opponent jettisoned a knight without compensation. Ali stayed focused and crashed through on the kingside. Elaine has turned up in uncompromising mood. Her Scandinavian turned out to be a very good type of Caro-Kann. Normally ...h5 would be weakening but here it was the start of quick expansion on the kingside that allowed rapid transfer of the heavy artillery towards White’s king.

Keti started patiently with a Grand-Prix/Closed Sicilian but quickly decided to push d4 turning it into a type of Open. Omitting f5 tempted her opponent into pushing f5 herself but it created holes. A careless recapture on e5 allowed Keti to win two pieces for a rook and the end was in sight. So 3-0, the match secured and a great start for the team.

For the less developed countries, ratings should be taken with a pinch of salt. On bottom board Carey faced a lowly rated girl who stayed solid against the Pirc and avoided any serious mistakes. Having secured more space, Carey over-extended with ...e4 and was fortunate that her knight, that sought adventures on d3, remained on the board. Having passed move 30 (no agreed draws allowed before then) White offered and Carey wisely said “play a move”. After some language confusion White produced a losing blunder! Under the cosh for some time a relieved Carey decided to accept the draw.

Players can ask the captain whether they can accept to which captains can reply “Yes”, “No” or “Decide for yourself”. So, hypothetically, if asked what should I do? Answering No would indicate that Black can play for a win. It would have been surprising for Carey but risks her failing to see the only move that is winning and potentially ending up worse! So 3.5-0.5 and job done. On to the much more challenging Belarus (seeded 40) in round 2.

Re: Tromsø Olympiad 2014 - Scottish Women - robin moore - 03-08-2014

Great report! Thank you.

Re: Tromsø Olympiad 2014 - Scottish Women - George Neave - 03-08-2014

Watching live I could hardly believe how timidly Ali played the opening and then Elaine dropping a piece inside 6 moves - surely something was wrong here?, fortunately, it makes sense!

Re: Tromsø Olympiad 2014 - Scottish Women - Graeme Kafka - 03-08-2014

Cracking start, pity they didn't quite manage to GRANNY the opposition but not far off!

Re: Tromsø Olympiad 2014 - Scottish Women - JonathanIMGrant - 04-08-2014

Round 2 – Training and critical moments

Bo. 52 Scotland (SCO) Rtg - 40 Belarus (BLR) Rtg 0 : 4
27.1 GM Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan 2394 - IM Ziaziulkina, Nastassia 2407 0 - 1
27.2 WFM Bamber, Elaine 2077 - FM Stetsko, Lanita 2261 0 - 1
27.3 Roy, Ali 1913 - Nevioselaya, Maria 2032 0 - 1
27.4 WFM Durno, Joy 1862 - Kaliadzich, Maryia 2020 0 - 1

I attended the first of four sessions for one of three training seminars running in Tromsø during the Olympiad. FIDE Senior Trainer/GM Grivas explained the new regulations from 1 July 2014. They are driven by Kirsan’s desire for chess to, one day, feature in the Olympics. So, like all other sports, chess has to have doping controls and licenses for its trainers and arbiters. FIDE’s training framework is a system of five levels with titles reflecting the type of training done and the level of the trainer.

The session also covered a whistlestop tour round the surprisingly deep resources on <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- m --> which include pdf training material surveys and recommended book lists. It is worth checking out by any Scot currently involved in any level of training from primary kids upwards. Other topics included “Physical and Psychological Factors”; “Nutritional Practices of Chess Grandmasters”; and “Differences Between Boys and Girls in Chess”. I was delighted to learn about the positive benefits of dark chocolate during the game and less than chuffed to hear that it should be taken in very small quantities.

Scotland’s only previous encounter with Belarus was an excellent 1-1 draw, in a Euro Teams, many moons ago. Carey played in that match but sat out today so everyone is involved in the tournament early.
Joy is still shaking off signs of rust after her late call up into the squad. Playing solidly, if a little passively, allowed her opponent to develop an initiative in a Symmetrical type of Tarrasch. Castling was too ambitious and White won a key pawn. Joy fought hard but wasn’t allowed to get going today. Keti’s aggressive Anti Sicilian set-up demanded pushing f5 early to get the kingside attack rolling. Omitting it allowed timely action by Black in the centre to blunt the light squared bishop. Keti's last opportunity, in time trouble, was to exchange rooks and seek practical chances in the minor piece ending.

Avoiding Elaine’s Marshall with h3 was a small concession and White followed up with a few others. The critical moment arrived. Black’s pieces stood well and it was time to consider improving the queen. However the move chosen allowed Rxc5 sacrificing an exchange to bring White’s bishops to life. At first sight it looks creative but White was effectively pushed to adopt desperate measures. Ali was also involved in a Ruy Lopez and quickly reached a position she had prepared in the Breyer. These are among some of the most complex positions in chess and offer multiple options to both players on almost every move. The key moment centred around the fight for the a-file and when Ali allowed a knight to remain there unchallenged she faced an uphill struggle.

A difficult day for the team but not one to be downhearted about: the games were rich for long periods. I was encouraged that they sensed critical moments even if the correct solution wasn’t always found.

Re: Tromsø Olympiad 2014 - Scottish Women - Matthew Turner - 05-08-2014

Many thanks for the reports. It isn't easy to keep up to date with what is going on, so great to have a digest with some first hand insight.

Re: Tromsø Olympiad 2014 - Scottish Women - Andy Howie - 05-08-2014

Scary one for Keti today. Her opponent missed a mate in 2! Ground out the win brilliantly!!!

Re: Tromsø Olympiad 2014 - Scottish Women - JonathanIMGrant - 05-08-2014

Round 3 - winning at the seventh attempt

Br. 56 Denmark (DEN) Elo - 52 Scotland (SCO) Elo 1½:2½
35.1 WFM De Blecourt, Sandra 2122 - GM Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan 2394 0 - 1
35.2 WFM Guindy, Esmat 2074 - WFM Bamber, Elaine 2077 0 - 1
35.3 WFM Frank-Nielsen, Marie 1969 - WFM Groves, Carey 2027 1 - 0
35.4 Olsen, Miriam F 2019 - WFM Durno, Joy 1862 ½ - ½

Meals at the Olympiad are all “koldtbord” (buffet style). A modest though tasty breakfast is served in the Viking Hotel whilst lunch and dinner require a five minute stroll across to The Edge Hotel, appropriately situated next to the harbour. Berthed nearby can be seen all sorts of vessels from the Norwegian Coastguard to cruise liners. I was surprised to see, flying under the flag of the Cayman Islands, a ship with a helicopter perched on the stern.

The Edge is catering for a large number of teams including the Russian elite. After initial chaos and long queues players have settled into their routines and mealtimes are sociable affairs exchanging the news of the day. John Shaw declared it the best food he’d known at an international team event. As a man who has returned from previous trips with salmonella and weighing only eight stone he might have set a low bar. However I can confirm the food is really fine and not just the “chess players menu” that has blighted previous competitions. The chef has a recipe book with 1001 ways to prepare salmon (fish is invariably the best main course) but there is normally enough choice for even fussy eaters.

After seven attempts Scotland at last defeated the Danes in a Women’s Olympiad. Showing great resilience and determination the team bounced back to ease past a team just 4 places lower in the rankings. However the day did not start promisingly. Carey saw ghosts in a Pirc when her opponent played dxc5. Thinking the normal recapture with her knight would lead to the loss of a piece she took with the d-pawn and came under pressure as White seized space in the centre. Defending grittily she gradually nullified the pressure before disaster struck and she missed a Rxd7 trick. Joy spent 45 minutes early on in a Catalan. Black equalised as Joy danced around the first two ranks with her queen searching for the optimal square. Nifty footwork and the position opened up with her g2 bishop becoming a monster. One chance to win a pawn by hitting the d5 bishop with e4 passed by in a flash during time trouble and the game ended sedately with perpetual check.
Elaine’s prepared 2.b3 against the French was a smart choice with her opponent looking immediately uncomfortable. Black attempted to play simple positional chess whilst Elaine infiltrated down the h-file.

Maximising activity at the expense of her pawn structure, Elaine’s threats became overwhelming as Black’s pieces sat on awkward squares. 1.5 all and it was left to Keti to decide the fate of the match. First it swung her way as her King’s Indian took control of the dark squares then it swung back to White when Keti missed the beautiful idea ...Rxe6 f4 ...Nc6 with the idea of ...Nd4. Eventually White tried to win a Queen ending pawn up but allowed a stalemate which Keti missed. With a crowd circling the board Keti blundered mate in 2 and in return White checked on the wrong square allowing Keti to interpose with check and win the resulting pawn ending. Phew, all’s well that ends well!

Re: Tromsø Olympiad 2014 - Scottish Women - JonathanIMGrant - 06-08-2014

Round 4 – 101 and last in the hall
Bo. 52 Scotland (SCO) Rtg - 46 Uzbekistan (UZB) Rtg 2 : 2
30.1 GM Arakhamia-Grant, Ketevan 2394 - WFM Kurbonboeva, Sarvinoz 2228 1 - 0
30.2 WFM Bamber, Elaine 2077 - WFM Gevorgyan, Irina 2141 1 - 0
30.3 Roy, Ali 1913 - WFM Baymuradova, Sevara 2127 0 - 1
30.4 WFM Durno, Joy 1862 - WIM Sabirova, Olga 2099 0 - 1

As a former Soviet republic, Uzbekistan has a strong chess tradition with its men taking Silver on their first Olympiad appearance back in 1994. Its women haven’t hit such heights but are consistent force with a low of 36th and a high placing of21st in 2012. Scotland’s only previous encounter with Uzbekistan was a 3-0 loss at the Bled Olympiad. Giving away about 80 points per board on average this looked a tough match on paper.

Joy developed sensibly against an early g3 Anti-Sicilian and struck at the head of White’s pawn chain with ...f6. She correctly prepared to attack the base with ...b5-b4 but restrained herself to manoeuvring on her first three ranks. Still her position was a tough nut to crack and White even allowed a ...Nxd4 possibility which would have turned the tables. However Sabirova is an experienced former Bronze medallist and took her chance when Joy allowed a kingside attack. Ali gained space pushing e5 in a 3.c3 Sicilian and launching her f and g pawns forward. Although missing her light squared bishop the attack was menacing with her f-pawn reaching g7. However she overlooked that d4 could be taken because of a nasty tactic pinning the queen. A fortress was still possible but Ne8 in time trouble allowed it to be broken.

Each evening the team meets to show their games and discuss the day. In an earlier session, I had mentioned the old saying “He who eats the b-pawn sleeps on the streets”. There is of course the proviso “except when it works”. Elaine had spotted that her opponent allowed an active QGD Exchange variation involving Nc6 and achieved an active position. Confronted with a double attack on d5 and b7, Elaine decided to sacrifice her b7 pawn and use the open b-file for counterplay. Perhaps not entirely sound in this case but a good example of how a small material investment often leads to rapid mobilisation. This was a fine game: a ...Bh3 moment when it can be taken by the g2 pawn just one of many creative ideas that allowed Elaine to reduce the deficit.

Once again it was Keti who would decide the match result, this time draw or loss. Pressing all game in an Accelerated Dragon she eventually transposed into a winning rook and opposite bishop ending. Still her opponent didn’t resign because by this stage both were playing using the 30 second increment that is added after each move. Black had to give up her bishop for the promoting d-pawn and shortly had to offer a handshake on move 101. Everyone could go home now. Another tremendous set of battles by all four players and a well earned 2-2 draw for Scotland against the higher rated Uzbeks.