It was an extraordinary day yesterday for the England Open team. Poland, who led the group by 4 VPs before yesterday, scored an incredible 58 VPs out of a possible 60. I believe this to be a record. They must have felt that first place in the group was now assured. But England also had a fine day - winning matches by 15-5 (against China Hong Kong), 18.5 to 1.5 against Latvia and the same against Turkey in the third match. This total of 52 VPs for the day may well be a record for an English team.
The effect of these wins means that we are still on Poland's tail for the top spot. We are playing a strong USA team this morning, but Poland are against the equally strong Japanese squad. It also means that we are sure of a qualifying position with two matches to spare. A fine performance in a group which includes USA, Poland, Monaco, Japan and Norway.
After the last match comes the complicated procedure for determining the pairings for the round of 16. The knockout matches are of 96 boards (14 hours of play) over two days. However, the players will have to cope with a difficult situation caused by the running of the Wroclaw marathon on Sunday (no, we are not competing in that). We have to play 64 boards on Saturday and 32 on Sunday not starting until 5.30.
There is no carry over scores from the qualifying round - all knock out matches start off from 0-0
Team spirit and confidence is high.
Chris Dixon [NPC]
PS. Far be it for me to say I have a team of monkeys, but they do consume an awful lot of bananas.