09 August 2014

Malaysia at Tromso - Moving Up (Half-Time Report)

After 6 rounds of play, Malaysia's Men's Team is sitting on no. 92 on the ranking list. This follows 2 big wins in consecutive rounds, 4-0 against Saudi Arabia in R5 and 3.5-1.5 against Namibia in R6. The chess-results summary for the team is as follows:

Round Opponent Seed Result
   1 Spain   17 Lost 0.5-3.5
   2 Kenya  130 Win 2.5-1.5
   3 South Africa   79 Lost 0.5-3.5
   4 Guatemala   93 Lost 1.5-2.5
   5 Saudi Arabia  145 Win 4-0
   6 Namibia   117 Win 3.5-1.5
   7 Nigeria  107  ?   ? - ?

Malaysia has been playing to its seeding so far, losing to higher-seeded opponents and beating lower-seeded opponents. Nigeria, the opponent today for Round 7 is the first to be within Malaysia's seeding range so the result will be interesting.

Individual Performances
Yee Weng is finally finding his feet at Board 1 with 2 wins in the last 2 rounds. I am hoping to see him draw and win against higher rated players in the coming rounds, which we know he is capable of.

Aron Teh has shown himself to be a fighter and has made himself difficult to beat. 3 draws and 2 wins in a performance that shows he is playing to his rating, and a capable Board 2.  For Yit San, a beautiful win in R2 followed by a loss arising from a miscalculated sacrifice followed by a steady draw against a 2200+ IM sums up his performance so far. He is doing his job at Board 3.

Sumant now has 2 wins following 2 losses. He is finding his touch again and is likely and would do a good job when called upon. Fadzil's smooth positional style had earned the team 2.5 game points from the 4 games he played and is similarly doing his job as are the other team members.

Overall the team has been playing to expectations and I am pleased to see them at No. 92 ranking at this stage of the competition.

Tournament Starts Now
There are 5 more rounds to go. Round 7 today pits the Malaysia against Nigeria, at 107th is seeded just 4 rungs below Malaysia's 103rd seeding. It is a winnable match for Malaysia although I expect to see tough fights on all 4 boards. A good win should see Malaysia move up to near the 80th rank.

A win against Nigeria and Malaysia would be meeting higher seeded opponents thereafter. Thus the teams performance in the final 5 rounds is crucial to see where this young Malaysian team stand in global chess. I sensed some nervousness the first few rounds. But that is only to be expected from a team with 4 players making their first appearance in Malaysian colours and at the Olympiad. Even the experienced Yee Weng is making his first appearance on first board at an Olympiad.

However the team members have overcome this initial obstacle and morale is running high. Everyone wants to play every round which is a good sign. There will be stern tests when Malaysia is paired with higher-seeded teams and the individual players come face to face with higher-rated opponents. I have confidence in the team that they'll do well.

So here's looking forward to fighting performance by the Malaysian team in the remaining rounds.

Two beautiful wins by the Malaysian players:
[Event "Olympiad 2014"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.08.03"] [Round "2"] [White "Fong Yit San"] [Black "Atwoli, Joseph"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B01"] [WhiteElo "2143"] [BlackElo "2046"] [PlyCount "48"] [SourceDate "2012.03.14"] 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qa5 4. d4 Nf6 5. Nf3 Bf5 6. Ne5 c6 7. g4 Bc8 8. Qf3 Nbd7 9. Nc4 Qd8 10. g5 Ng8 11. Bf4 Nb6 12. O-O-O Nxc4 13. Bxc4 e6 14. d5 Qb6 15. dxe6 fxe6 16. Rhe1 Ne7 17. Bxe6 Bxe6 18. Rxe6 Rd8 19. Bd6 Rd7 20. Rde1 Qd4 21. Qe2 Rxd6 22. Rxe7+ Kd8 23. Rf7 Kc8 24. Rd1 Qb6 1-0

[Event "Olympiad 2014"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.08.05"] [Round "4"] [White "Teh Eu Wen, Aron"] [Black "Cu Hor, Winston Darwin"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D85"] [WhiteElo "2309"] [BlackElo "2259"] [PlyCount "71"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. e4 Nxc3 6. bxc3 c5 7. Nf3 Bg7 8. Rb1 O-O 9. Be2 b6 10. O-O Bb7 11. d5 Bxc3 12. Bc4 Bg7 13. Qe2 Nd7 14. e5 f6 15. Bb2 Kh8 16. Rbd1 Qc7 17. e6 Nb8 18. h4 Rd8 19. h5 b5 20. d6 Rxd6 21. Rxd6 Qxd6 22. Rd1 Qb6 23. Bxb5 Nc6 24. Rd7 Re8 25. hxg6 h6 26. Nh4 a6 27. Ba4 Bc8 28. Nf5 Nd4 29. Rxd4 cxd4 30. Bxe8 d3 31. Qxd3 Bxe6 32. Bf7 Bc8 33. Nxe7 Bb7 34. Qd7 Bf8 35. Qe8 Kg7 36. Nf5+ 1-0

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