As I sit writing this Round 8 report having just watched 2 players at the pinnacle of the sport, Magnus Carlsen and Hikaru Nakamura battle it out online in a blitz contest, I wonder how many of the youngsters here in Batumi will be the professionals of tomorrow. I reckon it would be a safe bet to say that at least 20 of the current crop of under 12’s here today will be competing at the highest level. That’s what our England team is facing. They are facing the best in the world. They are facing kids who are prioritising chess tuition over other academic study even at this stage in their young careers. When you see the disbelief in our coaches faces in post match analysis following the realisation that the opponent has prepared a line 20 moves or more deep in an U8 match! Only then do you appreciate the challenge facing our youngsters and how well they have and are acquitting themselves.
Anyway it probably sounds as if I’m preparing the way for perhaps not such a hot round for England. Well our U8’s did not have good results today. Keerthana Easwar, Joe Birks and George Clarkson lost their games. Though I was not privy today for in depth analysis I got the impression they had their chances. I wonder if tiredness is beginning to take its toll especially in the younger age group, who are not used to such consistently strong opposition. Perhaps it’s a little early to tell. At this level accuracy and consistency are so important and as the tournament nears the end more mistakes will be made. The positive is that it is the same for everyone and I am sure there will be more glorious victories for our U8’s in the last 3 games.
Bobby Akeya Price came close to holding a rook and pawn endgame against his higher rated opponent from France but it was Au Revoir I’m afraid and Bobby succumbed to some stubborn French Resistance. I could tell from his analysis session afterwards Bobby is remaining positive, looking fresh and is thinking clearly so I am sure there will be some good results to come.
After a really great result yesterday it was important that Nilomi consolidated and she did emerging with a solid draw. She faced a storm of pawns coming at her on her castled kingside but dealt with the situation admirably. I am not sure how her opponent didn’t find her way to mate but Nilomi found a way to defend the position. There is something very satisfying when you see your opponent’s best efforts frustrated and then either working your way to equality as in this case, or even better turning the game on its head. Nilomi is on 4.5 points and on course for a more than respectable result in this tournament.
Aditya Munshi had a draw against his Georgian opponent as Black. I know his expectations of himself are high and he wanted the win. If effort and desire were the only measuring sticks Aditya would be on top every time. If he can relax in the next 3 rounds I know he will allow his best chess to come through and then heaven help his adversary. Go for it Aditya we’re keeping our fingers crossed for you!
Ilya had a solid win against his opponent and is looking good on 4.5 points. A tough round to come against an over 2000 rated opponent as black but I feel that Ilya is capable of the win and he must be hopeful and confident of success in round 9.
Christopher Tombolis played the same Czech opponent as Black today that Bobby beat in round 5 as white. Christopher won in 16 moves today after inducing a resignation from his opponent. The method of dispatch was not without risk though after veering from the mainline on move 10 with Qb6. His opponent left his pawn “en prise” probably thinking that Christopher’s queen was trapped if taken. This was never actually the case but in fact the pawn was poison but only because with best play black ends up a pawn down with no real compensation about 10 moves later. In the game, after Christopher took the pawn white tried too hard to win blacks queen and then just blundered by losing his knight. After a promising start and then set backs in rounds 3 and 4, Christopher’s tournament is getting back on track. Christopher needs to be tough in round 9; make himself hard to beat and do all he can to put back to back wins together. Christopher’s game can be followed below.
Finally our girls under 10 star Anum Sheikh had done well enough to be on a Live board, meaning a nervous watch for her Mum and Dad and all the rest of her fans. Her opponent played a variation of the Scotch. Anum was well prepared though until her opponent played 7…NF6. At this point it is likely both players were out of book. The game continued in the balance for some time but Anum made a breakthrough by forcing a structural weakness on the queenside doubling up black’s pawns. After swapping of queens she was able to exploit her positional advantage superbly giving her opponent no chance in the endgame and showing excellent technique. Even though Black had the Bishop pair Anum’s play allowed no time for her opponent to use this to her advantage. This was by far Anum’s best game and if she can retain this level of quality she will be there or thereabouts come Sunday and the final round. Anum is bound to be on a live board for round 9 and we will be watching every move with trepidation.
An overall score of 4 out of 9 today for our team and we are all looking forward to more good chess again tomorrow.
— Glafcos Tombolis, Head of the English Delegation