Olympiad through the eyes of captain
Chess Olympiad attracts many people who follow the performance of the best national teams. Normally they follow the games of top players, when few of them realize how much is left behind the scenes at Olympiad. It’s like an iceberg, when you only see the top of it. For example, in addition to the main medals, the teams were fighting for the medals in their rating groups. According to average team rating the tournament is divided into 5 parts. So some unremarkable last round match at 50th board may be decisive to determine Group D champion. Accordingly the group winner receives not only medals but also feeling of success of being ahead of more than 30 teams of close rating. As we mentioned the topic, let me this year’s winners in their categories: India, Iran, Azerbaijan 3 (to pleasure of organizers), Sudan and Chinese Taipei. In women section: Russia, Belarus, Malaysia, Syria and Indonesia.
Captains’ work is also left behind the scene. Previously this position was not always taken seriously. There used to be teams with local officials in role of captains, whose main task were photo shooting and sightseeing. Nowadays there came understanding that players not only need help in booking tickets and some other technical issues, but with the raise of information in preparation they need help in opening preparation, psychological support and also team composing before each round. FIDE Trainers Commission now requires team captains to be licensed coaches thus cutting off tourism at the expense of chess players. It also contributes to a more serious approach to the training process. The importance of preparation has long time been recognized by top seed teams, which normally have 2-3 more trainers apart from captain. These coaches prepare opening files against tomorrow opponents in the night and during the game itself, they can sleep with a sense of accomplishment to be ready for further night work. Normally during the evening team meeting the team composition is proved and tasks for night analysis are set. The names of these nocturnal coaches are rarely mentions in press, but very often the quality if their work is being proved during games. For example, Russia in addition to official Rublevsky and Filatov had also Riazantsev, Potkin, Postovsky being noticed around. We can never exclude some more guys helping through Skype. No doubts this could only be afforded by rich and ambitious federations. Mere mortal beings as a rule have no nocturnal coaches but only one captain who has to organize the optimal way of preparation for 4 players, at most he can use the 5th reserve player in some help with preparation. Far not all the countries have or are able to invite experienced coaches.
So this year FIDE Trainers commission headed by grandmaster Mikhalchishin and Grivas has implemented excellent idea by inviting famous coaches for those countries, which lack them by one reason or another. Such project provides sharing experience and chess knowledge to different regions.
For example, Haiti chess players could never dream before to have famous Mikhail Gurevich as their coach. Here is the full list.
Such cooperation is memorable experience for coaches too. I had pleasure to be captain of Barbados team.
The fact itself, that in the last round our team approached the scene and played against Denmark team, which had grandmaster even as reserved player, is surely success for country with population of 277 thousands. This success of Barbados team was noticed by press. Thus IM Farley Terry who won 5 last games in a row, including the first in his life victory over grandmaster, was announced the best sportsman of the week in Barbados. Interestingly his result could be even better. He missed most beautiful opportunity.
Farley,Terry (2203) - Jose Queralto,Daniel (2107)
Baku Chess Olympiad , 08.09.2016
Seemingly, white can't take the bishop because of famous kids motive.
29.Qc5+?= [After this check position in equal, white even lost because of further mistake]
[29.Qxb2!! impossible is possible! 29...Re1+ 30.Rxe1 Qxb2 31.Bg6! The position is beautiful but it's simplicity. The black queen can't destroy the mating box built by 2 white pieces]
The chess component of their performance was also decent. Let me share one memorable part of game played in match between 99th and 103rd rated teams at Olympiad. I believe even GM could be proud of such finding.
Jones,Richard S (2396) - Husbands,Orlando (2257)
Baku Chess Olympiad | (10.1), 12.09.2016
With his last move White has prepared a trap. Obvious capture of bishop failed to variation. 27...cxb2? 28.Rxc8+ Bd8! (28...Qxc8? 29.Nh6+ gxh6 30.Qxc8+ Kg7 31.Qc2+–) 29.Rxb8 b1Q+=
Young leader of Barbados team coped excellently with calculation and found the perfect move which pushed White to resign
The point of the move is freeing square for the king, what is important in the following line 28.Qh3 cxb2 now it’s working! 29.Rxc8+ Qxc8 30.Nh6+ Kh7! 31.Qxc8 b1Q+