Saturday, November 22, 2008

Misaligned Southern Cross

At this juncture of the event, Australia is normally ahead of their New Zealand cousins in the Olympiad rankings. But after 8 matches, the boys from Down Under are in 75th spot, while the Kiwis are up, up, up there in 43rd place! As if that wasn't bad enough, the NZ rugby league team overnight delivered a massive beating to the Kangaroos, 34-20. OK, league is pretty much an irrelevant sport, but c'mon! The stars must be seriously misaligned.

In yesterday's match Australia faced off against Bosnia Herzegovina, the very team that New Zealand defeated the day earlier. The question was: can Australia attain a similar result? On board 4, playing against IM Zeljko Bogut, GM Johansen gave Aussie fans reasons for rapture. His play was calm and methodical. We take you now to the crucial moment.

Chess Olympiad 2008
Johansen, Darryl K
Bogut, Zeljko

1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. e3 Bb4 5. Qc2 O-O 6. Nd5 Re8 7. Qf5 d6 8. Nxf6+ gxf6 9. Qh5 e4 10. a3 Bc5 11. b4 exf3 12. bxc5 Re5 13. Qxf3 Nd4 14. Qd1 Bf5 15. Ra2 dxc5 16. f4 Re8 17. Kf2 Nc6 18. Qh5 Qd7 19. g4 Bg6 20. Qh4 Be4 21. Rg1 Re6 22. Rg3 Rae8 23. Rh3 Kf8 24. f5 Rd6 25. d3 Bxd3 26. Bxd3 Rxd3 27. Qxf6 Ne5 28. Qh8+ Ke7 29. Qxe5+ Kd8 30. Qf6+ Kc8 31. Rxh7 Rd1

Position after 31...Rd1

What to do? What to do? Defend the piece or return it with 32. Qxf7 and playing with four connected passed pawns? 32. Qc3 Qc6 33. Rh8 b6 34. Rxe8+ Qxe8 35. Bb2 Qe4 36. Ra1 Rd3 37. Qe5? Rd2+ 38. Ke1 Qg2 0-1

The other men drew their games but Oz still go down 1.5-2.5. Meanwhile, and doing their bit to salve our heartaches, the girls blanked out the Barbados team four-zip. Canberra's Shannon Oliver must be happy. The party girl's grounding has finally been lifted after winning her first ever Olympiad encounter.

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