Monday, September 27, 2010

My take on the men team

First of all, let me just qualify by saying that I did not have any chance to talk to anyone on the team. These are my personal opinions only and really, only someone who is there will know if I am right.

Both Hamid and Greg wants to be in Khanty-Mansiysk. Before the team left, Greg was supposed to be the reserve and Hamid the captain. But at the actual accreditation, Greg is now the Captain and (I guess) Hamid is a Delegate.

As a recognized delegate to the General Assembly, Hamid has full board and lodgings free. The hosting country also provides board and lodgings for another six persons for both men and women - five players and one captain. MCF could actually send another player and Greg could still assume his captain role. Why did MCF not do so? Or did MCF try hard enough?

In my opinion, the team is severely handicapped by the lack of a real reserve player.

Both Mas and Mok does not have confidence in the third and fourth players and they have even less in Greg. In their minds, one of them must win at the very least to have any chance of winning the match. Their games are invariably the last to finish due to having to cope with the strongest players on the opposing team. Most of the time they are spending 4-5 hours every game. This is very tiring for them and Mok in particular as he is the older of the two.

If you are following their games in the Bolivia match you will see the signs. You could not believe that it is Mas playing in that game. Compare the earlier games against Adams, Pelletier and Rozentalis and you will see the difference. It seems like he was just pushing pieces in the opening and quickly got into trouble. He had no chance after that as his opponent just sat on his superior position and refused to take any chances.

Look at Mok's game. He held a slight advantage up to the middle-game. Then he had a lapse of concentration and in danger of losing a pawn. He played a move like Re2 (losing move, he probably could still hold on to the pawn with axb6 followed by Qa4 or something like that - sorry if I am mistaken as I do not have the game in front of me right now) and followed up with gxf4? (Rxf4 is the only move to survive) exposing his king and in another couple of moves it was over. He must be really tired in that game.

There is no doubt that Khai Boon earned his place on the team. However he is disappointing so far. He salvaged two draws both of which he looks lost, to remain without a win and one point out of five games. He has to up his game otherwise he will be a hindrance to the team.

Peter Long is playing to his rating. He did well to hold two strong IMs to draws. In the fifth round against Bolivia he played the Benko Gambit to win. Unfortunately, his opponent was up to the task and did not give him the chances that he sought. But he is on the last board , probably at Khai Boon's expense, and he must win some games.

In my opinion and provided that Greg is listed as a reserve and we are not just a four man team, I think Mas and Mok must be given a rest at some point. That means between rounds seven to ten (there is a free day before the last round) they must take turns to rest for one round, if we meet a team that we know we have no chance to beat. At least they will be in better shape for the rest of the rounds. Yes, it is a calculated risk but extra-ordinary measures have to be taken in extra-ordinary situations.


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