Sunday, 30 December 2012

2013 Australian Open Preview

In a few days time (January 2nd to be exact), the 2013 Australian Open will begin at norths Leagues Club in Cammeray. I am one of the arbiters for the event, alongside IA Charles Zworestine & Alana Chibnall.
I've put together a short video preview of the event & hope to do similar short video reports during the tournament itself.
Here you can also find links to the various websites to check during the event, although I also hope to be posting something here on a daily basis.
Website links:
Tournament Website
Norths Chess Club
Norths Leagues Club

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Bob Brooking Round Robin Round 5

The final round of the Bob Brooking Round Robin had me paired against Sylvester Urban, with four players potentially in contention for first place in the division, depending on other results. Although I liked my position early, Sylvester managed to generate some counterplay on the king side & I felt I was in a bit of trouble for a while. The critical position arose on move 21, where I chose to play Rxg4, going into somewhat complicated territory, which I further complicated by playing 22.Rxg6 (rather than bxc3 immediately) preferring to give up an exchange than have two pieces for a rook & a pawn or two, as I would have lost the initiative. As it happened, I misplayed a few later moves & allowed my e pawn to be taken, after which Sylvester had a definite advantage. After some further exchanges, I tried to generate some play, but seemed to be making little progress until Sylvester played 44...Rb2+. Once his rook left the back rank, it allowed my pieces to get somewhat active & after Sylvester played 46...Kg7, the game should have been over very quickly. Of course I managed to miss a simple win with 54.Qd8+, but thankfully I was able to avoid Sylvester's attempted perpetual check & eventually win the game.
David Beaumont won his game to win group B, with my 3/5 enough for outright second in the group. Final cross tables for all divisions are on ChessChat.
David also managed to win the MCC Grand Prix as a result. It is good to see someone who is a regular at the club, who played in most (if not all) MCC GP events during the year, win the top prize!
That was the final tournament for the year at MCC ... so bring on 2013!

2012 Australasian Masters

The Australasian Masters is a 10 player round robin IM-norm event that has been held in Melbourne on an almost-annual basis since 1987. This year was very much a triumph for youth, with the tournament ending in a three-way tie between IM James Morris, FM Bobby Cheng & Anton Smirnov, with Anton winning the title on countback (he beat both James & Bobby in their individual games).
Throughout the tournament there were quite a number of well played games, although there were also the occasional blunder or inaccuracy. The two games (or game & position) I want to highlight are Arkadius Kalka's quick demolition of Eddy Levi in round 6, as well as an amazing tactic missed by Luke Li in his round 2 game against James Morris.

Arkadius 'takes the bait' against Eddy & the game is decided shortly afterwards, but not how Eddy was hoping!

In the following position, James Morris has just played 44.Ra8 against Luke Li, who had been defending a worse position for most of the game. Here, the game continued 44...g2 45.Rxa7+ Kf8 46.Ra8+ Kf7 47.Ra7+ Kf8 with a draw, but Luke missed the stunning shot 44...Rg5+! This allows the king to hide from rook checks on d6, while also blocking the white rook's path to g1, so black will be able to promote the g pawn & have a winning (although still tricky) ending.

This was the first time I was directly involved in the tournament, although I only attended the venue (Box Hill Chess Club) on a few occasions during the event. My involvement came in the form of editing the tournament bulletins, which were produced for the players on a daily basis. The Bulletins from the tournament can be downloaded as a Zip file from 4Shared (hopefully this remains in place for a reasonable length of time - if not send me an email & I'll send the bulletins to you). Feel free to post any comments you might have about the bulletins & what can be improved in the future.
I have also uploaded a PGN file of games from the tournament.

To finish the post, I have added some photos from tournament organiser Leonid Sandler.

A relaxed start to the game between Bobby Cheng & James Morris
 German FM Arkadius Kalka
James Morris after playing the winning Rg8+ against Eddy Levi
 Three winners, Bobby Cheng, Anton Smirnov & James Morris
 Anton Smirnov with the perpetual trophy

Thursday, 20 December 2012

MCC Christmas Swiss

42 players turned up for this annual event on the Melbourne Chess Club Calendar, this time with the list headed by two interstate visitors, GM Zong Yuan Zhao & IM Max Illingworth, both from Sydney. Although most of the higher rated players won their early rounds, they were not without their upsets, with Matthew Clarke holding Calvin Bennett to a draw in round 1, while in round 2 Kris Chan beat Richard Voon, Chloe Chin beat Vishal Bhat & Andrew Thornton held Tristan Krstevski to a draw.
Round 3 saw the first big boil over of the tournament, with MCC favourite David 'Firegoat' Beaumont beating IM Max Illingworth in a game that David described as his best played game of all time! Also in round 3, young Kris Chan held Dusan Stojic to a draw. Round 4 saw no major upsets, but a number of draws, including Dusan Stojic holding top seed Zong Yuan Zhao to a draw in the last game of the round to finish, as well as Ray Yang drawing with Franz Oswald, along with a few more closely matched contests.
The final day saw most of the top seeds winning in the morning round, although Tony Davis managed to beat Dusan Stojic, Ray Yang beat Tristan Krstevski & Andrew Thornton beat Ben Frayle. The Chan brothers continued their impressive tournaments with draws against Calvin Bennett (Kris) & Will Bakanursky (Luis). The final round saw the tournament finish in a four-way tie, with Justin Tan & Zong Yuan Zhao drawing on top board, with Max Illingworth & Tony Davis winning their final games to join them on 5/6. Kris Chan finished off a good tournament with a win over Gary Bekker, Chris Chin beat Calvin Bennett & Dominic Lai beat Rebecca Strickland in final round upsets, while Will Bakanursky was lucky to escape with a draw against Ray Yang.
Full results & prizewinners are listed on ChessChat.

MCC Grand Prix winner David Beaumont faces GM Zong Yuan Zhao in round 5
Three of the four winners, GM Zong Yuan Zhao, Tony Davis & IM Max Illingworth
David described this win as his best ever, so I thought it might be worth including on the blog!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

When you are too busy to blog ...

This past week has been fairly hectic for me, so I haven't had a chance to update the blog as much as I would have liked. Earlier in the week my flatmate was in hospital for an operation, so I spent a bit of time visiting & making sure the house stayed in one piece while I had it to myself for a while, as well as being the general helper with getting things around the place.
Chess-wise I've experienced the first Chess Victoria executive meeting that had to be adjourned because it was going for too long! So the meeting was reconvened later the following week to finish it off ... and the second part of the meeting still went for around 3 hours!
In addition to that, I've been editing the bulletins for the Australasian Masters which is nearing completion at Box Hill Chess Club (today is the last round). I've also been arbiter for the MCC Christmas Swiss, which also finishes today. I've also had a few schools to coach at during the week, with the upshot of it being that I haven't really had a spare 20 minutes or so to post something useful here (and I'm only doing this while I wait for the last few games to finish in the round at MCC!).
I'll attempt to update the events individually tonight, although after the tournament finishes at MCC I have to take GM Zong-Yuan Zhao to the airport, as well as get some things ready for Monday, so will see how I go with getting things done ... HOPEFULLY I have time!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Bob Brooking Round Robin Round 4

Round 4 of the Bob Brooking round robin event saw me play a decent game against 'Firegoat' David Beaumont, which has meant that top honours in that division are still well and truly up for grabs! Although I was slightly worse out of the opening I managed to hang in & eventually began to generate some threats. After an exchange of minor pieces, the position was fairly balanced, until David played 35.Nd7 in an attempt to generate winning chances & unbalance the position. Although the silicon monster tends to think the position is still equal after 39.Bf4, David's choice of 39.d5 allowed me to take the initiative, although d5 does seem like the most logical move to continue the attack, or at least to try and create an attack. After getting my queen active, I was definitely better & managed to win David's b pawn. With David's knight out of play on the king side, I was able to use my bishop pair & rook to further improve my position, ultimately pushing home my own b pawn to finally win the game.
In the top division, the only game played was between Karl Zelesco & Malcolm Pyke. Although Karl appeared to have a slight advantage out of the opening, Malcolm was able to exchange pieces & ultimately with a level rook ending in sight the players agreed to a draw.
In other divisions division C is between Peter Fry & Michael Addamo, division D has Gary Bekker at least equal first, although Felix Wyss can tie for first if he can beat Gary in the final round, while division C is once again up for grabs with Joel Kamer beating Michael Hain to leave Michael in equal first with Jason Chew.
As usual, results are on ChessChat.
This should make for an interesting final round next Monday!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

That horrible feeling when you lose to Richard Voon ...

Unfortunately I officially became part of the club tonight, when I lost my postponed round 1 game from the Bob Brooking Round Robin to Richard Voon. Once again I had a promising position, or at least I thought I did (the computer thinks it was marginally better at best), until I decided to try to complicate things & play for a win, so I sacrificed my knight for 3 pawns & a scary looking attack. Perhaps some signs from earlier in the game should have told me otherwise (I didn't see Richard's 14.Nd4, which was awkward to deal with, nor did I notice that 14...Qd7 actually lost an exchange) & I should have gone for the safe option of 32...Nc7 (which Fritz sees as 0.00) rather than the speculative 32...Nxf4 that I decided to play. Of course I also missed a number of defensive moves that Richard played, in particular 40.Kh1. I was of course hoping for the spectacular 40.Qxd8? when after 40...h3 41.Qxc7+ Kh6 there are no more useful checks & I have a forced checkmate, in spite of being 2 rooks & a bishop down! Alas, this loss leaves me with just 1/3 so far, with the top 2 seeds (David Beaumont & Sylvester Urban) to play in the coming weeks. Let's hope something improves for those games!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Bob Brooking Round Robin Round 3

Its been a while & I was definitely struggling for a while, but I finally managed a win in a tournament game (my first since June - albeit that that was when I last played a tournament game, but that's not the point). My game against Justin Penrose had quite a few twists & turns. I decided to deviate from my 'standard' 1...g6 as black & played 1...e5, mainly because I knew Justin played the Ruy Lopez as white & I am reasonably comfortable playing either side in that opening. I decided to play the Berlin Defense (3...Nf6), although I was probably not going to play it in the 'usual' manner as seen in the Kasparov-Kramnik match in 2000. Anyway, after Justin played 4.Qe2, I was out of any sort of theoretical knowledge I may have had of the position & just had to play chess. Although I didn't think my position was that bad, the silicon monster didn't like my 14...Na7 or 16...Nh7, in spite of their aesthetic symmetry & thought white had the better position for a decent part of the middlegame. Although I wasn't convinced that 17...f5 was the best move in the position, it seemed like the obvious pawn break to make & I didn't want to wait for Ng3, which would have further hindered any plans of expansion I may have had. Ultimately its a blunder that should leave me with a worse position, although apparently I had a few opportunities to play a timely Ra8, which would have neutralised some of that advantage. Justin held the advantage until he played the seemingly natural recapture 37.Qxf5 (Bxf5 was better), which allowed me to play 37...e4 & start to turn the game around. Ultimately it was the combination of playing R1a6 & Bb3 that left Justin with problems in the centre & on the back rank, which I was able to convert into a win.
In other games, Mirko Rujevic has taken a temporary lead in division A after beating Karl Zelesco (with the help of the 'get out of jail free' card after getting into trouble in the opening), moving to 2.5/3, joining Justin Tan in the lead, although James Morris is on 2/2 with a game in hand.
David Beaumont continues to find ways to win from difficult positions & leads division B with 3/3. Peter Fry has taken the sole lead in division C after beating Jack Puccini in a tactical struggle to move to 2.5/3. Gary Bekker beat Anthony Harris to take the outright lead in division D with 3/3, while Michael Hain won again to keep his lead in division E with 3/3.
Results from last night's games are on ChessChat.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

ChessKids National Schools Finals Day 2

Yesterday afternoon I again stopped by the ChessKids National Schools Final to see how the kids from Penleigh Essendon Grammar were doing. For the most part, the kids did very well. One of the big differences about this event and the average school event is that rather than only having a handful of students who play regularly at chess clubs in the event, as you would have at an ordinary schools competition, you have a large portion of the field who are regulars at clubs like Box Hill, Melbourne, Noble Park & other chess clubs around Melbourne. It also shows how much difference playing at a club makes, as these players are used to playing against tough opposition, have faced difficult positions & have in general just played more chess than those who have played the vast majority of their chess in the school environment.
With this in mind, the PEGS kids did very well. The girls team finished 3rd overall in a tough, but disappointingly small girls competition. The top scorers in the team all scored 4/7, which is an excellent effort in such a competition. The boys team also fared well, coming 5th overall out of 13 teams & collecting the trophy for finishing second out of the Middle Years teams, just 1.5 points behind Melbourne High (who had the very experienced Allen Yu leading their team). Once again, the top scorers for the team all scored 4/7 & even those who may not have had the best tournament still managed at least 2.5/7.
There were few surprises at the top end of the tournaments, with Glen Waverley taking out the Secondary competition (with 5 kids who are all regulars at chess clubs), with Bobby Cheng winning the individual tournament. Greythorn won the primary section, with both Enoch Fan & Tristan Krstevski scoring 7/7, while Deepdene won the girls section, with Alanna Chew Lee scoring 7/7.
As far as an overall impression of the tournament goes, there were three things that stood out for me that ChessKids had done well - the venue at Queen's College was excellent, with a large, bright room, with a separate area for parents & teachers where they were could be out of the playing area, but still able to see the games in progress. The lectures & coaching in between games is something that helps add something to the event & make it much more than simply a chess competition & gives all students something to take from the event. The third thing that was done well was simply that all the ChessKids staff were wearing their blue tops with the company logo, so that it was easy to identify who the arbiters & organisers were, particularly with so many parents & staff at the event. That's not to say that the event was without negatives, but these were the things that stood out for me that separated this event from other school events I have attended in recent years.
Of course I took a few photos while I was there ...
 The outside of the playing hall
 The fantastic surrounding buildings of Queen's College
Trophies for the winners
The winning team from Glen Waverley Secondary
With the PEGS kids after the tournament. Boys: Vincent, Chenuka, Adam, Joseph, Aby & Dion. Girls: Rhianne, Ashleigh, Carole, Amber (front), Kate & Jaya. Well Done!

Bob Brooking Round Robin Round 2

Round two of the Bob Brooking Round Robins saw a number of clear leaders emerge in some of the groups. James Morris leads Group A with 2/2 after another comfortable looking win, this time against Malcolm Pyke. David Beaumont leads group B with 2/2 after escaping from a difficult position against Justin Penrose. Group C has Michael Addamo, Peter Fry & Jim Papadinis all sharing the lead on 1.5/2. Gary Bekker & Anthony Harris share the lead in Group D with 2/2, while Michael Hain is the sole leader in Group E with 2/2. Although some of these leaders were the pre-tournament favourites, there are a few surprises in there, particularly Michael Hain leading group E after beating the pre-tournament favourite Jason Chew in round 2.
My own game in round 2 was like many other games that I have played throughout my chess career ... a promising start becomes a good middlegame, and I then proceed to stuff up an attack, miss a defensive move by my opponent & lose horribly. I played the opening a bit unusually, but managed to win an exchange fairly early. I then played aggressively & got a good attacking position, but rather than exchanging some more pieces off, I saw some ghosts & missed a strong continuation, so rather than playing 28.Nxd4, I went for the complications of 28.Qg5, which allowed black to have connected passed pawns in the centre. This made my attack need to be precise, so although Ng3 would have been better, Nf4 was also OK, but Qh5+ needed to be played before f6, as I missed the defensive resource Qc5, which turned the game around & made the central pawns a real threat.

The game of the round in the A group once again sees James Morris playing very logical chess to slowly dismantle Malcolm Pyke's position.

Monday, 26 November 2012

ChessKids National Schools Finals

Yesterday I decided to drop in to the ChessKids National Schools Finals, which were being played at Queen's College in Melbourne University in the city. I was mainly there to see how the kids from Penleigh Essendon Grammar were doing, as I have been coaching there this year & the kids have been very keen to learn & have all improved over the course of the two terms that I have been coaching there. Having said that, an event such as this is very much a step up from what the kids are used to, so it would definitely be a challenging event for them. The first day was tough for the kids, but they all managed to win at least one game from the four that they played today, with Ashleigh Craig being the standout with 3/4 on day one! Hopefully things go well for them on day 2 & they can finish with a proverbial wet sail!
The event itself is being held in a very nice venue, with a large, bright playing hall being the main focus. There was also a large analysis room available for players, which was also very nice. An extra touch that ChessKids offer at this event are lectures by some of the ChessKids coaches between rounds, so that the event is not just a chess competition, but also an opportunity for all the kids playing to learn more about the game & take away more than just seven score sheets & some memories, but also hopefully some skills and insights from some other coaches, which should lead to a better understanding of the game.
Below are some photos from the event
The main playing hall in between rounds
 The smaller playing area for the girls even that becomes a lecture area between rounds, this time Anthony Hain is showing kids a game.
 The analysis room between rounds, with IM Robert Jamieson giving a lecture.
 The main playing hall from the viewing gallery where parents & teachers were ushered to before the round started, leaving the playing area for players & arbiters only.
 The analysis room mid-round, with plenty of games being looked at by players & coaches.
Here is a brief clip from one of Robert Jamieson's lectures, where he is looking at the game Zelesco-Illingworth from the 2012 MCC Melbourne Cup Weekender, and explaining how Karl missed an opportunity to draw the game against Max. 

Saturday, 24 November 2012

MCC Allegro Championships Day 2

The answer to yesterday's question was no, as IM James Morris continued his winning ways on day 2 of the MCC Allegro Championships, eventually taking out the tournament with a very impressive 12.5/13! Jesse Jager, who had lost to James in round 4, managed to win his remaining games & finished in second place on an impressive 12/13. Michael Baron finished 3rd after having a disappointing tournament by his standards.
The final cross table & a list of prize winners is available on ChessChat.
The concluding stages of the Baron v Morris clash yesterday from round 5
Play underway during day 2 of the Allegro Championships
 After the tournament, some of the players decided to play blitz on the street out the front of the club!

MCC Allegro Championships Day 1

Day 1 of the annual Melbourne Chess Club Allegro Championships saw 32 players participating, with many MCC Allegro regulars looking for their chance at the $200 first prize on offer! The obvious favourites were FM Michael Baron (now sporting an allegro record 2794 rating!) & IM James Morris, who have between them won almost all the allegro events held in recent years!
These two were not to have things all their own way, with Jesse Jager claiming an upset win over Baron in round 6, after Baron & Morris had drawn their round 5 clash. Tony Tosevski was perhaps the best performer on day 1, with wins over Luke Li & David Garner, but will he be able to keep this good form going on day 2.
A cross table after round 7 is available on ChessChat, but the big question for the day will be if anyone can stop James Morris from claiming yet another title in 2012.
Below are some photos from the event

Monday, 19 November 2012

Bob Brooking Round Robins Round 1

Tonight was the first round of the annual Bob Brooking Round Robin event at Melbourne Chess Club, which sees players split into groups of 6 by rating & then playing a round robin against those players. The format of the event makes for a very competitive event, with all games being (at least theoretically) very tough.
The tournament itself is named after Bob Brooking, former judge at the Victorian Supreme Court, as well a former President of Melbourne Chess Club. He has written an interesting history of Melbourne Chess Club in two volumes, Care for a Game & Play On, which you can read about on the MCC website.
As for the event itself, there are 30 players in five groups this year, with the top division being particularly strong, with 2 IMs & all players rated over 2100! I'm on double-duty, playing in division 2, as well as acting as the tournament arbiter, but I will definitely have to be at my best if I plan to win my division, with Sylvester Urban, David Beaumont, Justin Penrose, Omar Khaled & Richard Voon all looking to spoil these plans of mine!
Full results, as well as the draw for future rounds, can be seen on ChessChat.

The best game of the round in the top division was an efficient game by IM James Morris against Karl Zelesco, where James left Karl with a bad black squared bishop & gradually improved his position until an exchange could further increase his positional edge.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Melbourne Chess Club Open Round 9

Just when it looked like everything was settled, round 9 threw everything up in the air, with plenty of surprises! At the top end of the tournament, the big surprise was board 1, where Mirko Rujevic managed to win a piece against Guy West & Guy instantly resigned! The drama continued on board 2, when David Beaumont found himself a bishop ahead in an ending against Dusan Stojic! More drama was had on board 4, when Richard McCart demolished Peter Fry's customary 1.b3 in 20 moves! Just when it looked like David was ready to secure the win, he blundered & allowed Dusan's pawns to race up the board, and seeing no salvation in sight, resigned! This gave the tournament win to FM Dusan Stojic, a point clear of IM Guy West. These two were followed by four players who finished on 6/9 in a tie for third, Ari Dale, Mirko Rujevic, Carl Gorka & Richard McCart. Another surprise of this final round was that across 14 boards of play, only board 14 saw a win for the player with the white pieces!
Final results & cross table are available as usual on ChessChat.

With the excitement of the final round, I thought I needed to include two games form this round. The first is Peter Fry v Richard McCart, which sees Richard McCart play an excellent attacking game, and although there may have been quicker ways to finish the game off, the game as played was also pretty convincing!
The second game was the dramatic board 2 clash between David Beaumont & Dusan Stojic. Although Dusan appeared to have a reasonable position for much of the middlegame, it was David's central pawns that more than made up for the exchange he was down, ultimately leading to the ending with an extra bishop. The ending is won for David, but there are a few tricks that need to be navigated, with the winning line involving allowing Dusan to promote a pawn, but David would also have promoted a pawn & would have a reasonably straightforward win in an ending with Queen, bishop, pawn & king v Queen, pawn & king.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Victorian Blitz Championship & Chess Victoria AGM

Sunday saw an eclectic gathering of people at Melbourne Chess Club, initially for the Victorian Blitz Championship in the early afternoon, and then later in the afternoon for the Chess Victoria Annual General Meeting.
The field for the Victorian Blitz Championships was a small but very strong one. Of the 19 players, there were 2 IMs & 2 FMs, with 10 players rated over 2000 ACF! The titled players ultimately dominated the event, establishing themselves as the top 4 from round 5 onwards, with only the order changing in the remaining rounds.
Ultimately it was James Morris who took out the event, with a very impressive 11.5/13, only losing to Bobby Cheng & drawing with Michael Baron. Baron & Cheng shared second place with 10.5/13, with Michael being the only player to go through the tournament undefeated. Leonid Sandler was 4th with 10/13.
Full results are available on ChessChat.
I also took a few photos & videos during the day.
Playing hall with games underway
 Top boards in action - this time in round 3
 Richard Voon was among the spectators during the day
  Top boards underway in the final round
 Other boards during round 13
IM James Morris making a short speech after being awarded the first prize
I also took a few videos throughout the day, which can be viewed on my YouTube page.
Below is the most exciting of them all, the round 6 clash between IM James Morris & FM Michael Baron, which had a controversial finish!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Chess Victoria Primary Open Final

Friday saw the final of the Chess Victoria Primary Open Schools competition played at Box Hill Chess Club. 110 players, representing 22 schools from around Victoria participated, including many of the best primary school players in the state. The semi-finals the previous week gave some indication of the teams who would likely be fighting for first place, however with the finals being played using a team swiss format rather than an individual swiss, this was sure to favour teams that could score highly across multiple boards.
Greythorn Primary got off to a fantastic start, winning their first three matches 5-0 to lead by 3.5 points & this was to prove to be an unassailable lead throughout the day, although by the conclusion of the day, this lead was only half a point! Greythorn managed to win all seven matches throughout the day, so deserved to be the winners, although the Mount View team almost caught them by the final round, finishing with two 5-0 results in the final two rounds. Deepdene were also in contention throughout the day, but never quite caught up to Greythorn & ultimately finished third.
Outstanding performances were achieved by Enoch Fan (board 1 for Greythorn) & Hamish Jones (board 4 for Mount View), who both scored a perfect 7/7! A number of other players also scored 6/7, most of whom won board prizes (although there were a number of board 2 players who scored 6/7), which are included in the full results on ChessChat.
As with the other winners, I would like to wish the Greythorn team all the best at the Australian Schools Finals in Canberra in early December.
Full results are available on ChessChat.
Unfortunately my phone died during the event, so I only have photos from the early rounds
Top 5 boards in action
 Lower boards in action
 Plenty of teachers, parents & coaches watching the games in progress

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

MCC Melbourne Cup Weekender - Day 5

The final day started with the big question being could anyone stop Max Illingworth? There was also the related question of who would win the other prizes (whether Max took first or not).
Round 8 helped answer the first question, with Dusan Stojic unable to stop the Illingworth juggernaut  while Karl Zelesco held Stephen Solomon to a draw and Luke Li held Andrew Brown to a draw on the other top boards. This left Max a full point clear of the field to guarantee him at least a share of first prize. As is now expected in such an event, there was also the usual share of upsets, with John Beckman, Tristan Krstevski & Amelia Mendes all recording wins against higher rated opponents. David Beaumont's game with David Lovejoy almost made it into the fifth hour, before Beaumont finally broke through Lovejoy's dour defense to secure the win just before the start of the Melbourne Cup.
Once again the hotplate was fired up in between rounds for sausage sandwiches, while a large crowd
gathered around the TV to watch Green Moon take out the biggest horse race in the country.
The final round of the tournament saw MCC favourite David 'Firegoat' Beaumont pitted against Max Illingworth, with a draw being enough to secure outright first prize for Max. However Max had other ideas, and with valuable rating points also on the line, did what he had done in most of the previous rounds & demonstrated excellent technique to bring home a full point & win the tournament with an outstanding 8.5/9, with a 2700+ performance! This tournament should also improve his rating by around 18 points, to put Max over the 2400 mark, as well as placing him very close to (if not inside) the top 5 active players in the country! Stephen Solomon completed a final day nightmare for Dusan Stojic (who played Illingworth & Solomon back-to-back) by winning his game to secure second place. The final two games to finish were the ones that decided the other placegetters, with Andrew Brown beating Mirko Rujevic to take third, while Luke Li beat Justin Tan to take fourth place. There were surprisingly few upsets in the final round, although both Tristan Krstevski & Ray Yang managed to beat higher rated opponents. Rating division prizes were won by Chris Kolak (U2000) & Tristan Krstevski (U1600).
The top 4 were definitely the class of the field over the course of the weekend, although Karl Zelesco & Jason Chew were the best performers outside the prizewinners.
Full results, final crosstable & list of prize winners can be seen on ChessChat.
Numerous games from the tournament can also be seen on the MCC website.

Elizabeth Warren on the BBQ, which proved popular with players between rounds. A big thanks to Elizabeth, Tom Narenthran, Andrew Saint & others who were able to take on cooking duties over the weekend.
Final round underway, with Illingworth-Beaumont on board 1
IM Max Illingworth receiving his first prize cheque from MCC Treasurer Andrew Saint
Max delivering a his winner's speech, where he thanked the players & organisers, as well as downplaying his performance somewhat, saying he had a few things that went his way to help him win the event.

The game of the day was the final game in the tournament to finish, with Andrew Brown demonstrating precise technique to win a tricky ending against Mirko Rujevic, who always fights hard in his games!

Monday, 5 November 2012

MCC Melbourne Cup Weekender - Day 4

Day 4 of the MCC Melbourne Cup Weekender saw Max Illingworth retain his lead going into the final day, but not without a huge scare in round 6 against Andrew Brown! This allowed Stephen Solomon to gain some ground to be half a point behind Max after winning both his games yesterday, while Andrew Brown in a further half point behind in third place.
Round six saw a few upsets, with Ray Yang, Vladimir Zacharczenko, Elizabeth Warren & Regan Crowley all recording wins against higher rated opponents. The top board was almost one to join the upset category, with Andrew misplaying the ending which allowed Max to scramble a draw.
The afternoon round saw Max play a nice game to retain his lead, while Stephen Solomon beat Luke Li to move into outright second place. On other boards upset wins were recorded by Andrew Brown, Vladimir Zacharczenko & Carl Loucas.
Coming into the final day's play, Max Illingworth, Stephen Solomon & Andrew Brown are the players to catch, although with plenty of others hot on their heels, there is plenty to play for on the final day!
Results & Pairings are available on ChessChat.
The game of the day sees Max play his 'Get out of Jail Free' card against Andrew Brown in round 6. After achieving a fairly level middlegame, Andrew managed to find a way into a better rook ending & just when he seemed to have the win in hand, sacrificing his rook for Max's last remaining pawn, he misplayed the ending & allowed his passed pawns to be stopped. The computers (and Mirko Rujevic, among others) suggested that a queen ending with an extra pawn on the sixth rank should have been enough for Andrew to win, although there was also some chances in the line Andrew chose if he has played accurately.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

MCC Melbourne Cup Weekender - Day 3

Day 3 finally saw an outright leader emerge in the tournament, with IM Max Illingworth beating fellow Olympiad representative Stephen Solomon in the morning & the Luke Li in the afternoon to be a point clear of the field on 5/5.
Round 4 saw a fairly convincing win on board 1 by Max Illingworth over Stephen Solomon, while Luke Li beat Domagoj Dragicevic to join Max in the lead. Karl Zelesco played a nice tactical game to beat George Xie, while other upset wins were recorded by Jack Puccini, Alanna Chew Lee, Marko Grabovac & Ray Yang. Dusan Stojic also played an interesting game against Chris Kolak, giving up his queen for three minor pieces & ultimately the three pieces were enough for Dusan to secure the win.
In between rounds, a sausage sizzle was enjoyed by many of the players.
Round 5 saw Max Illingworth take the outright lead with a win over Luke Li in a topsy-turvy game, where Luke won a pawn in the early middlegame, but Max generated counterplay, before reaching an ending where both players had two rooks & a knight each. Max managed to get his rook active & Luke was unable to find a suitable defense. Karl Zelesco continued his good start to the event with a win over Dusan Stojic, while Mirko Rujevic got some measure of revenge against Jason Chew, after Jason had surprisingly beaten him in the MCC Open a few weeks earlier. Most other games were won by the higher rated player, although Tanya Kolak did manage a good win over John Wildes, while David Lovejoy, David Beaumont & Matt Radisich were able to hold their higher rated opponents to draws.
Results & Pairings are available on ChessChat.

I have decided to include two games of the day in the absence of photos.
The first is Karl Zelesco's round 4 win over George Xie, where various tactics on the d-file worked in his favour to win a piece, which he duly converted to a win in the ending.

The second game is the top board game from round 5, which saw Luke Li win a pawn reasonably early in the game, before Max Illingworth generated counterplay with his rooks & knight. Ultimately Luke was unable to find a suitable defense & Max won the game to take the outright lead.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

MCC Melbourne Cup Weekender - Day 2

Day 2 of the MCC Melbourne Cup Weekender saw the top seeds start to meet, with results not always going according to rating, with only IMs Stephen Solomon & Max Illingworth, along with Luke Li being the only ones to emerge from the day on 3/3.
The club also hosted a number of other events simultaneously, with junior coaching in the morning & a small allegro event in the afternoon meaning all players were in the main playing hall for today's games.
The morning round was not without surprises, with Sylvester Urban beating Dusan Stojic, Jason Chew beating John Wildes & Ben Frayle beating Paul Cavezza. However the game that had the most interest online was the clash between MCC regulars David 'Firegoat' Beaumont & Richard 'Uncle Chop Chop' Voon, with the Goat taking the victory on this occasion!
The afternoon round was also drama-filled, with Luke Li beating George Xie after George's rook was surprisingly trapped early in the endgame. Jason Chew continued his good recent form with a win over Max Chew Lee, while a number of games were drawn, including Urban-Dragicevic & Kolak-Beaumont near the top of the field.
Results & pairings are avaialble on ChessChat.

The main playing area, filled almost to capacity
 The top boards in somewhat unusual surroundings
The game of the day was Luke Li's win over George Xie, with was decided when George's rook was trapped on the b-file in the early endgame & Luke demonstrated excellent technique to finish the game off.

Friday, 2 November 2012

MCC Melbourne Cup Weekender - Day 1

The first round of the MCC Melbourne Cup Weekender saw 37 players ready to go on Friday night (with a few others joining the tournament on Saturday morning). The tournament is one of the strongest seen at the club in recent years, with 5 International Masters & 2 FIDE Masters playing & the top 15 seeds are all rated over 2000! There are also some interstate players participating, with players from Queensland, New South Wales & the Australian Capital Territory battling against some of Melbourne & Victoria's strongest players.
With the standard Swiss pairings pitting top half against bottom half, most matches saw a rating difference of 500 or more points. You would expect all games to be won by the higher rated player, however Tristan Krstevski managed to hold David Beaumont to a draw to be the exception to the rule, while the other top seeds all won. Many of the games were not as one-sided as the ratings would suggest, with Savithri Narenthran pushing Max Illingworth for over three hours, while Gary Bekker missed a possible drawing idea at the end of his game against George Xie.
With so many strong players in the event, round 2 sees a number of fascinating matchups already, including Ari Dale v Stephen Solomon & George Xie v Justin Tan on the top two boards, so if the top seeds are going to finish at the top of the field, they will have to work hard for their points!
Round 1 results are available on ChessChat. Pairings for future rounds will also be posted in the thread.

Main playing hall with games underway in round 1
 Top boards underway in round 1, including Solomon-Wildes on the DGT board!

The most interesting game from round 1 among the top boards was the board 2 clash between Gary Bekker & George Xie, with the International Arbiter putting up a good fight against the International Master. Unfortunately for Gary, in the final position he did not see that 47. Bxd4 gives white good drawing chances, as the passed c-pawn ties black's king or bishop down in defense, while an exchange on h5 leaves black with a potentially bishop & wrong coloured rook pawn ending. Without these resources, the position is indeed winning for black & Gary saw that after any other bishop move (to c1, f2 or g1) that black's idea is simply to play d3-d2 & then bring the king in to secure the victory. As a result of these thoughts, Gary resigned, missing a fantastic opportunity to possibly draw against an International Master (or at the very least, make for a very long ending, which is tough to win).


Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Chess Victoria Primary Open Semi Final 2

Yesterday saw the second of the Chess Victoria Primary Schools Semi-Finals played at Club Tivoli in Windsor, this time with 179 players from across Melbourne & Geelong. Once again, many of the best primary school players in the country were in attendance, including Luis Chan, Kris Chan & Alanna Chew-Lee, amongst others. As with yesterdays event, the favourites once again filled the top placings, with Kris Chan taking individual honours with 7/7, his brother Luis finishing second with 6.5/7 & Alanna Chew Lee headed those on 6/7 to also be the best finishing girl. Ryan Lumpreiks also had an excellent tournament, being the only player all day to take any points from the Chan brothers, after drawing his round 7 game with Luis, as well as being the only player other than the Chan brothers not to lose a game all day! 
In terms of the team results, Mount View & Deepdene were the the class teams of the field, finishing with 31.5 & 28.5 points respectively, which was 5 points ahead of the schools in third place! 
This sets up an exciting Final, with a number of schools very closely matched at the top of the field, with Mount View, Greythorn, Ivanhoe & Deepdene being the teams most likely to take out the title. Will the team format help or hinder some of these schools? We'll find out on November 9 at Box Hill Chess Club, where the top primary schools will battle it out for a place in the National Final in Canberra. 
Full results from the day are available on ChessChat
Also, with a number of teams finishing tied for potential qualifying places, there may be 2 extra teams added to the final (potentially 22 teams instead of the intended 20 teams), though this is to be confirmed by Chess Victoria in the coming days. 

Below are some photos from the day: 

The room was once again full for semi-final 2! This photo is taken at the opposite end of the room to the other photos
 The top boards were roped off to ensure players were not disturbed
 Another view of the venue with a round just underway
 A small canteen, with hot chips, hot dogs and other snacks was available during the day
Top boards ready to go in the final round
 Final round underway, with the players on the top boards in deep concentration

Monday, 29 October 2012

Melbourne Chess Club Open Round 8

The Guy & Dusan show continues to roll on, with wins for the two leaders over Carl Gorka & Richard McCart respectively. Ari Dale moved into outright third place with a win over Jim Papadinis, although Jim had the better position for much of the game. No less than six players are a further point behind on 5/8, and are hoping Ari stumbles to grab a share of third place. As is usual in this event, there were a few upsets, with John Beckman beating Paul Kovacevic & Tanya Kolak beating Gary Bekker, while Jack Puccini managed to hold a draw against Justin Penrose in a tough rook ending.
As usual, results are on ChessChat.
This week, David Beaumont finally gets a run as 'game of the round' after his victory over Mehmedalija Dizdarevic. After employing the Sicilian Dragon, Beaumont played the speculative b5, followed not long afterwards by a thematic Rxc3 sacrifice. Although it looked like Dizdarevic had things under control, Beaumont managed to activate his bishop pair, while limiting Dizdarevic's rooks, winning a few pawns, which he pushed to create threats, before finally setting up a mating net, which could only be prevented with heavy loss of material.
Also a reminder for players that the final round is in 2 weeks time (November 12) due to next weekend's Cup Weekender.

Chess Victoria Primary Open Semi Final 1

Earlier today almost 200 of the brightest young chess players from all parts of Melbourne & Victoria converged on Club Tivoli in Windsor for the first of two Chess Victoria Primary Schools semi-finals. The event featured a number of the best primary school players in the country, including David Cannon, Finley Dale, Enoch Fan & Tristan Krstevski, amongst others. The top four places were filled by the favourites, with Enoch Fan taking the individual honours with a perfect 7/7! Finley Dale & Tristan Krstevski were half a point behind after agreeing to an early draw in their final round clash, while David Cannon headed those on 6/7. Petra Suric was the best of the girls, finishing with 5.5/7.
Of course another part of today's event was about teams qualifying for the upcoming Primary Open Final at Box Hill Chess Club late next week, and Ivanhoe & Greythorn both put themselves in a position early favourites for the final, finishing tied for first with 29 points (of a maximum 35 - top 5 scorers counting towards the team total).
Full results from the day are available on ChessChat

Below are some photos from the day:

The calm before the storm ... ready to go before the chess starts!
 Action from the top boards
A full house of almost 200 students from all parts of Melbourne & Victoria!
 The line for reporting results ... it never seemed to end at times!
 Action in the final round, with a healthy crowd of parents & teachers keeping an eye on proceedings
 The trophies to be awarded for the finals next week
 All players received one of these fantastic looking Certificates of Participation!