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Tromsø Olympiad: Round 1

Tromsø Olympiad: Round 1: Missed Opportunities

With 882 players in the Open (Men) section, and 675 in the Women one, the organizers of the 41st Olympiad in Tromsø (Norway) can be more than satisfied, especially that more than 256 GMs are taking part in the Open and 20 ladies holding the GM titles in the Women section, not to mention the 72 WGMs, from which one of them is playing for the Luxemburg Men team.

The round 1 pairing put the Lebanese Men team, seeded as 108th from 177 teams, against the strong Peruvian one, seeded as 22nd. On board 1, Faisal Khairallah, playing with the black pieces, had to face the famous super strong GM Granda Zuniga. The Alekhine defense adopted by Faisal has registered its surprising value, as he equalized completely in the opening, with an easy play in the middle game. But Granda is Granda. He profited from the minor imprecise moves adopted by Faisal to enter an advantageous endgame phase, where the white bishop was too strong. The white extra-passed pawn on the a-file played the main role in forcing Faisal to stop the clocks.

Antoine Kassis, on the second board, succeeded in snatching a pawn from his opponent GM Jorge Cori, obtaining a clear advantage. What was needed is to kill Cori’s counter-play in the endgame. Antoine missed a lot of opportunities to conserve his advantage, was forced to return the pawn in order to extinguish his opponent’s growing initiative. A miscalculation from Antoine enabled the Peruvian GM to enter a rook endgame with an extra pawn, which was very difficult to hold.

On the third board, Amr El-Jawish adopted the King’s Indian formation against GM Cristhian Cruz’ Botvinnik system of the English Opening. The middle game was of equal chances, where both parties started the maneuvering phase. In a tense position, Cruz snatched a pawn, and the issuing exchanges of pieces resulted in a winning endgame for the Peruvian. Amr tried hard to save his position, but in vain.

The Board 4 game between Ibrahim Chahrour (White) against Cupita (Elo 2117) is not a game to watch by a person with weak heart. The opposing castling strategy leads always to exciting game, and this one was not an exception. Cupita profited from a certain weakness in Ibrahim’s long castling king, to launch a strong attack. His cascade of sacrifices could lead to a winning position, on condition that to be followed by the correct sequence of winning moves, which he missed, to Ibrahim’s advantage. The later defended brilliantly, forced his opponent to liquidate into the endgame phase, where Ibrahim’s extra material had the last saying.

So, Peru: 3, Lebanon: 1, which could be at least 2-2.

In the Women section, the Lebanese ladies had a relaxed round, as they won 4-0 by forfeit of their opponents from Lesotho. Not bad from the psychological point of view.

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