A good 36 hours of travelling now sees me back home in Canberra, after 3 weeks in UAE and Azerbaijan. The main purpose of the trip was to captain the PNG team at the 2016 Chess Olympiad, as well as attend the Asian Chess Federation Summit in Al Ain.
As a first time captain at the chess Olympiad I had an idea what was in store, but it turned out harder than I expected. Anyone who has followed the PNG team at past Olympiads knows that it has its own special quirks, which makes the captains job a little more involved. As a team we weren't helped by a 2nd round 4-0 walkover against Uganda, as that left us playing some very difficult teams for the first half of the tournament (which we all lost 4-0). However we had hoped to better in the second half, but 2 drawn matches and a single win was all we managed from the last 6 rounds.
The drawn match against San Marino may well have been the best we played, but for most of the other matches, it was a tale of missed opportunities. A lack of competition did show, with a couple of points and half points tossed away in the 4th and 5th hours.
My overall impressions of the Olympiad weren't that great. While a lot of people I spoke to thought it was one of the better organised Olympiads, I felt the over zealous officiating took a lot of the fun out of the tournament. The social side was a bit hit and miss (at least for teams way out in the Qafqaz hotel), and so a slightly dull routine of prep - play - analyse - sleep was the usual way of things. However teams located in other hotels may have had a better time, as they were closer together along the water front.
Hopefully with the next Olympiad (in Batumi, Georgia) the organisers can find a better balance between security and enjoyment (especially given the complaints about the anti-cheating measures). Not sure if I will back up as team captain (or maybe as a player), although I will feel a little sad if I do not go.