Thursday, 12 July 2018

When the Going Gets Tough.... Day 6 at the World Seniors' Team Championships

So here we all are in Radebeul, still putting in a hard shift in the service of our country.

Bernard putting in a hard shift in the service of his country, together with our friendly waitress at the Boxenstop Bar, before the World Cup semi-final. 

Occasionally this hard shift sometimes takes place at the chess board, though not always with the desired results. Since my last report, we've each played three games and between us we've chalked up exactly 50%. However, while I have been Mr Average with two draws, Andy has gone slightly berserk and scored consecutive wins. So if you are any good at maths you will be ahead of me in knowing that Bernard's impressive start is now nothing but a distant memory. Add in the footie defeat and he's not such a happy bunny as he was earlier in the week. In fact we've just come back from visiting the former Stasi and NKVD Prison Museum in Dresden, which was most appropriate for his current mood. I aim to point him at food and drink this evening though, and I reckon that will do the trick.

I have had two roller coaster games in the last two days. Against Germany Women 2 I got a rather poor opening, but my opponent then went mad and sacrificed a piece to open up my king. I thought it was unsound, and indeed it was. But after finding the first few moves to refute it, I then made a terrible oversight and promptly lost the piece back and was staring at a virtual forced mate. Thankfully the crunch move was not played, and with my opponent losing the thread completely I went from 2 pawns down to 1 pawn up. The dreaded opposite bishops then intervened to deprive me of a most undeserved win!

Today was less blunderful, but equally tense, as I eventually drew against a German IM, whose rating has fallen by nearly 200 points since his 2435 peak. I stood firm under growing pressure and then cheapoed my way to an extra pawn from nowhere at the time control. However, I then missed a tactical shot (spotted by Andy, curse him!) which would have netted a second pawn and given me winning chances. Instead I lost my extra pawn and was staring at an ending of two bishops against my two knights, in which there was only one passed pawn - and I didn't have it. And it was a long way from my king! I tried to set up a blockade with my knights, but instead of testing whether this would hold, my opponent swapped off one knight and tried to combine a king invasion with the threat to trap my knight. Thankfully, though, the knight always had just one square and I was able to hold a very hard earned draw (and secure a drawn match).

I can't tell you anything of Andy's or Bernard's games except the result. They might as well have been taking place in another room. (Which in Andy's case they were!)

What I can tell you is that England 1 are currently joint first in the 50+ section with a German club team. As this German club team has Arthur Yusupov on Board 2, you can tell they are a tad stronger than Olton A! Canada, Austria and the USA are one point behind. All still to play for over the next three rounds. In the 65+ section, the gold medal has probably been decided, as Russia have a two point lead and have already beaten their nearest rivals. A pairing with Germany 3 tomorrow probably doesn't have them quaking in their boots!

To finish, some art. Or at least what passes for art in this part of the world. There is a rather startling statue in our hotel grounds, which I have to pass every time I leave my room. I can assure readers that no KCC member posed for this!

A fine figure of a man! Personally I prefer The Three Graces. 
But if this statue is a tad unsettling, let's end with one of the greatest paintings in the world, which is on display in the Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister in Dresden.  Don't say these reports don't bring you a bit of culture as well as some chess!

The Sistine Madonna, by Raphael (including two very cheesed off cherubs).
Message to Bernard C - this is what a proper painting looks like!!

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