Moving onto the chess, I think that if you had told me beforehand that I would beat Magnus Carlsen and we would place ahead of two Russian teams I would have thought the event had gone fairly well! However, it didn’t really work out like that; I got the team off to a bad start losing the decisive game to Bosnia in round 2, we gradually climbed the boards but made a hash of our best opportunity to get near the leaders with an apparently promising pairing with Belarus in round 8 going very sour. We went on to beat a weakened German team before drawing with the Netherlands and Czech Republic. This left us 20th equal. A kinder pairing towards the end would have put a more positive spin on things but it was a disappointment not to visit the top boards at any stage. Ultimately though, the main problem was that only Gawain was in really good form and you need more players firing to compete with the very strong opposition these days.
Considering my first two games I was fairly happy with my result although six whites in the last nine games helped. Physically I wasn’t in great shape, really struggling with the 5 hour time difference for the first few rounds, to be fair I imagine most of my opponents had similar difficulties. I then got sick shortly before round 6 but managed to struggle through the remaining games. I think this was the first time I played all the rounds in an Olympiad (my previous best being 13 out of 14 in Yerevan). Still a win against Magnus definitely made things worthwhile.
For a long time the pairing system in the Olympiad has worked quite well with scoring by board points, bucking the maxim of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, the powers that be have now switched to match points with a new pairing system with predictably bad results. There are few things so bad they can’t be made worst and the pairings this time were completely hopeless, I hope they can return to the simpler methods of the past.