Back to the ANC. In round 5, we faced a youthful Mongolian team which is led by the very strong IM Bayarsaikhan Gundavaa. Gundavaa has been playing actively in the Asian circuit for some time and is known to be a very solid and positionally sound player with excellent opening preparation. Before the game, I asked Zhang Zhong what he intended to play against Gundavaa's Sicilian Najdorf of which he replied nothing. After having to defend for long periods against the Catalan in his first 2 games, he is now ready to dish out some Catalan torture of his own!
The Mongolian proved to be ready for the challenge and after some excellent opening play, managed to equalise comfortably. Zhang Zhong pressed a little before finally accepting a draw as a correct result.
On board 2, I faced the promising Munkhal Gombosuren, who, despite his relatively low rating of 2389, has already despatched the likes of GM Zhou Jianchao in round 1 and held GM Nguyen Ngoc Truong Son to a draw. I braced myself for a big fight and decided to return to an old favourite which I played when I was still a teenage. Things didn't quite go according to plan though....
A really gruelling draw, and I consider myself quite fortunate to escape with a draw after the awful miscalculation in the middlegame.
On board 3, Daniel went all in with a speculative piece sacrifice right from the opening. I sometimes marvelled at how Daniel was able to gamble without restrain over the board - given that he had predicted this position over the board, I would have at least tried to work out some of the ramifications in my preparation but this has never been Daniel's style. Daniel's intuition proved to be correct although the game ended tragically for the 18 year old, and Team Singapore.
A few days ago, I posted a little calculation exercise which FM Ly Hong Nguyen came tantalisingly close to solving. You can see the solution embedded in this very game.
A tragedy but what a fight this was! Daniel was naturally distraught after the game but he has nothing to be ashamed of as he had played without fear and took the fight to his opponent.
On board 4, Peng Kong blundered a piece in a moment of folly in an unclear position. The experienced veteran IM was still shaking off the rust from a long period of inactivity but we all believed that he would make a comeback and produce the chess we knew he could.
Round 5 Singapore 1 - Mongolia 3.