Sunday, 23 November 2008

Olympiad Day 9

One of the effects of the pairing system at this Olympiad is teams tend to end up in 'groups' much more than they did in previous events. By that I mean that there are far more teams in a score group using match points than in a group using game points. As a result, the PNG win yesterday moved us into the '5 point' group, which jumped us ahead of about 12 other teams.
Now the important thing to note about 'groups' is that contain different types of teams. Usually there will be a couple of over-achievers who have joined at the bottom, with an awful tie-break score. Then there are the under-achievers, who have had a tragic loss, and sit at the top of the group, with a pretty big tie-break. And by design, the over-achievers crush the under-achievers 4-0. Unfortunately for the over-achievers, not enough teams either leave their group, or even join their group, and so despite avoiding the under-achievers, they still up with a tough pairing in the next round. Malta was a perfect example in that they won their first two matches and then got England, Poland and Egypt in succesive rounds. Despite only scoring 0.5 from 12, they still got tough pairings and only recorded another match win in round 8.
PNG were somewhat in this boat by being paired with South Korea. 2 years ago they weren't that strong (it was their debut), but this time they had a GM on board 1 (Alexy Kim), and had a pretty useful board 2. Indeed the match looked pretty clearcut on 3 of the 4 board, with Korea outrating us on Boards 1 and 4, us looking good on board 3, and board 2 really being the game to decide whether we draw or lose.
It turned out that my game was lost, after I played a bad move in the opening (Note to future opponents: I do this quite a lot) and just got crushed a pawn down. Stuart Fancy had hopes of a good game with his GM opponent, but he dropped a piece within 10 moves, and resigned in under an hour. Craig Skehan missed a pin, dropped a piece and got mated. However Rupert Jones was also following the script and scored out only victory as we went down 1-3.
The 1 point may help our tie-break which should ensure an easier(?) opponent tommorow, although we are looking forward to round 11 whee we expect to finish with a wet sail.

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