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T&T women draw with Japan
T&T got off to a fair start after the first three rounds of the 41st Chess Olympiad now in progress in the scenic city of Tromso, Norway.
In their first encounter, our men’s team suffered an expected 4-0 drubbing from Brazil’s team of grandmasters, but they went on to play unbeaten against Bhutan and to overwhelm the Seychelles with a perfect score.
T&T’s opening performance of two wins out of three placed it 76th among the Olympiad’s 150 competing countries, 17 places ahead of Jamaica and 62 above Barbados, both scoring one victory.
In the women’s section, T&T opened impressively, holding Japan to a 2-2 draw, conceding just half a point to Lithuania and crushing Palau by four points to zero. Here again, T&T forged ahead of its Caribbean rivals, placing 67th among 136 contesting nations including Jamaica at 74 and Barbados at 99.
Pointswise, T&T national champions FM Ryan Harper, men, and WCM Javanna Smith, women, together with CM Joshua Johnson and CM Adrian Winter Atwell are leading the struggle with two victories each.
While T&T chess fans may be somewhat heartened by our opening performance, particularly our draw with Japan, they must also be aware that tougher competition in the form of IMs and GMs is yet to come in this 11-round contest which ends on August 14.
From its gala musical opening, there was really no doubt about the star of the show. All 174 participating nations were introduced in a flag ceremony which featured an enthusiastic international welcome for the arrival of the Norwegian team on stage led by world champion Magnus Carlsen.
Receiving the accolade, the 23-year-old super star said: “It is very special to be on home ground—and this is a unique opportunity! I have great faith in our team, and am sure that we can give anyone we meet a real fight.”
Norway’s Finance Minister Siv Jensen introduced the start of the games with a wink to national pride: “With Magnus Carlsen, world chess champion, it is only fitting that the Chess Olympiad is held in Norway and Tromso.”
In welcoming the gathering, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov praised the natural beauty of the Olympiad’s setting.
Further to the north of an already far flung destination, Tromso is known, like much of the country, for its natural beauty and for extremes like the Midnight Sun, the Northern Lights and northern hospitality.
The current year marks the 200th anniversary of Norway’s constitution and 100th anniversary of the Norway Chess Federation. This, officials say, is the main reason why Norway applied to host this year’s Olympiad.
The event has attracted a record number of participants, with 175 countries and 3,2000 players, officials and FIDE representatives coming to Tromso.
Like many of the heavy first round favourites, Norway rested their top board.
Without their champion, however, Norway almost suffered a huge upset, narrowly escaping being held to a 2-2 draw by little fancied Yemen.
Norway’s champion 21-year-old Frode Urkedal created a second round sensation by whipping renowned Vassily Ivanchuk, a feat which catapulted the youngster into the media hot seat.
Meanwhile, Carlsen settled for a tame draw against Finnish GM Tomi Nyback.