Time for an update from Istanbul. We arrived on Monday, the day before the first round and settled into our hotel. It's quite nice, with a swimming pool and air-conditioned rooms - the only downside is we're about 5km from the playing venue so we have to bus to and from the playing area each day.
Still, on to the chess. As I mentioned in my previous blog I'm here captaining the Welsh Women's Team at the Olympiad. In the first round we were handed a tough pairing against the Czech Republic. We were heavily outrated on all boards but we put up a good fight, especially on board 3 where Lynda Roberts looked to be doing well for some time. Unfortunately we didn't manage to get anything out of the match and lost 4-0.
It's very common at these events to 'yo-yo' between stronger and weaker teams and indeed that is what happened in round two as we faced Kenya. We were strong favourites although the match remained unclear for a long time but we ran out winners, 3.5-0.5. It was definitely a good feeling to have the first win! Olivia Smith won a nice game on top board, here's the finish to the game.
Round 3 again saw us facing a higher ranked team, Iceland. We felt we had a chance in this match as we had chances on all boards at some points and in the end the final score of 3-1 to Iceland slightly flattered them.
Round 4 was a chance to make amends against Malta. We started as favourites but it was clear that it was going to be tough. We had a great start though as Alyssa Wang was quickly winning on board 4, almost in a (lucky) piece of preparation. She finished the game off in style - never allowing her opponent back into the game. Perhaps inspired by the quick victory the team rallied to win the match 4-0!
Today we face a very tough team - Italy (in fact I better finish writing this and head off to help them prepare)! It's the rest day tomorrow so I will try and give more of an impression from the Olympiad then. Below is a team photo, l-r: Sandra Blackburn, Alyssa Wang, Lynda Roberts, Olivia Smith, Suzy Blackburn and me!
In the meantime it's worth seeing that in the Men's section the top 4 seeds are leading the event. Also England are having a great tournament, with 3 wins and one draw (vs France).
To see all the Welsh Women's match results visit: http://results.chessolympiadistanbul.com/tnr77682.aspx?art=20&lan=1&flag=30&snr=86
For information and live games check out the official website: http://www.chessolympiadistanbul.com/