TROMSO CHESS OLYMPIAD- FINAL BLOG

The Tromso Chess Olympiad (Norway) ended in triumph for China in the Open section and for Russia in the women's competition and  saw Mauritius (seeded 123rd) finishing 130th out of 172 participating countries/Federations in the open section. It was a tough competition as gruelling as the 21,000 kms trip Mauritius-Dubai-London-Oslo-Tromso that our players had to endure to reach this city 350 kilometres north of the Arctic circle. The weather during the Olympiad was 10-20 degrees and we adjusted quite well to the " white nights" of Tromso when it gets dark only from 23.15  to  02.30 hours daily. Our hotel Sydspissen was on the southern tip of the island and although it was pleasant to have breakfast in such scenic surroundings, with Fjords and mountains as background, the arrangement for our team to have lunch and dinner at the Radisson Blu in the city centre was inconvenient for our opening preparation as we had to leave the hotel at latest 12.30 hours so as not to miss lunch (Closing time 13.00 hours) and the start of the round at 14.00 hours.

Our fantastic greek Grandmaster coach Spyridon Skembris (who was a former player and captain of the greek olympic team) did a great job ,analysing post-mortem games as late as midnight and starting next round preparation from 9.30 to 12.00 hours daily, all those who attended his lectures have greatly benefited from his top-notch analysis and advices in opening preparation. In some games Koster-Hambleton (Canada), Li Ying-Madrigal(Nicaragua), Chinasamy-Meier(Seychelles) his opening preparation led straight to winning positions for the mauritian players but sadly we lost all 3 games through lack of technique in converting won positions.

Two players Antoine Goorsahye (0.5 pt on 7 games) and Deevarajan Chinasamy (1 point on 8 games) underperformed badly and although the latter made a creditable draw with Grandmaster Yehuda Gruenfeld (Israel) Elo 2448 playing for the International Deaf team,it was not enough to help the team perform better  than the 4 wins  against Chinese Taipei,Macau,Maldives and Seychelles a draw against Jamaica and the 5 losses against Canada,Colombia,ICCD , Iraq and Botswana. In the last olympiad in Istanbul (Turkey) we managed only 3 wins and played against less strong opposition as Canada and Colombia.The best performer of our team was on board three where Patrick Li Ying scored 5.5 points in 10 games,the only player to score above 50 pct. Roy Phillips our Board One did not have a great tournament finishing only on 4.5 points in 10 games  and losing a hefty 30 rating points as FIDE has changed our Elo coefficient from 15 to 20. Roy could have bettered his score if he had converted his winning positions against Macau and Seychelles instead of letting his opponents off the hook with draws,it is the first olympiad that Roy has scored below 50 pct since he started playing for Mauritius in the Bled olympiad (Slovenia) in 2002.

Jeroen Koster had a good tournament ,missing the Candidate Master title in the last round against Botswana as a win would have pushed his score to 50 pct thereby securing the title. He had a strategically winning position, missing 16.... Bxe2 followed by Qb4 + and b5 completely crushing his opponent Thato Olebile (2144) who went on to gain the Fide Master title with this win. Jeroen would console himself with a 20 points rating gain the most of the Mauritian team,he even missed a brilliancy prize in his game against Jamaica as he could have launched an unstoppable  mating attack with his Queen,bishop and Knight had he played f5 one move earlier, followed by Qh6.

Two players Patrick Li Ying and Deevarajan Chinasamy joined the late Pradeep Seegolam in the Olympiad Century club (players who have played more than 100 games in chess olympiads) with both on 107 games in 9 olympiads. Li Ying score (39 Wins,28 Draws and 40 losses), Chinasamy score ( 30 Wins, 25 Draws and 52 Losses). This also highlight that it is high time that we bring new blood into future olympic teams as this golden generation has upheld brilliantly  the country's colours and will  last for at most Batumi (Georgia) 2018 . The young mauritian players who are candidates for an olympic berth to Baku (Azerbaijan) in 2016 should be found among Heetee Seegolam, Olivier Philippe, Vincent de Robillard and Mrinal Ramsaha if they are keen to prepare for the next two years.

Our trip in Tromso was also marred by the cancellation of the bus/cruise trip to Skjervoy as on the first free day the trip was cancelled after a landslide blocked the roads in the mountains and on the re-scheduled trip on the second free day we made a 4 hour bus trip ,just to miss the departure of the cruise ship by 10 minutes !! Our President H Bhowany had better luck as he managed to make the trip without hiccup on the final day.

The last round ended tragically with the death of 2 chess players and we were very sad to hear of the demise of our friend Kurt Meier (Seychelles) while he was playing the Rwanda team, we met him when we played the Seychelles in an earlier round and have also met him at last year's Reunion Island International Open where he won the Veteran's prize. We talked to Kurt during the olympiad and enquired if he was going to play this year's Reunion Open in October but he told us he was unsure as he had already played a lot of tournaments this year namely Biel open and was a bit tired. We take this opportunity to send our condolences to his wife , his  son Peter  and to the Chess Federation of Seychelles after this tragic event.

On a brighter note our local norwegian team representative Astrid Sandaa invited us for tea at her apartment and Goorsahye,Li Ying and Chinasamy attended this event. Astrid even drove us to the biggest shopping centre of Tromso RIMA 1000 and joined us for lunch at the Radisson Blu.

On the regional side we met Lyndon Bouah the captain of the South African team and talked to him about a remake of the 2003 chess trip we made to Cape Town where he graciously made arrangement to host mauritian players in local families and arranged 5 matches between Mauritius and the South African teams. We talked to Benjamin Hoareau of Seychelles and he told us about the possible organisation of the African Individual championship there. We also had some contacts with organizers of chess tournaments in Dubai where we could send players to their Open at reasonable accomodation prices.

Farewell Tromso and Welcome to Baku !!