There were two main plotlines on the second day in Division 4: the teams that started poorly tried their best to make up, whereas relatively inexperienced African teams sensationally defeated more versed squads.
The second day in the most unpredictable mini-tournament in Division 4 was as thrilling as the first one. After disastrous Friday Myanmar set off in pursuit for the leaders and swept aside outsiders in three matches. Nevertheless, Myanmar is still fifth and in order to advance into Division 3, it has to score three more victories today.
Even in the best-case scenario, Myanmar stands no chance to catch up with Thailand and Hong Kong. These teams continued their good run on the second day, crushing the opponents.
Chinese Taipei, the team that scored three victories on the second day will compete with Maynmar for the third qualifying spot. After losing critical points Kenya and Nepal have only a theoretical chance to advance. A good showing by Thailand was in the cards before the event, but team Hong Kong became a real breakthrough in the Pool A. The players from Hong Kong are definitely stronger than their ratings suggest. When Thailand and Hong Kong lock horns in the last round, both teams more than likely will secure their spots in Division 3.
Uganda retraced Maynmar’s steps in this pool. This solid team made up for yesterday’s setback by winning three straight matches and moving up to the fifth position in the standings.
However, it was Mozambique that stole the show in this pool. After the first day, it looked like this team owed its first position in the leaderboard to sheer luck as Mozambique should have lost to Pakistan. On the second day, we saw a strikingly different team. Its victories over Namibia and Cyprus could have been predicted but 4:2 on the scoreboard against Syria caused a real sensation. Interestingly, Mozambique achieved this result even though its sixth board blundered checkmate in two being up a rook.
As a result, Mozambique caught up with Syria and pretty much secured its spot in Division 3. Team Malta, that lost an important match against Syria, is third. Given that the leaders already played against one another, it is highly unlikely that any other team will intervene fighting for the top-3. Unfortunately, Pakistan halted momentum it had picked up on the first day; the team lacks experience after all, but the Online Olympiad will become an important milestone in chess development in this country.
Mozambique was not in the spotlight for too long. Just 30 minutes later Mauritania produced an even bigger surprise. Indeed, Mozambique was considered to be one of the favorites in Pool B, whereas Mauritania with only three rated players in its line-up just barely scraped through Base Division.
With this in mind, three victories by Mauritania on the first day surprised attentive audience, let alone yesterdays’ triumph in the match with Lebanon, the team that along with Nigeria was considered a prohibitive favorite in Pool C. In a key moment fortune smiled upon the leader of team Mauritania:
Faisal Khairallah – Sidi Boidiya
Faisal Khairallah (Lebanon) was in command throughout the game but after 35...Rd6!? let his guard down for just a second - after 36.Qc1?? (after 36.Qc8, controlling g4-square White had an upper hand) Black checkmated - 36...Ng4+ 37.Kg1 Qd1+ and White resigned.
Mauritania snatched the victory against Lebanon 3.5:2.5 and then won two following matches.
Nevertheless, Mauritania has not punched its ticket to Division 3 yet – today this team is facing tough opponents Nigeria and Lesotho, but it has a fair chance to advance. Nigeria keeps leading the field, Lebanon occupies the third position.
After a great performance on the first day, Palestina did not manage to hold its lead. Since the team leader Baha Miswadah did not participate on the second day, the Palestinians suffered two defeats, including clobbering 0.5:5.5 by Suriname. Its only victory Palestine earned in the match with Liberia won by a minimal margin.
Palestine is sharing third place with Puerto-Rico and Netherlands Antilles and still has a chance to advance to Division but in order to do that, it must beat the former. With this in mind, Puerto-Rico looks like a main candidate for the third spot. The first two places almost certain will be taken by Angola and Suriname. On the second day, these teams scored three straight victories each, although the African players had problems not only in the key match with Puerto-Rico but also in the encounter with lower-rated Ghana.
Team Ghana playing at Accra Sports Stadium Media center
Since several inexperienced teams have connection problems in this pool, only four squads are fighting for three spots in Division 3 - Honduras, Nicaragua, Trinidad & Tobago, and Jamaica. Honduras seemed to be a clear favorite as in every match up to Round 6 it did concede more than one point, but the team bit the dust in a clash with its neighbor Nicaragua 2:4. Nicaragua quickly grabbed the lead after WIM Maria Esther Granados Diaz trapped her opponent and delivered checkmate on move 11, and did not let it go.
Another very important match was played in Round 5 - Trinidad & Tobago outplayed Jamaica 4:2 and became the main candidate for the third spot. Now Jamaica badly needs to score points against Honduras. The team counts on Rachel Miller who has not lost a single point yet, but only her efforts won’t be sufficient in this decisive match.
Today Rounds 7-9 are played which determine 15 teams that will resume chess battles in Division 3 on August 7. They join 35 seeded teams led by Denmark, Portugal, and Bolivia.