Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Victorian Championship Round 6

Round 6 saw a bit of a shake-up at the top, with James Morris keeping his picket fence score intact, but his nearest rivals stumbled, with Igor Goldenberg being held to a draw by Bobby Cheng & Karl Zelesco defeating Leonid Sandler.

Current leaderboard:
Morris 6/6
Goldenberg 5/6
Sandler 4.5/6
Cheng, Dragicevic 3.5/6
West, Zelesco 3/5
Levi 2/6
Stojic 1.5/5
Stevens 1/5
Garner 1/6
Hacche 0/6

Domagoj Dragicevic continued David Hacche's horror start to the tournament, playing an impressive game helped by Hacche's passive opening play. Dragicevic won a pawn in the early middlegame & then proceeded to force Hacche's pieces to horrible squares & put his in a dominating position, eventually forcing Hacche's resignation when only a pawn ahead due to the huge number of threats he had at his disposal.
Igor Goldenberg played a solid line against Bobby Cheng's Semi-Slav Defense, but gained very little advantage as Bobby equalized without too much difficulty. After a number of exchanges, the players found themselves in a rook & knight ending. Although Goldenberg managed to win a pawn, he found his knight almost trapped & the players repeated the position to ensure a draw.
Karl Zelesco provided the shock result for the round, managing to defeat Leonid Sandler in a sharp Najdorf Sicilian with kings castling on opposite sides. Sandler played the thematic Rxc3 sacrifice to open up Zelesco's king position, but was unable to make headway, while Zelesco continued with his pawn storm on the opposite side of the board. With both sides treading a defensive tightrope, Sandler blundered with 26...Nf7 & Zelesco found the excellent tactical shot 27.Rxf6, which forced Sandler's resignation as he was faced with the choice of being checkmated or suffering significant material loss.
James Morris continued his winning ways against Eddy Levi, playing another offbeat opening line with 5.b4 in an English Opening. Although he achieved a slight edge from the opening, Levi managed to equalize & seemed to be holding the game together until around move 28, when he started to let the position slip, before sacrificing a piece for some play against Morris' king. Unfortunately the attack on Morris' king was shortlived & once Morris managed to consolidate his king position & trade pieces, he was able to develop a counter-attack of his own, which was enough to have Levi wave the white flag.
The game between David Garner & Dusan Stojic had a few interesting moments, most notably when Dusan played the unusual, but visually intimidating 11...Qg3. Garner held his cool & exchanged a number of pieces, before successfully navigating through some middlegame tactics, finally winding up in a rook ending. Although the rook ending may have been slightly better for Garner, he offered to share the point, which Stojic was glad to do.
As usual, results are posted on ChessChat.
Full results & tournament Crosstable are also available on the Chess Victoria website.

Monday, 28 May 2012

City of Melbourne Open - Round 5

The tournament now has an outright leader, with Ari Dale beating Laurent Michaille on the white side of a Nimzo-Indian Defense, while co-leader Carl Gorka was defeated by David Beaumont. The leaves Ari half a point ahead of a chasing pack of David Beaumont, Justin Penrose & Rad Chmiel. The further complication to the tournament is that Ari is off to Sydney to play in the Asian Amateurs Championship next week, so will be taking a half-point bye! This means that after round 6, the leader(s) will be on 5/6 & the tournament will still be wide open!
The top board clash between Ari Dale & Laurent Michaille saw Laurent play the Nimzo-Indian Defense & found himself in a tangle early, with pressure against his knights. Ari used his space advantage & bishop pair to create further problems for Laurent, who decided to sacrifice an exchange to complicate the position. Unfortunately, Ari's passed c-pawn created further problems for Laurent & ultimately proved decisive.
David Beaumont uncharacteristically played 1.e4 against Carl Gorka, but it was all a cunning plan to get the game into a favourable English, without having to face a line with an early d5. After some positional maneuvering in the middlegame, Carl blundered with 21...Bg5 & David found the way through the tactics to emerge with an extra piece that he converted into the full point.
Paul Kovacevic went astray early on the white side of a Dutch Defense against Justin Penrose, when he did not see Penrose's strong move 19...Rxd4! This tactic eventually won Penrose a piece & he quickly used his active rooks to overwhelm Kovacevic's king to take the point.
Rad Chmiel & David Lacey played an interesting c3 Sicilian, with a variety of tactical and positional alternatives for both players. Ultimately a series of exchanges occurred & the players found themselves in an ending with Chmiel's two rooks & bishop facing Lacey's two rooks & knight. The position was further complicated by pawn majorities on opposite sides of the board, and Chmiel's pawns proved faster in the position. Although computer analysis suggested that Lacey may have been able to hold the position with accurate play, he erred & was forced to give up his rook for Chmiel's b-pawn & Chmiel was able to halt Lacey's pawns with his king & rook to secure the victory.
As usual, results are available on ChessChat.
This week's game sees David Beaumont's opening experiment prove successful, as he gets the type of position he was after, and then successfully navigates the middlegame tactics to retain his position just half a point off the pace.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Victorian Championship Round 5

Round 5 saw the chase for the title become much more like a chase between three players, with a significant gap developing between the leaders & the rest of the field. James Morris continued his winning ways by beating former champion Dusan Stojic, while Leonid Sandler overcame another former champion in Guy West to remain half a point behind. Igor Goldenberg also remained half a point behind Morris when his opponent unfortunately went to the wrong venue & was not able to make it to the correct venue by the forfeit time.

Current leaderboard:
Morris 5/5
Sandler, Goldenberg 4.5/5
West, Cheng 3/5
Dragicevic 2.5/5
Zelesco 2/4
Levi 2/5
Stojic 1/4
Stevens 1/5
Garner 0.5/5
Hacche 0/5

David Garner had Domagoj Dragicevic on the ropes early playing the white side of a Grunfeld by playing an uncommon line (10.Bb5+) that Domagoj was obviously not familiar with. David appeared to be ready to break through Domagoj's position in the rook & queen ending with superior placed pieces, but missed a number of tactical shots that would have secured the full point, with 30.Rxb7 being the most decisive of these. After surviving the middlegame storm, Domagoj managed to exchange pieces & found himself in a rook endgame where he had a slightly worse position. With active play, he managed to create threats & David was forced to repeat the position to avoid Domagoj getting his remaining pawn to the seventh rank, so the game was drawn.
The game between Dusan Stojic & James Morris left the realms of theory very quickly after a fairly quiet-looking Reti opening. James' 5...dxc4 has rarely been played at the top level & by move 9 both players were in unchartered territory. James managed to take a few pawns early, giving Dusan some early pressure before a series of exchanges left the position as a double rook ending, with James having an outside passed pawn. James maneuvered his pieces to improve his position and eventually managed to exchange both pairs of rooks to find himself in a winning pawn ending, which he successfully converted to take the point & retain his slim lead in the event.
The game between Eddy Levi & Karl Zelesco was another topsy-turvy game, which is something that has become a common theme in this tournament. After playing a sideline against Karl's Caro Kann defense, Eddy managed to win a pawn with a tactic & appeared to be slowly working his way towards a win with his queen & knight invading Karl's position. Just as the position was starting to look terminal, Eddy played 31.Nc6? which allowed a knight fork that won his bishop. This completely turned the position on its head, with Karl using both of his knights to develop serious threats against Eddy's king. Eddy ignored these & pushed his passed a-pawn, and Karl missed playing the winning 35...Qa3! (mate in 7 according to Fritz), choosing a continuation that allowed Eddy to defend with his knight. It was then Karl's turn to overlook a tactic, with Eddy's 38.Qxf7+ appearing to secure at least a draw by perpetual check, if not more. Eddy decided to look for more, playing the strong move 43.Qf4! which won back a piece. Karl then chose to exchange queens, with the knight ending seeing Eddy with 3 pawns against Karl's 2, with all 5 pawns only able to be halted by the enemy knight or king! Eddy then used his a-pawn to neutralise Karl's knight, before finding the coup de grace 57.Nd5+, which forced the a-pawn's promotion & Karl resigned a few moves later!
The clash between International Masters saw Leonid Sandler play a solid line against Guy West's Dutch defense, with Leonid gaining a space advantage but seemingly little else from the opening. After some middlegame maneuvering, Leonid developed some threats against Guy's d-pawn, which Guy countered with active piece play. With the threat of a knight invading, Guy chose to exchange off his last knight for one of Leonid's, but after the nice move 40.c5 by Leonid, he was able to invade with his queen and force Guy's resignation shortly afterwards.
Unfortunately Tristan Stevens went to the wrong playing venue & was unable to find a taxi (or presumably a way across the city in ealry evening traffic), which meant that he had to forfeit his game against Igor Goldenberg.
David Hacche's horror start to the tournament continued against Bobby Cheng, with David's kingside attack in a Czech Benoni position never really getting started. Bobby used his space advantage & tactics to push home an advantage, before David sacrificed a piece in an attempt to generate some play against Bobby's king. Bobby successfully defended against this attack & generated counter threats of his own with his passed d-pawn & David resigned when checkmate was inevitable.
As usual, results are available on ChessChat.
Full results & tournament crosstable are also available on the ChessVictoria website.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

City of Melbourne Open - Round 4

There are still three leaders after round 4 of the City of Melbourne Open, but they may not have been the people some would be expecting after looking at the games midway through the round. The top board clash between Carl Gorka & Ari Dale was a topsy-turvy affair, with Gorka playing very aggressively against Dale's Caro Kann defense. Gorka sacrificed a pawn for an attack, which Dale seemed to be neutralising, until around move 35, when Gorka played Qc7, with strong threats against Dale's king. Gorka missed a win with 38.Qh2, when Dale would have been forced to give up his queen for rook and pawn, leaving a relatively straightforward technical win. Instead, the game continued, eventually becoming a queen ending where Gorka held an extra pawn, but was unable to make progress & a draw was agreed.
The board 2 clash between Laurent Michaille & David Beaumont appeared to be going Beaumont's way, with a strong kingside initiative eventually netting him an extra pawn. Just when it seemed as though the attack would break through, Beaumont carelessly allowed Qh7+, which won a piece & turned the momentum of the game on its head. Michaille was then able to shut down Beaumont's threats & exchange pieces, forcing Beaumont to resign in a hopeless position.
Justin Penrose appeared to be slowly outplaying Malcolm Pyke on board 3, until he allowed Pyke to develop serious threats against his king, forcing Penrose to sacrifice an exchange to avoid disaster. After some further exchanges, the players reached an endgame with Pyke's two rooks facing Penrose's rook, knight & multiple passed pawns. Ultimately Pyke was unable to halt the advancing pawns & Penrose went on to record a victory.
On other boards, David Lacey defeated Richard Voon, after Richard misplayed a promising position, while Rad Chmiel, Paul Kovacevic, Roger McCart & Bill Reid all recorded wins over slightly higher rated opponents.
As usual, results are available on ChessChat.
This week's game is the top board clash, which saw both sides with chances throughout the game!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Victorian Championship Round 4

Finally, there has been a draw! Only one though ... Two of the leaders going into round 4, Igor Goldenberg & Leonid Sandler, decided to split the point in their game, which has allowed IM James Morris to take the sole lead in the event on 4/4.

Current leaderboard:
Morris 4/4
Sandler, Goldenberg 3.5/4
West 3/4
Zelesco 2/3
Cheng 2/4
Stojic, Dragicevic, Stevens 1/3
Levi 1/4
Hacche, Garner 0/4

Round 4 saw some more interesting chess being played.
Domagoj Dragicevic & Bobby Cheng played their game before the Saturday round at Noble Park, and it saw Domagoj score his first point for the event, with a nice win over the defending champion. Although Bobby appeared to get a comfortable position out of the opening in a French Winawer, Bobby preferred to castle queenside & allow a doubling of his f-pawns, rather than exchanging knights, which would have left his king stuck in the centre of the board. Although this seemed to be fine, Domagoj developed some pressure on the queenside & when Bobby snatched the a-pawn, his pieces became tied up. This allowed Domagoj to attack in the centre, winning the d-pawn. After exchanging queens, Domagoj found a nice exchange sacrifice, which won a few pawns, as well as allowing his central pawns to become mobile, which forced Bobby to return the exchange. This ultimately left Domagoj in a winning rook ending, which he converted efficiently to take the point.
The Igor Goldenberg - Leonid Sandler clash of the leaders looked to have plenty of fighting potential, when Igor decided to castle queenside in a fairly normal looking Queen's Gambit declined & then followed up with the aggressive looking h4 & g4 ... but then shortly afterwards decided that his attack didn't have the venom he had hoped for & offered a draw, which Leonid accepted.
The game between Guy West & Eddy Levi began with a fairly quiet opening, which seemed quite at odds with both players tactical styles. After a number of exchanges, Levi decided to sacrifice a pawn in the centre to head towards a queen & rook ending. Unfortunately for Eddy, Guy defended against the pressure from Eddy's queen & rook, and turned the tables, launching his own counter-attack against Eddy's position. This counter-attack managed to net another pawn for Guy & when Eddy finally recaptured a pawn with his rook rather than his queen, Guy finished the game off.
James Morris employed a Grand Prix attack against David Garner's Sicilian Defense & managed to win a pawn after exploiting a series of pins against David's central pawns. Although David appeared to be holding the position, he blundered with 25...f6, which allowed James to prise open David's king position, ultimately winning another pawn. The ending saw David's rook & bishop no match for James' rook & knight, with James using his extra pawns & exploiting the vulnerable position of David's king to take the point, finishing with a neat checkmate involving the rook, knight & a pawn.
As usual, results are available on ChessChat.
Full results & tournament crosstable are also available on the ChessVictoria website.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Victorian Championship Round 3

Still no draws! That is the story of the 2012 Victorian Championships so far, with a total of 17 games played so far & all games being decisive! This has also meant that there are distinct groups being developed, even at this early stage of the tournament.
Current Leaderboard:
3/3 Morris, Sandler & Goldenberg
2/3 Zelesco, Cheng, West
1/3 Stojic, Levi
0/2 Stevens, Dragicevic (postponed game between the two to be played later this week)
0/3 Hacche, Garner
This list contains a few surprises, the most notable being young Karl Zelesco on 2/3 after wins against Dragicevic & Garner (his only loss so far being to undefeated Morris). Also surprising is the poor starts for Stojic & Dragicevic. Stojic has had a tough start to the tournament, beating Hacche, but then running into Goldenberg & West, where he has made mistakes in the middlegame from promising position in the opening & has left without points against the IMs. Dragicevic has been somewhat out of sorts so far, though he has been up against in-form opposition in Morris & Zelesco.
Domagoj Dragicevic started out well against James Morris, neutralising James' Maroczy Bind with an early d5 forcing some exchanges. In the middlegame tactics, Morris emerged with an extra pawn, but rather than simplifying to a rook & opposite coloured bishop ending with drawing chances, Dragicevic kept the queens on & went astray in time trouble with 39...f5, after which Morris finished off the game nicely.
David Garner and Karl Zelesco played what was probably the most interesting game of the night, which began as a relatively quiet line of the Semi-Slav. Garner appeared to be applying pressure to Zelesco's position & then sacrificed a knight in a position where maintaining his advantage may have been a better option. The sacrifice unbalanced the position & after a series of exchanges, the material balance had Zelesco with a knight & bishop for Garner's rook & two pawns. Garner had a mass of central pawns which looked to have potential, but Zelesco found a way to neutralise them, eventually forcing Garner to give up an exchange for a pawn rather than see his central pawns crumble. The extra piece proved to be good enough, slowly mopping up the extra pawns before Garner finally blundered his rook to end the game.
Guy West and Dusan Stojic played another interesting game (following on from their encounter in the MCC Championships earlier in the year) where Stojic employed the English, rather than potentially face another offbeat line of the Spanish. Stojic appeared to get slightly the better of the opening, leaving West with an IQP, but West played actively & this activity kept him in the game. Stojic found a way to win a pawn in the middlegame, at the cost of his fianchettoed kingside bishop and West generated some counterplay as a result. Stojic blundered with 26.Rd2, when the resulting back-rank check & king hunt proved decisive for West.
Eddy Levi played a closed sideline against Igor Goldenberg's Sicilian Defense & achieved very little from the opening. Levi launched a kingside attack, which Goldenberg countered by attacking the centre, and this lead to a number of exchanges. Ultimately the position turned into a rook & pawn ending which was better for Goldenberg due to his king position & better pawn structure. Goldenberg won a pawn & then tied Levi's rook to the defense of another pawn, which ultimately left Levi without an adequate defense to the invasion of Goldenberg's king, allowing Goldenberg to take the point.
Leonid Sandler & David Hacche's game started out quietly, and after some exchanges, saw Hacche have a bishop and a slightly compromised pawn structure playing against Sandler's knight, with all the major pieces still on the board. Hacche made a slight error in the centre, which allowed Sandler to win a pawn after a series of checks, but the ending was still difficult to win. Once the queens were exchanged, Sandler used his knight & rooks to provoke weaknesses in Hacche's position, ultimately winning another pawn, at which point Hacche resigned. This resignation may have been a little premature, as a number of chess engines assessed the position as only slightly worse for Hacche, as he was able to win one pawn back a few moves later, with the correct defense, and the resulting position still seemed to hold good drawing chances for Hacche ...
Bobby Cheng once again found himself in the familiar surroundings of his favourite French Defense against Tristan Stevens, and was able to equalise the position fairly early in the middlegame. When Cheng developed some pressure against Stevens' king on the queenside, Stevens responded by playing a speculative exchange sacrifice on the kingside. Cheng accepted the material & continued his attack, before finding a nice sacrifice to blast open the king position & force resignation.
As usual, results are available on ChessChat.
Full results & a tournament crosstable are also available on the Chess Victoria site.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

City of Melbourne Open - Round 3

The cream is slowly rising to the top in the current Monday night tournament at the Melbourne Chess Club, the City of Melbourne Open. There are now three outright leaders in the event & they are three of the more fancied players to win - top seed Carl Gorka, MCC 'hero' David Beaumont & the rapidly improving Ari Dale - who are all on 3/3. Immediately behind them are tournament second seed Malcolm Pyke & talented Frenchman Laurent Michaille, who are both on 2.5/3. This makes the next few rounds crucial in deciding the final placing for the event, as these top players now begin to play one another.
The battle of the Gar(r)y's finished in a draw, when Gary Bekker's passed pawns were neutralised by Garry Lycett's bishop & the players repeated the position when Bekker's knight was under constant pressure. Richard Voon showed that the older generation still have a few tricks left in them with a nice win over Jack Puccini, while Finley Dale held Bill Reid to a draw. Most of the other games went according to rating, although with many games having a rating difference of less than one hundred points, many of the games were very hard fought.
As usual, results are available on ChessChat.
This week's game shows the difference between the top players & those in the middle of the field, with Carl Gorka putting Jim Papadinis to the sword in convincing fashion!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Victorian Championships Round 2

The second round of the Victorian Championship was another one of carnage, with all games once again being decisive!
Guy West made a conscious decision to play a complicated tactical game against David Garner & sacrificed a piece on move 12 (after a different piece sacrifice was declined on move 11!) to launch a kingside attack. Although the computers suggested that Garner may have been able to hold with precise play, he blundered with 14...N7f6 & allowed West to go on a king hunt, forcing it to d5 before a pseudo Queen sacrifice wrapped up the game for West when Garner was faced with a hopeless endgame position.
Karl Zelesco & James Morris began with a fairly tame looking Maroczy bind-like position in their game after Morris played the unusual 3...Na5 in response to Zelesco's Rossolimo. However, once the tactics began with 17.Qxd6, Morris found a way to press home an advantage, ultimately winning material & shortly afterwards the game.
The game between defending champion Bobby Cheng & Chess Victoria President Leonid Sandler appeared for a long time to be headed towards a draw. The position was fairly level out of the opening, but Cheng managed to create a weakness on the Queenside after some middlegame exchanges & appeared to have a slight edge. Sandler managed to trade more pieces & found himself in a rook ending that was fairly level, however rather than being content with a draw, Cheng pushed for more & unfortunately missed a nice tactic Sandler had once the final rook was exchanged, leaving Bobby in a lost king & pawn ending.
In a battle of past champions, Igor Goldenberg & Dusan Stojic had another interesting battle, where Dusan won a pawn in the opening for seemingly little compensation. Goldenberg responded by launching a kingside attack & ultimately it was a loose rook on d7 that decided the game when Goldenberg found the clever 30.Qh3, which saw Stojic make a fatal blunder & Goldenberg crashed through shortly afterwards.
David Hacche once again found himself on the wrong end of the last game to finish & another losing rook endgame. After a quiet opening, some tactics developed in the middlegame, before Levi managed to win a pawn. A number of pieces were exchanged & just when it looked like Hacche might have the queen & rook ending under control, he made the mistake of allowing the queens to be traded & Levi eventually used the extra pawn to his advantage to secure the full point.
The game between Domagoj Dragicevic & Tristan Stevens is to be played at a later date. 
As usual, results are available on ChessChat

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

AFL DreamTeam & SuperCoach update

Well its finally happened ... I've now had a week where I managed to score over 2000 in both DreamTeam & SuperCoach! obviously I had hoped that this would occur earlier than round 6, however I suppose its better than not having a 2000+ double before round 10!
Since my last update, I've made a few changes in both competitions, as well as having a bumper round 5 in SuperCoach (where I was 281st for the round overall!).

The summary is as follows:
Round 4 score: 1863
Round 5 score: 1841
Round 6 score: 2155 (15,376th for round)
Total score: 11,887
Current ranking: 31,786th overall
Trades: Out: C Smith, Fyfe, Hale, Smedts, Ablett; In: Sidebottom, Ebert, Treloar, Simpson, Beams
Trades remaining: 17
Team value: $10,195,500
Current team:
DEF: B Deledio, B Goddard, B Houli, T Bugg, M Clarke, B Lake, G Birchall, B Ellis, J Paine
MID: K Simpson, S Pendlebury, B Ebert, J Bartel, J Magner, J McDonald, D Shiel, S Coniglio
RUCK: D Cox, S Jacobs, J Giles, J Redden
FWD: S Sidebottom, L Franklin, P Dangerfield, D Beams, D Martin, D Smith, A Kennedy, A Hall, A Treloar
Main issues: Job security issues with Paine & Redden in particular (and I'll need all 30 of my team playing during the bye rounds to minimise donuts), as well as my forward rookies being rotated/rested on a seemingly ad hoc basis, often leaving me with no emergency in the forward line! I also have potential issues around the byes with three of my current rucks sharing a round 11 bye & many of my premium backs sharing a round 13 bye.

Round 4 score: 1934
Round 5 score: 2304
Round 6 score: 2084 (77,772nd for the round)
Total score: 12,003
Current ranking: 88,308th overall
Trades: Out: Shaw, Fyfe, Mumford, Caddy, Cox, Smedts; In: Harvey, Hawkins, Rockliff, Treloar, Zaharakis, Maric
Trades remaining: 16
Team value: $11,374,500
Current team:
DEF: B Deledio, B Goddard, B Houli, T Bugg, D Heppell, B Lake, P Duffield, B Ellis, J Paine
MID: S Thompson, T Rockliff, B Ebert, J Magner, J McDonald, D Shiel, S Coniglio, D Smith
RUCK: I Maric, J Giles, D Hale, J Redden
FWD: L Franklin, P Dangerfield, T Hawkins, D Zaharakis, B Harvey, D Martin, T Milera, A Hall, A Treloar
Main Issues: Pretty much the same as my DT side, with Paine & Redden being the obvious issues with the bye rounds coming up.I also have a potential issue with a large number of my midfielders having a bye in round 11, as well as three of my current rucks sharing a round 13 bye.

As you can see, my overall rankings have been slowly climbing, but I'm hardly in a position to expect a car or significant financial reward at the end of the competition. Most of the changes I have made to my sides have been positive ones, although there are some that I am a little uncertain about (trading Ablett out of DT for example), but I'll see how things play out in the next few weeks. Obviously it would have been nice to have avoided such trades to begin with by selecting a superior starting side or avoising Long Term Injuries (Fyfe for example), but its often difficult to judge exactly which rookies or mid-pricers would be the best from the start of the season.

City of Melbourne Open - Round 2

On paper, round 2 seemed to be 'business as usual' for the top seeds in the City of Melbourne, however a closer look reveals that there was some luck & some extended games that were required for the top seeds to avoid losses this round.
Justin Penrose was the luckiest player this week, when in the following position his opponent, who had been playing on the 30 second increment for the previous 40 or so moves, blundered at the final hurdle before reaching a drawn position:
Here Rxh7 is a simple draw, with a King & Rook v King & Rook ending ... but the result is vastly different after Rxa1??
There were some upsets on the lower boards, with the McCart brothers enjoying a good evening, with both brothers recording wins against higher rated opponents.
As usual, full results can be found on ChessChat.
The game of the round this week sees David Beaumont disproving his own ideas about the Benko Gambit, showing that it is indeed a very playable opening & in spite of being a pawn down for a majority of the game. The exchanges only helped black's position & the weaknesses in white's pawn structure ultimately proved too difficult to defend, allowing black to crash through for the win.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Victorian Championships Round 1

The first round of the 2012 Victorian Championships saw plenty of fighting chess, with all players coming to play & all of the five games played having decisive results!
Domagoj Dragicevic seemed to have a reasonable position out of the opening against Karl Zelesco, but then ran into trouble with a pin on the d-file. Rather than giving up a piece, he chose to give up his queen for a rook, hoping that a temporary lead in activity would be enough compensation, however Karl played calmly & continued to exchange pieces & improve his position until his queen infultrated Domagoj's defenses, forcing resignation.
James Morris played a nice game against Guy West in a battle of International Masters. On the white side of Spanish, he applied the screws in typical 'Spanish torture' fashion and West responded by trying to grab some space on the queenside. Although this seemed to be progressing well for West, it left him with a few weak pawns, which Morris targetted & eventually won. Morris then nullified the tactical tricks West tried to continue the game & ultimately used his rook & bishop pair to bring home the full point.
The Garner-Goldenberg clash began as an unusual line of the King's Indian Defense, which saw white getting some early play on the queenside. Goldenberg responded in typical King's Indian fashion with a kingside pawn storm & managed to generate some play. Ultimately Garner decided to sacrifice an exchange to try to slow Goldenberg's attack, however it simply made the attack more dangerous & Igor found a nice tactical finish to the game.
Stojic managed to grind out an endgame win against David Hacche on the white side of a Sicilian Dragon. There were numerous exchanges early on & the players found themselves in a queen & rook ending, which looked drawish at first sight. Hacche decided to exchange queens, hoping that a rook ending would be his easiest way to a draw, but Stojic's passed c-pawn, combined with an active king created enough problems for Hacche to go wrong, alowing Stojic to take the full point.
The Sandler-Stevens game was an interesting English, where black tried to snatch a pawn in the opening & hang on to it. Sandler applied pressure in the centre against Stevens' uncastled king & managed to regain the pawn in a better position when Stevens tried to castle out of danger. Although Stevens tried to play actively, his pieces ultimately became tangled & Sandler was able to win a piece, before simplifying to a winning ending.
The Levi-Cheng match was postponed and should be played later in the week.

Results are available at ChessChat, as is usual.