On 16 January 2021 the online chess world of Cornwall became a lot smaller as the county played a match over eleven boards against the South Pacific island of Fiji, results as above. The rate of play was 45 minutes for the whole game plus 15 seconds per move from move 1. The match was played at 8.30 am in wintery Cornwall, which equates to 9.30 pm in Fijiís tropical summer.
Our president, David Jenkins, was a member of the Fiji team at the Moscow Olympiad of 1994 while working at the University of the South Pacific and was offered a courtesy slot in the Fiji team for this match, a trip down memory lane. The match was played on the Tornelo platform with the experienced arbiter and organiser Adam Raoof controlling. Robin Kneebone and Goru Arvind acted as captains of the Cornwall and Fiji teams respectively.
Unfortunately, a connectivity problem denied Fijiís candidate master Manoj Kumar a crack at GM John Nunn, and the match was closer than the scores suggest with games completed by home grown Fiji players scoring six and a half to two and a half despite several major grade disparities.
An impressive surprise was Taione Sikivouís fine win against Jeremy Menadue, with a sustained pawn attack down the open b and c files backed by both rooks and a queen. The evolving space advantage was such that by move 32 all Jeremyís pieces had retreated to the back row.
David Jenkins assayed the Kingís Gambit but was overrun by Petra Nunn following his miscalculating an exchange in a Falkbeer Counter Gambit. Meanwhile Robin Kneebone was playing one of his long careful manoeuvring games starting with a Dutch Indian, eventually securing victory over Goru Avind by winning material. Remarkably, the game featured no less than forty-four knight moves.
The only draw was on board 5 with Lloyd Retallick and Avinesh Nadan reaching a blocked position with Lloyd reluctant to free things up given that Avinesh had two bishops to a bishop and a knight. Ian George on board 6 secured a winning advantage when Noel Adricula dropped a pawn unnecessarily, although he showed some nice tactical touches later.
The second defeat suffered by Cornwall was when Richard Clark, playing black against Prashil Prakash, weakened his pawn structure around his king and succumbed to a queen trap. Meanwhile, 16 years old Rudr Prasad was not without chances against Grant Healey, although the finish was convincing enough. More straightforward wins for Cornwall were secured by Jamie Morgan and Philip Williams
Finally, we have Richard Smithís game against one of the Fijiís woman players, Tanvi Prasad (nice to see, alongside some of the younger players coming through). There was a point in the game when I thought Richardís double bishop sacrifice yielded a tactical mate, but I would need to see it again.
Overall, the Cornwall v Fiji match was a very pleasant experience and one we should endeavour to repeat. Playing a team literally the other side of the world seems the perfect repost to lockdown. Many thanks to all those involved.