Australia's Narrow Loss To Poland, Kuybokarov Beats Wojtaszek: Olympiad Captain's Recap Round 3

Australia's Narrow Loss To Poland, Kuybokarov Beats Wojtaszek: Olympiad Captain's Recap Round 3

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Another round of the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad has passed and the Australian team fell just short of overcoming their biggest challenge yet. Playing against Poland on board five, the strength of this Australian outfit was brought to the fore and the team did not disappoint, garnering 1.5 points out of the four games. Meanwhile, the Women's team split points with the higher-seeded Cuba and will go on to face the much-touted USA team in round four.

GM Anton Smirnov had the tough task of facing GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda (2750) on board one and seemed to be doing well before Duda found an exquisite queen sacrifice to secure a point early for the Polish team. Although it was a disappointment for the Australian number one to lose this way, Smirnov was positive after the game and happy to have had the experience and will back up in round four.

Duda is one of the worlds best chess player (currently ranked 18th)

 Australia's chances of winning the match did diminish soon after GM Mateusz Bartel converted with the White pieces against GM Zong-Yuan Zhao. The position appeared to be holdable and perhaps winnable after Bartel nabbed a pawn in the opening that gave Zhao significant activity however it wasn't to be and time trouble decided the result.

GM Bobby Cheng again showed his class on board three and procured a +4 position from the Closed Catalan but his lofty-rated opponent, 2634-rated Kacper Piorun showed why he is the five-time world problem-solving champion and wiggled his way out. The players settled for a draw on move 47, securing the result for Poland but Cheng can be proud of the way he played. GM Peter Leko who was commentating on the event actually compared Cheng's play to that of GM Vladimir Kramnik. High praise indeed.

Piorun's resilience saved the match for Poland. Photo: Twitter.

The final game of the day was a phenomenal result for team Australia, with Australian Champion GM Temur Kuybokarov knocking over 2700 for the first time in his career. GM Radoslaw Wojtaszek was the unlucky customer against the Aussie board two and was likely surprised to have his draw offer rejected at the beginning of the endgame. Kuybokarov has proven that he can match it with the best in the world and his clinical conversion has given the Aussie camp a morale boost.

The game drew the attention of a certain broadcaster after whom the variation of the Neo-Gruenfeld was named, GM Judit Polgar, who was impressed with Kuybokarov's play.

The man of the moment. Kuybokarov after his big win alongside a very happy captain!

Australia will now face Ecuador who we outrank on each board though it is worth noting that given the upsets across the board so far, there will be no complacency amongst the Australian Open team.