"If you can draw with Aronian from the exchange down, you'll definitely have no problems against Magnus!"
That was Aussie GM Ian Rogers' comment after my game with Levon Aronian. Quite a few people have complimented me on my 'inspired' exchange sacrifice in the game, but unfortunately I have to confess that I'd seen the idea before. I had the white pieces but quickly found myself in an uncomfortable position against the Philador's Defence. Luckily, I realised that a rather remarkable transposition was possible to an obscure line of the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, which I had analysed for my upcoming book on the Portuguese variation of the Scandinavian Defence. If none of that makes sense, play these moves on the board:
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nbd7 4.f4 e5 5.fxe5 dxe5
...and compare it to this:
1.e4 d5 2.d4 dxe4 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f3 Nbd7!? 5.fxe4 e5!.
I couldn't remember much about the line, which I'd analysed for the book about six months ago. I could, however, recall writing, "Black needs to be on the lookout for Rxd6 ideas. With best play, Black is close to winning, but the sacrifice can be quite dangerous against an unprepared opponent." Then, during the game, I realised we'd stumbled upon the exact position, and so I went for it. Lev answered precisely and I was lost in a couple of spots, but in the end, I got lucky.
Higher quality chess was probably seen on the second and third boards, however. Max played an awesomely complicated King's Indian against one of my heros, Movsesian, with the craziness eventually fizzling out to a draw. Moulthun played a very mature game against Sargissian, but unfortunately went wrong in a complex middlegame and lost a tight endgame. Junta got tricked by my old nemesis, Akopian, and Australia eventually succumbed 3-1 to the former World Champions.
There's not much else to report at this stage. There are the usual rumours and gossip, but rather than saucy tales, they largely revolve around the upcoming FIDE elections, a topic I'll steer clear of for now. The elections do, however, mean that Kasparov is everywhere (both physically and on the multitudes of posters, billboards and t-shirts that adorn the city). It was a little intimidating at various points in my game with Lev to look up from my concentration and see, sequentially, Kasparov, Carlsen and Kramnik watching on, but that's an Olympiad for you.
Incidentally, the Australian women's team had an arguably even more impressive performance. They also lost 3-1, this time to the much-fancied Ukrainian women's team, but the two draws were agreed in winning positions. 2-2 was the more correct result, which would have been one of Australia's best-ever results in either section.
Tromsø as a city is quite nice - pleasant, friendly, hideously expensive. I've found the one hipster café in Tromsø, into which I sneak in the mornings to join the local students for a coffee with our macbooks. I almost look like I'm here on holiday.
Here are a couple of pics, courtesy of our men's captain Manuel Weeks and and Leonid Sandler.