Monday 18 August 2014

2014 Chess Olympiad - (small) Oceania Teams

The 2014 Olympiad saw a fantastic result for the Australian team (=24th seeded 60th), while the New Zealand team would be disappointed with their result (=97th seeded 76th). As for the smaller Oceania nations, the results were somewhat mixed.
Fiji finished top of the Oceania "2nd Division" with 7 match points. They turned it around after getting 'blanked' in the first 3 rounds, winning 2 matched and drawing 3. CM Sam Goundar was the best performer, with a 50% score (4.5/9). PNG could not repeat there performance from 2 years ago, scoring 3 wins for 6 match points. The team was well placed going into the last 4 rounds but a couple of bad results left them short of the 8 point mark. FM Stuart Fancy was the outstanding performer for the team, scoring 7.5/11 on board 1.
Guam had a promising debut, also finishing on 6 points. They scored a lot of their points in the first half of the event, but were made to pay for this with a tough finish. Board 4 Jonathon Molod did enough in the early rounds to earn a CM title, and finished as top scorer on 4/10. Palau had a tough event, with only 4 match points. Jeffrey Balbalosa was the best performer, scoring 3/8 on the bottom board. The Solomon Islands finished at the tail of the tournament, but 3 drawn matches gives hope for the future. They were also ham strung by travel arrangements that meant they had to miss the final round.
Overall, the small Oceania teams (with the possible exception of Guam), ended up in the same places as previous events. This reflects that other developing countries are on the improve, while Oceania is yet to see a new wave of players coming through. Nonetheless, experience in playing in the Olympiad is an invaluable one for helping develop chess in these countries, and hopefully the next decade will see these countries keep pace with the rest of the world.

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