An Early Start for Round 2
Monday at the European Small Nations Championships was one of two days which featured a gruelling double round schedule, an aspect of the playing conditions guaranteed to be tough for all of the teams, most particularly the Maltese, whose lack of a reserve player meant that all four of them would have to compete in both of the back-to-back rounds.
To add to Malta’s woes, the random draw had pitted them against two of the tournament’s strongest teams in Rounds 2 and 3. They fought valiantly against their morning opponents, Monaco, despite conceding an average grading deficit of 158 ELO points per player, but were unable to avoid a 4-0 whitewash.
The team from Liechtenstein were similarly overwhelmed in Round 2, as they sought to overcome an even more severe grading gap against Andorra.
Cyprus faired little better, going down 3.5-0.5 to Luxembourg, although, in truth, their fourth board – Arsenios Hadjikryiakou – will consider himself unfortunate to have lost on time in a very playable position.
The match between Jersey and the Faroe Islands also saw a loss on time, as Hogni Egilstoft Nielsen succumbed to Jersey’s Captain – Louis Joualt – on the top board, again in an unclear position. However, this would be the lone success of the morning for Guernsey’s near-neighbours, as the Faroese swept the other boards to complete a 3-1 victory.
The representatives of the host nation also stumbled in Round 2, and were left to rue missed chances in the closest match of the morning session: Guernsey’s 2.5-1.5 defeat at the hands of San Marino.
In sharp contrast to Round 1, the 20 second round games yielded only 2 draws.
The players now had to summon all of their energy and powers of concentration, with little time to recover and prepare for the evening session.