England open team captain GM Peter Wells took a break from keeping a watchful eye on his men, to speak with us. Despite not having one of their anchormen - perhaps the world's strongest amateur, Luke McShane - the traditional western power still sports a very healthy team average Elo of 2681.
by GM Jonathan Tisdall
The short conversation covered a range of topics:
The absence of Luke McShane
Luke is not a professional and simply struggles to get time off work. He's basically playing one event a year, maybe two at the outside.
The England team’s ambitions
Well, we're seeded 10th and that's the kind of position where, if everybody hits form at the same time, anything is possible. The ambition is medals – that's clearly on the radar – but we're not favorites for them. Basically, the last couple of Olympiads we've had some very good results and troubled the leading teams, but we haven't had a tournament for a while where all of our players have been on form.
Nigel (Short) is very happy playing on third board these days and Gawain (Jones) has played above him in a few events now. Gawain is extremely ambitious and in very good form. I don't think there are any issues. We essentially have a team where boards 2-5 could play in any order - well, I chose the order and it makes good sense to me! Nigel is less enthusiastic these days about playing the top players – he's been there and done it.
His daily duties
I work quite a bit in the mornings preparing those players who want to be prepared - this isn't absolutely everybody, but I do a lot of chess. Each player is different and when they are as strong and as experienced as they are, you prepare them individually in a way suitable to them.
We're very happy to be here, and it is beautiful flying in - you get a very good first impression. The Olympiad seems well organized – the hiccup (with security delays), I think that happens all the time on day one. Number one best thing - the food has been absolutely fantastic - players on my team who normally moan about food are delighted!