SPRAGGETT ON CHESS
It went down to the wire! As I predicted, Russia crushed Germany and the Ukraine beat China. BUT Hungary was not quite up to it this morning and the Armenian star Movsesian scored Armenia’s only victory to give the very proud country of Armenia its third gold medal in the last four Olympiads! Russia takes the sliver. The Ukraine takes the bronze. CONGRATS!!
Almazi had played quite well in the Olympiad up to this round, and it is a bit unfortunate that on such a key day he would play one of his weakest games. He even played on some 15 to 20 moves too many…but I guess he did not want to go home!
Most of us have no idea of either how the tie-break systems work or why these particular criteria are chosen! Most of us feel that it is all too arbitrary, chosen my politicos without any more understanding of these exact issues than us…However, everyone accepted to play under such rules and so legally Russia can not complain!
As you can see, both teams limited their losses to minimums: Russia lost only 3 games while Armenia lost 4. Remarkable considering we are not just talking about a total of 44 games (11 X 4), but also about games between some of the very strongest players in the world! I assume that Armenia’s 18 victories versus Russia’s 16 victories was a decisive consideration for Armenia’s ultimate victory.
Notice also that Armenia limited Petrosian’s participation to 3 games, while Russia allowed Tomashevsky to play 5 games. As described in an earlier blog entry, an important role of the team captain is to identify the player less likely to fit into their ”best four boards” and then ONLY let him play when one of the other four playes is virtually incapacitated. It could be that the Armenian captain did a better job here…
Meanwhile, in the ‘other’ Chess Olympiad…
The difference between the top 30 teams and the rest of the 150-odd teams is getting bigger over the years. Some of these lower rated teams have players who have almost lost more games than both Russia and Armenia combined!
The pairing rules have changed over the years to allow for the fight for the medals to be more fair amongst the contending teams (top-20 rated teams). And the scoring system (match points) eliminates a lot of the random ”yo-yo”effect that would allow lower rated teams to bounce up onto the top boards, thereby giving some teams an unfair advantage.
The combined effect of these new changes has been that most ”mediocre” teams–including Canada– now find themselves playing more teams of more or less equal strength, and less and less the opportunity to play against the very elite teams. But it has also reduced most of these teams to ”spectator” status as far as the medals are concerned.
Canada’s team this year was particularly weakened because of the refusal to participate of all except one of Canada’s top grandmasters. Canada was ranked 53rd going into the event, but finished in a tie between places 52 and 69.
I had previously predicted a final placing around the 75th position (in about the middle of the x-table), and Canada seemed to be heading that way: after 7 rounds Canada found itself placed between 70th and 92nd place! HOWEVER, Canada then lucked out: it was paired with (effectively a bye!) the Maldives in the 8th round! Apart from the fact that most Canadians have never heard of it, this is a team that has such weak players (approximately 1700 elo) that even the Captain of the Canadian Team could beat them all in a simul, blindfolded while holding his breath!
Hey! That is cheating….you are supposed to be blindfolded also!
The predictable 4-0 route allowed Canada to slowly float to the surface of the cesspool…HOWEVER, special credit goes to Calgary’s Eric Hansen for playing a FANTASTIC tournament and earning the GM title. CONGRATS, ERIC!
The hero of Canada’s team! Canada’s newest grandmaster did it the hard way! Work, sacrifice, more work and then some!