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.

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