It is 23:00 pm as I am writing this. A heavy heart has befallen me. We were in an excellent position in the Open section and at various stages of today’s round we were leading the African group as our colleagues from other African countries faltered. Instead South Africa found itself wanting when it lost 2.5 to -1.5 to Zimbabwe. So yes the women and open teams have lost to Zimbabwe in this Olympiad. With that we effectively blew our chances for the the World Team Championship in 2017
Calvin Klaasen on board four started well when he brought home the point with a well payed Sicilian. The lion of Africa Watu Kobese tried to mix things up against Mandisha Farai on board two but Farai held well and the game petered out into a draw as a slugfest was threatened. On board three Donny sacrificed a bishop for nebulous compensation. Spencer Masongo who is well known to South Africans brought the point home. GM Kenny played a tough game against IM Rodwell Makoto. Rodwell from Johannesburg played very well and gained a rook and two pawns against two minor pieces. He nursed the position and then found his rook trapped. He however had over enough compensation and despite losing the rook had sufficient play on the queenside to bring the point home. So a tough day all round. The players played their hearts out and faltered at the finishing line.
Tomorrow the SA Team plays Jamaica. Yeah mon it seems we are a playing the opposing teams when the women have faced them already.
In the women’s section South Africa scored a lovely victory against Bolivia. Bolivia who is a tough team in their own right lost 2.5 to 1.5. Denise who was not feeling well played on board one and lost in the middle game against her higher rated opponent. Anzel played her characteristic aggressive chess and brought the point home. She is truly in top form. Jesse has rekindled her form and won today in nice tactic melee. On board four Michelle held the position nicely and when the other games were clinched she offered her opponent a draw which meant that the match was won. A good win indeed.
There are now many permutations to consider when the women’s team plays Canada tomorrow morning. I ask the readers to go to www.chess-results.com to understand and appreciate all the possible permutations. Remember if we beat Canada and end first of the African countries then the team has qualified for the world team championship in May next year.
We also have category prizes at stake and of course Anzel will hope some favourable results go her way as well. So much to think about but not much time as we play at eleven am tomorrow morning.
Last night Watu, Kenny and I had a quiet celebration as Watu celebrated his 100th Olympiad game for South Africa, he now joins Kenny as out first centurions at Olympiad level. Watu and I noted that I was present when he played his first Olympiad in Moscow in 1994. We played on stage in the Cosmos Hotel in round one against the United States. Watu played board two and I played board four in that match. If my memory serves Watu played Joel Benjamin, Charles drew with Shabalov and I lost to Sergey Kudrin. I indicated to Watu that ChessWp must organise an evening of lectures to celebrate the achievement of our Centurion and Kenny will have to do the same when he visits Cape Town. Watu is playing superbly and is currently on 5.5/9. He is a true professional and takes his chess very seriously. Well done Watu.
I greet all of you and look forward to seeing you on Saturday in Cape Town when I play for my team Steinitz in the league!
Reporting life from Baku, Azerbaijan
Dr lyndon Bouah