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Istanbul Olympiad, Conclusion

I'd like to start by apologising for the amount of time it's taken my to write this final update - still, here it is and I hope you enjoy it!

So we left it in my last blog after a disappointing 3-1 defeat of the Welsh women by Puerto Rico. After this match we had a casual look at a couple of the games but mostly we all took the chance to relax (and maybe have a drink or two to drown our sorrows). A sensible decision or a scandal in the making? Well, to answer that question here is the match card from the following day's match against United Arab Emirates:

Bo. 88   United Arab Emirates (UAE) Rtg 1 - 3 86   Wales (WLS) Rtg
39.1 WIM Mohamed, Noura 1931 0 - 1 WFM Smith, Olivia 2022
39.2 WIM Alzarooni, Khuloud Eisa 1876 0 - 1 WFM Blackburn, Susan 1967
39.3 WFM Al-Ali, Amna Nuaman 1829 1/2-1/2   Roberts, Lynda 1914
39.4 WFM Bukhashem, Fayeqa 1762 1/2-1/2   Wang, Alyssa 1541

Definitely a success (I hope you'll agree). A solid performance all round, draws on the bottom two boards, including a great save by Alyssa from the exchange down, a nice slow grind from Olivia on top board but the game of the day was undoubtably from Suzy who got us of to a winning start:

A really encouraging result for the Welsh, especially since it was against a closely matched side.

Unfortunately this win got us paired against a very strong Moldovan side (they had a WGM on bottom board). We put in a valiant effort, with 3/4 of the games going to Rook, Bishop and pawn endings(!) but their experience told in the end and they white-washed us 4-0 :(

Still, that brought us to the final round, and as one of my early coaches would say 'it all comes down to the last round'. We were slightly disappointed to get a tough pairing against a higher ranked team, Syria, but we knew that we'd have chances on every board. 

The match swung first one way and then another but it ended up being a 2-2 draw. 

Bo. 86   Wales (WLS) Rtg 2 - 2 74   Syria (SYR) Rtg
41.1 WFM Smith, Olivia 2022 1/2-1/2   Mir Mahmoud, Afamia 1970
41.2 WFM Blackburn, Susan 1967 1/2-1/2   Al-Jilda, Fatma 1847
41.3   Roberts, Lynda 1914 1 - 0   Farha, Doha 0
41.4   Wang, Alyssa 1541 0 - 1   Stef, Shirin 1942

We definitely felt we had chances to win the match, especially after Lynda had got us of to a great start:

This draw in the final match left the team with 10 match points, in a share of 72nd= (82nd on some weird tiebreak but 74th on game points). Considering the team was seeded 86th this was a reasonable result but of course the aim is always to do better!

I'd like to thank the whole team (including the Welsh men) for really helping to make my first Olympiad experience a great one! I hope to go to many more in the future....

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