Istanbul Olympiad continued and the role of the Captain!

IM Trendle

So, we left off after Round 5 (and the Bermuda Party) and we rejoin to see the Welsh women facing a slightly higher ranked team from Uruguay. The match was hard fought, with all games ending decisively (in wins for Black):

Bo. 86   Wales Rtg 2  - 2 78   Uruguay Rtg
45.1 WFM Smith, Olivia 2022 0 - 1 WIM Colombo, Camila 2095
45.2 WFM Blackburn, Susan 1967 1 - 0   Silva, Natalia 1918
45.3   Roberts, Lynda 1914 0 - 1   De Leon, Patricia 1841
45.4   Wang, Alyssa 1541 1 - 0   Costa, Anaclara 1673

We had a very pleasing win on board 4 with Alyssa Wang (playing in her first Olympiad at the age of 12!) outplaying her opponent slowly after being worse in the opening. Here is the critical part of the game:

After this tough match we were given a tricky pairing against a lower ranked team, Nicaragua. All the games were tough but in the end we edged out every game for a 4-0 victory.

Bo. 111   Nicaragua Rtg 0 - 4 86   Wales Rtg
41.1 WFM Madrigal, Ana Daniela 2026 0 - 1 WFM Smith, Olivia 2022
41.2   Leon Sandoval, Johan 0 0 - 1 WFM Blackburn, Susan 1967
41.3   Mendieta Rodriguez, Tamara 0 0 - 1   Roberts, Lynda 1914
41.4   Galan, Daniela 0 0 - 1   Blackburn, Sandra 0

As you can see by the game on board 4 these games went down to the wire - the following example is also a what to do (and what not to do) in a Rook & Pawn ending!

After this win we were handed what seemed like a good pairing against Puerto Rico who were ranked about the same as us. Unfortunately Wales didn't have their best day and succumbed to a 3-1 defeat.

Bo. 86   Wales (WLS) Rtg 1 - 3 90   Puerto Rico (PUR) Rtg
34.1 WFM Smith, Olivia 2022 0 - 1 WFM Vazquez Maccarini, Danitza 1916
34.2 WFM Blackburn, Susan 1967 1/2-1/2 WFM Comas Colon, Rinelly 1810
34.3   Wang, Alyssa 1541 0 - 1 WFM Alvarez, Orta Jo Ann 1753
34.4   Blackburn, Sandra 0 1/2-1/2 WFM Vega Jimenez, Keyshla 1654

At this point I want to talk a little about the role of the captain (myself). I have to say that there is a lot of work to do, especially if (like me) you are preparing the players in the morning and going over games (when time allows) in the evening.

The reason for this is that the captain is normally in the playing hall from the a few minutes before the round starts (partly to make sure all the players are sitting at the board on time, with the zero default rule in force it's a key job!) until the final move of the match has been played. For most of the match it's fairly relaxed. Most captains walk around or head outside for a coffee and a chat but then, as the time control approaches, we all inevitably head back to watch the climax of the games. Sometimes it's very difficult to watch (but impossible to look away!) and there is a certain feeling of powerlessness. Still, when it all goes well there's a real sense of pride that the whole team performed.

Anyway, this brings us back to the 3-1 defeat. What can a captain/coach do or say after a poor result? Of course there are always lessons to be learnt but is it best to learn them that evening? Not in all cases I think. It depends on the players of course but sometimes it can be best to relax and forget about chess for a while - even have a drink or two! The next day it's back to preparing for another team (from 9am or so onwards) so the work does of course continue. 

After losing to Puerto Rico we mostly opted for the 'relax and have a drink' option. We won our next match so I guess it was a success, but I'll leave that until the next blog - in which I'll try and wrap up the Olympiad as a whole.