Another double round report, but first I have to clear up the outstanding issues from Round 6, which was coming to a climax as I penned my last epistle from Rhodes. Andy duly proved himself the team hero by converting his extra pawn (and 2 bishops against a bishop and knight), so that England 3 had another excellent win over Turku, and earned themselves the dream pairing against England 1 in Round 7 yesterday. Meanwhile my absence proved to be a body blow from which England 2 could not recover, as they sadly went down 2.5-1.5 to a Danish club team, and so played one of the tournament backmarkers, Finland Karhut yesterday. (For those of you wondering, Karhut is not a suburb of Helsinki, or a reindeer encampment somewhere near the Arctic Circle, but rather the Finnish for bears!)
I was back in the team on Board 1, and had to play the only 2000+ player on the Karhut team. I tried to slowly outplay him, but only succeeded in pushing slightly too far and he jumped out with a vengeance. I was on the ropes, but luckily I found a few only moves, and he couldn't quite find a winning plan so I escaped with a draw, while the team won easily, 3-1.(Thankfully my game was not on the live boards so I never have to show it to anyone!)
Meanwhile the England 3 - England 1 encounter did not go well for Andy. For the very first time in the tournament he was completely outplayed, after going wrong very early in the opening against former British champion Robert Bellin. The game did not last long as the White forces came crashing through on the kingside and in the centre, where the hapless Black king found himself looking very forlorn. Although, England 1 also scored the full point on Board 2, the third team acquitted themselves very well with two draws on three and four - where the rating disparities were at their greatest.
|The Palace of the Grand Masters in Rhodes Town - mere humans only get 2 rooks, but GMs get 3!|
And so to today (Rd 8), where I was once again on sightseeing duty with Mrs Club Organiser. In my absence England 2 had an excellent 2.5-1.5 win over Belgium, while Andy's England 3 had 4 quick draws against a Danish team that outrated them on every board. I guess some teams are running low on motivation by now!
|Leading up to the Palace of the Grand Masters - this is the Street of the Knights!|
At the top of the 50+ competition, the USA are now 2 points clear after a draw with Iceland ( a game they were winning easily until one of their GMs blundered a piece to a knight fork - there is hope for all of us!), and an easy win over Austria today. Tomorrow they have been down-floated to a team (Argentina) with 6 match points less, so I think we can safely say they will retain their title. England 1 had a catastrophic loss against Italy yesterday, which has basically ruined their medal chances, and they were less than convincing against Athens Vets today, with GMs Plaskett and Ward both conceding draws to 1900 rated opposition. Even a big win against Germany in Rd 9 (highly unlikely anyway) will probably not be enough to get them into a medal position.
|They really like their chess pieces in Rhodes - topiary in the shape of a pawn!|
In the 65+ section, though, England 1 will almost definitely medal if they can eke out a win against the all-IM St Petersburg team, to follow up a big win against Iceland today. Russia inevitably lead, but are only a point clear of Germany. However, they have a much easier pairing and are also ahead on every single tie-break, so they are red-hot favourites to retain their title. I finish with a game against a 2337 FM from Austria called Adolf, while Andy's last opponent is Iolo Jones of Wales who I should have beaten a few days ago.
Its been fun, but I'll still be glad when it stops!