Day 4: The Battle for Fourth
At the beginning of play today, Canada faced an uphill climb. It looked as though the top three qualifying spots were secure (Russia – 190; Italy – 183 and South Africa – 174 and 14 ahead of fourth place). Four teams were fighting for the one chance to move forward to the next stage of play.
Canada had to face two of our toughest opponents — Russia and Italy. The matches were at opposite ends of the spectrum. At the red end, against Russia, the going was so good that we wanted it to never end. We came away with a near blitz, posting a 23-7 victory. Down at the purple end, things were darker. We had a 7-IMP lead at the halfway mark, but we lost ground during the final 8 boards and the Italians prevailed by 26 which translated into a meagre 9 VPs for Canada.
We had our bye during the last match of the day, so that gave us a little extra time for R and R.
While all that was going on, South Africa was having a damaging day. They managed to take only 20 VPs from Singapore, Argentina and Italy. Suddenly, after holding down first place for so long (rounds 2 through 7), their claim on any qualifying spot has been eroded and they have dropped to 7th, 19 VPs back of 4th. That is good news for Canada, as now realistically, two tickets to the Knockout phase are up for grabs. This is what it looks like after Day 4:
South Africa 194
So we are still in it, although 12 VPs is a substantial amount to make up with just three matches remaining in the Round Robin. On the last day, we have Kenya, Romania and Argentina. Since the latter two teams are currently ahead of us in the standings, every VP will have double value. At least we will have some control over our own fate.