The Mind Sports Olympiad is an interesting concept. To a large extent it is ignored by the British media, although there was some coverage, particularly from the Times, who were amongst the sponsors. However, at almost all times television camera crews were filming, but this media attention was largely from abroad.
Many of the events were supported by a significant number of foreign competitors, and the numerous chess competitions were perhaps the best supported of all. The main chess event was a 15 round Swiss tournament played at a rate of 30 minutes for all moves, in which there were three rounds per day, and the three top seeds in this were James Plaskett, Aaron Summerscale and Stuart Conquest. However, there was also a very strong challenge from abroad: five members of the Kiev Chess Club entered, who must effectively constitute the Ukrainian Ladies' Team. Inna Yanovska and Tatanya Vasilevich are both WGMs while Tetanya Melamed, Anna Zozulia and Anna Zatonskyh are all WIMs. Furthermore, although he was absent on the first day, Alexander Chernaiev, a Russian IM, arrived to strengthen the field still further.
Initially Aaron Summerscale played well, leading after 6 rounds with 5.5 points. This score included two wins against the Ukrainians and a draw with Stuart Conquest. However, the third day was disastrous for Summerscale as a loss against Anna Zatonskyh and another against James Plaskett left Plaskett in the lead on 8 points after day three: as well as that of Summerscale, Plaskett's scalps included Stuart Conquest and Anna Zatonskyh.
Leading overnight seemed to be a bad thing, as it again led to losses the following morning. Plaskett was paired against Chernaiev. Although the Russian IM had been awarded just one half-point bye from day 1, he then proceeded to carve his way through the field on the next two days with 6 straight wins so that he was Plaskett's opponent in round 10. The Russian won the exchange and after this the win was made to look simple. In the following game, Plaskett lost again, being completely crushed by Tetanya Melamed in only 24 moves. In a queenless postion, the Ukrainian sacrificed a knight on f7 to drag black's king into the firing line and then invaded with her rooks. James resigned, as the alternative was to see all his pieces devoured with a series of double attacks and discovered checks. Chernaiev maintained his position on board 1, but this time his opponent was Stuart Conquest. The game proceeded strangely, as Conquest, playing black, lost all his queen-side pawns for a piece. Black's king was relatively safe on f8, surrounded by the black pieces, but the Russian would win unless Conquest could find some method of stopping the three connected passed pawns in the vast open spaces on the other side of the board, or alternatively deliver an effective attack on white's king without compromising his own. In the end Chernaiev seemed so wrapped up in his accelerating a-pawn that he completely missed that his knight could be captured and after this his position collapsed. From this point, having played all the strongest players, Conquest maintained his lead with four more wins to take the gold medal and win the round-the-world flight donated by British Airways. Plaskett took the silver and Summerscale the bronze, the tie break being the result of the individual game between the two. Summerscale also brushed aside with considerable ease the challenge from Alexander Chernaiev when the two met in round 13. Neither player kept the score, but Aaron Summerscale was good enough to write out the moves from memory when asked, and they have been included below.
The most hectic chess was reserved until the end. On Saturday and Sunday there were two 10 round 5-minute tournaments, the first of which was won by Larry Kaufman, an American IM, who was a point clear with a round to spare. However, the stronger blitz event was Sunday's, with the re-appearance of the Ukranians, as well as Summerscale, Chernaiev and Mark Hebden.
The first heavyweight casualty was Hebden, who lost round 4 to Chernaiev. Summerscale also lost round 4, to Anna Zatonskyh, but the sole leader after 6 rounds was Inna Yanovska, who had beaten Chernaiev. She was held to a draw by Tetanya Melamed, but then beat Hebden and David Spence, an Ipswich player who played particularly well all week, before a final round showdown against Aaron Summerscale. A draw in this game would actually be sufficient for her, but Chernaiev had an "easy" pairing against Nick Frost, a 14-year-old Devonian schoolboy in which the East completely outclassed the West. Aaron Summerscale did his best and indeed an ending was reached in which he was a pawn up and in the mad rush to beat the fall of the flag, this became a ridiculous 5 pawns up in which the only pieces were a rook and bishop each. At this point Aaron's flag fell and although a couple more moves were made, Inna noticed this while her own remained aloft. The amount of physical work done in this five minute tournament causes one to question whether chess is a mind sport after all.
Summerscale,A - Chernaiev,A [E14]
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.e3 c5 4.Bd3 b6 5.0-0 Bb7 6.c4 cxd4 7.exd4 d6 8.Nc3 Nbd7 9.d5 e5 10.Ng5 Be7 11.f4 a6 12.Qf3 Qc7 13.Be3 exf4 14.Bxf4 Ne5 15.Bxe5 dxe5 16.Nce4 b5 17.d6 Bxd6 18.Nxd6+ Qxd6 19.Qxb7 0-0 20.Rxf6 Qxd3 21.Rf2 Qxc4 22.Rxf7 Rxf7 23.Qxa8+ Rf8 24.Qe4 Qc5+ 25.Kh1 1-0
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