Dresden Chess Olympiad 2008…I ask Ian Rogers some questions.

December 1, 2008 at 9:42 pm Leave a comment

(Tomorrow, by the way, I will talk to Australia’s Number one board, Zhao, so do drop by for that.)

My brother, Chris Depasquale, who has played in a couple of Olympiads, pointed out to me when I asked him what he thought of the new scoring changes, that it did provide some dramatic differences from the old method:

I guess for us old fuddy-duddies, at least Armenia won the thing whichever scoring method you use, but Bulgaria were bronze medallists under the old system and they finished 14th, while Canada actually scored more points than anybody except Armenia, but they finished 28th!!! Of course, if the scoring was under the old system the pairings would have been different and Canada would have had a tougher field…. Because they lost matches 2.5-1.5 to India, Scotland and Iraq in the first half of the event they only played one team that finished in the top 50!

Gaining nothing of consequence for a 4-0 victory – ie the same 2 points as achieved for 2.5-1.5 win – had a detrimental effect for Australia at least once, when they achieved the blitz and then had to play another team of the same ilk for the same result. I am pretty sure everybody would have preferred a challenge.

I wanted to know what Ian Rogers GM thought about various aspects of the Olympiad and Australia in the world of chess. As it happens he is eternally in my debt and could not say no.

Ian Rogers, GM, What do you think of the new scoring method (a) in general (b) from Australia’s point of view?

Awful – there are simply too many teams and not enough score groups with match points. (This could have been predicted, but FIDE admitted that they did no simulations before changing the system. (See Shaun Press’ blog), Also, it discourages fighting in all games since 2.5-1.5 is almost as good as 4-0.

For Australia it could have been great had our open team won our last match and moved into the top 20, since the yoyo effect is exaggerated. But overall the new system is worse for the middle teams who are all crowded around 50% and could finish anywhere.

At least under the old system you needed to lose 0-4 in the last round to drop dramatically – now a narrow 1.5-2.5 loss is enough to see you plummeting down the standings.

Is Australia standing still or dropping back in relation to the rest of the world?

The rest of the world is constantly improving. Our Open team is keeping up, barely, thanks to Zhao and Smerdon, but our women’s team without Irina really struggled (e.g. 0-4 v Venezuela).

Has the requirement for becoming a GM been lowered or do we have more GMs now because we have more players of a standard that that hasn’t dropped?

There may be more good players but certainly the standard required to get a GM title has been lowered because of many incremental factors plus the elephant in the room, rating inflation.

Given that Yuan goes from strength to strength, could you speculate on the difference it would have made to our team if you had been playing? What position might we have reasonably hoped for (ie with the usual some out of form players)? And, again on Yuan, it seems to me his solid performance on Board one was important in confirming his remarkable GM tournament victories early this year. Is that true, or were they proof enough on their own? Do you have hopes/expectations for Yuan and if so, what are they? What, if anything, is going to stop him achievement them?

Had I been playing I would probably have been selected on board two and it probably would have helped, but how much is anyone’s guess – it’s just speculation.

In Dresden Yuan scored his 6th GM in his last 7 events where it was possible. I don’t think he had anything to prove – he’s the real deal. How far he goes is dependent on his pharmacy and then perhaps medical studies. He has already been forced due to his pharmacy registration employer to pull out of Queenstown, which is not a good sign.

It seems to me that there are some players who rise to the occasion when playing for their country…and that such players might be considered for selection even if they are not in form at home. Do you agree with this notion, and if so, is there anybody you would have included in this team, and at whose expense? Ian read my mind on this one and mentioned two players I was wondering about.

No. Alex Wohl failed for years and then given a new chance was brilliant in Torino 2006. Terry Shaw, a dual medallist, failed in his final two Olympiads. Arianne was hopeless in her first two Olympiads for Australia. You have to select on current form and hope for the best.

I watched Australia’s board one woman play the Australian Masters some years ago and was astonished at her result (minor placing). Since then she has not nearly lived up to the expectations I set for her. Was that result an accident? Does she have the talent but not the will?

The result was not an accident – she had the talent but not the will. Since the Aus. Masters result, Arianne barely studied chess, concentrating on study and dancing.

Fortunately in 2008, Arianne was so stung by criticism of her play and Olympiad results that she put in some real work and played many games at close to her old strength. Going out with Aronian can’t hurt but it also cost Australia about 30 places when she spent the final round concentrating on Armenia’s fight for gold and lost her game without a fight.

What do you think about the other major change in the Olympiad, the board numbers for the Open and Women’s?

NO strong opinion, although from Australia’s point of view the change tends to expose our lack of depth in women’s chess – our lower two boards really struggled in Dresden, although Biljana pulled off some ridiculous swindles to finish with an OK score. But both she and Shannon were just outplayed in many games.

Were you asked to be Captain of the Open team?

Yes. I am glad I said no – it was hard enough to resist the temptation to sit in Yuan’s chair at the start of each round!

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Entry filed under: chess 2008 Olympiad. Tags: , .

Defending like the Maestro. Talking to GM Yuan, Australia’s new #1

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