How nice it is to coach a team that ask advice and then follow it to the letter! The extraordinary thing about this team is how well they get on, as well as the parents. In my 30+ years of chess comps, I have never seen such a harmonious group.
This is a key factor in team events and has helped Armenia win 3 Olympic Gold Medals in recent years. Does that also explain why Russia has failed to win a Gold for a generation? I don't know, just idle speculation on my part :-)
Hughston smiling at the start of his game against Iraq.
Isaac, who seemed a bit uncertain the first few days now seems to feel as if he lives here.
Gordon feeling quite at home as well.
No comment necessary :-)
Match against Iraq
It is so nice to see Iraq, a country with some challenges, past and present, competing in this event. They also seem to be more organised and better funded than Australia, but then again we are a low bar to jump.
They outrated us on every board but the fighting spirit of our youngsters bore fruit this time.
Hughston was a tiny bit careless in the opening, allowing a central break that looked nasty, but then dived deep into the position and found a spectacular exchange sacrifice ( lad seems a bit frivolous with his rooks ) which gave him more than enough compensation in the form of two bishops, an imposing central structure and an attack. The position demanded great accuracy though and at some moments he played second best moves eventually winning the exchange back but at too high a price. Fortune does not always favour the brave.
Isaac played his role perfectly. As black, he occupied the centre, traded pieces and drew effortlessly. In other words, he did his job. This was also the only game not to give the coach palpitations.
Gordon didn't play the opening perfectly and came under quite some pressure. He has also shown himself to be a bit of a time trouble addict but his play seems to improve the less time he has!
His opponent was visibly annoyed that he had not won yet and blundered a King-Queen fork to a night. After a forced sequence Gordon was a piece ahead, which he quickly gave back for two pawns. It was the best way to reach a Bishop+3 v Bishop+1 ending, which required no thought, just pushing.
Brigitte was up against it, black on board 4 against a 1755. amazingly enough, she played the opening perfectly, reaching a winning position before move 20, and had double her opponents time on the clock. Then she dropped a piece. Oops. But she didn't resign or get depressed but kept making threats even as pieces got swapped and her situation got more and more hopeless. This finally took its toll on her opponent, who was playing on the increment and she overlooked quite a transparent mate in 2. Miracles do happen if you don't give up!
All games are on the Chess24 website as well as Chessbomb. Link below.
As a reward for this spectacular fighting effort, the Australian team gets to play Armenia!