We have been back for a while now and it is time to conclude the Georgia Olympiad report. I shall divide my report into different sections so that we highlight a few matters.
1. Final Standings – Open Section
So China wins on tie break from the USA with Russia taking third. Our focus as ever is on the African countries. So let’s look at the final rankings of the African countries. The top African countries were:
- Egypt seeded 40th they ended in an impressive 19th position to win the Continental race and will represent the continent at the World Team Championships next year. Egypt won 6 matches, drew 3 and lost only two!
- In distant second is Zimbabwe with 13 match points. Zimbabwe won 5, drew 3 and lost three. They were seeded 110th and ended 59th which is very impressive.
- Morocco by a whisker is in position 69 after being seeded 92nd. They won five matches, drew two and lost 4.
- South Africa seeded 84th ended in 70th position. SA won 6 matches and lost five.
- 6. Madagascar
- South Sudan
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Sierra Leone
- Ivory Coast
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
This is an
impressive number. 45 countries out of 54 on the continent! The first time
Africa participated was in 1958 and in this 60th anniversary
year of Olympic chess Africa has come full force with 45/54 countries!
I was surprised that Algeria ended so low after at one stage playing against France on table number one in round three! Egypt was the consistent team and the other African teams jumped between the first and second halls. Headlining the Egyptian attack is of course GM Amin Bassem. He scored an impressive 8/11 without losing a single game! He played nine fellow grandmasters 9 which included GM Anand which was a draw) and picked up 10 rating points to add to his colossal 2766! He was ably supported by GM Adly Ahmed. He scored 7.5/11 and picked up 6 rating points to add to his equally impressive 2654.They were in turn supported by IM Fawzy Adham 2431 who picked GM Vidit 2711 ( India) and also had GM Cheparinov (2715) against the ropes but had to settle for a draw. Let’s focus on South Africa as our next heading.
2. South Africa Open team
2.1 On top Board IM Daniel Cawdery scored 5/9. A great rating performance of 2468. He picked up 6 rating points and will probably be now over 2440 after taking into account some local results. He played 5 grandmasters out of his nine games and scored 2 draws. He was probably better against GM Rinat Jumabayev (2605). His 15 move win against Surinam stands out for me as one of the best Olympiad games a South African played at this level.
2.2 On board two IM Kobese had a forgettable Olympiad. He scored 3.5/9 which by his standards is very low. He lost more games at this Olympiad than he lost probably in the last three Olympiads. Kobese dominated all the home events over the last two years so this event is just an unfortunate one. He had a rating performance of 2219. He is probably more disappointed than anyone else in his play. I do believe however that in IM Kobese’s case that form is temporary and class is permanent.
2.3 On board three FM Calvin Klaasen scored an impressive 35 rating points after reaching an impressive 2407 rating performance. He scored 6.5/9 and missed the IM Norm by half a point. Klaasen played three grandmasters and scored 2/3 against them! This was certainly a fantastic performance. Klaasen impressed all with his cool demeanour at the board and was a fighter in every game. He played his heart out and even against GM Jure from Slovenia he had some chances. I am sure he will very soon be challenging for his IM title and then who knows!
2.4 On board four IM Johannes Mabusela was rock solid. He scored 6/10 and had a rating performance of 2248. His play has matured and positional he is becoming a hard nut to crack. He is a supreme team player and he did everything that was asked.
2.5 On board five IM Van Den Heever scored 4/7. He played some good games but the time trouble pressure took its toll. In the last few rounds there were some unfortunate oversights but I am sure if he decides to dedicate himself again as he did in 2013/2014 when he won all before him then we will see the old IM Van Den Heever.
Overall team Impressions
- This was the Olympiad where the score 4-0 was rampant!
- In round one SA beat Haiti 4-0
- In round two SA Lost 0-4 against Slovenia
- In round five SA beat Surinam 4-0
- In round 8 SA beat Thailand 4-0
- In round ten SA lost to Paraguay 0-4
- I will research my records but I think that this may be the first Olympiad in the modern era where we won 3 matches in a row. We won against Jamaica in round four, against Surinam in round five and then we beat the UAE.
- This may also be the first Olympiad where a South African FM (FM Klaasen) beat two grandmasters in the event.
- The fact that the team stayed one hour from the venue did not assist the teams. We had to leave each day at 13h20 in order to travel one hour to the playing venue. Once we got there we had to spend a few minutes being searched before waiting thirty minutes before the games began. So preparation time, rest periods and fatigue were all factors that needed to be taken into account.
- We probably need a post selection activity clause as we need all players to be match fit when they play for the SA team. The National Selectors need to revisit this aspect.
- The team has matured over the years and can absorb losses and dish out punishment.
- The team ended better than their seeding and we got to give the team credit for that.
3. Final Standings – Woman Section
teams in the women’s section were China, Ukraine and Georgia 1. The African
challenge was won by Egypt who complemented their Open team. Let’s look at the
top African women finishers.
- Egypt seeded 52, ended 43rd. They won 6 matches, drew one and lost four. They will represent SA at the World Team Championships in 2019.\
- Algeria was second with five wins, two draws and four losses. They ended in position 52 after being seeded 67th.
- South Africa was third with 6 wins and 5 losses. (This is of course identical to the Open team!) ended 62nd after being seeded 88th.
- Morocco had four wins, four losses and three draws and ended in 82nd spot
- Ivory Coast
- SAO Tome and Principe
- Sierra Leone
- Central African Republic
4. South Africa Woman team
- On board one WIM Jesse February scored 6.5/10 and picked up 28 rating points. She had a rating performance of 2040.
- On board two WIM Denise Bouah scored 4/9. She picked up 21 rating points and had a rating performance of 1906.
- On board three WFM Michelle Fisher, who was a late replacement scored 4.5/8 and picked up 5 rating points and had a rating performance of 1729.
- On board four Rebecca Selkirk secured a WCM title and scored 4/9 and had a rating performance of 1693.
- On board five, WIM Charlize Van Zyl scored 3.5/8 and had a rating performance of 1601.
- Selkirk and Van Zyl made their Olympiad debuts at this Olympiad and I am sure they will have savoured the experience and will look forward to trying to qualify for the next one in Siberia.
- It is interesting to note that both Egypt and SA scored six wins each but Egypt had the one drawn match whereas SA had no drawn matches which were the critical difference.
5. Final impressions
The Olympiad in Georgia was a great one. Great chess with fighting spirit was the order of the day. I met Nana Alexandria at the Olympiad. A friendly lady she is a real chess legend. She was a challenger for the World Championship twice and a six time Olympic champion!
I enjoyed the open and free flowing tables which allowed us to walk between the tables to see the games of the top players. This allowed me as captain to watch multiple games at once.
I have written extensively within my reflections on the Olympiad in Georgia. I thank everyone who sent comments. The engagement was nice. I also thank Leon de Jager who assisted me with the reports with his maps and technical alignment of the reports. Thanks Leon.
To the SA team thanks for the memories and I trust that SA will now start the preparations for the next Olympiad which will take place in Siberia in 2020.
Dr Lyndon Bouah