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Two wins in the end

Last rounds are always important, since a loss can’t be compensated by a win anymore. So both teams were dedicated to win and did so! Against the physically disabled Kenny lost, but Watu (Nxf7 in the Petrof), Henry (model game against the Pirc) and Mabu (outplaying his opponent after an early queen exchange) got SA three points.

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South Africa - IPCA

In the women match against the United Arab Emirates, Monique quickly gained material and a point after badly timed castling of her opponent. Melissa also needed just to collect material to score her eight point in ten matches. Anzel took longer, but in the Exchange variation of the Queen’s gambit her minority attack gained her a pawn and later the win. Only Carmen, who was not in good form, lost her game.

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South Africa - United Arab Emirates

As can be seen on chess-results the Men ended on the 58th place, just behind Egypt but before countries like Iceland and Argentina. The women made the 57th place as the top African team, and were 3rd in the D-category on SB points.

Again up and down

The men team didn’t have a strong opponent today, and so Watu sat out. However, Mozambique put up a lot on resistance. Not on board 4 however, where Mabu won a pawn, another pawn and easily the rook endgame. But on board 2 Henry was happy to get a draw after being worse after the opening, while Daniel reacted violently on a dubious move of his opponent, where a quiet approach would have been better. The resulting position was not winnable for him. On board 1 Kenny was a little better during the whole game, and by pushing and pulling he got a winning rook endgame, with a strong king on c7. Taking the b-pawn would have won, but he decided not too and with a pawn down was even in danger. A timely draw offer secured the match-win.

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South Africa - Mozambique

The ladies were first in category D before this round, but had to defend their place against another contender, Scotland. Anzel with black played a passive opening and noticed too late that she was in danger. Her opponent played well though. Melissa on board two got a very good position from the opening, but after a wrong exchange she was worse and perhaps even losing. Her opponent accepted her draw-offer on move 40, which was a big relief for Melissa. Carmen got a closed position with black from the opening, where both players couldn’t really do anything. Carmen still did try to win but to no avail. Monique could have saved her team from a loss, when she got a very strong passed pawn on a5 supported by a rook on a1 and a knight on c7. “Passed pawns must be pushed”, my grandfather always said, but her grandfather probably never said it, since in the final drawing position the pawn was still on a5. A dissapointing loss for the team, but a 50% score is still possible.

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Lebanon - South Africa

Men lose, women win

Just like yesterday, one team went from minus one to fifty procent and one team the other way round. This time the men team went the wrong direction. Watu won a very nice game, while Kenny was pressing the whole game, but didn’t manage to get more than a drawn endgame. Daniel sacrificed two pawns but should have played Re1/Qf3 instead of Qa4. In the game he had not enough compensation. Henry was worse all the time, he is not doing well with black.

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Venezuela - South Africa

Lebanon was on their way to beat the South African ladies. Anzel was a pawn down in a endgame with a bad bishop against a knight, while Carmen was an exchange down and Jenine had drawn. However, Anzel’s opponent offered a draw (in probably a winning position) while Carmen won a pawn, another pawn and then flagged her opponent. Melissa won her fourth game in a row and is one of the top elo winners of the whole olympiad.

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Lebanon - South Africa

Meanwhile the team is enjoying the snow, which some of the players had never seen in real life before!

Men win, women lose

Today an easy match was expected for the South African men. Our players had to work hard to get the two matchpoints though. Watu didn’t have to do anything special, as his opponent sacrificed an exchange without a good reason, but Johannes didn’t break the defenses of his opponent and Kenny and Henry had rook endgames which were hardly better. However, just continueing to play moves gave them wins after all.

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South Africa - Cyprus

The women had to play Bosnia and Herzegovina. Anzel got a promising position out of the opening and won a pawn on a7. After that consolidating would have been a good idea, instead she gave her position away in a few moves. Jenine had an equal position most of the game, but took much too long over her moves. Just when it was important she had no time anymore and lost. Monique was also equal, but didn’t want a draw. She succesfully managed to avoid that result. Finally Melissa played a bad opening, and the sacrifices of her opponent looked promising. But when the dust settled our heroin was a piece up. It was still difficult, but with good technique she saved the honour of our team and made her personal score 5.5 out of 7.

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South Africa - Bosnia

Today was a depressing day for the coach. At first it seemed that both teams were winning, but because of unexpected losses only one matchpoint was scored. In the men’s game, Johannes lost quickly with white, while Daniel made a quick draw with black. Since Kenny was winning, everything depended on Watu. After the opening it looked like he was winning with three strong pawns for a piece. But then he started to play carelessly and totally spoilt his position, so that both he and the team lost.

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Faroer Islands - South Africa

Melissa had a very quick win today in a Sozin open Sicilian. After sacrificing a knight on d5 and a pawn on e5 she got a rook on d8 and a queen on g8. With black’s king on e7 mate was unavoidable. Carmen quickly blundered a pawn in the opening and lost, but Monique seemed to be winning with a piece more. She needed to play some defensive moves though and instead permitted mate in two. Fortunately Anzel turned an rook endgame with a pawn down in one with two pawns up.

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Guatemela - South Africa - Egypt

Women win African topmatch

Today the men couldn’t hold up against the strong Italian team, but the big news was the win of the women over Egypt. Since the ambition of the teams is to be the first African team, it was an important match and the win will give them good chances to reach their ambition.

At board one against Italy Watu had to play the strong youngster Fabiano Caruna. The American Italian sacrificed a piece to get an attack, but discovered that it was not as strong as he thought. He declined repeating moves at first, but soon could’t avoid it. Watu could even have tried to play for more but after his experience against Nakamura he took the save option. Kenny played against the Benko gambit but soon lost his extra pawn, and another one. The endgame with opposite colored bishops might have been drawn, but it was difficult to defend and after a long struggle he lost. Henry played against a Trompovsky and got the two bishops in return for a weak pawn on f5. It was exchanged for a pawn on a2 after which the white position was better than he expected. It had too many weaknesses which he couldn’t defend. Daniel sacrifed a pawn against a Caro-Kann. He was still a pawn down in an endgame with rooks and opposite colored bishops, but had enough compensation to draw.
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Italy - South Africa

In the ladies match Anzel had an easy day. Her opponent blundered a piece in the opening, gave away another piece but kept on playing even with queen and three pieces against a lone knight, till she couldn’t avoid mate. Melissa won a pawn with black and gradually grinded her opponent down. Jenine with white got a endgame against WGM Mona which should have been ok for her. However, she got into an annoying pin and with little time on the clock the pinned piece got lost. Monique outplayed her opponent in the opening, but at the moment she could have gotten a winning advantage, she blundered an exchange. Instead her opponent only won a pawn and Monique started to outplay her opponent again. Alas an endgame with an extra pawn turned out to be drawn.

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South Africa - Egypt

Round 5 went well for the SA teams. The men easily beated the only slightly lower ranked Luxembourg, while the women drew a team of physically disabled people, rated about 100 points higher in avarage.

Watu castled long in an open sicilian and got a winning position by just pushing pawns: f4, g4, f5, g5, g6 and after black took twice the Lion from Africa had a trick, winning an exchange and later the game. Kenny’s opponent also played agressively after a quiet opening, pushing pawns and taking his rook to h4. Kenny just exchanged queens, caught the off side rook and easily won. Henry placed a well known pawn sac in another open sicilian (Bb4 0-0 Bxc3 dxc3 Nxe4). Soon afterwards he sacrificed a piece to active all his pieces. The opponent resigned one move before being mated on f5. A game certainly worth to replay. Johannes had to play against the French exchange variation. After some pieces were exchanged the players settled for a draw.

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South Africa - Luxembourg

The ladies had to play IPCA, which means “International Physically Disabled Chess Organisation.” Since the Olympiad is not a tournament for countries, but for organisations who are Fide members, this team can participate. They played with three Russians and an Indian lady and were favourite to win, but our ladies played well. Anzel didn’t start so well and had to go for a drawn double rook endgame with white. Her opponent mistakenly tried to play for a win after which Anzel was better. After some more mistakes by her veteran opponent Anzel won a rook and the game. Jenine played an offbeat opening (4.a4 in the Sicilian) badly and was left with a bad bishop and a hole on d5 against white’s knight, longing to get there. 17 moves later it did finally arrive at d5, after which white won in a few more moves. Carmen got a clear advantage in her favourite closed English opening. The opponent pushed her pawns on the king’s side, but the battery Qg6/Be4 would have been deadly for black. Carmen missed this, and also a trick by her opponent which won an exchange. The endgame of rook against bishop might still have been drawn, but another mistake helped black to win. Monique on 4 played against the English attack. With d5 she favourably opened the position, exchanged some pieces, won a pawn and got a winning endgame of knight against bishop, in which she showed good technique.

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South Africa - IPCA