Thursday, 7 June 2012

Victorian Championship Round 8

The tournament is very much becoming the James Morris show, with James extending his lead with another win, this time over Tristan Stevens. David Garner played his best game of the tournament to beat Leonid Sandler, while Guy West managed to defeat David Hacche, in spite of his illness (which he has not fully recovered from yet) and an uncharacteristic illegal move!

Current Leaderboard:
Morris 7.5/8
Goldenberg 5.5/8
Sandler, Dragicevic 5/8
West 4/6
Cheng 3.5/6
Zelesco 3/5
Levi 3/8
Stojic 2.5/7
Garner 2/8
Stevens 1/6
Hacche 1/8

The most interesting clash on paper was the matchup between Domagoj Dragicevic, who had dropped only half a point since losing to James Morris in round 3, and former champion Igor Goldenberg. The game began as a classical Sicilian, with Dragicevic giving up the bishop pair to double some of Goldenberg's pawns. Just when the game appeared to be getting interesting, Goldenberg offered an exchange of queens and Dragicevic declined the exchange. Goldenberg again offered to exchange queens and Dragicevic again declined, returning his queen to its previous square. Ultimately the players continued this queen dance until a draw was offered & the players shared the point.
Although Guy West was still suffering the effects of his illness (that prevented him from playing chess last week), he managed to defeat David Hacche. Hacche played his favourite Modern Defense, with West slowly maneuvering his pieces towards the kingside before launching an attack. This attack managed to win the exchange for West, with Hacche gaining a dangerous passed pawn in return. Although he had a winning position, West was obviously unwell and uncharacteristically played an illegal move (Qd8xa6), but the legal move he eventually played (Qa5) proved good enough after Hacche missed the continuation 39...c2, which may have kept him in the game. As played, West eventually got both his rook and queen on the seventh rank, forcing Hacche's king up the board to f5, where it ultimately was forced to resign when faced with forced checkmate.
James Morris continued his winning ways, this round against Tristan Stevens. After beginning with a tactical line of the Accelerated Dragon, Morris found himself in a slightly better middlegame position, but was unable to find the knockout blow. Instead he chose to head into a better rook & bishop endgame, ultimately winning a pawn after exchanging bishops. The players then went about slowly winning one another's pawns, before Stevens resigned when Morris was about to capture his final pawn, which would leave Stevens with a king and rook to defend against rook, king & two connected passed pawns.
David Garner played his best game of the tournament, defeating Leonid Sandler to move himself off the bottom of the leaderboard. After a fairly level position was reached in a c3 Sicilian, Garner capitalised on some poor moves in the middlegame by Sandler. Garner slowly built his advantage from around move 20, forcing Sandler to resign when faced with the loss of at least a piece just after move 30.
Dusan Stojic's game against Eddy Levi began fairly quietly, but Dusan was soon able to exploit the weak white squares in Eddy's position after exchanging off Eddy's white squared bishop. The constant threat of invasion with the queen forced Eddy to further compromise his position, with Dusan eventually winning a pawn while maintaining his advantage. In an attempt to maintain his pawns, Eddy moved one of his rooks to an awkward position on the edge of the board, however this rook was soon trapped by Dusan & eddy resigned shortly afterwards.
As usual, results are posted on ChessChat.
Full results & tournament crosstable are available on the Chess Victoria website.

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