David Smerdon | September 01, 2012 11:49

Olympiad Day 4 – Bugs and Rugs

The internet has finally returned to the hotel and playing venue, much to the relief of a thousand frustrated chessites.  So much to report, so little time…

The men’s team drew 2-2 with an understrength Norwegian outfit.  There were two decisive games: Max eskewed a draw and eventually lost, while in a somewhat ironic twist, I managed a win using analysis Max had kindly gifted me in my preparation.  Round three was a bit disappointing for us, losing 2.5-1.5 to Mongolia, a team of similar strength.  My Stonewall wasn’t half bad, but eventually cracked when I got a little ambitious.  Fortunately (but much to my captain’s dismay) I had another chance to whirl out the Stonewall today against Pakistan, but it was the same story: The beautiful wall, the easy equality, the overly optimistic Smerdonesque winning gamble that backfires spectacularly… and wash, rinse, repeat.  Somehow, though, I managed to swindle a draw in the endgame, and after draws by Solo and Aleks and a third win for the tournament for Max “Energizer Bunny” Illingworth, we scored our second match win.

Our team continues to be plagued by illness, and in fact my throat feels like it’s got a mini Persian rug jammed down it most of the time.  Moulthun had a bad bout of insomnia but fortunately managed a 15 hour sleep yesterday.  Sherab’s spider situation escalated, but the docs have got it under control now, apparently, so long as he gets jabbed with penicillin twice a day.  Alek’s bronchitis has settled a little, so much so that he’s passed on the medication to me.  Other teams have their own dramas, too: Nigel Short did something to his leg; top Dutch player Anish Giri is still struggling to get a visa to get here; New Zealand WIM and wife of Gawain Jones, Sue Maroroa, is having similar visa issues from London.

In a show of patriotism and transtasman solidarity, one of the New Zealanders and I put up our respective flags at the end of each corridor on the second floor (which is essentially just our teams).  However, the cleaners decided that, despite the plethora of Turkish flags adorning the hotel and surrounds, they had to go.  We weren’t informed; we just came back one day to find them gone, and our inquiries and protestations to the hotel reception did no good.  Fortunately they’re back now, just in time to feature in part of my costume for the Bermuda party.

…If I make it, that is.  Of course, the famous Bermuda party, sponsored by the Bermuda team and always held the night before the first rest day, is the major non-chess highlight of the Olympiad.  But I’m still coughing, and I’m not sure if – gulp – I’ll be right to go.  This despite the fact that it’s being held literally right next door to my hotel, and is the best opportunity to catch up with chess friends from around the world that we only get to see for this one tournament every two years.  Better keep up the strepsils.

Other than that, nothing drastic to report, although I’m sure at least part of the Bermuda gossip will be blogworthy after tomorrow.  Here’s a couple of snaps in the meantime.

PS  Pairings just out; Australia plays Zambia tomorrow, and I face an old friend…

PPS  I just realised I never explained the rug reference.  Some of our more naive Australians headed out into the centre of Istanbul today and apparently got led down a dark alley by some burly local Turkish merchants.  The story gets a little hazy after this (at least I assume the details have been dramatically exaggerated), but the end result was that one Australian chess tourist ended up buying a rug more out of his own safety than anything else.  Go figure.)

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Author: David Smerdon

David Smerdon is a chess grandmaster from Brisbane, Australia. David attended Anglican Church Grammar School and Melbourne University. To qualify for the title of Grandmaster, a player must achieve three Grandmaster norm performances, and a FIDE Elo rating over 2500. Late in 2007, Smerdon achieved his third and final Grandmaster norm. In the July 2009 FIDE rating list his rating passed 2500, so he qualified for the title of Grandmaster. He is the fourth Australian to become a Grandmaster, after Ian Rogers, Darryl Johansen and Zhao Zong-Yuan. In 2009, Smerdon won the Queenstown Chess Classic tournament.

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