Saturday, 21 December 2013

Australasian Masters - the middle bit

The Australasian Masters is the first Grandmaster norm event in Australia this century (the last was in Sydney in 1999) & at present has completed 7 of its 9 rounds.
Current leader of the event is GM Normunds Miezis from Latvia, who is on 6/7 after starting with 5/5 & then drawing games with GM Vasily Papin & FM Anton Smirnov. Second is GM Papin on 4.5/7, while tied for third are FM Smirnov, IM Max Illingworth & GM Tu Hoang Thong who are all on 4/7.
In the IM event, which is being run alongside the GM event, the leader is FM Chris Wallis on 5.5/7, just ahead of Karl Zelesco & IM Vladimir Smirnov who are on 5/7, while FM Bob Smith is in outright fourth on 4.5/7.

The tournament has had its share of drama, both on and off the chess board.
The main off-board drama was the round 3 forfeit of GM Tu Hoang Thong in his game against GM Normunds Miezis. Tu had only allowed 20 minutes to get to the venue by public transport (he had to travel through 8 stations on the train, albeit on the same line), but found out that the train he planned to catch was an express & did not stop at Canterbury station as he had hoped. By the time he caught another train back in the right direction, only to discover that this was also an express that did not stop at the required station, he had overstepped the 30 minute forfeit time & I had to deliver the bad news to him when he arrived shortly before 5pm.
In terms of on-board drama, there has been plenty! Even players of master level make mistakes - some complicated, but some fairly basic! I think the biggest of these was Wang Sheng Lee's endgame against Vladimir Smirnov in round 7. He had won two pawns in the opening, managed to give Vlad some chances in the endgame, but was still winning when the following position was reached:
Here black's a-pawn is one square away from promotion, but the calculation shouldn't be that difficult given the limited number of moves available. There are stalemate threats if the rook moves on the b-file, or if the king moves on the c- or d-files. Black's next move must be with the king, so the question is how to give black a legal move while still improving white's position - ideally moving closer to a mating net with king & rook ... The obvious move should be 90. Kb3! ... however Lee decided to play 90. Rh7 & the game was soon drawn after 90... Kb2, as black's king now has access to the a3 square, as well as the first & second ranks.
The win comes after 90.Kb3 Kb1 91. Rh7 (threatening mate on h1). Black has only two ways to try to avoid immediate checkmate, but they both lose in the end.
91... Kc1 92. Kxa2 leaves white with a basic rook & king v king checkmate that is one of the first checkmates beginners learn about!
91... a1N+ is the only other option (this avoids checkmate immediately as white is now in check) 92. Kc3 & white is once again faced with a dilemma of legal moves that are all hopeless. The simplest way to win is to capture the knight, which can be done after 92... Ka2 93.Rb7, when there is no safe square for the knight & 93... Ka3 runs into 94. Ra7#! 92... Nc2 is no good after 93. Rh1+ as the knight is captured on the next turn regardless of black's reply.

In terms of norms, which is in some ways what the tournament was aiming to do, the only players who are still in contention are FM Anton Smirnov in the GM event, who needs 5/9 for an IM norm (he is currently on 4/7, with FM Tu & IM Cheng to play), while Karl Zelesco needs 7/9 in the IM norm event (he is currently on 5/7, with FM Stojic & Lee to play).

Leonid Sandler recorded an interesting interview with GM Ian Rogers, who dropped in to the tournament while in Melbourne visiting family over the holiday period.

To finish off this update, photos from the other GM v GM games, as well as the finish to Miezis-Smirnov & a game from each round of the tournaments.

 Johansen v Tu ... result draw
 Papin v Miezis ... result draw
Miezis v FM Smirnov ... result draw
Interesting games
IM Event
Smith-Stojic from round 4  

Wallis-Brown from round 5

Smirnov-Stojic from round 6

Wallis-Levi from round 7

GM Event
Tu-Cheng from round 4

Miezis-Morris from round 5

Smirnov-Johansen from round 6

Illingworth-Morris from round 7


  1. In the Wang-Smirnov game, isn't Kb3 Kb1 Ka3+ trivial?

  2. It also wins, although I personally prefer the line given above - 90. Kb3 Kb1 91. Ka3+ Ka1 still requires a Rh7-h1+ idea (or similar) to win.