Australia Overcomes Morocco 3.5-0.5: Olympiad Captain's Recap Round 2
Australian ace GM Justin Tan before round 1. Photo: Leonid Sandler.

Australia Overcomes Morocco 3.5-0.5: Olympiad Captain's Recap Round 2

| 1

Round two of the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad saw the Australian Open team take on the dangerous Moroccans in a match that the Australians won 3.5-0.5, meanwhile, the Australian Women's team won their match 3-1 against our geographical neighbors, New Zealand. The Moroccan outfit that the Open team played comprised of two IMs and two FMs who had also won their first-round encounter against Gabon.

Australia's 3.5-0.5 result included three wins and a draw.

The expectation was that the fanfare of the opening day of the Olympiad would have died down however this couldn't be further from the truth! The playing venue was packed with players, officials, and fans, many of whom were seeking the autograph of one GM Magnus Carlsen, who made his first appearance in round two where he scored a win against GM Georg Meier.

Carlsen's presence drew extra excitement from the spectating and playing group today. Photo: MSN

The Australians picked up where they left off yesterday and once again it was the boards two and three, GMs Bobby Cheng and Justin Tan who were the first to win their respective games. Cheng showed great understanding of the Sicilian Najdorf against IM Mohamed Tissir to obtain his second win in a row while Tan went one better than his 31 moves yesterday, winning in just 29 moves against Adel Choukri in a positional masterclass.

GM Zong-Yuan Zhao was the next to finish his 23-move miniature against FM Nassim Zrikem in style. Zhao has already proved a handy reserve player for the Australian team and will undoubtedly pick up many positive results in the event. The final game of the round between GM Anton Smirnov and IM Ilyass Msellek ended in a draw after an early advantage fizzled out for the Australian board one. With the team's result in hand, Smirnov decided to call it square rather than take unnecessary risks to try and win.

Anton (pictured) when he took on the challenger group at Tata Steel. Photo: Wikipedia

At the request of Australian GM David Smerdon, most famous worldwide for his draw against Carlsen at the 2016 Baku Olympiad, we felt the need to elaborate on one of the key secrets to the Australian team's success... yoga. 

The government of Tamil Nadu has kindly provided complimentary yoga, reflexology, and "laughing therapy" sessions which we have taken advantage of. Although some are more flexible than others (I am unfortunately not one of the flexible ones), the ritual has proven to be a great calming activity and also a good source of entertainment each day before the games.

Now a daily ritual for both teams, yoga has become an important way to re-focus and relax. Photo: Leonid Sandler

Off the back of a solid win against Morocco, Australia will now face the tournament's fifth seed, Poland who will be spearheaded by world number 18 GM Jan Krzysztof-Duda. Playing two boards down from Carlsen and two up from Dutch superstar GM Anish Giri, the Aussies are ready to step up to the task and show the world our fighting spirit.