Monday, 29 April 2013

City of Melbourne Open - Round 1

The City of Melbourne Open began last night at Melbourne Chess Club. The field on the night was a rather small one of 20 players, with a few others unable to play on the first night (and being awarded half point byes as a result). Players are still able to join the tournament, so if anyone missed round 1 & would like to play, they can still join the tournament up until round 3.
The tournament itself has a field that is fairly typical for MCC events, with a few players above 2000 (headed in this case by IM Mirko Rujevic), with the bulk of the field in the 2000-1600 range. This meant that a number of games were highly competitive (often unusual in Swiss events) & there were a few upset results. Gary Bekker beat David Hacche after David misplayed the middlegame, before finally missing a tactic in the endgame, while Roger McCart achieved an overwhelming position against Garry Lycett, but teetered on the bring of flagfall for a number of moves before it was finally Garry who lost on time when trying to defend the difficult position he was faced with. Finley Dale & Jason Chew also held their higher rated opponents, George Hua & David Lacey respectively, to draws.

Results are available on ChessChat. Pairings will also be posted on ChessChat on Thursdays.

Below is the board 3 clash between Gary Bekker & David Hacche, which sees David go astray in the middle game before missing a final tactic in the end game, allowing Gary to take the victory.

MCC ANZAC Day Weekender Day 4

The final day of the ANZAC Day weekender finished as expected at the top, with GM Zong Yuan Zhao completing a picket fence to win the event with 7/7. Malcolm Pyke also finished strongly to place second behind Zhao on 6/7, winning all his games other than his loss to Zhao. Karl Zelesco finished in outright third with 5/7 after winning a tense final round game against Gary Bekker. As is customary in these events, juniors scooped the rating division prizes, with Kris Chan & Nathan Chin winning the under 1800 & under 1600 divisions, while the junior prize was shared between Jack Puccini, Max Chew Lee & canberra's Michael Kethro.
The day was of course not without upsets, with Tristan Krstevski, Marko Grabovac & Finley Dale holding higher rated opponents to draws in round 6. Round 7 saw Marko Grabovac, Nathan Chin, John Toth & James Brennan beat higher rated opponents to finish strongly.

Full results & prize winners are available on ChessChat.

Main playing hall on Saturday
 A crowd gathers around the Bekker-Zelesco final round game

Below is the exciting final round game (the last of the tournament to finish) between Gary Bekker & Karl Zelesco, which ultimately decided third place. In the final position, Bekker lost on time, though by that stage his position was difficult anyway.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

MCC ANZAC Day Weekender Day 3

Day 3 of the ANZAC Day Weekender saw GM Zong Yuan Zhao continue his domination of the event & he is now a point clear of his nearest rivals. The fight for the minor places is still very much alive though, with three players on 4/5 & another five on 3.5/5. Upset results from the day included wins for Gary Bekker over Sylvester Urban, Mark Vucak over Richard Voon, James Brennan over Giles Lean, Max Chew Lee over George Hua, Tristan Krstevski over Will Bakanursky, Daniel Dobos over Elliot Renzies & Heath Gooch over Ben Frayle.

DGT coverage of the top board is available on Guy West's Ozmium website.
Results & Pairings are available on ChessChat.

Below is Pano Skiotis' win over Luis Chan, which saw Luis push Pano for a long time until Pano managed to create a mating net to secure the win.

Friday, 26 April 2013

MCC ANZAC Day Weekender Day 2

Day 2 of the ANZAC Day weekender was a Friday night round, which saw a number of players taking byes due to playing in the Box Hill Chess Club Championships, or having work commitments. The thirty players who played the round had some interesting games, with the board 1 clash between MCC regular Malcolm Pyke & GM Zong Yuan Zhao attracting quite a bit of attention. Malcolm managed to exchange queens & win a pawn in the early middle game & appeared to have an edge. Zhao responded by playing actively, ultimately winning back his pawn tactically before winning another pawn to head into an advantageous endgame, which he was able to convert to a win. Zhao was in fact the only player to remain on a perfect score after the round, it others on 2/2 either drawing, losing, or taking byes. Gary Bekker beat Finley Dale in an exciting game that also attracted a crowd, particularly in the post-game analysis, where various players tried to improve on the game continuation. Richard Voon & Tristan Krstevski managed to defeat higher rated opponents to join the large contingent of players on 2/3. The morning round sees the promising juniors facing tough tests, with Karl Zelesco facing Zong Yuan Zhao, while Luis Chan faces Pano Skiotis & Kris Chan battles Jack Puccini in an all-junior clash!

DGT coverage of the top board is available on Guy West's Ozmium website.
Results & Pairings are available on ChessChat.

Below is the exciting top board clash from round 3, which saw Malcolm Pyke achieve an early advantage, but Zong Yuan Zhao fought on & played actively before Pyke's defenses cracked!

MCC ANZAC Day Weekender

The annual ANZAC Day weekender at Melbourne Chess Club attracted 42 entries, after a late rush saw the field double in size in the final day before the tournament!
Top seed for the event is Grandmaster Zong Yuan Zhao, fresh off his victory in the Bangkok Open. One would expect him to win this event easily after winning the Bangkok tournament against a field of GMs & IMs, but chess is a funny game sometimes & strange things can happen! Other top seeds in the tournament are FM Michael Baron, Karl Zelesco, Pano Skiotis, Sylvester Urban, Malcolm Pyke & George Hua, with quite a number of other players over 1600, making for a strong weekend event.
Day 1 saw a few players go through with two wins, with most of the top seeds being in this group. The surprises are the Chan brothers, Kris & Luis, who both beat higher rated players on the way to a perfect start to the event.
DGT coverage of the top board is available on Guy West's Ozmium website.
Results & Pairings are available on ChessChat.

In a tournament like this, the early rounds are a chance for the 'average' club players to play a Grandmaster, but it is also a demonstration for the rest of us about how to accumulate small advantages, before finally converting these into a winning advantage, with a demonstration of excellent technique to finish off a winning position in convincing fashion. This is exactly what happened to Marcel Rothlisberger in round 2, with Zhao achieving an edge out of the opening, before slowly improving his position before his kingside pawns decided the game.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Melbourne Chess Club Championships - Round 9

The final round of the MCC Championship was slightly anti-climatic, as tournament leader IM Guy West had played his final round game the previous Friday evening (he planned to be interstate to attend a wedding when the final round was scheduled to occur), which resulted in a draw. This meant that Guy was 1.5 points clear of his nearest rival, so had secured his eleventh club championship title! This is a record, having now passed Frank Crowl's ten championships, which he won between 1929 & 1953. Guy's championship wins began in 1983, with his latest (though not necessarily last) one in the 2013 championship, 30 years later! Congratulations Guy!
This left Monday's games as a fight for the minor places & rating prizes. Ari Dale played a nice game to beat Mirko Rujevic & secure second place outright, while Justin Tan beat Chris Wallis to join Laurent Michaille in a tie for third place. Last year's champion Dusan Stojic beat his good friend Domagoj Dragicevic to finish in equal fifth place just outside the prizes. Jack Puccini scored another upset win, this time beating David Hacche, to finish tied with Dusan on 6/9, which was enough to win the U2000 prize. Although James Cameron lost his final game to Mehmedalija Dizdarevic, his rivals for the U1800 prize were unable to make up enough ground to catch him, so his 4.5/9 result was enough to win the division outright.
Overall, the tournament was once again the strongest club championship in Victoria, if not Australia, with 2 IMs, 4 FMs & a total of 13 players rated over 2000 participating. However the number of players under 1800 (only 13, with one of these being unrated) was a little disappointing & contributed significantly to the total number of players being lower than previous years. I'm not sure of the reasons for this decline in numbers, but the club needs to address this issue, as without a strong base of players the club will not be able to maintain (let alone improve) its current situation.

Final round results are on ChessChat.
There you can also find the Final Cross Table.
Below is the final round game between Ari Dale & Mirko Rujevic.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Back to work ... and a surprise visit!

With the school term starting again in Victoria (just as it is finishing in NSW & some other parts of Australia), it means that I am back at work, with today starting with the annual year 7 tournament at Billanook College, after a morning session at Banyule Primary.
This time I was an assistant arbiter (Ian Birchall was in charge of things today), so had some time to take a few photos of the tournament in action. The thing that makes the Billanook tournament somewhat unique is that it involves all of the year 7 students, even some who were very new to chess. The tournament also gives them an introduction to chess in a more social setting, where they are around their friends & generally makes for a fun event.
 Great way to start a term with a room full of kids playing chess!

The tournament is also at the same venue as the Billanook Classic, which is an Allegro Series (where I will be playing for a change), which begins this Sunday & features a wide range of players, from Masters to relative newcomers, so everyone gets competitive games!
In unrelated news, I recently visited James Morris & Dimitry Partsi in hosptial, as they recover from the horrific car accident over Easter which shocked the chess community. Thankfully both are much better than they were & look to be on the way to a full, although lengthy, recovery! Although James & his mother Rowena were pleased to see me, James was much more excited to see another visitor - none other than the face of Pokerstars, Daniel Negreanu! Daniel is in town for the World Series of Poker Asia Pacific (where he is currently on the final table of the main event) & it was great of him to take time out of his schedule to see James in hospital! Hopefully he can finish off his trip well (he had previously final tabled the 8-game, which was won by Phil Ivey) & take home the main event bracelet!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Melbourne Chess Club Championships - Round 8

Round 8 of the MCC Championship was an emotional round, with the night beginning with a minute's silence for Andrew Saint & Hannibal Swartz, who tragically died while returning from the Doeberl Cup over Easter. Once the chess got underway, Guy West won again on board 1, this time against Domagoj Dragicevic. Domagoj appeared to have a good position out of the opening, winning a pawn with Guy having little compensation for it, but Guy later found a tactic to win the pawn back, before outplaying Domagoj in the rook & minor piece ending to secure the point & retain his lead in the tournament. Ari Dale & Justin Tan drew their postponed game, while Frenchman Laurent Michaille beat Chris Wallis to move into equal second with Ari, one point behind Guy. This means that Guy needs only a draw to secure the Club Championship title once again, but Laurent's uncompromising style would suggest that he will need to fight off a fierce attack from the Frenchman before he is able to claim the title!
There were also a few upset results on the night, with James Cameron beating Paul Kovacevic, While David Hacche & Phillip Drew held their higher rated opponents to draws.
The fight for the minor placings is very much alive, with Justin Tan on 5.5, half a point behind Ari & Laurent, while there are 5 others (and possibly a sixth with a game to be played on Thursday) on 5/8.
Results for round 8 are on ChessChat.
Below is the game between Laurent Michaille & Chris Wallis.

Monday, 1 April 2013

A chess tragedy :(

This was supposed to be a post about the silly side of the last two days of the Doeberl Cup, but unfortunately the event has been marred by tragedy, with a car crash involving a number of players from Melbourne Chess Club who were returning from the event, which has tragically killed Andrew Saint & Hannibal Swartz!
According to initial Police reports, the accident occurred near Winton & from what the chess community has heard, the car they were traveling in blew a tyre & rolled.
The incident is made all the more tragic by the fact that hours earlier Andrew had won the Major division of the Doeberl Cup in Canberra in arguably his best tournament result!
I had known Andrew for a number of years through his involvement in the chess scene in Adelaide, but had got to know him better since we had both moved from our home cities to Melbourne. He was always cheerful & smiling, even when stressed & always had kind words for those he spoke to. His chess was generally solid & positional, though he was also more than capable of finding the right tactical solution to a position if necessary!
Hannibal had only begun playing chess in Melbourne in the last year, but had the highlight of drawing with visiting German GM Igor Khenkin in a simul at Box Hill Chess Club in January. He was quiet & unassuming, but had made a number of friends in his brief time in the chess community.
Both will be missed by the chess community.
My thoughts are with their families & friends.

Andrew in late 2012 presenting a cheque to Max Illingworth.