It has been 18 years since Australia captured a medal at a Chess Olympiad
but late tonight in Istanbul Laura Moylan is set to break the drought, with
a gold medal a distinct possibility.
17-year-old Moylan, on her Olympic debut, has been playing the tournament
of her life, scoring eight points from her nine games to date and could
tonight become the first Australian women to win an Olympiad medal.
Moylan modestly disclaims responsibility for her incredible score, claiming
that "My opponents have all played badly."
While Moylan has enjoyed here share of luck, her explanation is only part
of the truth. Of all the Australian women players, Moylan has come to the
Olympiad with a well thought out opening repertoire which has given her the
initiative in many games. In addition, Moylan has stayed sharp in the
oppressive playing conditions and has pounced when chances came her way.
Moylan has been the catalyst for some great results by the Australian
women's team, including a 3-0 whitewash of Finland and a 2-1 defeat of
highly ranked Lithuania in the 11th round, the Australian team's fourth
consecutive match victory.
Only in the 12th round did the Australian juggernaut slow down. However,
with Moylan resting, a 1-2 defeat against the Grandmasters of the Czech
Republic can be considered extremely respectable and left the Australian
team inside the top 30. (86 teams are competing in the Women's Olympiad,
126 in the Open Olympiad.)
The following round Australia bounced back with an excellent win over
Bangladesh - Moylan winning again, of course! - to be placed in a tie for
13th place with only one round to play. No matter how Australia fares in
their final match against Armenia, the 200 Australian women's team is sure
torate as the most successful in Australian Olympiad history.
In the general standings, China is headed for yet another Women's Olympiad
victory, with their perennial rivals Georgia falling off the pace after an
upset defeat against the Ukraine in round 11.
Istanbul Olympiad 2000
Opening: Benko Gambit
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.Nf3 g6 5.Qc2 d6!?
Objectively this is a poor reaction to White's anti-Benko system but in
practical terms Moylan's choice is very sensible. Although White's gets to
keep the gambit pawn under near-optimum circumstances, Black at least has a
type of position she knows well.
6.e4 Nbd7!? 7.cxb5 a6 8.Nc3 Bg7 9.Be2 0-0 10.0-0 Qa5 11.Nd2 axb5 12.Bxb5
Ba6 13.Nc4 Qc7 14.Bxa6 Rxa6 15.Qe2 Rfa8 16.f4 Qb7 17.Rd1 Nb6 18.e5?
There is no need to advance so quickly - an exchange on b6 would have left
White well in control.
18...dxe5 19.Nxb6 Rxb6 20.fxe5 Nd7 21.e6 fxe6 22.Bg5?
After 22.fxe6 Nf8 White cannot hold the e pawn, but that would be a better
pawn to lose than the b pawn as in the game.
22...Nf6! 23.dxe6 Rxb2 24.Rd2 Rxd2 25.Bxd2 Ne4! 26.Rc1
The only way to hang on to material, but now Black launches a decisive
26...Bd4+ 27.Kf1 Nxc3 28.Bxc3 Rf8+ 29.Ke1 Bxc3+ 30.Rxc3 Qb1+ 31.Kd2 Qxa2+
32.Rc2 Qa5+ 33.Ke3 Qa1
A pawn down and with an exposed king, White has no hope.
34.Rc4 Qg1+ 35.Kd3 Rf2 36.Qg4 Qf1+ 37.Ke3 Qe1+ 38.Kd3 Rd2+ 0-1
Women's Olympiad Results
Australia def Iran 2-1
Australia def Albania 2-1
Australia def Finland 3-0
Australia def Lithuania 2-1
Czech Republic def Australia 2-1
Australia def Bangladesh 2.5-0.5